View Full Version : I need haaaalp with my empire!

Jewel Thief
2010-09-11, 11:39 PM
Need help developing a civil war campaign between different races in an empire. My friends and I ran a campaign last Spring which, although set in a little village, had devastating political and social consequences for an Empire that consists of goblins, humans and orcs. Our goblins are different, in that they're very beautiful (in an Elphaba kind of way, see the musical Wicked - she's daaamn) and are the well-educated, aristocratic class. They're also commonly scholars and academics. The goblins also run the military with hobgoblin efficiency. Meanwhile humans (along with dwarves, who are an extreme minority) comprise the bourgeouise and mercantile divisions of society. They don't have a standing army but many, many militias, due to distrust in the goblin government. Orcs are primarily slaves, but are naturally great warriors. There are also extremely small groups of elves (who are a privileged "can't touch this" class) and minotaurs (usually mercenaries for hire).

I'm trying to develop a war campaign for a sequel to our first campaign, but haven't developed much of the landscape or political situation. This is an Empire, so there's an Emperor, but I don't know much of the politics past that. Ideas for racial conflict? Battles you'd like to see? Halp with campaign building!

P.S. Basically the first campaign was about a political villain living in a unified empire between goblins, humans and orcs. Through consecutive actions and manipulations, he pitted all of the races against each other, revealing extremely powerful secrets about them that made co-existance impossible - for example that goblins eat humans on a regular basis (albeit in secret) and that humans have been known to make blood sacrifices of goblins, orcs and other humans to the demon god Waris. Free orcs were riled up about the treatment of their enslaved brethren, and a few massacres of peaceful human and goblin pilgrims later made everyone else pissed off at them.

The villain collected the corpses of various witnesses of these atrocities, then brought them to the capitol of the Empire and had them resurrected, each providing extreme cases of racism and sadism between the races. Our adventurers were mercenaries and detectives who were both caught up in the political intrigue, and trying to figure out their loyalties. Not exactly "Good" people per say, they went along with the plot until the villain decided they too were witnesses and needed to be killed. It was a great campaign and we all enjoyed it. However, now war has started, and we want to continue the story set in this world.

This villain, by the way, is a mysterious courtesan of the courts who manipulates people as he wills. He wears dark robes, a black mask, and changes the politics of the time as he wishes. It was he who instigated this war and wishes to profit off of it, although his motivations remain hidden. He's our Joker character, our wild card, using and abusing the different races as they prepare for war - the goblins with their massive war machine, the humans and their guerrilla militias, the orcs and their swarming brothers.

2010-09-12, 12:17 AM
Are there any free outposts of orcs?

what technologies does each side have access to?

how are the elves involved?

do the minitaors have an agenda, or are they just serving as mercenaries as usual?

how high-up on the totem pole is the courtesan?

what side is the emperor on?

what is the Lay of the Land, so to speak? any unusal world shapes?

anyone else that would have a hold in these affairs?

2010-09-12, 10:45 AM
Your goblins are different, but are they still Evil? If so, I'd recommend for you what I've done for the hobgoblin kingdoms in my setting; Byzantine politics full of murder, conspiracy and manipulating people through obligations and connections. Kill, steal and enslave, you can do whatever you like as long as you follow the rules of the political game. The forms must be observed. This is a deeply Lawful Evil political scene, and since my setting embraces the by-the-book alignments, that's what my hobgoblins are like. It might have some value for you. (As an aside, I suggest reading the Empire trilogy by Raymond Feist and Janny Wurts to see this kind of politics in action.)

How is the Emperor regarded? God-king status, "above" everyday politics? Or very much mortal and very much involved?

Your goblins run the army, and presumably form the bulk of it, but if orcs are the elite infantry and/or the shock troops, then an attempt at a coup d'etat is highly plausible. A shaky alliance between the orcs, some sympathetic goblin commanders, and some minotaurs, maybe.

How's this? Orcs have a reputation for being brainless killing machines who need a goblin commander to point them at the right victims-to-be. It's always been assumed (or maybe even has played out this way in the past) that if the orcs revolted against their commanders, they'd be ineffective once deprived of their command structure, and easily defeated by superior tactics. But the orcs have actually managed to cultivate a military genius or two. And what's worse, in their desperation to kill off these leaders, the orcs' enemies are overlooking the degree of organisation in non-military matters that the orcs are achieving; the humans and dwarves had better look to their trade or they'll have their feet cut out from under them, in several ways.

Characters other than your villain who play off one race against another would be good. Perhaps even people who don't want to pit races against each other, but seeing as it's what's happening anyway they'll exploit the tensions (maybe disguising themselves as a member of another race?) to get themselves some followers.

This villain, by the way, is a mysterious courtesan of the courts who manipulates people as he wills.

I might be wrong, but I think you mean courtier, not courtesan? :smallwink:

2010-09-15, 09:47 PM
Some things to think about: Where did the Empire come from? Was it a city-state that defeated and co-opted other city-states, like Rome? Was there an existing state, where a coalition of noble families agreed to unite under the banner of one leading family, to take over the government? What sources of resistance might remain from the pre-Imperial days? Or am I assuming too much? Is this Empire, in fact, a monarchy? How does the Emperor maintain his power? Why haven't people like the courtier -- I'm with Peregrine, a courtesan is something quite different (Google it) -- swept to power many times over before now? What structures has the Empire instituted to keep the power structure stable? You should be thinking here both of structural methods (police, guards, a military, any technological/magical means of surveillance that the Empire has access to) and cultural methods (a state religion, art, propaganda) to maintain loyalty. Any strongly hierarchical political structure depends on those who really are at the top buying the support of those who are nearly at the top. How is this done in your empire? What are the official and unofficial channels for getting the ruler to do what you want? How does the emperor pacify fractious nobles?