Posts Tagged ‘campaign concepts’

This week, the marvelous folks at Evil Hat put The Dresden Files RPG up for pre-order. While I did not contribute to its playtesting in the way that I hoped to, I figured I’d do a little something and snag the thing as soon as it was available. I’ve given the .pdfs a quick look, and damn. This is good stuff.

(I fully confess that my lack of involvement in the playtest was largely due to my gamebrain being consumed with 4e. And while certain events ameliorated my shame a bit, overall I do look at the Dresden playtest as a missed opportunity on my part.)

There was, however, one thing I did with the playtest rules that I still think is kind of awesome: Supernatural Ithaca, which I’m re-linking here from my now mainly-defunct LJ. I re-read this earlier in the week, and it still feels really solid to me. If I have time, maybe I’ll revise it in light of the final ruleset and my own progress in the Dresden Files books. It’s potentially a setting I’d really like to run or play in.

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While Blizzard and WotC did their part this year to make geekdom’s April 1 amusing, for the first time in years a joke product was announced that I would buy in a millisecond were it to truly become available: The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen: America 1988.

But while we will almost certainly never have the chance to read such a work of genius, we could always run it. So, what would we use? SotC could work, or a PDQ variant; high levels of abstraction strike me as a must, such that MacGyver’s improvisation, B.A.’s badassitude, and Jack Burton’s… well, his je ne sais quoi can all operate on the same playing field.

Of course, I’m also just tempted to do a LoEG: America 1988 Oracle for In a Wicked Age.

EDIT: Dear WordPress, please stop suggesting “possibly related posts”. You do not seem to be very good at it.

If you ask a soldier to tell you the foundation of the Nerathi Empire’s strength, she’ll describe its mighty legions, led by centurions and knight-officers trained in the Imperial War Colleges. If you ask a mage, he’ll expound on the lore and puissance of the Akademeia Mysteriium. Inquire of a priest, and the beneficence of Pelor, Erathis, and Bahamut will be cited. Ask a politician, and expect to hear a long discussion of the Emperor’s Council and the Congress of Satraps.

But if you ask someone who actually knows the answer, they’ll say the secret of the Empire’s strength is the Ritual of Rehabilitation. (Unless they don’t intend to murder you, in which case they’ll almost certainly lie.)

While the origins of the Ritual are long since lost, its potency is such that those of the Council privy to its existence believe it to be either the final gift of an ascending Nerathi archmage, or a dark boon from The King Who Crawls himself. Its working is oddly simple, and once performed its subject cannot work against Nerath in any deed, and is compelled to obey the Emperor and his proxies on pain of instant and painful death.

The Ritual is reserved for criminals sentenced to death, but possessing talents of use to the Empire. Under the direct administration of Knight-Commander Walla Ramandus,  they are repeatedly sent into hideous danger in service of their King… but the few who survive for five years are set free. In Ramandus’s presence, these criminals are always referred to as the Redemption Regiment; amongst themselves, they’re the Suicide Squad.

Mechanics of play:

  1. All players, including the initial DM, create 2-3 different characters they’d be interested in playing, at a level decided upon by the group (1st is the default). Use of the Character Builder and the inherent bonuses described in the DMG2 are recommended to make this process relatively quick.
  2. The initial DM chooses an adventure to run from Dungeon Delve. (Other sources will work, but the stuff in DD seems ready-made for this campaign structure.) If there are three or fewer PCs, pick an adventure of their level; 4 or 5, an adventure 1-2 levels higher. [EDIT: Sounds like the Delves are harder than I’d thought; using at-level delves for large groups and level-1 delves for smaller groups could be the way to go here.] Use the hooks provided to explain why the mission is vital to Nerath’s survival. (Of course, the occasional “Why the hell are we even here?” mission can help set the mood.)
  3. As a group, the players each choose a PC to play. If they haven’t already, they should figure out what the PC did to end up in the Squad. They should also come up with one thing outside of mere survival that drives that character — the more melodramatic, the better! — and get a general sense of what the PCs think of each other.
  4. Run the delve, with the DM trying to make it as bloody as possible. If things go pear-shaped, the surviving PCs can try to retreat, but they — or their replacements — will keep getting sent back until the job is done.
  5. After the mission is complete, they’re a Player’s Turn à la Mouse Guard, in which the players get to call for scenes in which they address their melodrama, deal with a PC’s death, investigate some oddity revealed during the delve, or just get into loud arguments with Ramandus.
  6. Decide who’s gonna DM the next session, and call it a night.

Potential issues to be addressed in play:

  1. What happens to those who do their five years?
  2. Are the known effects of the Ritual the only ones?
  3. How do the missions and attitudes of the Regiment PCs change when they hit the paragon tier? The epic? Or will your Regiment be limited to those tiers from the start?
  4. If level 30 is the apotheosis for the characters, is there a similar one waiting for the Regiment? Will it herald Nerath’s canonical fall?
  5. Who or what is Walla Ramandus? As the one consistent NPC, she will likely be played differently by different DMs: make this a feature, not a bug. Maybe she’s just a well-trained and canny swordmage, maybe she’s a fallen exarch, maybe she’s something else entirely. What she should never be is satisfied.

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This is a campaign I’m definitely interested in running/playing, for reasons I’ll explore in a later post. It is, of course, completely ripped from DC Comics. Comments, questions, and critiques are welcome.