Apr. 18th, 2017

seekingferret: Photo of me with my 2012 Purim beard, with stripes shaven into it. (Default)
In a couple months the rotation in my regular D&D group is going to work its way around to me DMing the on-going campaign. I've been a fill-in one shot DM for the group for years and have in various contexts run one shots and two and three shots over the years, but have never run a sustained rpg campaign before. I'm very excited.

My goal is basically to run Capitalism: The RPG. The setting is a homebrew called the Mannheim Vale setting, and it's a setting I've used to run one-shots before. It's a late-medieval setting where three kingdoms hold in dispute the Mannheim Vale, a geographically isolated area, with the result being that it's ended up being fairly ungoverned, home to subsistence farming goblins and a few esoteric hermit cults. But the vale has mineral resources of interest to a rapidly industrializing late-medieval power, so that my one-shot adventures have been tinged with the sense that this geographically isolated area is unlikely to stay untouched by the larger powers for long, and that in fact the triggering events of my one-shots have been the early probings of the major powers. I propose to explore in more detail the conflict as the long-time inhabitants of the vale deal with the influx of newcomers with their own agendas, from the point of view of the colonizers. I plan to exploit the tendency of D&D adventurers to, er, exploit, by directly converting economic externalities into plot hooks. And I plan to encourage the tendency of D&D adventurers to exploit by supplementing and modifying conventional XP systems to particularly reward players for discovering and laying claim to resources that have long-term economic value. I want discovering a vein of ore to be more valuable to a player than discovering a monster's treasure horde. But I want mining that vein of ore to bring with it story consequences that make players learn to ask if the reward is worth the human cost.

Players will be all affiliated with one of the numerous Auction Houses of Holern- powerful vertically integrated medieval guilds headed by a Chief Auctioneer (generally a high level bard). I want them to all be affiliated with different Auction Houses so that they're jockeying against each other, working together for the good of Holern and the joint venture but particularly attuned to how they can benefit their own sponsoring guild.

I haven't quite decided on the mechanics of my XP system modifications yet. I was at first thinking of replacing XP for combat with a mechanic I was thinking of as "XP for Profit", as a play on OD&D's "XP for Treasure". But it got messy, it would pretty much only work if players actually operated a fairly substantial economic ledger, which seems like a big ask. I'm thinking now to simplify- minimize or completely ditch XP for combat, and use a guild-based leveling system where players gain levels when they provide enough benefits to their guild to get a guild promotion. Finding a monster treasure horde might be worth a guild merit or two- they're not going to say no to enriching the guild treasury with the percentage of the haul that their guild member of course remits... but finding an exploitable mine, or uncovering a new kind of medicinal plant, or charting a faster trade route... those things are worth multiple guild merits.

This could all turn out to be a total disaster, in which case I'll tweak it as I go, but I'm really excited about getting the chance to try to tell a story like this over a longer time scale.



The other thing I'm worried about is how to tell stories in Capitalism: The RPG while still have it compellingly be a fantasy world. How do I maintain whimsy and magic and fantasy while exploring the economic questions that are interesting to me? How do I keep it fun for players?

I feel like I have a pretty good sense of how to do it for the setting's primary urban locus, the city of the various Auction Houses. My favorite bit of backstory about the city is this: The Council of Seven that rules the city politically is traditionally headed either by a human or a dwarf, alternating on three year terms. This is a political compromise between the two largest races in the city, but it is not a statutory arrangement and every so often, typically when the dwarves and humans are deadlocked on some issue, an elf has served a term as president of the council. And there was that one time that a minotaur ruled the city for three years... His big public works project as council president was a large public park with a fiendishly difficult unsolved labyrinth as its focal point.

I get how cities work, I have a feel for their nuances and I know how to generate fantasy and whimsy in an urban setting while making all the nuts and bolts of the city feel real. I'm going to have to work harder when characters are out exploring the wilder areas to hit the balance between the pure economics and the fantasy adventure. But I'm excited about the challenge of this, too.

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seekingferret: Photo of me with my 2012 Purim beard, with stripes shaven into it. (Default)
seekingferret

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