View Full Version : 'Alternate' Campaign?

01-01-2009, 11:58 AM
I picked up a .PDF copy of Power of Faerun yesterday and have spent the last few hours going through it and imagining all kinds of campaign ideas which might be interesting to play through. I liked the idea of setting up a group of players with the means of establishing their own stronghold in a region where there are far more enemies than friends and having a combination of military and politics; fighting the hordes of enemies and forming alliances, recruiting soldiers and farmers... everything a kingdom needs to flourish.

My only question is before I put anything like this together in more than idea is has anyone else ran a game involving more than the normal mystery, dungeon delve or hack and slash campaign? Any tips?

01-01-2009, 12:53 PM
My favorite official campaign setting had a specific focus on these non-delving parts of the game. It was the Birthright campaign setting (http://www.wizards.com/dnd/article.asp?x=dnd/dx20020121x5) (link goes to the anniversary page).

The Birthright setting was ripe for regular adventure and provided a continent filled with interesting peoples to meet and places to explore. Where it took off and became different than standard 2E D&D was that it also included rules for "Regency" which was a system that allowed people to rule over nations, temples, merchant houses, or wizards conclaves. The system they used for this became the main focus of what most people saw as the hook for the setting, and it was a fairly complete rules system that laid out the actions a leader might take to conduct business (trades, spying, armies, exchanges, negotiations, building up your own resources, etc.).

It was another layer on top of the game, but it was an effective layer that simulated nation building without making it too hard. There is an official (for 3E) Birthright fansite (http://www.birthright.net/) out there that you can investigate too.

What you really need though are just the rules. I searched them on Ebay and found this copy (http://cgi.ebay.com/AD-D-Birthright-Campaign-Setting-Boxed-Set-Comp-MINTY_W0QQitemZ220337812370QQcmdZViewItemQQptZLH_D efaultDomain_0?hash=item220337812370&_trksid=p3286.c0.m14&_trkparms=72:1205|66:2|65:12|39:1|240:1318|301:1|2 93:1|294:50). Here it is at Amazon (http://www.amazon.com/Birthright-Campaign-Setting-Advanced-Dungeons/dp/0786901438/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&s=books&qid=1230836346&sr=8-1)too.

The original campaign setting box had all the rules you need for nation building as well as large scale warfare (too simplified for me, but it's there). You wouldn't have to pick up any other product from that campaign setting to get what you need to tweak out yours if you want.

While I never ran Birthright flat out as a "rulership only, no adventure" game, the rules added another layer of meat to the bone for the game and was lots of fun.

01-01-2009, 01:21 PM
Thanks Grimwell, I'm going to take a look and see what I think.

01-01-2009, 01:27 PM
I liked the idea of setting up a group of players with the means of establishing their own stronghold in a region where there are far more enemies than friends and having a combination of military and politics; fighting the hordes of enemies and forming alliances, recruiting soldiers and farmers... everything a kingdom needs to flourish. Any tips?

Tip 1: ask your players if they're interested in what you have in mind. It'd be a shame to spend hours designing intrigue that your players will just hack and slash through.

Tip 2: most of the elements you mentioned make for wonderful backgrounds, so if you do spend hours dreaming them up, you'll have somewhere to put them.

Tip 3: even if your players are interested in the aspects you mentioned, they might not be capable of handling them effectively. So have some training wheels at the ready.
DM: you are the prince of Walesalot, and your companions are your Fighting Council. Your minister of war informs you that the neighboring state has moved its first regiment through the Cursed Gate, transforming them into fiendish ogres, and they're destroying border towns left and right.
Incapable PC: Well, I have two regiments on that border, don't I?
DM: The minister of war says that they're fatigued, wounded, and becoming treasonous.
IPC: Good. Send them to the front. Leave the other 15 regiments in the capitol just in case; the Fighting Council and I will head to the border and spearhead the effort.

01-01-2009, 01:52 PM
The game would very be much on a PBP basis, I think it's a great way to get several people together and developing interesting characters... that could be because of a heavy bias though; I've only ever played by PBP myself ^^'

As for the IPC problem, I was thinking of adding the Knowledge: War skill from third edition and emphasizing the use of Knowledge skills for PC's (if they can't figure the answer out themselves then I can always help 'em as long as they meet the relevant skill check) or for them to find suitable advisors with the skills... besides, it could be a valuable learning experience and be the precursor for a hostile takeover by one of the other PC's or an uprising by those they are in charge of.

01-02-2009, 12:59 AM
Advisors! Go with advisors! Great roleplay opportunities that way abound!

