Wednesday, 1 December 2010

Musings & thinking ahead to the next campaign!

Setting search
I am wondering what setting I’d at some point like to run some non-generic fantasy in. As much as I am enjoying Kingmaker, it is a generic-quasi-Greyhawk setting (magical Europe)…. And in that respect it feels limited/ limiting… and even non-magical…. (no worries to those playing it - it is still a blast - I am just aware that I need to also slowly plan ahead - it is How I Am ;)
But what next (as in in 2+ years time)…. Various settings interest me:

  • Shattered world concept – SW have a setting for it ‘sundered skies’ – but it is not quite what I am after (don’t like linear paths to start with)

  • Swords and Sorcery concept – ala Conan/ Fafhrd and the Gray Mouser, with low magic (Iron Heroes perhaps?)

Post-apocalyptic world – taking some of the ideas from Dark Sun – but in a different political setup.

  • Steampunk – early age – ala Defoe (the comic) meets New Crobuzon from Mieville’s work (but I am aware an rpg is apparently been made for this). Iron Kingdoms d20 has some classes and gear which could be nicked for this purpose.

1600s Europeala Solomon Kane (but not a replica of that) – Gothicblack powder weapons, clockwork, think Sleepy Hollow.

Party concept
I also have another conundrum –what kind of adventuring party concept? I like to set up a game, in liaison with the Team, as to what kind of party angle they would like a stab at, as well as what kind of game….. Having made the guys I game with play good pcs, and with Stuart chomping at the bit to play more of a ‘grey’ moral pc, (ala the anti-heroes of old, as well as Conan/ Fafhrd being heroes who were also pursuing self interest)… I am keen to have a party set up which captures those possibilities…..

Thus possible party structures:
  1. Mercenaries - like Conan was for part of his career - in the sense they are members of a merc group, have a code of honour, are not evil, but neither are they good - but certainly would be united against the hordes of chaos etc. Could be any pc classes & pure sandbox - although they could seek out missions (for money), as well as developing their own ways of making hard cash - works in low magic S&S/gothic/planar settings OR
  2. Thieves Guild - they could start off as lowly scum in the city's Thieves' Guild - and the first arc is them rising to mediocrity in the ranks: rogue, fighter, ranger, wizard/ sorcerer - play it out like GTA - with missions, as well as with sandbox - think the Sopranos meets Fafhrd & Grey Mouser here - works in an urban adventure setting - and events could see them having to leave it for a while.....(eg falling out with their bosses).... works in gothic/ S&S/ planar settings OR
  3. Witch Hunters – they could be members of a religious order & hangers on: inquisitor, paladin, cleric/cavalier, wizard and rogue/ranger - again like GTA - a mix of sandbox and missions from your bosses. Think Van Helsing & Solomon Kane here - works in the gothic/ planar setting
Obviously some party concepts may work better in a certain campaign. Here's one example:

Witch-hunter setting/ campaign - fleshing it out a little
Reasons for joining the witch hunters: personal gain, joy in hunting, with one party member possibly playing the role of a believer in the cause, but also believing in using whatever tools (eg other pcs despite their greed), and methods they can (since they can rationalise anything in their warped ethical code)

Style of game....thus you have a party moving through the countryside, like in The Witchfinder General, hunting down trouble - for gain (honour, gold, power, women's favour, fear of locals, etc). It could also be part urban - Gothing up Ptolus for example - its backdrop of the Spire, and all the undead in the graveyards is a perfect backdrop for a Gothic witch hunter game for d20.

Development. Of course - as pcs progress, the game could explore how the pcs develop - or otherwise - a broader perspective - eg morality etc - but initially - for 5 levels or so – the game could encourage them to act it out as immoral basterds doing pursuing self interest in the name of their gawd.

Technology levels: I am thinking the backdrop would be airships, guns, etc - but these would add flavour initially - rather than being the centre of attention, eg the party could have either a pc or maybe better npc arcane mechanik in their mercenary band who helps upgrade gear - so long as the pcs get them the resources they need to do the work on their portable workshop inside their steam-wagon. Defoe is of interest here - with the zombie-apocalypse as the backdrop, and the famous scientists of the day pressing fast-forward on the tech levels as they try to create better guns and tech to beat the zombie hordes - applying ideas from Deadlands to 1669 England.

System: either
Pathfinder – with classes such as the new ones from the APG: inquisitor, alchemist, cavalier (?)… as well as old ones: paladin, cleric, rogue – with tech levels – I prefer those of 1600AD-ish for this ..

could be the other setting/ system for this game of course. 3e or 2e this is the question!!

