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  1. - Top - End - #1
    Bugbear in the Playground
     
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    Question DM Needs (in-game) Political Advice

    Hey everyone! I'm in need of some in-game political advice, so I figured I'd toss this out into the forumy goodness and see if anyone's got any ideas:

    I'm running a (D&D) campaign, and the largest human kingdom on the continent is about to fall into civil war. My problem is I need a convincing way for this to develop. It's not really intended as the primary campaign focus (though if the PCs decided to try to get involved, I'd certainly allow it), but rather something to flesh out the world and make it seem more real in terms of large events happening whether the PCs are looking or not. At the moment, the party is off in one of the smaller kingdoms, but news will reach them of various events that will bring the large kingdom into civil war.

    So! Here's the situation thus far: The kingdom in question, which via name-thievery is called Prydain, is the largest of the 3 (primarily) human kingdoms and situated in the central part of the continent. To it's east are wild lands filled with humanoid races that need to be watched and occasionally dealt with along the eastern border. (This is also true of the northern borders, though half of the northern border is shared with dwarves, with whom Prydain is on more or less decent terms.) To the south is the human nation of Treger, the smallest of the three nations but also the most aggressive.


    To the west lies the Coallition of Rhyl, a collection of smaller baronies that banded together to form the Coallition about 25 years ago when a border dispute between a Rhyllish city and Prydain spiraled out of control (likely helped along by Tregerian spies) and into a full-scale war. During that war, Treger opportunistically joined up with Prydain in order to grab some Rhyllish lands while they could. Rhyl lost territory to both Treger and Prydain before a peace was brokered (Treger wanted to keep going, but larger Prydain just wanted a stable western border and was happy with the peace, and put pressure on Treger to cease its own aggression).

    Rhyl is actually on better terms with Prydain because of this--they fought more honorably and treated Rhyl better than Treger did. Most recently the PCs were even involved with foiling a Tregerian plot to take over a half-finished fortress on the Treger-Rhyl border that's being held by some Prydish priests so that no one can use it. (I stole that whole bit from the history of Caerphilly Castle in Wales, if anyone's curious). Treger would love for Prydain to weaken so they can seize more lands.

    Which (pauses for breath) brings us to the present. The High King of Prydain has just died of old age. His two sons are non-identical twins, with the older (by two minutes) being the rightful heir. Both sons aren't power-hungry, but the older strongly believes that he is the rightful king. The problem's that he's also kind of stupid and a weak leader. He makes bad decisions, is more into riding off on hunting expeditions and throwing festivals than he is with keeping Prydain secure and together. As such, many of the lesser rulers in Prydain--especially those on the borders who have to worry about invasion--aren't too happy. But he's not an evil man (lawful neutral, maybe?), just a man who believes he is the rightful king.

    Many think the younger prince would be a much better leader. He's strong, smart, and just generally has what it takes (and more of the public confidence). On the other hand, he's also (most likely) lawful good. He firmly believes that his older brother is the rightful king, and supports his coronation.

    The older brother, though, "wise" man that he is, hears the grumblings of the lesser kings and decides that, just to be safe, he will send his brother off on a quest (with a sizable party of guards and paladins, etc.) to find a legendary sword of rulership that is said to be wieldable only by a rightful ruler and has the power to keep any kingdom from falling so long as it's that leader holds it. (Old relic of a 3000 year-dead empire, ironically enough. The last king who had it likely got eaten whole by a dragon.) This, the older brother hopes, will serve to get the younger out of the capital during the coronation and prevent any attempts to put the younger brother on the throne. (Plus, if the younger actually finds the sword, the older will then have more political clout once it's in his possesion.)

    So what I'm trying to do is have things break down into a war with those loyal to the "rightful" king on one side and those who think only the younger would be a good leader on the other. The younger brother would NOT want a war in his name, but as he's now off questing, he can't hold his supporters in check. The coronation went off without a hitch--the older brother IS now the rightful king. But there are rumors of increased humanoid attacks in the east, and talk of a formerly Rhyllish city on the extreme northwestern border of Prydain starting to revolt. How much of this is fed by Tregerian spies looking to sew dissent is anyone's guess (but they certainly are trying. In fact, Treger's made some rather evil deals for some rather interesting and powerful troops for a coming war--but they don't want to tip their hand until Prydain is destabilized).

