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A campaign frame in which all players are members, or associates, of a mercenary company is a good one. Many player groups tend to mostly be a bunch of mostly very combat effective types  - but that isn't how it has to work anyway. Everyone should have a distinct role in the company, with only some being focussed on being effective warriors (including both your tough vanguard warriors, but also your snipers, scouts, commanders, etc) but also chaplains, healers, siege engineers, combat magicians, quartermasters, etc. Most of the company, obviously, are NPCs. 

While the plot is about battle, the campaign does not actually have to have that much fighting - especially if you run it using a system like HeroQuest, but you can also make a lot of the actual battles abstracted away with the Battle skill and Pendragon style battle rules. Your PCs tend to deal directly with other problems - treacherous employers, logistical challenges, dealing with weird things you encounter, changeable and dangerous politics, how to fight unusual foes, company members or allies with their own hidden agendas and mysterious pasts. All sorts of interesting personal stories - of camaraderie, vengeance, a search for peace, fanaticism vs pragmatism, etc - can unfold around the main narrative of survival as a group in a land at war. 

The most obvious literary inspiration here is The Black Company books, but there are many many sources. Ash, by Mary Gentle is another good one. And SO many historical or historical fiction sources to draw on. 

I would like to do this one in the Hero Wars West, probably starting in Seshnela or Nolos/Pasos, but ending up in Ralios bouncing around between various forces opposing the Seshnelan advance of Guilmarn the Fat. But a bit challenging with the current rules, and there are plenty of alternatives. A Humakti led regiment in Dragon Pass is one possibility - or go wild and have a campaign as the Black Horse Troop if you want to tell a more tragic and gothic story. It would be another way to do a Fronelan game, too, mercenaries trying to survive as their idealistic but somewhat naive Loskalm employers throw them against the Kingdom of War. 

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There is a big running joke in my group from the 'Encounter table for Prax and the Wastes' in Shadows On The Borderlands for RQ3. The encounter table had 'ogres, masquerading as traders' as one entry.

Blue Moon Brothers The player characters are secret operatives for the Blue Moon Assassins/Blue Army in disguise as a group of traveling musicians, or they were, until they ended up involuntarily

"Become a Caravan Guard", they said, "See the world", they said, "Meet new people", they said, but nobody told me that the Caravan went through Dorastor. 

[Your mercenary or volunteer unit] finds itself left behind in [far into enemy territory] when [the war] ends, and you have to fight, negotiate and survive your way back home. 

(This is obviously the Anabasis, but also the story of the Czech Legion in World War I, the Chain of Dogs in The Malazan Book of the Fallen and the campaign premise of the Band of Blades rpg.)

Edited by Akhôrahil
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On 5/16/2020 at 10:22 PM, Leingod said:

Another idea, all about chariot racing.

Chariot racing is a thing in Sartar and the Lunar Empire. There's quite a bit about it in (shameless plug) The Armies and Enemies of Dragon Pass as well as how chariots are manufactured and used.

Lots about mercenaries in the book as well.

https://www.drivethrurpg.com/product/296535/The-Armies-and-Enemies-of-Dragon-Pass?src=hottest_filtered

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On 5/16/2020 at 6:22 PM, Richard S. said:

"You are all former Lunar slaves who are on the run up into Balazar, where you will need to rebuild your life from the ground up."

I ran the Griffin Mountain scenarios with this premise. It happened after Boldhome had fallen, and the characters were captured as slaves by some provincial irregulars. The campaign continued later in Pavis.

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1 hour ago, Akhôrahil said:

[Your mercenary or volunteer unit] finds itself left behind in [far into enemy territory] when [the war] ends, and you have to fight, negotiate and survive your way back home. 

(This is obviously the Anabasis, but also the story of the Czech Legion in World War I, the Chain of Dogs in The Malazan Book of the Fallen and the campaign premise of the Band of Blades rpg.)

In Gloranthan history, that is the story of the Zaranistangi in Ralios and Maniria, and the story of Syranthir Forefront in Fronela bears some similarity but has no going home. Both in the second half of the Second Age. The exodus of the Horse Warlords - after Argentium Thri'ile, and again after the Red Emperor imprisoning Sheng Seleris, is a similar tale of woe, but burdened with family.

More recently, a certain mercenary unit led by a centaur has experienced such a fate in Lunar service, and just when they begin to settle down, nasty intruders from the Colymar Tribe interfere. (In other words, you might play the second scenario in The Smoking Ruins from the opposite perspective.) Other Lunar units may have faced similar fates.

(IMvaryingG, a Prince Orontes of Tarsh got cut off from his kingdom with just a few Yanafali bodyguards in Refuge at the Dragonkill, turning his "governorship" into even more of a shamble. And then some Waertagi who had survived in a surface enclave flee from their cousins who returned from the Underworld, settling the place... Storyline by Robert Asprin and friends.)

Something like Poul Anderson's King of Ys series could be played with a Lunar Sun Domer survivor of Pennel Ford somehow cut off from the Empire, going to Maniria and challenging the sacred king of a weird port city there. (Or apply this to Estali in Safelster - quite a few of the elements are already there, including the maritime motif.)

