Sunday, October 10, 2010

RE: Sorta Off-Topic: Political Intrigue?

RE: [greytalk] Sorta Off-topic: Political Intrigue?
Wednesday, August 8, 2007 1:25 PM
From: "Karl White" Add sender to Contacts

You may want to look at Atlas Games’ Dynasties and Demagogues sourcebook. It contains a lot of material about creating and running political adventures and campaigns.

In the last campaign I ran, ToEE and beyond that started from 1st level, I mapped out the main protagonists and power groups in advance. This included:

· The deities
· The leaders of the temple
· The power groups in Hommlet and Nulb
· The wider Verbobonc power groups and the regional groups.

Having read through the module several times I started to ask how and why the leaders had the powerful magic items they had, how they interacted with each other, what their operational responsibilities and reporting lines were, any relationships and so on and so forth. I found that once I started asking questions and providing answers, that the richness of the setting increased dramatically.

In the end I had about 15 different power groups that the party were interacting with either directly or indirectly in a way that shaped events in the game. In many cases an event occurred that the party had no knowledge of and would not come directly into play but would affect the campaign.

For example The bandit group at the start were concentrating on attacking Elven caravans rather than human ones. This was due to their leader’s wish to have Celene’s relations with Verbobonc sour and to close the border. The humans, not losing many caravans did not put a great deal of effort into stopping them. Meanwhile the spy leader who reports to the Temple is aware that the caravans he is identifying as good targets are not always being taken, whilst more well defended, lower value targets are being targeted. He knows another intelligence agency must be at work to pick the targets and would normally think that there is a subversive element in the Temple and root it out, but he is also aware that somebody else has been promoted and has responsiblity for recruiting for the temple, which is a role he used to be tasked with. He is now unsure of his position and is wondering if he has disappointed his masters. By the party driving off/capturing/killing the Bandit leader, the trade caravans resume their normal targeting and the relations between Celene and Verbobonc resume as Verbobonc takes a greater interest in the loss of its caravans.

The party found that they had more trouble from the good factions than the evil. They broke a Gnomish Law (in my campaign I had Verbobonc originally owned by the Gnomes and thus the laws are derived from Gnomish Law) and the St Cuthbertines were insisting the law was enforced whilst the Druids, rangers and state (through the wizard) were pleased the party had driven off the bandits and did not think that exiling them for something that was in their eyes merely a (serious) protocol mishap was the wisest course of action. Things were very tense for a while until the bandit leader killed the druid leader and the family of the rangers leader, then it got worse. The rangers went after the bandit leader thereby abandoning their post (it took many weeks to catch him and left the rangers weakened and in the Wild Coast) and the St Cuthbertines took control of the village so that the rule of law could be re-established. The party was exiled and the village was poorly defended and severe political in-fighting between the church, state and the Gnomes throughout Verbobonc occurred. Eventually leading to full Gnomish autonomy when the state found the only way to appease the church was to change some ‘out-dated Gnomish Laws’.

Why did the party have such an impact when they were only mid level? Look at the demographics of the state. With the Greyhawk demographics including population by level and class it turns out there are very few mid-level character classes and the party would be a significant resource for the state in its fight against the Temple. With the rangers gone, exiling the party would have left the Hommlet region very exposed to the now apparent Temple.

I guess my final point is, look at the background population, there may be fewer personalities than you would consider and the players can soon have a major impact if they are in the nation’s top 50 most powerful people

From: []
Sent: 07 August 2007 19:40
Subject: Re: [greytalk] Sorta Off-topic: Political Intrigue?

The level is flexible; for one group, they'll be somewhere between 7-10th (depending on where I put it in the campaign), for the other the level will be wide open because we'll roll up new characters just for this. The 7-10th level group is very familiar with my DMing style, the other group is not yet...although I could run them through some more standard fair if it's an advantage for the players to be familiar first.