    My problem is that I'm not entirely sure just what events should transpire between now and full-on civil war to make it seem realistic and just plain nifty. I'm not much of a history student, so the nitty-gritty of how things like this begin isn't my forte. Anyone have any ideas? Individual city revolts? A catastrophic failure to defend a border city from humanoid raiding that somehow moves some lesser king to openly support a coup? Tregerian spies stewin' up trouble? I'm mostly looking for major events that would occur, snowballing into the civil war. (eg. First Minor City #12 insults the king, the king withdraws support or increases taxes, the city refuses the increase, troops are sent as a show of non-violent force, they're not well received, there's a minor skirmish, another city throws in, etc.)

    Thanks for reading this far--and I'd be grateful for any advice/ideas. ("I've hired you to help me start a war! It's a prestigious line of work, with a long and glorious tradition.")
    Last edited by Muz; 2007-03-28 at 05:41 PM.
    Author of Zeus Is Dead: A Monstrously Inconvenient Adventure, a comedic fantasy novel set in a version of our world where reality TV show heroes slay actual monsters and the Greek gods have their own Twitter feeds!
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  2. - Top - End - #2
    Ogre in the Playground
     
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    Default Re: DM Needs (in-game) Political Advice

    Why is the Blue Country always the good one?[/idle pondering]

    Y'know, this is why assassins exist. Have some smart old folks decide that the Elder would not really be a very good king, and dispatch some elite ninjas. All completely behind the Younger's back, of course, to avoid any nasty accusations. Also, making Resurrection impossible might be a smart idea.

    Maybe the Elder could simply be shunted to another plane for easy disposal. Plane of Fire would work wonders.

    Now you've got one (1) Assassinated King and one (1) Rightful Heir (assuming the Elder has no children, of course) who is so Lawful he is unlikely to refuse to take the throne. You also have some Scheming Politicians who'd very much like the Younger takes the throne (some because they are Good, others because they think he can be manipulated, etc.) and some Peeved Politicians who miss the Elder (because they manipulated him, were so Lawful, etc.). Then you've got many commoners who liked the Elder, and many commoners who liked the Younger. And lots and lots of accusations, conspiracy theories and underground propaganda.

    Add some Foreign Spies and you have a prime-quality political explosion at your hands. The Younger can do nothing, because he's stuck on his quest, and at the same time has to organise the Frontier against the humanoid raids.

    What do you think, good enough?

    Ædit: Hey, some time after the situation is resolved (say, about 16-20 years), add one (1) or more of Previous Ruler's Bastard Offspring, so that the Peeved Politicians have someone to replace the Younger with. An Evil pair of Twins With Great Power might be rather cool, as they are usually the Goody-Goody protagonists of a fantasy story. (For example, one of the twins a martial adept and the other a primary spellcaster.)
    Last edited by Attilargh; 2007-03-28 at 11:52 AM.

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    Default Re: DM Needs (in-game) Political Advice

    enter evil advisor.
    young king on a quest.
    elder, possibly dead.

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    Bugbear in the Playground
     
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    Default Re: DM Needs (in-game) Political Advice

    Not a bad idea, but I'd rather avoid killing either prince off immediately. Eventually, I'd like to have things wind up with Prydain split into two kingdoms.

    And even if I do assassinate the older brother and have things all divided politically and ripe for a war (and I certainly like that aspect of your suggestion ), I'm also looking for actual events in the outbreak of war itself. Where the first battle is, and why, etc. What's the spark that lights the keg?

    And Prydain is blue because...it's blue on my map. :) (Though on my map the dwarven kingdom is red, and Treger's orange, but now I digress. ...And in fairness, Rhyl is likely the most "good" of the human kingdoms.)
    Author of Zeus Is Dead: A Monstrously Inconvenient Adventure, a comedic fantasy novel set in a version of our world where reality TV show heroes slay actual monsters and the Greek gods have their own Twitter feeds!
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    Default Re: DM Needs (in-game) Political Advice

    If you're looking to definitely start a civil war, have the questing brother return with the sword and have NEITHER brother able to wield it. Make it very public and discover that the queen was unfaithful and promiscuous and have none of the "heirs" actually be legitimate. Choose a power-hungry, but generally despised cousin, and have him (or her if you really want to play games) able to wield the sword.

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    Ogre in the Playground
     
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    Default Re: DM Needs (in-game) Political Advice

    Well historically these things kicked off when one brother said "Oi! That's my throne"

    What might help would be if the two brothers drew support from different sections of society. Say that the elder is preferred by the landed nobility while the younger is the darling of the restless merchant class. Or different regions/cities/religions/ethnic groups etc etc. Each of these will have their own agenda and they may take offence to something mundane that the other group does. In reality few civil wars were about who had the better birthright.

