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Hombrew campaign idea: military style game

Aug 23, 2020 11:54 pm
I was tempted to put this into the gamers tavern but I am not ready to run it yet and need to refines some such. I am still working on the world and adventure ideas.

First is what rule set to use. I was thinking of Bare-bones fantasy and still may but was hoping for something along that style but with a more varied magic system. A classless system would work very well. I want fairly rules light but where weapons, armor are varied and important which fits a military style game. I want versitility among the players but not get bogged down with a ton of rules.

Anyway here is the game setting pitch. Any ideas or suggestions would be helpful as I start to bring this one together.

There will be a short recruitment/character creation thread for each player as part of character creation. Also each player’s character and their motivations will be hidden as some may have different goals and secrets than the others. This may create some interparty conflict which I hope will create some good RPing. The player can reveal as much or as little as they want about their character. There may also be NPC attached to the party with their own goals and objectives which may or may not align as well, including some interesting enemies. So expect to rp those situations. You also may end up facing an enemy much more powerful than you. You need to know not everything you can solve with a swing of the sword.
Incoming new players will be new recruits so we may have some ability disparities within the group. Just like real life the veterans will need to help out the new guys and show them the ropes.

The Shield Wall

A man stands in an inn at a small village. He waits until the young men and women are taking a break from work and enjoying a well-deserved meal. He continues his tale to those who will listen, “Ah, the shield wall, not an original name but an apt one. Though it is not so much a wall but a series of defensive structures and natural terrain. Still its namesake comes from its great wall spanning over 100 miles between two mountain ranges that ending with the great towers built from the mountains themselves. It is an impressive sight to behold its walls alone stand three stories and is wide enough that horsemen can ride side by side and still have room on both side and the towers along it stand even twice that size. That is not to say the other towers and fortresses that line the passes in the mountains are any less incredible but my when you see it, you think nothing absolutely nothing can breach it defenses.”

He stops and takes a breath and a sip of ale lowers his head and continues, “If only that was true. Our ancient foe still tries smash through it. Still try to sneak through the hidden passes. Some even make it and create terror and havoc upon who they find. If it was not for the brave men and women standing vigilant, the walls would be overrun. It is these brave souls that keep you and your families safe from harm.”

He waves his arms with a flourish and says, “Are any of you willing to take up the challenge? Are any of you noble and with courage defend your loves ones? If so the shield guard is looking for you.” He pats the sword at his waist and point to the silver shield on his breast. “I leave on the morrow and any who will dedicate themselves to service I am willing to have you come with me and become my shield brother or sister.”

The next day, he leaves with a couple of new recruits. Still he has business to attend to. He leaves them in a small camp promising to return by nightfall. He then heads to the local lord. He makes his way into the castle and into the great hall. “My, lord.”, he says, “I have great news, the men you have sent for your military obligations to the wall have served well these last 3 years. But alas their terms come to a close and I ask you to fulfill your obligations to replace them as they retire.”

The lord looks at him and says, “How many of my men return?”

“Eleven of your twenty, my lord”, he answers quickly.

The lord replies, “I will be sending you fifteen new recruits shortly.”

“The quota is for twenty for a holding of your size.” the man answers in a hard voice.

“I will be including my third child who has been trained as a knight as well”, the lord says slightly angrily.

“Then your obligation is fulfilled, m’lord.” He says and then exits the room.

He then leave but does not return to his other recruits yet. He makes a side trip to a small fortification. He is allowed in and heads down into its depths. He walks along the dimly lit hallway speaking as he goes, “Any who will sign up for a three year term on the shield wall will be forgiven their past deeds and can start a new life.” He says this as he takes a dagger and clinks it down the bars of the prison cells. “But know this to fail to complete your term, will wish they were back here in prison. If you desert you will be hunted down and anyone giving you refuge as well be as well. Let the prison guards know in the next day or so and you will be taken to the wall.”

As he leaves he says to the head guard, “In two days prison wagon train will come and take any who desire to sign up to the wall.”

He then leaves and goes back to his small band of recruits. They then begin their trek to the wall. He then comes to his last stop before making the last leg of his journey. He comes to a well-appointed manor. A servant in robes lets him in and take him down the hall past a large library. He comes into a small gathering room where a group of men and women sit comfortably. One of them says, “Is it that time of year already?” The man nods and begins to speak, “I recognize a few of you from previous years but I see a couple of new faces. I will not beat around the bush, we can use your help but also leave you time for your research. Those that serve on the wall can study some of the magical artifact that are retrieved from beyond the wall. Those we willingly serve in the scouts, can keep the items they find and search any ruins they come across as long as it does not jeopardize the safety of the wall. So do any of you mages or apprentices seek adventure and possibly find some secret knowledge hidden way?” Most of them politely shake their heads “no” and go about their business but a mage and a couple of apprentices show their desire to take a chance on the wall.