My long-time players tend to like an overarching mystery, interspersed with fairly "standard" dungeon crawls, city adventures, or overland action. For an example of our usual style of play, here's a list of the adventures I strung together to get my PCs to 6th level, with an overarching mystery I described earlier, set in the original '83 boxed set:

- Intro to my amnesia/alternate Greyhawks campaign, starting in a cave south of Hommlet.
- Mad God's Key (Dungeon Adventure), changed to a cult of Orcus
- An altered version of Dungeon's "Shut-In", with a xvart culprit to lead to:
- An altered version of Mona's River of Blood, set in Verbobonc
- T1: Village of Hommlet
- Some overland travel to an oracle in Perrenland, then south through the Vesve for a small incursion into Delvenbrass, where a gate lead to:
- The City Beyond the Gate
- Returning from this adventure, the party is transported unknowingly to an alternate, FtA-era Oerth, where the overrun city of Chendl surprises them.
- Overland travel to Safeton, where eventually the party locates their secret contact. This shadow-dancer takes them to the Plane of Shadow, and eventually back to 576-era Oerth.
- They follow a priest of Iuz south across Woolly Bay, and I ran them through Stormwrack's "Shatterhull Isle"
- C1: Hidden Shrine of Tamoachan
- West to the base of the Hellfurnaces, where they discovered the lost Suloise city of Lov Ulos, which served as one end of the tunnels in:
- UK6: All That Glitters

The over-arching mystery was covered in more detail months ago, but a quick recap is that the PCs were brought here from the FtA-era 'Hawk, their memories wiped out, and now they're seeking the ochtycs (?sp)...they don't know if yet, but they used to be demigods, and the ochtycs will allow them to regain a portion of their power and eventually go after the Soul Husks to take Iuz down a notch.

Once the party reached the Sea of Dust (at the end of All That Glitters), we switched DMs, so that's where things currently stand. My next plan is some interaction with the Silent Ones of Keoland, some information-brokering with an agent of Evard, a trip through White Plume Mountain, and eventually the ToEE. At this point I haven't decided whether to make the Great Kingdom material before or after the ToEE.

On Mon Aug 6 17:03 , Marc-Tizoc "Gonzᬥz" sent:

What level will the characters start? Are the players experienced in general and with your DMing? Please describe your usual style of play / DMing.

MTG wrote:

Hi MTG (and kiddies),

Didn't really have any plans yet. I thought I'd try my hand at some general political intrigue adventures, then re-read Ivid for ideas. My group has swapped DMs for a while, so I've got a lot more down-time to work on this than I'd usually have. In the meantime, my plan was to read through Scott's South Province reports (sadly, I never had time to read them before -- sorry Scott!). I also thought about looking into the reviews of some Birthright adventures, but that's a guess on my part.

But in general, I was hoping for more guidance on the pacing of this type of adventure, interesting ways for PCs to use skills that might be unique to a political environment, etc. (that's why I thought it was off-topic). Plotting our the political entanglements isn't where I'm worried, it's running a new type of adventure and keeping it interesting for the players. But once I get this figured out, I'll be more than happy to share. :-)

Thanks again for your help!

~Jim (Basiliv)

On Fri Aug 3 20:23 , Marc-Tizoc "Gonz�lez" sent:

Jim and fellow GTers,

I apologize for not sending this email earlier as I'd hoped.

Jim, I suggest you provide a few more details. Where you base your initial campaign is important for helping us provide further suggestions.

For example, I've imagined a campaign based in North Province that deals with the ramifications of Grenell's machinations regarding the fall of Bone March, starting in one of the coastal towns, Bellport, for example, and developing the PCs' knowledge about Grenell's miscalculation / betrayal, along with the Iron Schism, as it plays out with the church armies of Hextor, that center of training for Hextor sohei (Arrowstrand?), and featuring the distaff death knight that Gary Holian detailed.

Alternatively, Scottenkainen has reported repeatedly on his campaigns in the South Province.

Do you get my drift? Share more of your ideas, so we can riff off yours.


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