Another similar rip-off from literature would be to use the mishaps of the Black Company by Glen Cook, making them the Black Moon mercenary company in the service of the Kingdom of War, breaking away from their former employer at some point.

In both these cases, it should be possible to do more than just filing off the serial numbers and replacing them by Gloranthan tie-ins. The Kingdom of War doesn't seem to have overpowered sorcerers able to wipe out entire armies with their great summonings, unless King Death on a Horse has managed to get his own Lunar-like regimental magicians. Doing the King of Ys spiel with a party instead of just a single character may change Anderson's outline quite a bit, but the concept of the setup and some of those challenges can still apply.

A similar story can be made for a group of Wolf Pirates that splintered off the main armada on the Circumnavigation (likely because their captain managed to anger Harrek just not enough to be taken apart at once, or because their ship needed an extended refiitting before they could continue the voyage after some battle damage, or simply drifted vastly off course on a Doom Current or a freak wave).

One character backstory of mine has the father of the character as one of the Kethaelan sailors sailing into the Kralori inland sea, barely escaping with a badly damaged ship to be shipwrecked on Fanzai in the Fethlon portion of it. They survive among a hidden Sofali/Diroti community, help them against other threats, and need to deal with the local dragonewts. Long story, with a parental reunion but the new family keeping the parent overseas (that part I got to play from the other side as part of the character's campaign arc).

 

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19 hours ago, davecake said:

A Carmanian game, especially one around Spol anyway, cries out for a lot of gothic romance. The Edark legacies of the Spolite Empire and the excesses of the Bull Shahs are everywhere, including in the local manifestations of the Lunar Way (the masochistic mysticism of Gerra, and murderous Natha cult), and there are necromancers, Darkness witches, brutal thuggish warriors, etc all over the place. And then there are the vampires. Of course heroes will want to fight these ancient monsters - but the big complication (besides the obvious difficulties of killing a vampire who might be over a thousand years old and a skilled sorcerer) is that many of them have sworn to assist the Empire in maintaining its secret Vampire Legion! So the battle against the vampires must be secretive and without the support of the Empire (but perhaps often with the support of the terrified peasantry). 

Crib freely from stuff like Vampire: The Dark Ages or The Witcher if you want - but more importantly, gothic novels and vampire stories and scenery inspired by the gloomy forests and harsh mountains of Eastern Europe etc. 

Yep.  Spol is all folk horror, all the time.

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This campaign would be suitable for players from most any culture, though Esrolian, Sartar, or Lunar makes the most sense.

When Harrek the Berserk sacked the City of Wonders, the "official" line is that his pirates killed everybody.  Later, others performed a hero quest to resurrect everybody.  (Sorry, don't have the references handy, but I believe this is canon)

But, some young, soft-hearted PC (mine) who was there in her RQG background, was shocked by the slaughter, and saved one woman and child, later smuggling them out of the city.  She killed one pirate, who was probably about to do something unforgivable, while doing this.

Somehow, this act of mercy has corrupted the hero quest, (or maybe the dead pirate's soul did?) and the something "ain't right".  To make things right, some heroes must find and kill that woman and child.  Or, if you prefer, your heroes must protect her from those who seek her death...

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The weather was strange even by Dorastor standards. During this dark Sacred Time night, purple lightning balls were falling from the sky and bouncing on the ground before exploding. The rain falling from the sky was a foul smelling oily puss. The Riskland settlers were hold up in their stead praying to Orlanth Adventurous for protection. 

The door of the farmstead explodes inward in a shower of sparks, smoke and electricity.  Coalescing within this mayhem, a spinning fiery golden disc-like creature stops spinning and a face forms out of the side of wheel. A musical feminine voice begs the adventurers to aid her in saving Tobros. “He was poisoned by Bagog and will die if I don’t cleanse him of the Chaos spawn.”
 
If the adventurers help, she leads them to a cave opening recently revealed by a rockslide. The party proceeds down the long cave, warm moist air rhythmically blowing through cave. [Insert special effects here as adventurers enter Heroquest] The mission is to enter Tobros’s body and hunt down Chaos creatures trying to kill him from within. Sort of like the game Snit’s Revenge. 
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A campaign set in the wake of the Hero Wars, where the players have to deal with the problems of a new age and help the other survivors recover, a la the Theyalan missionaries.

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56 minutes ago, Richard S. said:

A campaign set in the wake of the Hero Wars, where the players have to deal with the problems of a new age and help the other survivors recover, a la the Theyalan missionaries.

And answer the questions of whether the gods are truly dead and gone, whether magic remains in the world, or if both are gone, how to survive... Hail Harshax!

Edited by jajagappa
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On 5/27/2020 at 6:33 PM, DrGoth said:

How about a ragged group of Tarshites trying to survive as Lunars and Sartarites swap ownership of their country.

