The Tithe System - A Way for Player Characters to Meet Each Other

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By Xhojn dated  last updated 
![RedHandofDoomRPGCover.jpg](/static/img/mm/xhojn/RedHandofDoomRPGCover/RedHandofDoomRPGCover.jpg) My latest D&D campaign wrapped up this week, and it was a conversion of the 3.5 edition classic Red Hand of Doom. The book’s recommended way of having the adventure start is for the party, while on the road to the first town of interest, to be attacked by hobgoblins -- so the players get to start the action right away. For my campaign though, I decided to try something a bit different, which one of my players has said he has also used for one of the games he runs -- which is why I thought I would talk about it here.

This campaign is aimed at players who are level 5. Over the course of the campaign, they'll reach level 10. When I decided to run this campaign, I knew that I would have to put the game on hiatus for several months for the birth of my second son and the joy (lack of sleep) associated with having a newborn. I didn’t want to stop the game for so long while in the middle of the campaign -- imagine having to come back to the middle of a fight, after being away for several months. I also didn’t want to push the start of the game back either, as we all were eager to play. For those that don’t know the main plot of Red Hand of Doom is trying to at first slow down, and then stop, an opposing army from taking over the region. You’re not leading your own army but instead performing guerilla warfare and performing actions that would have a big impact on your enemies. Knowing that the atmosphere of war would be hanging over the group for the whole campaign I decided to take that idea a bit further. I decided to make the main theme of the campaign about the loss of innocence, about how a group of the PC's being initially children and then must slowly take on the responsibility of defeating an army. I wasn’t going to throw children into bloody fights -- so came the idea of having the characters start at level 1 and get to level 5, as a prologue to the main campaign. I was upfront with my players about what I had in mind as they knew roughly what Red Hand of Doom was about. They would create level 1 characters, make them young teens and each level up represents a year in the game's world. So the characters grew as they continued to play but what would they do for four years? That is when the idea of the tithe system came in. For those that don’t know, tithes are like taxes but you can pay with your time or skills instead of cold hard cash. I told the players that all children once they hit their teenage years must go to main city of the setting and perform a tithe as they are too young to have jobs. What happens in actuality is that the children are put into groups and a member of the town’s knights known as the Lions would take them on an adventure. The idea being that the children would learn life and survival skills, kind of like a fantasy scout group. ![Boy Scouts.jpg](/static/img/mm/xhojn/RedHandofDoomRPGCover/BoyScouts.jpg) So the first session they arrive in Brindol, sign in with the Lions, and get grouped together and then journey to one of the other villages. They would help perform a task, but if combat ever came up they were deliberately pushed to the side and not allowed to join in. Once the task was completed, they would head back to Brindol and disband until the following year. At that point they recount what they have done in the intervening year -- mention anyone they may have stayed in contact with, and what they may have possibly learned, which would give narrative reason for their level up abilities and stat increases. This gave the group some brilliant chances to role play, but sadly one of my players did leave, as they didn’t mind some role playing but couldn’t take so many sessions of no combat. The rest, though, enjoyed fleshing out their characters and going through the various stages of being teenagers on their way to eventually taking on the mantle of hardened warriors. For the final session before the hiatus, we had to end on a cliffhanger. It was the beginning of their fifth year so now level 5, they had travelled with the knight that they had met on their first tithe, and gone to the location that the main campaign was to begin. As the final scene before wrapping the session up, an arrow shoots through the throat of the knight. Their main protector is dead and the players are now being set upon by hobgoblins. ![war.jpg](/static/img/mm/xhojn/RedHandofDoomRPGCover/war.jpg) My player that used the tithe system for his own game said that it gave a great reason for why the PCs would be together, instead of the traditional/cliched, "you meet in a bar". So if you’re starting a campaign, and trying to figure how the players would meet and get to know one another, then this might be a good trick to use.

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