This campaign is set one thousand years after every other adventure you have ever played.
Heroes wouldn’t stop adventuring; demon princes and ultra-liches and Far Realms horrors were killed by the Bag-of-Holding-load. Kingdoms and worlds and planes of existence were saved on a weekly basis. Eventually, these heroes demanded rewards. They joined the Spell of Making; their minds ascended into pure energy as their physical bodies evaporated; or most likely, they arose to become Demigods in the service of their patron deities – or more.
The heavens became crowded. The competition for the sought-after domains of Death, Life, Sun, Winter – they became wars. Even the more esoteric domains – everything from trombones to albino kobolds – became too heavily occupied, and fighting broke out. These battles spilled out into every plane.
In the mortal realm, there were no more adventures to be had – there was only survival, as the divine bombardment tore worlds and planes apart.
The war was, relatively, brief. There still exist explosions of violence in the heavens but these are contained. While the gods still number far too many to be comfortable, they dwindle, slowly. Many of the old gods are dead; others have disappeared from the consciousness of mortals, biding their time. Still many more are forgotten, but trying to be remembered.
The world and the heavens are littered with the corpses and detritus of cosmic battles. In the sky, irregular moons float silently. This is where we begin.
Some notes about the campaign for the players
This is an open setting. If the players would like to invent a deity for themselves, they can feel free to do that. At the same time, until one is mentioned specifically in the campaign, there is no guarantee that any given god even exists in this universe (any more, or ever). The world is going to built while you play (but hopefully at a draw distance that keeps things from feeling cheapened)
This campaign will be using the more classic take on alignment – ie, everything from Chaotic Good to Lawful Evil is permitted, though this is mostly just for flavour. Also, keep in mind that Chaotic Good does not necessarily mean psychotically anarchistic, and Lawful Evil NPCs are only slightly less likely to have a loving family at home than any other. In the real world, the baseline for the average person you see on the street is Neutral.
This is a low-magic setting. Magic is well-known and, in some areas, even a powerful force, but this is a world that has only recently become re-acquainted with old knowledge. Wizarding schools exist, but are not common.
The art of magic item crafting has not been lost, but is much changed. No longer will you encounter just a +1 flaming sword; now magic items have properties beyond those typical modular ones, and most will be unique. Your neighbour’s flaming sword might be more effective than normal against plant-type monsters, while your own keeps setting fire to your scroll collection. To that end there will be some rules about purchasing magic items, as well, but that will come later on.
I also want there to be a bigger focus on skill use than other campaigns might have. PCs are encouraged, therefore, to take even otherwise esoteric skills, and try to keep in mind how they might be used, during skill challenges (which I will try to include a few of – also, do go ahead and read the sections in the DMG 1&2 about them) and in other moments. Certain skills can be used in combat – from monster knowledge checks to determine weaknesses, to tumbling in between the giant’s legs to get a better shot. Also, I’ll try to encourage some other uses – if the PCs come across an oil portrait as part of a treasure horde, they might sell it for the presumed amount, or could try a History check to determine a more accurate value, or try Streetwise to see who would be willing to pay a higher price for it. Etc, etc.
Don’t forget that it can be MORE fun to have a strange character than a powerful one. The group’s barbarian may regret his oddly-high intelligence, until he is the only to pass the Arcana check required to activate the null-magic glyph. The party wizard might have been mocked for jealously guarding his powerful warhammer heirloom, but when his arcane powers are suddenly negated by an overzealous barbarian friend, he won’t need help defending himself from a zombie horde.
That being said, feel free to pore over far more than just the core books I’ve drop-boxed you; there are Dragon magazine articles out there, as well (some of which I have on my hard drive; I remember one particular Wizard Daily spell that turns you into, essentially, a Magic Missile Gatling gun)
Finally, I’d like to know what sort of characters the players want to play. Not just at first, but I’d like to know if there are any goals for the characters, beyond even what their ideal paragon/epic paths would be. Saying “I’ve always wanted to own a Freezing Mace,” or “I’d like to a lich-hunter.” could affect the treasure you find (or that I make up for the setting) and the direction of the campaign. To that end I want to try some different ways of rewarding players, on top of unique magic items and XP. I like the idea of the Alternate Rewards and Item Components ideas from the DMG2, and Item Levels from Adventurer’s Vault, and I might have my own take on those (feel free to look that up to get the idea).