Why did I think eight players was a good idea? Anyway ...
The base setting is pseudo-Frankish, except with demi-french place names inherited from an "ancient empire," and medieval aristocratic titles so my players can follow the political action without going cross-eyed.
The starting location is the large borderlands village of Châtel (250 families, class V, 20 years old, river bank, forest, hilly). Economy -2 precious metals, textiles, furs, and wood; -1 tea and coffee; +1 pottery, spices, and silk; and +2 monster parts.
Lord Corbus is the reason for that last one. Twenty years ago, Corbus du Châtel founded a wilderness sanctum upon an ancient hill, with an interior of granite and cave-riddled limestone. Into this interior, he hired excavators, miners, and architects, to clear out and then expand into a dungeon of many levels. Each year he would dig deeper, until a vast maze stretched down into what some believe is the very bowels of hell itself. And then he disappeared into his tower for a decade to do research, leaving the maze warrens to lie fallow and fill to brim with monstrous beings.
When he decided it was quite thoroughly stocked, Corbus took soldiers and cleared the entrance of villainy, and built and conquered a highway through the wilderness to the nearby borderlands, to allow adventurers to come and explore his dungeon. Every so often, he "restocks," or closes it for a while to lie fallow.
Basina de Brienne, an enterprising merchant, set up a shop at the entrance, and the village formed around her entry monopoly (she's also a thief-7 and local representative of a kingdom-spanning Night Guild, but that's less well known). The wizard does not seem to mind.
A few days ago, the maze was re-opened for business, and today the Grim Fist, a small group of adventurers with their heads full of the last big success story at the Maze du Châtel, has decided to make their fortune here.
Characters were rolled as Kings (roll 5 chars, pick one, re-roll two abilities), but are first level. No demihumans were allowed (but elven bloodline was). The only classes allowed were the core classes, assassin, and illusionist. The players almost universally sacrificed non-prime-requisites to get their prime requisite up to the +10% XP level, which amused me.
- Radegund d'Antioch - Neutral Fighter, 22, Combat Reflexes, Survival. STR +2, CON -1, CHA +1. A tall, red-headed spitfire with the muscle to back her temper, but somewhat delicate health.
- Chlodomer d'Antioch - Lawful Fighter, 18, Diplomacy, Fighting Style (Weapon and Shield). STR +2, CHA +3. Tall and young, with dark curls and soulful brown eyes ... and a ready smile. A poetic tongue and idealist's heart make him more dangerous out of combat than in.
- Samson d'Orléans - Neutral Assassin, 22, Disguise, Swashbuckling. STR +2, DEX +2. A blue-eyed, tousle-headed peasant of very ordinary appearance.
- Brunegard de Jouy - Neutral Fighter, 21, Combat Reflexes, Trapping. STR +2, CON +1. A large peasant woman with dirty blonde hair and dull blue eyes. Looks like she would have made a good viking, and sometimes acts the part.
- Grimoald d'Antioch - Lawful Fighter, 23, Combat Reflexes, Naturalism. STR +3, WIS +1, CHA +1. As large and muscular as an ox, reasonably pretty ... a blond farmboy, all grown up.
- Galswintha d'Antioch - Lawful Mage, 20, Elven Bloodline, Engineering x4. DEX +1, CON +2, INT +3, CHA +1. Pointed ears, eyes the color of hoarfrost, ankle-length hair the color of a raven's wing, and a distant, wintry smile. She's smarter than you, and she knows it.
- Vulfelind de Saubruic - Neutral Thief, 16, Tracking, Weapon Finesse. DEX +3, INT -1, CHA +2. Tall and slender, with enormous black eyes, dark olive skin, and black hair cropped as close as possible, with a calming, professional demeanor that far belies her years and a smile that is absolutely dazzling when it appears.
- Lotharic le Brun - Lawful Cleric, 20, Divine Blessing, Healing x3. STR +1, INT +2, WIS +2. A sorrowful looking young man with a peasant's tan, muddy brown eyes, and a dominating nose, dressed in the livery of a priest of recent vintage. He cares deeply about people, and has an intuition for the right thing to do.
The "default" background I gave them was childhood friends born in Antioch, but a few wanted to come from other cities, which was fine. Main point for me was that they all knew and trusted each other, because I wasn't herding cats, and they agreed to that.
I gave them all max gold - they'll have more than that after the first day of adventuring, and "scrimping" on that first foray isn't our thing; we just assumed that the party had already made ONE foray somewhere else, and blown the extra cash celebrating their first real victory.
Session record from last night to follow soon.