Friday, September 4, 2009

King's Dragon Part Two!

Had some free time and managed to finish off this mammoth tome.

"And lastly," Wolfhere said, "no man or woman is given the Eagle's badge until she has seen a comrade die. Death is ever at hand. We do not truly become Eagles until we accept and understand that we are willing to pay that price for our service and our king." (p. 260 SFBC edition).

In most campaigns, the players will have numerous options when it comes to organizations to join. One of the quick hits in the Forgotten Realms would be the Harpers. In many such settings, guilds have a tremendous amount of power.

If the players are part of a guild, or members of multiple guilds, what is expected of them? What do they have to do in order to 'earn their wings'? What do they have to bring to the guild to make it accept them? If a wizard is always out adventuring with his fellow sellswords, what does the mage guild expect of him in turn?

It's not that you want to make these memberships in and of themselves a burden, but rather, a springboard. If the players are always out and about, then the guilds the players are members of would not only recognize this, but use it to send them out for various guild business. It's essentially free labor for them and plot points for the campaign. Are there certain monsters you want to use? The warrior's guild informs the fighters and rangers that their time away from the guild must be earned back with varlous battle against these invaders. The mages guild informs the wizard that certain bits of these creatures can be used as components in a ritual. The divine elements dream of their deity demanding the death of these offending monsters.

"This is certainly grave news, but what am I to tell the people of Gent? Given enough time, the Eika amry outside will burn and batter down Gent's bridges, and when they have done that, they will have free passage up the Vester whether we will it or no." (p. 274 SFBC)

The Game Master should make efforts to show why the players are needed. In some campaigns like the Forgotten Realms, one of the 'strikes' against it is that it is filled with NPC's who should be able to solve all of the problems. But well, so is reality. America for example, truly has enough wealth to offer health care to everyone, but it's not necessarily in the interest in all of the powers that be to spread that around.

The 'good' NPC's of a setting have their own problems to deal with and even when what the players are involved in is campaign shattering, it's up to the players to pull themselves up by the bootstraps and be the heroes of the campaign setting.

"The soft ones are not true people, of course, but they are a kind of people. People can talk. It is the lesson the WiseMothers teach. It is what they whispered to him when he was a half-grown pup and dared venture up the mountainside to the sacred palce tended by the SwiftDaughters to see whether the WiseMothers would speak to him or else kill him for his presumption.

"The knife and the tongue are equally strong weapons."

One of the interesting things about 4th edition is that it somewhat eliminated the wide range of alignments that Dungeons and Dragons has relied on to guide so much of its behavior. Players and NPCs may have motivations that aren't necessarily so crystal clear that every orc child must be battered against a rock.

If the players are able to make a real influence against their enemies, either by sparing them, communicating with them, or showing them a better way, if the Game Master can incorporate that into his campaign instead of just shrugging his shoulders and having the monsters continue to attack brainlessly, the players will see that their actions have a direct influence on the growth of the campaign.

"So do some of us work today to ban inheritance through the male line." (p. 453 SFBC).

When looking at parts of the campaign world, how are things determined in a time of inheritance? The old joke is the son of my daughter is my grandson and the son of my son may be my grandson as one never knows. Of course with modern technology and all that comes with it, and possibly with rituals and magical aid to dtermine in a fantasy campaign the same could be said, but it does bring into question rights of inheritance, differences in culture, and things that players may not be used to in a standard psuedo historical setting.

King's Dragon boasts a wide cast and uses a huge array of characters to tell merely a part of a story despite being over five hundred pages. If the Game Master can take some of the ideas for setting that don't necessarily happen in his game now, ranging from humanoid invaders that are harsh because they come from a harsh land and climate, to patrons that can't always protect their wards, then King's Dragon can act as your own book in your own Appendix N reading list.