Friday, May 30, 2014

Like Attracts Like

This is the last of my promised one-a-weekday campaign posts.  Next month, I intend to continue posting on things and stuff.  There may be more posts like those I have just completed as I have new campaign ideas come up.  Believe it or not, the well is not completely dry.  The number of fully formed ideas, however, is much shallower.  I have a lot of concepts like: "Hey!  We could mash up Interface Zero and Savage Worlds Fantasy Companion and make a Shadowrun game with a magic system I actually understand!"  Until I have a more concrete idea of where to go with that concept, I don't consider it post worthy.  Also, there is the big finale post that I had hoped to wrangle into submission for near the end of this, but it still eludes me.  Which is a shame, because if fits wonderfully with what I am presenting today.

My idea for the day is not really a standalone campaign, although I guess it could be considered as such in its roughest form.  Rather, I think this idea is better used in conjunction with another fantasy game.  An overlay, or lens to use the GURPS term, if you will.  I will also say that it is not especially original, it has been used a time or twelve before me.  What it IS is unique to my experience as a game master.  What I am proposing is to place a character creation constraint on the players and have them design characters that are all of the same class.  I have been kicking around the idea of proposing this for years and I can think of no better time to present it to the prospective players.

Now clearly, this would be much easier in a game where there are actual classes, but as the people I game with are smart, I do not think this is such a difficult obstacle to overcome.  Even in games with classes (and sub- and prestige classes) I think exploring differences the base class offers is a worthy goal. Also, I understand the old arguments about niche protection and thumb my nose at them all.  In fact, I think one of the primary reasons to engage in this exercise is for the players to see just how different the characters could be even with similar career paths.  Since this is an exercise in class, let us look at ways that each of the traditional classes could be used and created to accentuate these differences.

Since I just caved and finally put some money down on the Guild of Shadows Kickstarter by SQPR Games, perhaps the Thief/Rogue class should be the one to begin with.  I have already had one player indicate that they liked the idea of playing a Thieves Guild game.  That is certainly a possibility with the players creating a team of rogues:  the acrobat/second story man, the light fingered cutpurse, the brutish mugger, the smooth confidence woman, etc. Perhaps the characters are all new to town and are forced to work together to show the Guild power structure that they are worthy of admittance.  Or perhaps their are multiple Guild-like organizations who operate in a shadow war.  The players then could either be new to town and have to pick a side, or could already be members of one of the factions and therefore be active in the conflict.  Alternately, perhaps their side already lost, and the objective becomes protecting themselves from the vindictive victors.

Perhaps the easiest class to diversify in is that of the Fighter.  In a game like Banestorm, one of the players could be a noble knight, while the rest were men-at-arms, scouts/foragers, archers.  Even should more than one player be a knight, there are always different orders of knighthood that could differentiate the players.  Perhaps one is skilled in mounted combat while another is better with sword or axe.  In a more traditional fantasy game, the task becomes even easier.  A fighting adventure company that consists of a tough close fighter, a quick skirmisher, a ranged expert, and a big hitter could emulate much of a traditional adventuring party all within the warrior class.

A group of magic-users could really diversify as well.  The classic set up would be four magicians each focusing on one element.  Earth, Wind, Fire... no wait, that is a funk band.  Earth! Fire! Wind! Water! Heart! DAMMIT, that is Captain Planet and the Planeteers.  Well, you get the point.  Alternately, in a game where magic is carefully hoarded, perhaps each of the PC magicians  is a member of a different magical order that jealously guards the spells that they consider their exclusive domain.  In this setup, each PC has access to spells and training the others will not.  In a game like this, they PCs would be brought together to defeat some powerful magic user who has somehow managed to steal and combine the secrets of one or more of the orders.  Or maybe they just decide to band together to shore up each other's weak points.

A group of disparate clerics intrigues me as well, mostly because it seems to be the least likely to ever see the table.  Why should the clerics ALWAYS be healers only though?  A Warpriest, a protection expert, the buffer, the direct damage priest who calls down the wrath of her god are all good options as well.  I could easily see a party of priest that are all devotees of the same god.  Perhaps they have been sent out into the world to thwart the machinations of a rival god, gain converts in a new land, or perhaps just to display the various powers manifest in the godhead.  I think a game in which each player was the devotee of a different god would be an interesting wrinkle as well. Imagine each member of the party as a representative of their respective church, brought together to investigate rumors of a strange nihilistic cult practicing somewhere in the city/countryside/sewers/homes of the rich and powerful.  The players would have a common goal, but perhaps very different worldviews.  That sounds like a game I would like to play in or run.


  1. I like that last paragraph A LOT. For whatever that's worth. Not sure how that concept would work with a group of 2 :).

    1. In a party of two it would likely work better if the PCs were members of the same church, but of different religious orders. I suppose the separate churches idea could work with either some NPCs filling out the other religions, or it the PCs were of diametrically opposed philosophies: The God of Law and the God of Chaos send a representative to work together... kinda like Lethal Weapon only with holy water.

  2. I like this idea. Your clerics could be devotees of different gods from the same pantheon that has suddenly gone quiet. Thieves make great resistance fighters. And what else are mercenary companies then fighters with different specialties?