    Say for example the landowners convince the king to sign some minor law that gives them licences to export a type of cheese (I did say mundane) and the merchants get pretty pissed off at this. One thing leads to another and political arguments break down into brawls which lead to pitched battles. Latent tensions suddenly erupt. It’s a lot more realistic and plausible than the "evil vizier" plot.

    With regards civil war in general there are two key things to bear in mind:

    1) Nobody really wants one… even when they are hurtling towards one

    2) They get very messy very fast

    The upshot of the above two points is that the first few months of any war (barring some conspiracy or manipulation by a hidden group) are going to be very muddled as people try and figure out just whose side they are on. After this initial period however the ideological lines tend to harden and things get very nasty.
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    Default Re: DM Needs (in-game) Political Advice

    Quote Originally Posted by Muz View Post
    Not a bad idea, but I'd rather avoid killing either prince off immediately. Eventually, I'd like to have things wind up with Prydain split into two kingdoms.
    Okay, have him Retuuuuurn From the Deeeeaaad with suitable drama. Preferaby in front of the PCs. (Of course, rumours of his return might be equally dramatic.) And then he wreacks BLOODY Revenge on his killers, or is simply turned against his brother by an Outside Force.

    Alternatively, have the Younger be turned against his reincarnated brother by an Outside Force. Have the Elder make some poor moves against the humanoids plaguing the frontier and build up the "evidence of his corruption" from there.

    Or do both simultaneously.

    Quote Originally Posted by Muz View Post
    And even if I do assassinate the older brother and have things all divided politically and ripe for a war (and I certainly like that aspect of your suggestion ), I'm also looking for actual events in the outbreak of war itself. Where the first battle is, and why, etc. What's the spark that lights the keg?
    I'm thinking it wouldn't start with a bang, but instead with some tossed rock in some major city. One moment there's just a vocal mob of people, and the next someone throws a rock, the others join in, the watch comes to resolve the situation. No-one really knows who got hurt first, but it just turns ugly and then there's deaths and the next day there's all kinds of talk and some of the revolutionaires get in touch with some army fellows (with the help of some helpful fellow who just wants to help the supporters of the True King...) and before anyone knows, Important Places are seized by force. Of course the Loyal Military quickly comes in to save the day, but the seeds of rebellion are planted.

    And so it begins. (Dun dun duuuun...)


    (Sorry about the unnecessarily comedic melodrama. I know this is serious business and all, but I just can't help myself. I'm making up these oh-so-very dramatic events and I need to loosen it up somehow. I mean no offense, really. )
    Last edited by Attilargh; 2007-03-28 at 12:15 PM.

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    Ettin in the Playground
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    Default Re: DM Needs (in-game) Political Advice

    So basically, you need the transition between unliked leader and civil war?

    This is one way it could go.

    -Start with some tyrannical laws: The rightful king has discovered that sending his brother off just made things worse. Have the older brother pass a law making it illegal to publically say that the younger brother should be the real king in an attempt to secure his position

    -Loss of support for older brother: nobles start to lose land because of those eastern raids, and the former owners of the territory, former strong supporters of the older brother, turn on him because they feel he didn't do enough to defend their territory. They begin to plan his removal

    -The rightful king find out about his nobles' plotting (some may be actually conspiring against him, others could be incriminated falsely by Tregerian spies). The king strips all of his traitorous nobles of their land, money, and titles, and replaces them with those who he knows are loyal

    -Other nobles, seeing this, become afraid that their position is next, and join the ranks of those opposing the king

    -The process repeats itself a few times, with Tregerian spies adding to the chaos as much as possible (planting evidence on the few neutral nobles, and spreading rumors to the gentry about the atrocities the king is commiting against the arrested members of the gentry). However, there is little open conflict until...

    -The king, convinced his country is a hotbed of treason, decrees martial law, and orders that all armed bodies of men in the kingdom be put under his command. For many nobles, this is the last straw, and they unite under the banner of the younger brother (who is still far away). Unfortunately, those the king put in power have no illusions about what would happen to them if the king is deposed, and therefore side with the king, making the fight more or less even.

    -Presto: civil war in a can.
    Last edited by Green Bean; 2007-03-28 at 12:35 PM.

