This is the Equilibrium campaign, a story about an international crime solving team, the Supernatural Phenomena Investigators (SPI), set in a fantasy world of eight nations hanging in the balance.
Why? To have fun, relax, solve mysteries and beat bad guys.
Setting. I decided not to set in an existing D&D campaign world (Forgotten Realms, Greyhawk, etc.), but have reused many aspects of them for pragmatic reasons. The political landscape is rather important to the culture that has enabled a dedicated supernatural crime-solving organization to exist. See below for further details on the setting.
Rules. We’ll use the shiny new (as of 2014 😜) D&D 5E rules.
- Check the D&D5E Player’s Handbook for details.
- You can also find the basic rules online for free.
- And a larger subset of the core rules are also online at 5esrd.com.
Characters. Main points of character creation:
- Try to hail from a unique territory and/or race. This helps diversity and world-building.
- Have a reason in mind for why you are part of (or being recruited for) the SPI.
- Have an unsolved mystery in your backstory.
- SPI agents are currently 9th level. Anything in the 5E Player’s Handbook or Xanathar’s Guide to Everything is fair game.
The current player characters are:
|Bec Galere||elf, human||wizard (enchanter)|
|Callisto||halfling (stout)||barbarian, rogue|
|Calumnystra “Callie” Rockwell||gnome (rock)||cleric|
|Freki Sarin||elf (wood), lycan||ranger (lycan)|
|Ozborn Underfoot||halfling (lightfoot)||rogue|
|Vondal of the South Fireforges||human, dwarf (slight ancestry)||sorcerer (wild mage)|
For sweet sweet loot, see Gear.
For all characters in the story including NPCs, see the Dossiers.
The known world is a single large continent called Aecus, with various phenomena at the periphery which have hindered exploration, due to the increasing inhospitality of the environment.
There are several countries which have enjoyed an uneasy peace for the past half century. One of D&D’s primary conceits is that there are many intelligent life forms, which tend to differ culturally, not always getting along. As such, territories are often divided on racial lines, and this campaign is no exception.
- [N] The Zephyr Federation - A windy and increasingly mountainous region to the north, inhabited by diverse dragonborn races. Further north, dragons dwell in the endless sky.
- [S] Elyria - A sprawling forest in the deep south, home to elves and other sylvan races.
- [E] The Mountain and the Veldt - A volcano and surrounding lands where dwarves dwell.
- [NE] The Radiant Union of Pelor (RUP) - Inhospitable desert lands in the northeast governed by a benevolent paladin order known as the Luminous Defenders.
- [W] Cognitutus - A great gnomish city, which disappeared during the War of Countless Dead.
- [SE] The Selva Tribes - Orcish tribes that vie for control of southeast rainforest territory.
- [NW] The Archipelago of Trell - A fiendish island territory off the northwestern coast.
- [SW] Arallu - A terrifying undead realm to the southwest, about which little is known.
- The Flux - An uninhabitable zone bordering the nations.
The War of Countless Dead, and the Aecus Concord
For decades, the world was at war. The initial cause of the conflict is a topic of frequent historical debate—every nation tells it differently. After all, every country has reasons they hate the others—especially their neighbors. But there are a few facts upon which everyone agrees:
- All the nations of the world were involved.
- No one’s hands were clean.
- The death toll was immeasurable.
Fifty years ago, the war ended—suddenly. All the soldiers fighting on the warfront vanished without a trace, never to be seen again. After that, the whole area became warped and twisted, resulting in what is now called the Flux.
With no armies left to deploy, the war was effectively over. The seven nations still standing quickly met to sign a monumental peace treaty, the Aecus Concord. One of the stipulations of the treaty was the foundation of an international peacekeeping organization, consisting of individuals from all the involved nations, also dubbed the Aecus Concord. It consists of three subunits:
- Supernatural Phenomena Investigation (SPI), about whom this story is concerned. These are the people who are called in when the situation is too weird for the country’s usual police force. Part detectives and part spies, SPI is the “Interpol” of the A.C. However, their central focus is not on mundane crime, politics or intrigue, but only dangerous magic which might somehow threaten world peace.
- Military Aid and Defense (MAD), a mixed force offering benign services to nations that request it. Members are volunteers from the armed forces of constituent nations. MAD is the “U.N. Peacekeeping” force of the A.C.
- Trade, Enforcement, Arbitration and Mediation (TEAM), the diplomatic arm of the A.C., facilitating diplomatic relations and fair trade between the nations. It enforces its arbitration decisions, as well as international regulations, largely via threat of trade sanctions and embargoes, should a nation fail to comply. Which so far has been rare.
The A.C. have created teleportation circles between major cities across Aecus, which all three branches regularly utilize in service to their goals. The teleportation circle spell can transport someone from any location to a permanent circle. A relatively common item known as a teleport crystal also exists (typically worth 10 gp) which anyone can use to activate a circle without spellcasting; in this way, the cities stay connected and in touch with one another. While it is not cost effective to use the circles for mass trade of goods, or to commute between cities on a daily basis, they do provide many diplomatic opportunities, as well as offering a rich courier market when the goods or information being transported are of significant enough value.
The Supernatural Phenomena Investigators (SPI)
The use of magic seems to affect people’s memories. The stronger the magic, the harder it is to recall later exactly what happened. People know magic exists, and can describe cantrips. But memory becomes hazy surrounding higher levels of magic. The only exception is the caster of the spell in question: they are often unaffected, perhaps because it was their will manifest.
As such, magic and spellcasters are highly distrusted by most people. So much so, that when something magical is going on, the local authorities almost never want to deal with it. That’s where the SPI comes in: an international, elite team of agents with unique magical skills and know-how. Leading the team is Mallory, the hard-boiled boss who’s been running the operation for decades. The way he tells it, the SPI never used to get any respect, but he’s worked very hard for a long time to change that. Finally, people are starting to take them seriously.
Unfortunately, a few weeks ago, all veteran SPI teams disappeared during their respective missions. All resurrection attempts fail. And meanwhile, the SPI headquarters in the Mountain was obliterated by fire, destroying their files. Most of the existing SPI staff escaped, but it was a close call. Mallory and the remaining staff do know something about previous investigations, but with magic involved, it’s always tough to remember the details. The SPI is recruiting new investigators now, and operating from a temporary but secure location until something more permanent can be reestablished.