The King is Dead

Wednesday, July 20, 2016

Game of Drow

My copy is currently helping to prop up a buckling shelf.
All of my RPG campaigns eventually become about politics. This is logical – the escalating power of every character type from fantasy world thieves to modern superheroes means that there will come a time they must interact with authorities and (hopefully) accept some responsibility to make the world a better place – but I tend to jump the gun. No matter how much I swear I’m going to stay away from scheming and coalition building and the like, I always seem to start dragging those aspects into the campaign before the PCs reach the equivalent of 3rd level.

Admittedly, I like scheming and coalition building and the like. It’s why (the admittedly belated) The King is Dead is built around secret societies and fighting the very state the heroes live in. And that’s why my ultimate bucket list campaign is a game of drow politics.
Yes, I’m aware of how problematic the drow are. Yes, I know this is not an original idea by any stretch of the imagination. Heck, I’d probably use my old and sadly underutilized copy of the AD&D 2nd Edition Menzoberranzen boxed set as the basis for the campaign (though I vaguely remember the pre-generated PCs being really boring – or maybe I just hated the art for them).
Unfortunately, I can’t imagine a campaign like this being possible for a bunch of fortysomething adults with kids and jobs (and writing obligations). It instinctually feels like the sort of role-playing-intensive game only high school kids and college undergrads have time for.
Except… Maybe not.
Maybe the key would be to abstract large portions of the politics and treat them almost as a board game. Perhaps influence could actually be tracked with points, then literally spent to buy off problems rather than being resolved with time-consuming role-played negotiations. The players could spend influence points and narrate the results, and I as GM could spend NPC influence points to counter those actions, forcing the players to resolve things in role-playing scenes when I want the drama.
(Or something like that. It’s early and I’m mainly writing this as a warm-up to this afternoon’s work on TKiD.)
Hmm… I’ve always assumed that if I could get a game like this going, it would naturally be a D&D campaign – but now I have to wonder if the greater level of abstraction would be better for Savage Worlds. Or maybe I should actually read Houses of the Blooded.

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