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    Default Re: DM Needs (in-game) Political Advice

    Very nice set up. My question: where are the PC's in all this? Is this the backstory of the region you're still forming pre-game?
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    Default Re: DM Needs (in-game) Political Advice

    You could try uncovering a new source of something valuable. To steal from the African civil conflicts diamonds or gold. Basically a very wealthy mine is found in an area of the kingdom that considers the younger heir to be the better ruler. The local lords want to keep the wealth for themselves. The older heir tries to take control of the mine for the capital and the local lords revolt claiming that the younger heir is the rightful ruler or some such. The present ruler over reacts to the revolt.

    Upon the brother's returns(wielding the sword that can only be wielded by the rightful ruler no less) he sides with the oppressed rebels for moral reasons, or the older brother now views him as a greater threat and tries to have him assassinated or silenced in some other fashion that provokes the younger brother. It solves the problem of getting a lawfully good NPC to be a part of a civil war, and it would be very easy to add some Treger plot into the mix to help stir the rivalry and add depth to the plot. Nearly every historic civil war has been about government control of wealth so it helps to increase the believability as well in my opinion.
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    Default Re: DM Needs (in-game) Political Advice

    I envisioned the PCs to be some direct lackeys of the Younger brother. An interesting twist would be to have them work for the Elder at some point.

    Just had another bout of inspiration: Not everything is a Tregerian conspiracy. People do all kinds of horrible stuff in the name of King and Country (and for Truth, Freedom, Justice and General Good, and sometimes even for a Hard-Boiled Egg) without being influenced from the outside.

    This could work as a really harsh reality check for the PCs when they encounter the murdering bastard seemingly out to tarnish their Prince's reputation, only to find out he's doing it because he feels it's the right thing to do. Or they capture the Foreign Spy, interrogate him and are shocked when she starts laughing hysterically when asked about certain Bad Things and explains - completely truthfully, if someone bothers to check with magic - that she was as surprised as the players at what people are willing to do.

    Oh, and the Good Ruler Taking Questionable Measures is always a good one: One of the brothers, desperate for the survival of his homeland, starts doind dirty deeds which slowly begin to shift him towards the bad end of the Good-Evil axis of alignment. He founds the Inquisition, gives carte blanche to a zealous vigilante, allies with vile beings, etc.
    Last edited by Attilargh; 2007-03-28 at 12:43 PM.

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    Default Re: DM Needs (in-game) Political Advice

    Older brother is out carousing and ends up in bed with the daughter of a noble supporting younger brother.

    Noble overreacts and declares he is loyal to the "True King" and the womanizer/adulterer etc. should lose the throne.

    Older brother overreacts and starts cracking down on nobility, nobles loyal to younger rebel to stop the "tyrant". All while the younger brother is off in a distant land.

    You can even end up with a bastard royal child to complicate matters.

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    Default Re: DM Needs (in-game) Political Advice

    Quote Originally Posted by Diggorian View Post
    Very nice set up. My question: where are the PC's in all this? Is this the backstory of the region you're still forming pre-game?
    At the moment, they're in an elven kingdom about to travel (briefly) through Prydain to an area outside a little tiny town in mid-eastern Rhyl to purify a cursed priory for reasons I won't get into. After that, they've expressed a strong desire to go loot the stronghold of a vampire-mage that they recently killed, which is in extreme northern Prydain.

    It's not backstory so much as it is flavor for the world, and events that may affect the PCs either through simple rearrangement of travel plans or possibly inspire them to get more directly involved. At the moment, though, I'm looking for something that will go on with or without their involvement. (Driving the PCs into the middle of Prydainian politics isn't required. They're not even from Prydain, as one's an elf and two are Rhyllish.)

    Or were you asking what their involvement was so far? They did run across Tregerian plans to take the border castle (and reported it to Prydainian forces), and they've actually met the (now dead) high king very briefly in the context of the party's discovering a drow slave trade operating out of the capital city itself. Other than that, they've mostly just been hearing rumors and reports of events as they travelled.
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    Ogre in the Playground
     
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    Default Re: DM Needs (in-game) Political Advice

    Quote Originally Posted by Attilargh View Post
    Just had another bout of inspiration: Not everything is a Tregerian conspiracy. People do all kinds of horrible stuff in the name of King and Country (and for Truth, Freedom, Justice and General Good, and sometimes even for a Hard-Boiled Egg) without being influenced from the outside.
    Which is pretty much what I was getting at above. Only put much better. In reality wars, and civil wars, don't start because of some elaborate plot but because one group of people can't stand the sight of another group of people.

