I'm still running Nu World. I'll write up the many sessions that I've run sooner or later. It's been a fun game, though sometimes frustrating.
Today, I want to jot down some thoughts about the next campaign I'd like to run. I don't know if I will run it, but I'd like to.
New DawnSome time in the early noughts, there was a D&D setting (called the Midnight) that was basically Middle Earth, but only if Sauron had won. The concept was that the PCs would be the resistance, striking back against the orcish oppressors. It was a neat concept, but it didn't mesh very well with D&D3e mechanics and never really went anywhere. It's something that could work pretty well in GURPS, I think.
Another thing that's been on my mind recently is GURPS Mass Combat. It's one of the neater yet more useless supplements for GURPS: a reasonably playable system for conducting large scale battles in GURPS, determining the outcomes, and finding out how they affect the PCs. It's mechanically interesting, well researched, and probably pretty playable, but I've never had a GURPS campaign where it would be useful. I'd like to justify my purchase of that book, so obviously I need to come up with a campaign concept that centers around mass battles.
Centuries ago, valiant heroes strove to defeat the Dark Lord. They failed, and his dread empire conquered the civilized lands. Hundreds of uprisings and rebellions have been launched against the Dark Lord, but he and his minions have triumphed over them and launched savage reprisals. These days, the Resistance consists of little more than scattered cells, training in secret and hoarding their last few weapons of war.
Rumors speak of great events: turmoil in the capitol, including the death of the Dark Lord himself at the hands of his lieutenants. It is said that brave souls in the Isenmarch have successfully slain the governor there, and once again free men administer their own lands. If the Resistance has succeeded once, it may succeed again. You and your comrades are brave, cunning, and determined. Can you overthrow the Shadow and make a new dawn for freedom?
Character RolesNew Dawn supports 5 niches:
- The General: High levels of Leadership, Strategy, and Tactics, probably some Luck and Charisma, and stuff like that. The overall battlefield commander of the Resistance forces and the PC that has to understand the Mass Combat rules the most.
- The Spymaster: High levels of Intelligence Analysis. Does Intelligence Analysis stuff in the Mass Combat minigame and is probably some kind of Face, Assassin, or Archer in personal combat.
- The Spellcaster: Every adventuring party needs someone who does magic. Probably doesn't directly contribute to the Mass Combat minigame.
- The Champion: The best melee fighter of the adventuring band. Contributes to Mass Combat through individual heroic action.
- The Scout: The best ranged fighter and sneaky observer of the adventuring band. Contributes to Mass Combat through individual heroic action during the Reconnaissance phase.
Depending on people's preferences, the Scout and the Spymaster could be consolidated together, as could the General and the Champion. It might also be possible to have two Spellcasters with different specialties.
The FunnelI'm considering starting with a funnel: each players creates 4 or so characters worth 60-150 points (exact level to be determined), equips them with leather armor and wooden farming implements, and then goes and ambushes a half dozen orcs in heavy mail with battle axes. The most memorable survivors get promoted to one of the above niches. I think it could be fun, but it could be really grim.
Even if I don't do the funnel, starting characters are going to have pretty minimal equipment: no metal items, all weapons converted from farming equipment, stuff like that.
MagicI don't know if this is how I'd like to handle magic in the game, but this is how I'd like to do it:
There's a distinction between arcane magic and divine magic, but not it terms of what they can do. Arcane mages can heal, divine mages can blast people with fireballs. The difference is in how they learn and how often they can do stuff: arcane casters learn from books and reliably cast many small effects each day, while divine casters simply pray and unreliably do a few large effects each day.
Basically, arcane casters use College Ritual Book magic or something like it, while divine casters use Divine Favor (but probably can't get Learned Prayers. Maybe. Still thinking about it).
There are two gotchas in the magic scheme. First, the Resistance doesn't know the names, rituals, or theology of any friendly deities, so there aren't any Divine casters in the Resistance until people quest for that information. Obviously, Team Evil has its own deities that provide Divine Favor. Second, using arcane magic to directly or indirectly harm someone* causes corruption, so Resistance Wizards either need to be buffers and supporters or accept that they're going to slowly go crazy. I think it's a neat idea, and something I've tried in other games, but my experience is that players hate that.
* I'd probably expand that to violations of any of the 7 laws of magic from the Dresden Books: No harming people, shapechanging, reading or control minds, necromancy, time travel, or demon summoning.
Basic PlotThis is a rough outline for the first few sessions:
- Ambush the patrol orc: The Resistance kills some orcs to get some steel weapons
- Defeat the Local Garrison: The Resistance recruits farmers from the nearby villages, and then fights 100 or so orcs. This is the first Mass Combat.
- Expansion: The Resistance improves its troops, suborns villages that are farther away, etc. At some point a larger orc army shows up and has to be defeated.
Open IssuesThis is still a work in progress. Things I need to figure out below.
- Multiple commanders and multiple fights? Having one guy, the General, make all the decisions in Mass Combat might be annoying for the other players. On the other hand, maybe only one or two people even want to deal with the Mass Combat system, so that might be a virtue. If several people want to make Mass Combat decisions, the best thing to do might be to split up the forces into one front per player and then split up the enemy forces. Mass Combat assumes fixed forces through the length of a battle, so I'd have to make up some rules for reassigning forces between fronts and stuff like that.
- Point levels and templates. This is another one of those situations when Dungeon Fantasy is a good inspiration, but can't be used without modifications. I'm thinking 125-150 point base templates plus a 75-50 point lens to make the Resistance leaders 200 points to start, but more or less might be appropriate.
- Magic: I like rare magic, but people might feel otherwise. On the other hand, in the Castle of Horrors game, there was overwhelming support for rare but interesting magic instead of common magic.
- Races: My vague thought is to limit the initial Resistance members of humans, halflings, half-orcs, and half-elves, and then make everything else unlockable through quests. I'm not sure how useful that is in an RPG - you can't exactly decide to stop being the human General and switch to an Elf Spymaster halfway through the campaign.
- 5 Niches, four of which doesn't really do much in Mass Combat, is maybe not so good for a game focused on Mass Combat. This goes back to the question of how many people actually want to be picking Strategies and calculating Troop Strength? It'd be great if there was a good way to distinguish two Generals, for instance. Maybe something could be done with Higher Purpose? "Higher Purpose: Hold the Line" would give a +1 on Defense Strategies, while "Higher Purpose: Cavalry Commander: gives the bonus for Mobile Defense, Raid, Skirmish, and Indirect Attack. That might work.
- A map. Usually I kind of fudge the map details, figuring they can be developed in play, but if you're part of an expanding empire that stuff needs to be known in advance.
I've started a campaign wiki for Empire Of Night: New Dawn. I don't know if I'll run this game but it doesn't hurt to be prepared.