Dungeons & Dragons
A Tale of Fae and Foe
This campaign takes place in an original setting, somewhere between Arthurian legend and the Grimm’s fairytales in tone. It would take place in a world resembling medieval Europe, with kings, knights, and maidens fair. Magic will be scarce – a hermitty old wizard that lives in the burnt-out ruins of an abandoned castle, or the crazy old witch that lives deep in the dark woods. Elves live in the secret twilit places of the world, but everyone knows they’re not to be trusted. And beyond those distant mountains there be dragons. Or so the stories tell. No one you know has actually seen them for themselves.
Player characters will all be human. For variety, I may allow you to play as some of the other D&D races, but we’ll simply use their stats and racial abilities and treat them as different “human” cultures. For example, Dwarves might be a hardy, Norse-like people from the far North, while Elves might be from a group of wild, Pict-like people that live closer to nature. Proper “elves” in this setting would be more like D&D’s Eladrin, and would not be a playable race.
Classes would also be somewhat restricted. Martial classes like the fighter, ranger, rogue, and warlord would all be options. Clerics and paladins could be medieval crusader-type characters. A few other classes might be available as well once I work out more details of the setting.
The campaign would begin with all of the heroes arriving at the spring festival in the capital of their kingdom. Here the king holds a tournament giving any warrior a chance to win money and fame. There are also religious ceremonies and much commerce going on, so there will be a variety of reasons for the player characters to be present. Of course, things begin to go awry, and soon the heroes will be thrust into an adventure that takes them deeper and deeper into the more fantastic elements of the world as they strive to save the kingdom from impending doom.
For some time I have thought it would be interesting to experience a roleplaying campaign where the player characters were in charge of a small town or settlement on the frontier. Over the course of the campaign they could run the town as they see fit, and would need to protect it and help it prosper. You could do this using many different RPGs, but I think it might work well in Gamma World because the main body of rules are pretty light and fast, leaving plenty of room to focus on the town building.
To start with, the player characters would be funded by some sort of corporate entity, providing them the resources needed to found their settlement. However, the company would expect a return on their investment, so the players would need to quickly find a way to produce resources in their settlement so that they can pay off their loans and care for their own needs. Some time would be spent exploring the area surrounding their settlement and confronting the dangers therein. They’ll have some neighbors, who may be friendly or not, and interacting with them could produce useful allies or dangerous enemies.
The composition of the town, including buildings, trades, and non-player characters will depend largely on the choices of the players. Players can also govern their town as they see fit, perhaps adopting democracy, or running it as an iron-clad dictatorship. All-in-all, I picture this as a cross between a typical RPG campaign and a city building simulation.
Legend of the Five Rings
To Court in Winter
Legend of the Five Rings is a fantasy roleplaying game inspired by the cultures and mythologies of Asia. It draws its greatest influence from Japan, but it also takes inspiration from the cultures of China and Korea. The game is set in the Emerald Empire in a land called Rokugan. The heroes are generally members of the samurai class.
Every winter in the Emerald Empire, samurai lords hold winter court in their castles and palaces. They invite some of their own vassals, along with guests from other families and clans, to spend the winter months in their home. Ostensibly, this is an opportunity for the lords to display hospitality to their guests, providing good food, comfortable accommodations, and refined entertainment. However, winter court is also an important time for politics and diplomacy. It is an opportunity for alliances to be formed, for marriages to be arranged, for favors to be bartered. For the cunning and daring, it may also be an opportunity to advance your own status or to weaken the social position of an enemy.
Somewhere between the ages of fourteen and eighteen, a child of the samurai class undergoes gempukku, a ceremony that marks their passage into adulthood and their status as a full-fledged samurai. The player characters in this campaign would be young samurai, attending their first winter court after having completed their gempukku. Playing inexperienced samurai might be helpful to my players, since they’re likely less familiar with the setting of this game than with others. They can learn details of the setting as their characters do. Having the campaign take place at winter court allows players to create characters of any clan or family with a reasonable explanation for why they would all be gathered in the same place at the same time.
This campaign would take place over the eight weeks of winter court. Each player character would arrive at court with an objective in mind – something that would bring some benefit to their clan or family in the coming year if they can accomplish it. Players would have the duration of the winter court to try to accomplish that objective. Along the way, they may find that they can work together with other players’ characters, or they may find that some of their goals are at odds with one another. It will be up to each player to navigate the political landscape at the winter court and figure out with whom they can ally themself.
This campaign would follow a group of young cadets at the Imperial Academy on the planet Corulag, at around the time of the classic movie trilogy. I’m imagining something similar in tone to Ender’s Game, except with young adults instead of kids. Player characters may be at the academy because they genuinely believe in the ideals of the Empire, because they’re trying to live up to family expectations, or simply because they want something more from life than what they had at home.
The story will follow the trials and tests that the player characters experience in this highly competitive environment. At times they may have to work together, and at other times they’ll be competing for the top spot in their classes. Each character may be hoping for a commission in a specific branch of the Imperial Army or Navy, perhaps even flying with one of the Empire’s elite TIE squadrons, but their actual commissions will depend on their performance.
Along the way, the player characters will gradually get a clearer picture of what the Empire truly is, and how it really operates. They may find themselves becoming disillusioned. Some might decide to defect to the Rebel Alliance. Others may simply go AWOL and attempt to scrape out a life for themselves on the fringe. A few may decide that the Empire is still the best thing for this galaxy, even if they don’t always agree with the methods of individual officers. In any case, the campaign will continue to follow the stories of all of these characters and eventually tie them together in some sort of climatic finale.
Because of the Empire’s anti-alien sentiments, I would probably not allow more than one alien player character. Any class but Jedi would be fine for player characters. I will allow one Force-user among the group, but keep in mind that a latent talent with the Force is bound to attract the worst kind of attention at an Imperial Academy.