Plenty of loose ends here - assuming I stick with this concept:
  • what system? WFRP (2e/3e) or Pathfinder (I know there are others - but these will do for me)
  • tech levels: Solomon Kane of 1600 - black powder only; or the more souped up stuff from Defoe, or even New Crobuzon, with trains..... Renaissance/ just pre-industrialisation/ industrialisation - all of these choices have profound consequences!!what world? Do I modify/ modernise an existing one - what would happen to it if.... (advantages - people may be familiar with it, eg WFRP - but in an industrial age, so some things would be strange), or start from stratch? (won't upset people, but involves more work!) This partly depends on 'what system'.
  • What world? Do I want to modify/modernise a familiar world - what would it look like with these new technologies/ if a zombie-apocalypse happened etc or create a new one from scratch? Each has stengths and weaknesses.
  • Is this the game I want to run? (ie I still need to explore the other ideas as well!

More musings another time. Time to bust a groove now and do some work!


  1. For the 1600's Clockwork & Chivalry has been getting good reviews. It's for BRP -- well, Runequest technically -- but if you didn't want to run that, it should be easy to convert.

    That Miéville rpg has been in production for at least two years, so I wouldn't bother waiting for it. If you went down the d20 route, they devoted an issue of Dragon -- #352 -- to the setting, and you should still be able to get that from eBay or Paizo.

  2. Oh, and I'd love to play in a fantasy GTA thieves' guild game. It's a setting I've thought about running a number of times, but never got around to it.

  3. Sandbox is the key - whatever IT is, it has to be sandbox.

    Certainly, I would love to have a go at a Thieves' Guild GTA-style sandbox type game.... which setting would be the next question?

    The classic S&S setting? This probably gets my vote. :)

  4. ooh. Great review of Clockwork and Chivalry :)

  5. For a thieves' guild game, you want an urban setting, but aside from that anything works. You could go from a gritty Lankhmar-esque sword and sorcery setting, through classic mediaeval and Victoriana, all the way up to a modern-day GTA type game.

    The wider setting is almost incidental, as long as you have a rich urban environment.

  6. For me, I think it would have to be a gritty Lankmar-esque game.... and I may just use Ptolus for it - with a few changes.... or just start from scratch. There are some other 'cities' out there too... Although I have 2 years of planning time, using a pre-existing setting can save a lot of headaches, and help one concentrate on the scenarios, the sandbox elements, how the existing power groups are in conflict etc etc.... A rich urban setting is what you are after - you are right. Will have to look into whether I can put my imprint on Ptolus (and thus give it a Lankmaresque feel) or whether it is best to start from the beginning... who knows!!

  7. You could also try TSR's old Lankhmar setting box, if you can find it cheap. Or if you already have it!

  8. I do. Haven't Mongoose brought out a new version too? Is that any good?

  9. I'd like to butt in only to say great art and great ideas. I enjoyed just reading your thoughts. A glimpse of how much fun there is out there - or should I say in there? - just waiting to be had, and so much potential for detailing.

  10. Re Sundered Skies, I don't think there's anything linear there. The whole point of q Plot Points campaign is that it's a sandbox where players encounter hooks into a larger metaplot as they explore. Whether they follow those hooks or not is up to the players and the GM.

    Certainly not what I would be looking for in that kind of setting though - I'm far too influenced by Spelljammer.

    Of course, SW did a Solomon Kane setting book too, but I'm not paid to advertise...

  11. I am sort of after a non-metaplot game - Have Sundered Skies - and wished there was more background/ setting material and far less PP material.

    I have ordered that book K recommended - Clockwork and Chivalry - Watson is a good writer too. I am curious about the SK game for SW. I will try and prise that off Stuart sometime and see what it looks like.

    I do enjoy this creative process.... I tend to use a setting, and then have fun in it - there is only so much time in the day alas, and I have little most days (apart from today!!) ;)

  12. Yes, Mongoose released Lankhmar Unleashed for Runequest. I don't know how good it is, but it's about three times as big as TSR's Lankhmar: City of Adventure, which is generally regarded as being very good.

  13. I have just ordered Lankhmar: Unleashed from Mongoose's store (in sales) - for £8.49 incl P&P. Bargain! :)

  14. I see your embargo on buying new stuff has ended!

  15. er.... yeah! Oops! Your fault, your fault!! lol! :)

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