View Full Version : Two-Layer Campaign

2012-01-09, 11:29 PM
I got this idea from these forums a while back, but I cannot for the life of me find the original thread. If anyone can point me to it, I'd appreciate that.

I'm planning to start a campaign in the next couple weeks in which there are essentially two entirely different games going on at the same time. The first is the standard "group of adventurers" setup (five players, D&D 3.5, but that's not important). The second is a group of five other players, of which the first five know nothing, controlling the political maneuvers of five major powers of the campaign. Neither group is aware of what the other is doing unless it affects them directly. (This is facilitated by the fact that none of the players in the first group have ever met any of the players in the second group, and they live hundreds of miles away from each other -- the second group's actions will be conducted via e-mail.)

The idea behind this arrangement is to keep the development of the plot somewhat unpredictable, and to give the background events of the campaign a life of their own. It also gives me a way to involve some people from my old group, which I left behind when I moved, in a campaign I'm running now.

My reason for starting this topic is to solicit some ideas regarding the rules by which the second, political-maneuvering, game would be conducted. I would also like to know if there is a pre-existing system that could be used for this. I was originally planning to borrow heavily from the system I remember being described in the thread I remember seeing here earlier, but, as stated earlier, I can't find it.

Thank you for your help.

2012-01-09, 11:38 PM
You could try to find a spinoff of Diplomacy and play that for the meta-game.

2012-01-10, 12:09 AM
You could try to find a spinoff of Diplomacy and play that for the meta-game.

Diplomacy is mostly focused around the disposition of armies, though, right? I'm not necessarily dealing with five countries at war with each other... the campaign starts in peacetime, and there's no guarantee that war will break out. The players in the meta-game may not even all be representing countries -- one of them is talking about playing as the Reformed Church of Pelor. (They're also participating in building the setting, since that's basically their character-creation phase.)

I don't need anything terribly complex -- basically, what I'm looking for is a large-scale equivalent of making opposed skill rolls. I need to:

a) Define a (probably turn-based) structure in which the players may take different actions. I'd like the players' choices in the meta-game to be as flexible as the players' choices in the campaign: instead of a set number of possible moves, they should be able to say "I want to start a propaganda campaign within/propose a trade agreement with/steal state secrets from [other player's organization]", or whatever else they come up with, just like a player in the campaign has a theoretically infinite number of possible reactions to a situation.

b) Define a way in which I can objectively determine the success of a given action. If a player in the campaign decides to try something I hadn't expected, it's easy enough to just say, "all right, roll [x]", and thus see whether they succeed -- I'd like to be able to handle the actions of the players in the meta-game in the same way.

2012-01-10, 12:25 AM
That was probably my thread. You can check it out in my signature. I'm using 3.5 for it. The additional rules that I use are Green Ronin's rules for army combat. Those essentially treat a platoon of men as one combatant in a battle. We haven't used the Green Ronin rules in the current campaign, but have used them with success in the past. We did one battle and it took up about two sessions. Rather epic. It also took a lot of prep time on my part to make all the little pieces of paper that represented every unit on the battlefield.

If you want something less rule intensive that still supports political conflict you may want to check out Amber Diceless. Vampire the Masquerade might also be in the middleground. I haven't played either though.

If you're looking for a game based around actual political conflict between different political bodies instead of PCs directing political action then you might want to check out Dawn of Worlds. That's what Nowhereman's second post looked like to me. Dawn of Worlds is really cooperative storytelling though. There's no rolling to see if an action is successful. You just go with what makes the best story.

In my political campaign they haven't gotten to the juicy political stuff yet (like the mess with the dwarven kings and the marriage between the opposing cities). I've planned it out with a flowchart indicating the choices they can make AND the choices the NPCs can make. I've indicated the path the events will follow if the PCs do not become involved.

Last thing. For your own campaign, if it is going to be political entities instead of PCs, should probably focus around a new prophetic threat. The entities can then ally against or for the threat. You might wanna read Game of Thrones for inspiration.

2012-01-10, 01:17 AM
I'd go with REIGN. Basically, REIGN includes entities known as "companies", which cover everything from small business to countries, and have fleshed out large scale interactions. If you use REIGN for the second campaign, and also give the second group characters to interact with* as well (with these characters being major politicians and such) you should get both large scale changes in the politics and more personalized touches focused around the movers and shakers such as great speeches, rumors, and similar material. While it does, to some extent have "moves", everything you listed as an option fits into those categories. Moreover, you can go outside the "moves" as well.

*Of their design.