Author Topic: Campaign idea: Daes Dae'Mar  (Read 711 times)

Offline sirpercival

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Campaign idea: Daes Dae'Mar
« on: August 30, 2017, 10:24:59 AM »
So I've been reading the Broken Empire trilogy (via audiobook), and it got me thinking about an interesting campaign idea... but I'm not sure how it would actually work. The premise is that each of the PCs is a "power behind the throne" - an advisor who attempts to guide the actions of their chosen pawns. The setting would be an amalgam of Cairhien from Wheel of Time, Tolnedra from the Belgariad/Mallorean series, Rennaissance Italy, and other similar situations - cosmopolitan fantasy, aging emperor with no heir, great houses vying for influence and power, etc.

I see a couple difficulties:
1) The underlying PvP nature of the game. Alliances and double-dealings make it complex and interesting, but in terms of logistics, the players would need lots of back-channel communication with the DM to make this happen.
2) The players' actions would be very indirect. This would be asking a lot of the DM, who would have a very complex tapestry of influences and interactions to weave together. However, this actually helps mitigate difficulty #1, since the players wouldn't come into direct conflict.

So here are some brainstorming ideas for how to set up such a campaign. (This is mostly stream of consciousness, so bear with me.)
  • D&D is almost certainly the wrong system for this. Fate maybe? I can't think of a system off the top of my head which is designed for this kind of intrigue, but Fate could possibly work, in terms of influence by way of Aspects, and having built-in social & mental combat. Online people seem to recommend Burning Wheel, but I don't know it at all so I can't comment.
  • Magic should be rare, and lean more towards thaumaturgy than evocation (in Dresden Files terminology). Basically, the idea is that if you have to resort to blasting people, you've already lost the game. The PCs would be magical advisors to each family, probably with other NPC families (with or without similar advisors) thrown in.
  • Probably the best way to structure the game is to have it revolve around a series of public events (tournaments, feasts & holidays, royal audiences, etc), with each player working on their own preparations in between via individual RP with the DM, and then communal RP sessions for each event. There could also be ad hoc sessions with smaller groups for private functions (dinner parties, social calls, etc) involving two or three players.
  • I don't know whether the communal sessions would involve the PCs directly, or whether the players would be their various pawns & scions. Would have to have some kind of mechanic for rebellious pawns that don't do what they're told...
  • Honestly, some kind of direct influence & control mechanic would be a good idea, to make adjudicating this kind of thing easier, and maybe also as a resource. For example, if you extensively mind-control the members of your chosen family, they'll follow your instructions extremely well, but have very little initiative for dealing with unexpected events. However, if your influence is lighter, they're better at adapting, but more likely to act on their own and cause problems with your plans. In a tourney setting, you can expend your energies making your champion unstoppable, but if your enhancements are too obvious, they could be disqualified. And so forth.

That's what I've got for now, I'd love some input.
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Offline phaedrusxy

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Re: Campaign idea: Daes Dae'Mar
« Reply #1 on: September 04, 2017, 10:19:27 PM »
Wow... I'm very intrigued by this... but also very time limited, and unfamiliar with just about everything but D&D 3.5. :P Still... I'd be tempted to give it a shot, whatever you go with, because I have no doubt it would be awesome. :D
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Offline sirpercival

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Re: Campaign idea: Daes Dae'Mar
« Reply #2 on: September 05, 2017, 06:45:35 AM »
Wow... I'm very intrigued by this... but also very time limited, and unfamiliar with just about everything but D&D 3.5. :P Still... I'd be tempted to give it a shot, whatever you go with, because I have no doubt it would be awesome. :D
Yay, finally someone else shows some interest!

Any suggestions on logistics or how to make it work? I've been cogitating on some setting ideas, but nothing too concrete yet.
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Offline sirpercival

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Re: Campaign idea: Daes Dae'Mar
« Reply #3 on: September 05, 2017, 11:12:23 AM »
As an update, the House of Bards Fate setting seems to have some good material for running a courtly intrigue game. I'll take a gander at it later today and see what I can scrounge up.

Also, I created a Worldbuilding thread on GitP for help in fleshing out the setting. Hopefully I'll get some responses and assistance there, and anyone over here is obviously welcome to chime in, in either thread.
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Offline Nanshork

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Re: Campaign idea: Daes Dae'Mar
« Reply #4 on: September 05, 2017, 12:27:27 PM »
Out of all the systems that I own, the only other one that might work would be Legend of the 5 Rings.  Even then that's not a great fit.

