I have been experimenting with various ways to combine the seasonal structure of the King Arthur Pendragon RPG with various flavors of D&D. Most recently I’ve been taking shots at a solo campaign using a combination of ACKS character and class creation, Scarlet Heroes solo play rules, and An Echo Resounding domain play in a sort of seasonal structure. The way the game plays out – three seasons of domain play seasoned with roleplaying hooks, with a yearly dungeon crawl – reminds me of the underrated SNES classic ActRaiser, which was an innovative game in the way it combined Civ-like management with platforming sections.
Here’s a little writeup of the first in-game year of my campaign so far.
NKRUMA is a 22-year-old noble lord of the tengu aerie Lacklito, high in the Western Mountains. Lacklito has been a troubled town for the past several years for several reasons. Like most tengu aeries, Lacklito is run by a combination of a noble lord and a elder council, who often come into conflict. The council of Lacklito is steadfastly dedicated to scholarly pursuits, and confident that their high mountain location will safeguard the town from all threats. Nkruma, however, knows better, as his days as an adventurer have introduced him to a number of potential hazards in the mountains, orcs being the least of the town’s worries.
Lvl. 5 Tengu aerie guardian / Lvl. 1 Champion (25,000xp)
4M / 2W / 2S
Origin: Religious Community (+2 Social)
The aerie was founded by tengu who all share veneration of a particular air spirit.
Activity: Educational Tradition (+2 Wealth)
The aerie has a traditional focus on scholarly pursuits.
One of the biggest potential resources for the aerie is a nearby spring of geomantically-infused water which would be perfect for making powerful potions and elixirs, and could be sold to humanoids off the mountain at a premium. However, the tengu commoners consider the land to be sacred and the council refuses to budge on the issue. Nkruma considers it to be vitally important to harvest the water and use it to build better defenses for the town. (Resource – Type: Sorcerous Materials +2 Wealth – Obstacle: Tabboo Land 4)
Another potential resource is the nearby abandoned human settlement which was destroyed by orc raids a generation ago. Powerful magical materials are said to be contained below the town, but it is infested with spirits of the slaughtered humans and harvesting the materials is impossible. (Ruin – Type: Abandoned Town / Forgotten Sorcery +2 Wealth – Obstacle: Tidespawn 4)
The biggest threat to the town is the demonic cult which lairs in the caves nearby. They have set up a gate and call demons regularly into this world, only to set them loose into the mountains. The threat of demonic attack and even just mundane raids from the cult are becoming greater all the time, though the tengu council insists the cult is just a bunch of upstart magicians. (Lair – Type: Tidespawn Infestation)
Nkruma meets with the tengu council and explains his desire to raise an army to defend the town and expand its borders. The councilmen are skeptical, especially the elder. The council considers an army to be against the nature of the tengu of Lacklito, who are a scholarly, meditative folk. While Nkruma’s personal military reputation is sufficient to gather recruits willing to fight, the funds give him some trouble initially, though he eventually gathers enough to pay a unit of pikemen. The social barrier is too great however, and he doesn’t manage to train the soldiers before the end of spring.
Nkruma decides to go on a summer raid against a nearby orc lair in order to gather treasure and demonstrate his ability to defend the town if necessary. He knows the orcs lair in the dungeon of an abandoned castle nearby, so he goes to explore it. After wandering through the tunnels for a while, he comes upon four bizarre creatures in one of the hallways – four long snakes with shells like snails, pearly white. They coil and hiss when they see Nkruma, and several of them begin a strange dance which culminates in the firing of a bolt of magical force! Despite being hit by several bolts Nkruma manages to chop each of the snake-things in half and survive. (The snake-things are mooncoils, from http://hamsterhoard.blogspot.com/search/label/monsters)
Later, Nkruma is attacked by several guardians of the castle – glass golems built by its previous owners. They slash at him with razor-sharp glass tablets, and when he smashes one a poisonous gas trapped inside of it is released; he narrowly gets away with his life by hiding inside a room until the golems wander off, propelled by strange orders from another time.
Eventually Nkruma finds the series of rooms where the orcs themselves lair, and they attack him on sight. Only 5 of them are in the lair at this time, and he slays them all, and comes away with their raid bounty which is contained in a treasure chest.
Back from the raid, Nkruma decides to continue his efforts at raising a unit of pikemen to defend the village. He overcomes the social barrier by promising the council to build a school in the fall; they accept his offer, and the pikemen are trained and kept at ready.
Nkruma puts the treasure gained from his expedition in the town hold and reflects on his summer. (This is the part of the game where treasure and experience from the summer phase are distributed among characters.)
Nkruma begins the school project he promised the council. Once again it is easy for him to rally the military aspect, raising a guard to defend the workers from raids, but he underestimated the monetary cost of the project and has to put it off until Winter.
Nkruma continues to build the school, but hiring tengu workers in the winter is expensive, and the project continues to stall. He attends the winter court held by the tengu council, who are none too happy with the slow progress on their promised academy…