Five Campaigns I’d Like to Run But Never Will

Why not? Time constraints, problems with selling these ideas to potential players, lack of systems and so forth. Not important, actually. These are just ideas I’d like to do, but feel that I will never be able to.

Necessary Evil the Right Way

Necessary Evil is a setting or a campaign for Savage Worlds. The basic idea is that aliens came to Earth to conquer us. The superheroes went in and fought them, but through trickery, the aliens destroyed them all. What remains is a bunch of supervillains, who must, despite their differences, work together to save Earth so they can take it for themselves.

The idea is pretty good, but it lacks in execution. Its supposed to be Golden Age comicbook action, which in itself is fine, but that doesn’t really fly for a whole campaign. Moving to a more contemporary approach would probably work much better, where the supervillains are modern supervillains. They don’t have to be the cruelest psychopaths out there, but they shouldn’t be cartoonish either.

They also shouldn’t be forced to save the world. It should be something they want to do for their own reasons. In the original campaign they are just railroaded into one mission after another, which always seem to end up in firefights, not really being able to use the stuff most supervillains would use to reach their goals.

The system is also totally wrong. Savage Worlds is an excellent system, but only in very specific situations. It works well when you want a quick and quite deadly system, say, for a game set in a war. It doesn’t scale well (and superhero game definitely should), which leads to certain powers becoming useless, as using guns is often simply better.

If you can fix these problems, I think there’s a seed for something really great in it. The system could be either HeroQuest or DramaSystem. Both have their strenghts and flaws in this case, but either would work better than the original.

Elizabethan Spycraft

There’s a Ken Writes About Stuff called School of Night. Its a ten page primer on running a campaign with this very speculative group of people, who would fight the forces of evil with magic. The document gives stats to four very interesting historical figures (Christopher Marlowe, Sir Walter Raleigh, Thomas Hariot and Lady Elizabeth Carey) as well as touches on plenty of others.

The thing is, I don’t think the supernatural angle is needed. Of course, selling this idea to others is probably easier with a supernatural component, but campaign in this world of double agents and treachery should be quite enough for most people. The School of Night would still be a great document, because it does talk about the importance of arts in this world. After all, Marlowe was apparently a spy because he could move in certain circles because of his plays.

Cortes’s Conquests

Doesn’t necessarily need to be the real Mexico, but something similar would be nice. The basic idea would be that you have very limited resources and there’s no turning back. What do you do? Cortes did win many battles where he was very much the underdog in numbers, but that was not the only thing. He used the hate of the locals of the Aztecs to leverage himself plenty of allies. At other times he forced certain cities to ally with him. In either case, it wasn’t like he was going to win without help.

On top of the fickle politics of the locals, he had to contend with Spaniards who didn’t really want him there or wanted a cut for themselves. He fought some battles with other Spaniards and had some locked up in the town he established as a beachhead. Also, he did his best to circumvent the Governor he supposedly worked for and tried to get his expedition approved by the king himself after the fact.

Of course, the system would need to be able to handle plenty of things, such as complicated battles and complicated webs of intrigue, but I think that would be possible.

A Wrestling Company

Basically, you roam the country putting up shows. Those shows of course include matches, but, yes, they are fully choreographed (although not quite as much as most people think). The real game happens behind the scenes, where you compete for billing, matches, air time and whatever. Maybe “ring-rats”, too.

I don’t know exactly how much emphasis would you want to put on what happens in the ring. Can you shoot? Can accidents happen? Probably yes in both cases, but how much do you want to emphasize them? What about the truly dark side, like drugs and steroids? There’s plenty of people in wrestling who’ve died very young. Actually, its more of a rule than an exception. Then there’s the marital problems of always being on the road and so forth. Often money as well, because the smaller promotions simply can’t afford to pay very much.

Then there’s the added level of the soap opera with violence. It could be a fun balance for the horrible stuff to come up with ridiculous storylines.

Tax Collecting

A fantasy world. Probably a very shitty one run by an evil dictator of some sort. The PCs have bought the rights to tax a certain area (a common way of organizing taxation in certain times in history). Of course, the characters misjudged the situation and most of the people they are trying to tax are dirt poor and have basically nothing to give, but the characters need to pay what he owes the evil dictator and his men. Getting out of the deal is impossible and what they owned previously is tied up in the down payment for the deal.

There’s a multitude of problems here. They will need to go to places, who will rather fight then pay up. They will encounter rebels and bandits, who have lost their property and need to fall back on illegal trade. They will also encounter people, who really need the money, or their children will perish. Of course, you could throw in all sorts stuff like cannibalism if you want to. The armies of the evil overlord probably won’t leave them alone either.

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