Offline sirpercival

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Re: Campaign idea: Daes Dae'Mar
« Reply #5 on: September 05, 2017, 01:38:17 PM »
Nans, are you interested in playing this game if and when it happens?

Everyone, what are your thoughts re: players designing their own noble houses, vs choosing from an already-prepared list? It seems to break down like this for me:
  • Players make their own
    • Pros: less pre-game work for DM, guaranteed to be fits for PCs (by definition)
    • Cons: harder to balance, less organic
  • Players choose from existing list
    • Pros: easier for DM to balance, has better with in-game logic
    • Cons: more pre-game work for DM, no guaranteed fit for any given PC (mitigated by PCs built to take advantage of a given house's strengths/weaknesses)
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Offline Nanshork

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Re: Campaign idea: Daes Dae'Mar
« Reply #6 on: September 05, 2017, 02:53:26 PM »
I'm honestly not sure.  I've always found games like Fate to be too wishy-washy (I like structured rule systems) but I'd be willing to give it a shot if you want me involved.

Already prepared list sounds preferable to me, maybe with some things being malleable if you want more player choice.

Offline phaedrusxy

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Re: Campaign idea: Daes Dae'Mar
« Reply #7 on: September 06, 2017, 12:02:55 AM »
I looked over the Fate Core rules a bit today (had some downtime at work...), and it looks simple enough. Sure as hell a lot less complex than D&D 3.5! :P I haven't seen it in action, but it does seem pretty "unstructured", given how much of it is left up to "on the fly" interpretation. Also, it seems to suggest going with "group consensus" quite a bit, which can be slow as molasses in PbP... So even more of it would have to be solely on the DM to interpret... which is fine, if you have a good DM (which I have no doubt about with you, of course ;) ). I wouldn't want to play this under some DMs I've had though... but then again I probably wouldn't want to play anything else under them, either...
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Offline Nanshork

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Re: Campaign idea: Daes Dae'Mar
« Reply #8 on: September 06, 2017, 12:50:39 AM »
See?  Wishy-washy.  :P

Offline sirpercival

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Re: Campaign idea: Daes Dae'Mar
« Reply #9 on: September 06, 2017, 01:20:05 AM »
I looked over the Fate Core rules a bit today (had some downtime at work...), and it looks simple enough. Sure as hell a lot less complex than D&D 3.5! :P I haven't seen it in action, but it does seem pretty "unstructured", given how much of it is left up to "on the fly" interpretation. Also, it seems to suggest going with "group consensus" quite a bit, which can be slow as molasses in PbP... So even more of it would have to be solely on the DM to interpret... which is fine, if you have a good DM (which I have no doubt about with you, of course ;) ). I wouldn't want to play this under some DMs I've had though... but then again I probably wouldn't want to play anything else under them, either...
Yes, it's MUCH more streamlined than 3.5. And the advantage to this particular campaign is that most of the interaction will be 1-on-1 with the DM, so there should be much less negotiating for group consensus.

OK so given all that (and given that Fate and House of Bards are PWYW on DriveThruRPG), I think we should just choose Fate so that we can start talking mechanics. House of Bards is pretty cool, and gives some excellent material (particularly Contacts and Resources). We'll need to change up the magic system, though; I think Words of Power will give us the correct amount of flexibility and power, and has a nice aesthetic to it.
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Offline phaedrusxy

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Re: Campaign idea: Daes Dae'Mar
« Reply #10 on: September 06, 2017, 10:38:06 AM »
Wow that looks like some incredible power and flexibility... Is that really compatible with low/subtle magic? Or am I over/under-estimating the potency/dcs?
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Offline Nanshork

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Re: Campaign idea: Daes Dae'Mar
« Reply #11 on: September 06, 2017, 10:46:04 AM »
Wow that looks like some incredible power and flexibility... Is that really compatible with low/subtle magic? Or am I over/under-estimating the potency/dcs?

Well they cost fate points (which I'm not sure how rare they are) and second/third syllables require a deeper investment (which I'm not sure how much that requires).

Offline sirpercival

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Re: Campaign idea: Daes Dae'Mar
« Reply #12 on: September 06, 2017, 01:45:46 PM »
Wow that looks like some incredible power and flexibility... Is that really compatible with low/subtle magic? Or am I over/under-estimating the potency/dcs?

Well they cost fate points (which I'm not sure how rare they are) and second/third syllables require a deeper investment (which I'm not sure how much that requires).
Fate points are a limited resource, yes. You can get more of them by doing lots of compels... like, for example, if you make it so that your magic is granted by some sort of demonic patron, then you can be influenced by your patron (to your detriment) in various situations to gain more fate points.

