House Rules Achievements

The Story So Far

You have been hired, contracted or otherwise affiliated with The Treasure Hunting Agency of Capable Operatives (THACO, or The Agency).

You work for the agency’s Acquisitions Division. Scholars, scouts, and spies alike all gather information about the existance and whereabouts of lost treasures and artifacts, but the actual dirty work of venturing into almost certain danger falls to you.

About Thaco

THACO was founded by retired adventurers who decided to take up permanent residence in the Westport. Over time, the agency has grown in size and has offices in a number of large cities and a handful of small towns.


The Agency isn’t exceptionally well known outside of its home city of Westport, but also not entirely unheard of.

Opinions of THACO vary however. Some welcome their presence — side effects of acquiring treasure have a frequent side effect of dealing with “monster problems”. Others think that lost relics ought to stay that way, and venturing into King Whatshisname’s tomb to find the fabled Crown of Radiance (+1 to cheesy magic item names) is a blatant disrepect to the dead. A few are adventurers (or would-be adventurers) themselves, annoyed that the Agency beat them to the treasures they were seeking.

Most who know of the Agency agree that the Acquisitions Division tends to feature individuals of certain talents, however, and there are occasional side jobs they request.

Adventure Style

My intent is to run a series of mini-adventures, representing different assignments your characters volunteer for. These adventurers may be as short as a single session or they might be a few sessions long, but there isn’t one giant overarching campaign (yet, anyways).

Your PCs are not the only employees of the acquisitions division, and the modular approach means a few things:

  • You may sometimes have opportunities to bring alternate PCs to the table.
  • I can better accomodate certain players not being available for certain sessions.
  • Opportunities exist for guest DMing for an adventure.

While the adventures are intended to be bite-sized, they are not neccessarily 100% isolated, and you might find yourself revisiting a past location in a future adventure.

Loot Distribution

As you work for THACO, what you find on your adventures becomes agency property.

That said, your line of work boasts extremely lucrative pay. You will receive ample coin for your services in addition to a small stipend for expenses incurred during your adventurers, and often you will receive a portion of the actual treasures recovered.

(Game mechanics: The actual amount of treasure obtained by PCs is on par with what a standard 4e campaign would award, it’s merely the manner of obtaining it that varies.)

Character Creation

Besides the exceptions below, any legal first level character may be permitted (I reserve veto power). “Legal” means that it can be built in the current online character builder without claiming to be houseruled.


  • Characters starting at level 3 or higher gain one Expertise feat for free. This feat slot cannot be retrained into a non-Expertise feat, but follows regular rules for retraining otherwise.
  • Do not check any of the “Additional Character Options” (Dark Sun, Inherent Bonuses, Spellscarred, etc.)
  • Some of the more exotic races and such may be disallowed unless you can come up with a good reason why A) you’d work for THACO and b) THACO would actually hire you.
  • Heavily setting-specific feats are best avoided (Dragonmarks, etc), though we may be able to come up with a mechanically identical alternative that makes sense.
  • I reserve veto power for anything…

Secondary Characters
If you’d like to build more than one character, you may periodically have the option to play alternate characters (usually when we start a new adventure).

All characters have the same XP and will receive comparable loot, as they’re presumably working for the agency as well (just ‘off-camera’).

Campaign World and Backstory

My campaign world follows certain quantum physics theories about not existing until observed. In other words, locations, settings, and history don’t actually exist until they’re needed, and everything is flexible.

I may borrow locations and lore from Eberron or Forgotten Realms, I may make some up, all depending on what strikes me at the moment.

This can also apply to your backstory. You can use whatever you can think of (within reason!), using material from Forgotten Realms, Eberron, a generic setting (“I was cast out from a great dwarven kingdom for spilling ale.”), etc, and I’ll try to work it in. (I may make changes.)

Backstory Considerations

Some things to consider and questions to think about while building your character.

