Wherever profit leads: proposals for 2 campaign frames
James M asked: what sort of historical campaign would you like to run?
Ideally I’d like to do both of the following:
Non-fantasy historical: the first years of the East India Companies (1600-1620, with some liberties).
It’s got everything; seaborne adventures of discovery, evil employers, people turning native to warn the Japanese of the impending threat, island cults, Chinese pirates and mafia, and the original spices-that-must-flow. The PCs are officers on a ship negotiating, trading, and warring against the other companies. I can just see them enacting something like the Ambon (or Amboyna if you like) Massacre on their rivals but getting to seriously question (and maybe derail) the whole enterprise when confronted with the genocide in the Bandas. It’s like being pirates except you’re still members of society. In other words, an actual rationale for a D&D economy. This would be the history of proto-imperial rivalry as Giles Milton sees it: his popular histories turn up the heat to a rolling boil and are practically novelizations – highly recommended.
Semi-historical low-fantasy: I’d move the time frame up 50-80 years: the Companies are filling in the holes in their maps/networks.
This time the PCs are natives – I’d get the players to invent the details of their home island Korad style. They have a unique resource: they can contact and bargain with nature spirits for magical effects (and I’m thinking this would borrow from Pokemon but be reskinned like hoodoo*). The game opens with the first arrival of the Dutch or English, who want to use the spirits for their own imperial ends.
Anyone interested? Assuming you could spend a few months in France to play.
* did I really never post this? My version 2 of that Pokemon-trainer-hoodoo-man thing:
Servant of the Kami.
Kami (nature spirits) can be found in all environments – caves, forests, rivers, wells, glaciers, the sea, the sky, thunderstorms. They can also inhabit well-used objects like walking sticks or books or houses or temples.** The Servant of Kami can call and bond with Kami, keeping them in “pots” (talismans) like a hoodoo man. When released from their pots the Kami generate one spell-like effect – generally more or less predictably – related to their home environment. Offensive spells include lightning (from storms), winds, killer waves, darkness, rockslides. They can also ask the local environment for information. The Servant can keep the average of his CHA and level in Kami at any one time. To get the Kami back in their pot after each use he must save vs CHA + level – number of uses that arbitrary period (week? day? scene?). Kami also sometimes want the Servant to do stuff for them. Kami are jealous, prefer Servants who know their place, and dislike seeing objects being treated as mere slaves: Servants can never keep more possessions than they have Kami and should never accept aid from magicians or clerics if a Kami could help instead.
The only “spells” the Servant really knows are Bind and Speak With Kami. Everything else has to be gathered in play. Depending on how he treats them, the Servant may retain Kami as allies in their home locations after he releases them.
** This could lead to an interesting recursive tendency, where a shrine built to venerate a particular Kami gets its own Kami (of the temple), which would want venerating in its own right. Or which would show up when people ask the original Kami for stuff, and interpose a religious interpretation between the petitioner and the phenomenon supposedly being petitioned.