However, I do think that we can and should scale down the magic level significantly. Maybe we can make the syllables' contribution to opposition cumulative? So that it's +1 / +3 / +6?
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Offline phaedrusxy

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Re: Campaign idea: Daes Dae'Mar
« Reply #13 on: September 06, 2017, 01:50:38 PM »
You could also cap the amount of syllables avalaible to 2, if you just don't want crazy effects to be possible.

A friend of mine made a custom system based on d&d/d20 for this kind of game also, and is just wrapping up a campaign based on it. I haven't looked through the wiki yet, but he was certainly an awesome gm with superb system mastery so I expect it is likely good. http://karlsgame.wikispaces.com/

Edit: it looks pretty complicated and I don't see a basic overview so I'm not sure how usable it is... probably simpler to stick with fate. :p
« Last Edit: September 06, 2017, 02:49:18 PM by phaedrusxy »
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Offline VennDygrem

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Re: Campaign idea: Daes Dae'Mar
« Reply #14 on: September 06, 2017, 04:10:09 PM »
Hmm, so would players create characters in charge of or high up in certain organizations, ie: guilds, religious organizations, noble houses, etc?

There are plenty of examples of characters who are, say, successful businessmen who pull strings and such.

Though, I like the idea of someone running a local bakery who is secretly manipulating the higher-ups of society...  :lmao

Offline sirpercival

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Re: Campaign idea: Daes Dae'Mar
« Reply #15 on: September 06, 2017, 04:23:55 PM »
Hmm, so would players create characters in charge of or high up in certain organizations, ie: guilds, religious organizations, noble houses, etc?

There are plenty of examples of characters who are, say, successful businessmen who pull strings and such.

Though, I like the idea of someone running a local bakery who is secretly manipulating the higher-ups of society...  :lmao
I'm going for more sinister/spidery than that. We're talking full-on "mysterious advisor in the shadows behind the throne" here...
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Offline VennDygrem

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Re: Campaign idea: Daes Dae'Mar
« Reply #16 on: September 06, 2017, 06:14:43 PM »
I'm going for more sinister/spidery than that. We're talking full-on "mysterious advisor in the shadows behind the throne" here...

Oh, I get that, I do. I'm wondering how you manage having multiple players in the same game doing this, however. Surely they don't all occupy the same role in a king's court, though, do they?

What I was getting at was, from a literary perspective, someone who has gained the trust of the noble-in-power (king, prince, viceroy, what-have-you) due to their position of influence within the community/nation/city/etc. My experience with such literature is limited, of course, but the "Man behind the man" trope is certainly present in many types of media.

Offline Nanshork

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Re: Campaign idea: Daes Dae'Mar
« Reply #17 on: September 06, 2017, 07:20:59 PM »
I'm going for more sinister/spidery than that. We're talking full-on "mysterious advisor in the shadows behind the throne" here...

Oh, I get that, I do. I'm wondering how you manage having multiple players in the same game doing this, however. Surely they don't all occupy the same role in a king's court, though, do they?

What I was getting at was, from a literary perspective, someone who has gained the trust of the noble-in-power (king, prince, viceroy, what-have-you) due to their position of influence within the community/nation/city/etc. My experience with such literature is limited, of course, but the "Man behind the man" trope is certainly present in many types of media.

We'd all be evil grand viziers for different kings.  Because now I want to play Jafar for some reason.

Offline sirpercival

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Re: Campaign idea: Daes Dae'Mar
« Reply #18 on: September 06, 2017, 08:14:53 PM »
I'm going for more sinister/spidery than that. We're talking full-on "mysterious advisor in the shadows behind the throne" here...

Oh, I get that, I do. I'm wondering how you manage having multiple players in the same game doing this, however. Surely they don't all occupy the same role in a king's court, though, do they?

What I was getting at was, from a literary perspective, someone who has gained the trust of the noble-in-power (king, prince, viceroy, what-have-you) due to their position of influence within the community/nation/city/etc. My experience with such literature is limited, of course, but the "Man behind the man" trope is certainly present in many types of media.
Each player gets their own noble house (none of which is the actual current Imperial Family) to use as pawns. :)
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Offline dna1

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Re: Campaign idea: Daes Dae'Mar
« Reply #19 on: September 12, 2017, 11:19:11 PM »
PM sent with some ideas  :D



I've never looked at Fate. I could take a gander though...
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