You should try to come up with a reason for your current association with the agency:

  • THACO only hires the best. Dead adventurers tend to be expensive to replace, and bad for publicity to boot.
  • The acquisitions division is known for its exceptional pay and the frequent adventures.
  • Did you have a dire need for gold? Perhaps you or your family is in a great deal of debt, or perhaps you have business ventures of your own you’d like to fund?
  • Did you simply have a thirst for adventure?
  • Did you visit one of THACO’s offices and apply there? Did a THACO expedition visit your town and catch your interest? Perhaps a scout from THACO noticed your activities and recruited you?
  • Perhaps you signed up to try to get away from something — perhaps you looked for an assignment in a far-away place to get away from your king’s forced conscription in a war… or maybe you’re wanted in your homeland for crimes, guilty or otherwise
  • Maybe you’ve already been working for the agency but in a different capacity. Perhaps you used to pore over musty tomes and faded treasure maps trying to learn information about lost relics, or you were one of the agency’s many scouts or spies.

Gameplay / Technical Considerations:

We’ll play online using a combination of Maptools and Skype.

Maptools requires Java 1.6 or later (aka Java 6 installed):

Maptools is at:

You want to download 1.3 build 87 ( for Windows or maptool-1.3.b87.dmg on OSX). You must have this exact build; do not upgrade to a later version unless told to do so. (Maptools builds are incompatible with each other.)

We’ll use Maptools for, well, maps, combat, and dice rolling. Maptools has a built-in text chat, which will be reserved for purely mechanical things (dice rolling) and what I’ll call lower-priority side-channel conversations (i.e. if you have a question but don’t want to stop the flow of combat/storytelling/etc to ask it). All Maptools chat is considered out of character.

The bulk of our conversation will be voice over Skype.

Tokens a.k.a. Miniatures

You’ll want to draw/paint/steal off the internets a picture for your character and then convert it to a ‘token’ for maptools. You’ll also want to do this for any companions, familiars, etc. your character has.

Searching for custom Neverwinter Nights or Baldurs Gate portraits is one way to find a lot of stealable pictures ;)

To convert your picture to a suitable image to use as a token, try TokenTool:
1. Launch Tokentool from
2. Drag and drop an image into the tool
3. Choose an appropriate outline (preferably one of the circles)
4. Click and drag the picture around so the outline is around the part of the image you want to keep. (You can adjust the size as well)
5. Save the resulting image.

Character Sheets

Upload copies of characters to iplay4e:

Once this is done, email me with your google account name or iplay4e handle so I can add you to the campaign.

You may use whatever means you’d prefer to actually manage your character — whether you want to use iplay4e, Maptools, another online tool, or printed character sheets is up to you. You should keep the iplay4e version of your character sheet up-to-date however. That leads into the next bit of extra credit, however:

Maptools Macros & Campaign Frameworks

You do not need to do any of this, but you can if you want. It is labor-intensive!

Maptools supports creating macros on tokens. It’s complicated, but very powerful. At the most basic level, you can create a button that rolls d20+9 for a power’s attack roll, 1d8+4 for a power’s damage roll and some text that explains what’s gonig on.

I am personally using at least some aspects of DeviantNull’s D&D4e Character Sheet framework, located here:

You may, at your option, create your character, powers, etc. in the framework. If you opt to do this, please do it and test things out before an actual session, and ensure all numbers match up with your character sheet. Do not spam, test, or otherwise adjust macros once a session is actually underway.

You can also use the framework ‘just a tiny bit’ to make my life a little easier by building a character with the correct stats, skills, HP and defenses (AC/Fort/Reflex/Will), doing dice rolls and power management by other means (aforementioned printed character sheet/iplay4e/etc).

Again you don’t need to do this at all, this is only if you feel like it. My ultimate goal is to use the tools only as much as we need to and try to stay as close to an actual tabletop game as we can.

Treasure Hunting Agency of Capable Operatives