Today I’m going to go over what we’ve got set up already, and what I’m laying out for the beginning of the game – first session should be this week! As noted previously, the character will be a semi-amnesiac paladin who was formerly a member of the army of the Empire of Tarsis.
Thus far, I only know that the character follows the official Imperial faith of Lothianism, which is an analogue to the Roman Catholic Church during the latter stages of the Holy Roman Empire, and that the character is a paladin who was previously a part of the Imperial army.
Things that I need to find out before we get the game going include:
- How the character feels about the three different people claiming to be the one who commands the Empire of Tarsis from the Lion-Guarded Throne.
- How the character feels about the Church of Lothian’s ruling structure versus the god himself.
- The character’s gender, age, and species.
- Which claimant to the throne the character would back, or if the character would be for the Empire breaking up, or if the character would rather see someone on the throne who hasn’t fallen prey to the vanities and failings of the three current claimants.
- The character’s thoughts on apparent celestial beings in the world, and apparent fiendish beings, as well as the existence of the undead and possibly self-aware constructs.
- Opinion on the various less-popular races – half-orcs, Harrow elves, and lizardfolk in particular.
- Similarly, opinions on the Church of Lothian’s sordid history – the Inquisitions now known as the Days of Blood.
- And then the question about the character’s opinion of the Delvers’ Guild, the delvers themselves, and the wisdom of poking around in the underworld referred to as the Dungeon.
- Handling NPC team-ups – I want to avoid anything resembling a DMPC, so it begs the question of hirelings, cohorts, and followers, and how to acquire and utilize them.
- Campaign themes: straight-up heroism? Intrigue and politicking? Conspiracy and subterfuge (with a candle-in-the-dark paladin)? Military campaign, with the Empire eating itself? A slice-of-life kind of game where the character goes about dealing with life in the city, with acquisition of a home and building it up as a major point?
- Type and intensity of foes; should I be looking at supernatural evils, be they undead, extraplanar, or aberrations, or the more mundane evil of thieves, thugs, murderers, and noble-born scum?
Speaking of themes, there’s a set of scales that need calibrated as well.
- Lethality, 1-10
- Horror, 1-20 because I can use this in much finer increments than simple combat lethality that relies on the dice.
- Heroic opportunities, 1-10
- Social interactions, 1-10
- Honor/Fame/Prestige, 1-10
- RP Depth, 1-10 because this is going to involve how much I put into the NPCs and how many NPCs I’m going to take the time to invest any effort in. (Higher value? Fewer NPCs, but more depth for each of them, unless we’re going for an intrigue-and-such campaign that needs NPCs and not monsters.)
And then there’s the question of XP progression; I’m going with medium progression as the default, but it has an impact because with just one player slower might be better, allowing more time to gather wealth and equipment before taking on heavier challenges.
Some of these have answers already; others won’t until my wife decides on an answer. Outside of these, however, a few things are already settled.
- Optional rule systems can and will be in play; this includes things like the prestige and downtime systems from Ultimate Campaign, as well as some tidbits from Pathfinder Unchained.
- There will be horror elements; those familiar with Ptolus and the evil that dwells in the region of the Spire know perfectly well why there are some horror aspects no matter what.
- We’ll be playing in purely physical space! This means maps sketched out on mats, miniatures, and the use of our dice collections. It also means needing to clear a playing area, and possibly acquiring a table for that area. Happily, an IKEA recently opened in our region. We’ll be visiting there this week.
- Not completely settled, since it depends on her input, is the question of using helper software like Hero Lab, which handles freeform boons and banes less usefully than it could. A game like this could use the freeform stuff for a wide range of odd bits and pieces.
So, as you can see, I have a modest bit of work taken care of, but plenty to go before the weekend; some of it relies on my wife’s input, some entirely my own. I’ll be back to this later as the questions get settled and a concrete plan gels.
Perhaps this campaign might even end up involving photos of the game space – but next time, I’m going to be talking about game design and third-party support, and how some companies have done it very well and others have completely screwed up.