His circuit complete he take those who have signed up for a three year term to the wall. As they go he fills them in on what to expect. “Most of you will serve along the great wall or in one of its various fortifications. This can seem dull but never let your guard down as small group or even army may descend upon it without notice. You will stationed at particular tower or location on the wall and if an alarm goes up at a particular location you will be nearby to respond so we can bring out enough numbers to bear quickly to any part of the wall that is threatened. To help us make sure we have the right amount of troops needed we have the scouts. These brave people go past the wall. They scout and see what our enemy is up to and try to find any plans they have to try and breach the wall. The then return with that information so we can put a stop to them and keep our lands safe from harm.”

“Now you wonder, what is it like beyond the wall? Well it is a land filled with all manner of beasts and yes men. The great elven empire stands in ruin beyond that wall. It was said that before its fall that the capital’s streets were all lit by magical light. That magic was so common that almost everyone had use of it for their daily life. Not like today where magic is a rare but still wonderful thing. There is still much that we do not know. We know an ancient evil was released over 500 years ago. It was said to be imprisoned in the frozen wastes. The elves still guard much of what happened in secret though I believe they do not know what happened fully. Somehow this evil began gathering forces in secret. How long nobody knows but when it was unleased, nothing could stand in its way. The elven kingdom the greatest the world has ever known fell and fell quickly.

There is debate if many of the creatures were natural that was gathered to serve or many of the free races were corrupted and changed. All we know is that they came like a flood and all we could do was try to divert its great power. Armies were mobilized and met in the great battle of the plains which is just north of the shield wall. In this battle many fell and all looked lost. The great elven mages had gathered and had come up with a temporary solution though they said it came at a great cost. They were able to put up a barrier that was similar to what bound the evil in the first place that would last for five years. It cost the life of every mage who participated in the ritual. Hundreds of mages died that day. This gave the free people the time to construct the shield wall as they were told that shield would only last so long. When it did fall the enemy launched itself into the new defenses. They almost gave way but in the end they were driven back. To this day the wall is slowly been built upon and strengthened.
We don’t know why but it seems that the enemy have turned on themselves and fight themselves as much as us these days. Still we have determined attacks where the enemy regardless of deaths throw themselves into the wall to try and breach it. Ever Vigilant is our motto and it is what keeps the enemy at bay.”

Everyone comes to the wall for different reasons. Some come to find treasure or knowledge. Some come so their past sins can be erased. Some come to fulfill and obligations or for duty. Whatever the reason, those that come must protect the wall for if it falls an army of darkness will sweep over the land and destroy everything in its path.

So what brings you to the wall and do you dare to cross its boundaries? Fame and fortune could be yours but so can a quick
death. Do you take the oath of the scouts and serve three years in that perilous wasteland?
Aug 24, 2020 2:52 am
Cool idea Viking1031. I recently enjoyed a panel from GenCon 2020 about making a war a central theme in a fantasy RPG campaign. Hope it gives you a few ideas! Here is the YouTube link to this panel discussion:
Aug 25, 2020 8:00 pm
lenpelletier says:
Cool idea Viking1031. I recently enjoyed a panel from GenCon 2020 about making a war a central theme in a fantasy RPG campaign. Hope it gives you a few ideas! Here is the YouTube link to this panel discussion:
Thanks I will look into it.
Aug 25, 2020 8:00 pm
I am glad you like the premise. One thing I was thinking of was religion in this setting. I was thinking instead of having a pantheon of gods going with just two. A god of light and one of dark. In this having the religion being similar to the Roman Catholic church in style for the god of light. Now to have various clerical aspects having "Saints" which represent various aspect of the god of light. This make clerical orders that focus on one or maybe two aspects such as healing , justice, and so forth.
Of course the god of darkness will have its own set.
Aug 26, 2020 2:00 am
Wheel of Time could be an inspiration.

Light/creator vs Dark One

You have honor, loyalty, justice, fairness, etc for the Light.

Deceit, last for power, cruelty, etc for the Dark One
Aug 26, 2020 2:29 am
Solid idea! I'd definitely toss my hat in for this game.

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