My own RQG campaign is set in Tarsh, and is about the tensions leading up to full civil war between followers of King Pharandros and followers of Fazzur Wideread. Argrath conquers Sartar by initially being drawn in to aid the Fazzurites (at that point led by his son Onjur the Poet). 

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when a lunar slave caravan is ambushed by barbarians a washed up con man(played by Nicolas Cage) rescues a few children and wisk them away from the danger.

now, to feed and clothe them, he starts tutoring them as a troupe of performers/low tier criminals.

but that was long ago. now the children are very nearly adults and the old scammer is feeling the end approaching. How will this group of misfits survive in the world now? will they find their place?

Edited by coffeemancer
cage
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My campaign has been hijacked by the younger players, and has become focused on pet fetishes.

The Humakti Duck in the party, has decided that he is going to be a dinosaur rider.

So there have been forays to Tink to see Forang Forash, who has told them about the path of mastery, i.e. a second age sage, who learned the skills of dinosaur mastery, with the book hidden in a lost tower in Delecti’s Marsh.  

However, this has been superseded after the killing of the Dragon of Thunder hills, and the grateful Dragonnewts split the Ducks tongue so that a) he’s got a lisp, and b) he can now cast a spell to communicate with dragon kind.

Flash back to a Lunar Sorcerer with a Dragon speciality, who fled into Delecti’s marsh on the Dragon Rise.  Though he was expecting a welcome (the ego of some academics sorcerers), Delecti instead killed him, and, with a sense of irony, bound him into a zombie Allosaur.  Said sorcerer has fled to the Spinosaur flats, and, in his first steps at world domination, has dominated two Spinosaurs, who he’s using to decimate the local Hadrosaurs (their usual tactics don’t work against Spinosaurs working together and with spirits with dispel magic…)

Party turn up, off both Spinosaurs, and the Zombie Allosaur, and pack of Deinonychuses.  All of which impressed me.  One Spinosaur was kept fanatical, chasing the duck with flight cast on it who kept its attention with a chain of disrupts, leading it off a cliff.

So now the party have the undying gratitude of last surviving Hadrosaur of the tribe, with a clutch of 5 eggs.  

And next stop is Pegasus plateau (I might have to pretend the Hippogriffs are Pegasi, to avoid tears…).

Also, there I’ve heard muttering about Alynxs.  I’m probably going to have to something about.

And I did (once) have a campaign planned.  Perhaps one day we might progress some of the ideas for that…
 

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On 5/30/2020 at 11:55 AM, Richard S. said:

A campaign set in the wake of the Hero Wars, where the players have to deal with the problems of a new age and help the other survivors recover, a la the Theyalan missionaries.

Perhaps as part of the Illiteracy Age set to follow the Hero Wars. Imagine the chaos that would cause in an urban campaign set in a city like Nochet with lots of scholars and historians. 

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1 hour ago, Eagle Talon said:

Perhaps as part of the Illiteracy Age set to follow the Hero Wars. Imagine the chaos that would cause in an urban campaign set in a city like Nochet with lots of scholars and historians. 

Of course, that may depend on at least two factors:

1) that the Illiteracy Age affected Nochet/Holy Country, or if it was confined to Dragon Pass.

2) whether the Flood wiped out or substantively devastated Nochet

 

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3 hours ago, jajagappa said:

Of course, that may depend on at least two factors:

1) that the Illiteracy Age affected Nochet/Holy Country, or if it was confined to Dragon Pass.

2) whether the Flood wiped out or substantively devastated Nochet

 

Get to scripting! ;)

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On 5/16/2020 at 12:44 PM, Runeblogger said:

When Google+ was still up, I remember someone was running a campaign in which "You are all Lunar missionaires trying to get as many converts as possible in Teshnos, to eventually convert the king to the Lunar Way".

That might have been me, although by the time G+ started, my troupe-style, HQ1 campaign "Arachne Lunara" which involved Lunars travelling to Teshnos, Melib, Vithela and Kralorela had ended.    I played a quite a bit with the timeline, but the heroes got to see the Time of no Zitrs in Teshnos (and might have ended up killing Garusharp), saw bits of the Andini Demon Fleet (and helpfully taught them about Sedenya!), futzed with the Dragonrise, failed to prevent Sheng Seleris' star from returning, and finally watched the White Moon rise in the Dreams of the Future.    It remains my favorite game to have written and narrated.

Edited by aumshantih
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2 hours ago, aumshantih said:

That might have been me, although by the time G+ started, my troupe-style, HQ1 campaign "Arachne Lunara" which involved Lunars travelling to Teshnos, Melib, Vithela and Kralorela had ended.    I played a quite a bit with the timeline, but the heroes got to see the Time of no Zitrs in Teshnos (and might have ended up killing Garusharp), saw bits of the Andini Demon Fleet (and helpfully taught them about Sedenya!), futzed with the Dragonrise, failed to Sheng Seleris' star from returning, and finally watched the White Moon rise in the Dreams of the Future.    It remains my favorite game to have written and narrated.

That sounds like it would be an extremely cool Jonstown Publication to read, if you wanted to do publish it in campaign-form. 😄

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