Nothing like being the King and fighting a war when your General is mad at you (not treasonous, but offended over something). Insert any other similar drama and you can see the value. Lots of role and much less roll if you use advisors instead of skills.

01-02-2009, 06:41 PM
Another vote for birthright.

Seems like what you are trying to do.

The best part about birthright was that there were underlying conflicts built in, and each choice that the regent made irked someone, somewhere, or more than pne NPC, or a power group, so there was always drama, and political wheeling and dealing...along with adventures. And a system that you could sent spies and saboteurs if needed, or political envoys, or a lieutenant in your stead, who might do well, or might keep the status quo, or who might blow it, and increase your political difficulties.

You run a small city state, that has in the past been godless, with lots of thievery, and such, and crime semi-rampant. As a result, the alignment of the place is mostly chaotic, and having inherited the place from your deceased uncle, YOU make the decisions that will affect the future of the land, all the while adventuring, also. you might have NPC advisors, played by the DM, or other players that have their own political agendas...

Do you decide to make the church of Haelyn the official religion? If you do what does the temple of Saramie have to say?

Suppose in the effort to bring order to the land, you approve the Haelyn constructing a monastery. You have some monks around now, who bring much wisdom, and lawful thought. They also pay you a moderate tribute.

But now, Now you got these Haelyn people hanging around the kingdom, stepping on the thieves' guild.

But now, thieves are fleeing the towns, and hitting the roads, which is a problem for the other merchant guilds of the area.

Do you try to work with the thieves, perhaps converting them into spies? Or do you push for their extermination?

But meanwhile, the mercenaries like the whole deal, and looking for escort work, move into the kingdom.. but now they need things to do when merchant caravans aren't needing escort, since the local baronies around are trading less with you since they Don't like Haelyn. and the leader of the mercs wants a small keep as a base to operate from.

But here comes the temple with a gift for you...except you find out the gift was from increased tithes to the temple...and now the people of the rural villages are overworked and (since there was a bad harvest from an enemy wizard in the next kingdom over...near starving... leading to a goblin invasion from the east...which means you need more army... the Church of Haelyn will supply paladins, but you need to raise taxes to get even more troops, or rent out mercs, which is it's own problem...

And about that evil wizard, and his master, the duke, who demands you cede land on your western border...

All of that, and more. I think Birthright is far and away the absolute best set of rules for 2e, ever.

And the campaign background itself as a pure BR campaign is pretty good.

I'd definitely advise looking into Birthright, specifically the boxed set. the 3rd ed D&D port that is to be found online is not quite as flavorful.

01-02-2009, 11:32 PM
You had to go and do it now didn't you? You described the Hell that ruling in Birthright can be. Such delightful Hell. :)

I'm quietly converting bloodlines to 4E rules over the next month or so; it's easy and I have an angle the folks at the fansite aren't taking (so I'm not pestering them out of respect for their own ideas), but my next stop with 4E is definitely a Birthright campaign.

To the point of the topic, anyone know about other ruling systems from any edition that cover nations, etc.?

01-04-2009, 12:59 AM
I did a poor cousin end of something like that. The Mumbling Stone game had a bunch of character for BF Egypt getting their fingers in the politics of the country. It was a fun mess as they had no head for the intricate working of a court and the King loved it.

01-05-2009, 07:04 PM
At the moment financially and time-wise I can't dedicate resources to learning a new system (2e) but the Birthright setting looks interesting and I might pick it up later in the year. I've been looking over some more of my old books and I was thinking about maybe doing something in Waterdeep, perhaps starting the heroes off as residents of the poorer areas or visitors around the time of Halaster's Call/the events of Expedition to Undermountain which provide a lot of adventuring in a semi-short amount of time to get their feet wet, money in their pockets and a dread of adventuring perhaps? Who seriously wants to sleep cold, wet and hungry only to get up and take part in ANOTHER fight for their lives!? With said money and perhaps help from Gyudd they'd establish a residence wherever they wished and likely have some friends to help them out.

OR perhaps young military-minded and trained agents of Waterdeep along with a noble or commanding officer (preferably a PC) have been given orders to establish a military outpost somewhere near the Sword Mountains and Kryptgarden Forest as word of the Orc Tribes in the Sword Mountains reforging alliances reaches the city proper. What happens next would be up to the players to deal with, myself throwing obstacles at them of course. Need some walls put up? Hire contractors, enlist the aid of a powerful wizard or make friends with Dwarves. Need reconnaisance, befriend the elves and rangers of Faerun or get yourself a Griffonrider (Algarondan Griffonrider prestige seems to fit the Waterdeep Griffon Cavalary to me...)!