Since this is still tabletop month (and the board game I was hoping to play didn’t come in on time), I figure it’d be a good idea to stick to our good old friend, Role-Playing games. Though, while my last article focused on the past, this article is going to focus on the three campaigns I plan on running/being a part of over the next few months. Feel free to steal any and all of these ideas for yourself; just don’t forget to mention where you found them.
Welcome to Ravnica
If I haven’t already made it painfully obvious through my multiple articles on the subject, I’m a rather large fan of Magic: the Gathering. Since this is the first year I’ve truly followed the game, the Ravnica expansions are near and dear to my heart. I love exploring the lore of the city and using each of the ten guilds for maximum damage. And if the city lends itself to such a diverse group of characters that it can justify three full expansion sets dedicated to it, then surely it has the potential to build an entire campaign around it as well.
That’s right, I’m holding a D&D campaign in the city of Ravnica. Not the most original, I admit, but I’m going for it anyway. Players will be students who are just graduating from the Ravnica Academy and are ready to become members of one of the various guilds in the city. Based on their race (elves don’t dedicate themselves to Rakdos), class (knights are more likely to join the Azorius Senate or Boros Legion, while druids are more inclined to enter the Selesyna Conclave or the Gruul Clans), and alignment (lawful good characters don’t join the House Dimir), they will receive offers to join certain guilds. From that point forward, each player will be working on serving their guild in the best way they can, hopefully increasing that guild’s power and influence within the city.
Of course, a campaign in which everyone is simply trying to screw their fellow players over isn’t all that productive; having to run multiple parallel campaigns at the same time would be boring for everyone not involved at that particular moment and create piles of chaos for me. So instead, it’s decided that due to recent problems in the city (the causes of which are, of course, a mystery), the guilds have signed a pact, agreeing to work together to fight off whatever’s entering the city. If you don’t think they’d buy into such a pact, think about it like this: while they don’t want to lose the city to another guild, they certainly don’t want to lose the city to a bunch of outsiders. Thus, every mission involves the players being forced to cooperate despite guild differences, while also trying to gain some advantage for their leader. The friendships that form from being together for such a long time will most certainly be tested as more opportunities for power present themselves. And will the party stay together if the pact is broken? I look forward to finding out, that’s for sure.
Enter the Arena
As anyone who’s read a Monster Manual before knows, the best part of buying any book of that nature is flipping to the back, finding the most powerful creature, and gaping in awe as it towers above everything else you could throw at it. For example, the Greater Ssvaklor from Monster Manual III, a towering, intelligent, poisonous dragon who can cast spells and breath deadly fire from the heavens. That thing is friggin’ awesome! Your first instinct is to try to build a whole campaign around such a ferocious beast, but let’s face it, you’ll never get there. Players will leave, interest will die, and the time it takes to get powerful enough to challenge such a creature makes it a pipe dream. Oh, and don’t even think about using more than one of these badasses in your campaign, because players will die in the upcoming battle. Either this is the definitive last stand for your characters in this campaign, or you better have a good reason why a new level 20 warrior is joining the party despite never having been heard of before. If only there was a way to be able to create an environment where these kinds of epic battles happened all the time, gaining experience didn’t take an eternity, and player death in these battles wasn’t a humongous concern…
Got it! Welcome to the most awesome gladiator tournament the world has ever known. Player characters are grouped into a team that fights in “The Arena” on a weekly basis. Strangely, all wounds, even death, accrued in the Arena disappear after the battle is over, but this ceases to be the case one they step out of it. Experience is accelerated (I plan on giving players 1 lvl/battle they survive), and loot is given as a prize for defeating that week’s challengers. If the entire team loses, they will be tortured and killed for their failure, but if they can defeat all of the Arena’s opponents, they will earn their freedom.
Any time not spent in battle fighting these super awesome creatures will be spent exploring the area surrounding the Arena and trying to uncover its mysteries. Discovering the Arena’s secrets and finding a way to gain advantages when the battles begin will be key for their survival. There will be plenty of mystery surrounding who’s running this whole thing, why the Arena operates this way, and what it stands to gain from doing this. Though personally, I still seeing the party try to defeat a Klurichir makes this campaign more than worth my time.
If you’re familiar with the Multiverse Theory, you already have a pretty good idea of what the campaign I’ll be playing in a couple months is all about. Essentially, characters from all across all role-playing systems (yes, you read that right; you can be anything you want in this world) are forced to come together to help keep the multiverse from falling apart. That means that you can have a Student from Call of Cthulhu, a Monk from Dungeons and Dragons, and a Cyberpunk Freelancer all on the same team (each character will be created using GURPS). Who knows how the three of them will get along? Since it’s the whole multiverse that’s falling apart, that also means there’s an infinite number of places the players may be called to save. One week, they could be on a Pirate ship fighting a swarm of orcs that has infested the land, while the next week could involve them negotiating a peace treaty with alien nations to avoid a nuclear holocaust. The possibilities are actually endless.
The other wrinkle to this is that players may take turns actually leading a quick campaign if they come up with a good enough idea. Since there’s so much room for variety, letting different GMs take over won’t be as much of an abrupt shift as it usually would be, as any tonal changes could be attributed to simply being in another part of the multiverse. Oh, and since there isn’t one singular storyteller, the players will never be able to get perfectly settled, ensuring the missions always keep them on their feet with no real idea of what to expect. It’s a game with such a diverse roster of character and story options that it could go on literally forever without becoming stale.
So, what do you think of these game ideas? Want to try out any of them for yourself? Let me know in the comments below. Next time, I’ll be returning to comics. See ya!