RogerBW's Blog

Campaign Ideas 20 June 2015

A game-related post for Free RPG Day. These are not "campaigns I plan to run", just ideas that someone could do the hard work on to turn into a game. I might run them at some point if the players are enthused; I would be nearly as happy if someone else took inspiration from them and ran something related that I could play in.

Millennium steals the basic idea of Mage: PCs are among the few "proper" mages, and most of society either doesn't believe in them at all or is opposed to them. But rather than the wide-ranging Mage approach to spell-casting, PCs are using Cabalistic techniques, perhaps with Path/Book magic. This will severely restrict what they can do, and this is a campaign where PCs try to stay too small to be noticed rather than charge up against the big bad guys (though in the long term this could change). Following my preference for transformational moments, PCs will be the first mages of their type, or at least something close to first; but the stars are right, and magical stuff is popping up everywhere. (The ancient conspiracy of mages, which these things always seem to need, should see its own power increasing as magical stuff in general becomes easier. Or maybe it isn't, which would also be interesting.)

Ars ScientiƦ is a post-collapse game: scholars attempt to rebuild lost knowledge. This blatantly rips off Ars Magica and would run in the same format, with each player generating one scientist and one or more bodyguard types (who are probably several tech levels lower, at least at first). The biologist wants a sample of a giant mutant venus fly-trap? The physicist needs a proper high-power laser from the radiation-blasted ruins of Cambridge? Guess you're escorting him into the rubble, then.

The Turbulent Century was mentioned at greater length in the podcast for April: a fantasy version of 14th-century Europe, with pointless wars and a divided Church and mad nuns. This also has some elements of Ars Magica, in that a serious mage is not a PC but an NPC patron. It starts with dungeon bashing, then moves into the much more dangerous realm of civil society.

Wives and Sweethearts: a small ship of the Royal Navy (in space) visits old and new worlds and tries to keep the peace. Tech assumptions need to be set up to enable a ship's captain to be the ultimate local authority: no FTL communications, and long operations without the need to refuel. (Age of Sail in space, though the attitude to people and tech is closer to John Winton.) Sometimes the problem is alien artefacts, sometimes it's a colonial governor calling for help, sometimes it's personal problems on board. The ship is capable of handily beating off pirates or civilian attacks (it has moderate capabilities in several areas as well as one specific military job at which it's especially good, something like a Type 23 frigate), but will have to run from bigger military vessels. I suspect, as people have said about Star Trek games, that it would make sense for players to have several characters: one department head, one slightly more expendable crewman who goes on landing parties, and perhaps one other miscellaneous character.

Tags: rpgs

  1. Posted by Owen Smith at 12:37pm on 21 June 2015

    I've never seen troupe play work. In an Ars Magica campaign under Mike Tittensor most people wanted to play their mage all the time, I tried to play my secondary characters but it was seen by the mages as that character getting above his station, so they killed the stonemason despite having a castle in need of major renovation. That campaign didn't work well.

    I have seen two characters for each player work in an Ancient Greece campaign, but they were of equal power in that campaign and it was just to fit a split of who wanted to go on a quest and who needed to stay in Lapithae.

  2. Posted by RogerBW at 12:48pm on 21 June 2015

    What I'm looking for is not so much troupe play as the ability to have every player involved both during major ship operations, where you want all the senior crew, and on a landing party, where you might have one or two senior people but not all of them. The selection of characters would be determined by the situation rather than "oh, I'll play my main character today". That's the ideal, anyway.

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