    I call it the Vimes School of Realism
    The Omnians were a God-fearing people. They had a great deal to fear.
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    Bugbear in the Playground
     
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    Default Re: DM Needs (in-game) Political Advice

    Quote Originally Posted by Om View Post
    Which is pretty much what I was getting at above. Only put much better. In reality wars, and civil wars, don't start because of some elaborate plot but because one group of people can't stand the sight of another group of people.

    I call it the Vimes School of Realism
    Well-put. And yeah, I'm looking more toward internal reasons rather than the whole thing being a Tregerian plot. I just figured that if Treger DID see instability, they'd do their best to add to it.

    I'm still processing all the suggestions here; there's a lot of good stuff. (Keep 'em coming! And thanks to everyone so far! )
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    Default Re: DM Needs (in-game) Political Advice

    Quote Originally Posted by Muz View Post
    I just figured that if Treger DID see instability, they'd do their best to add to it.
    Maybe, maybe not. Depends on how much they value border security. Having a raging war going on next door can make people very nervous.

    You wanted suggestions
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    Default Re: DM Needs (in-game) Political Advice

    Quote Originally Posted by Attilargh View Post
    I'm thinking it wouldn't start with a bang, but instead with some tossed rock in some major city. One moment there's just a vocal mob of people, and the next someone throws a rock, the others join in, the watch comes to resolve the situation. No-one really knows who got hurt first, but it just turns ugly and then there's deaths and the next day there's all kinds of talk and some of the revolutionaires get in touch with some army fellows (with the help of some helpful fellow who just wants to help the supporters of the True King...) and before anyone knows, Important Places are seized by force. Of course the Loyal Military quickly comes in to save the day, but the seeds of rebellion are planted.

    And so it begins. (Dun dun duuuun...)


    (Sorry about the unnecessarily comedic melodrama. I know this is serious business and all, but I just can't help myself. I'm making up these oh-so-very dramatic events and I need to loosen it up somehow. I mean no offense, really. )
    I like this suggestion. I'd make a minor alteration though - have it be some really minor squabble between extremely low-level members of a house. Two minor barons arguing over a cow, or something like that. A mob scene might ensue over that, with various levels of higher-ups coming in later. Kind of like the World War I scenario - squabble between minor actors with not much to lose, that eventually and quickly escalates.

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    Default Re: DM Needs (in-game) Political Advice

    If the younger brother is generally decent and upright and, most importantly, loyal to his elder on the throne, a simple way to resolve the civil war issue would be for someone not royal to be the opposing force. Maybe a bunch of these discontented nobles get together, one or two are more ambitious than the rest, and they raise rival claims to the throne, by virtue of innate ability or long-forgotten bloodlines or allegations that the king/his brother are actually illegitimate (if mom & dad are dead, how do you prove that they were the real parents, without the possibility of illusion-based deceit).
    Options for a coalition of rebel lords, or a single leader of such a group, would include: 1)try to get younger brother on their side, via arguments, threats, provocation; 2)play upon popular discontent--perhaps the life of a peasant farmer is hard and miserable, and said common folk might be ready to rise up, loose themselves from their chains (except for those placed upon them by the rebel leaders...). 3)seek foreign support, after the rebellion/war has kicked off--maybe their leader would trade territory to Treger in exchange for aid.

    As for how it would start? Probably a series of bad decisions by the stupid king, since without his brother in-country to correct his mistakes, he can be more easily swayed by greedy or self-absorbed or ignorant advisors. Maybe taxes on a region that actually can't support any more. Maybe an inept response to a flood or famine (Let them eat cake?) Maybe he decides to dismiss trustworthy, effective, admired leaders with a series of talentless court favorites. Then not only would the dismissed noble be dissatisfied, but so would all of those who benefited from the noble's authority. Maybe the king, rather than actively doing anything, fails to do something. Maybe, thinking he is being fair and honorable and merciful, he pardons large numbers of criminals. Maybe, when people start formenting unrest, he does nothing. Maybe he starts to allow a wide range of groups to have influence/power where before they had none--and once they taste that power, they want more. Maybe he foolishly insults a major cultural/ethnic/social group, being drunk in church or mocking halflings. Maybe the festival-loving king is accused of squandering the realm's treasure. Maybe the kingdom is actually broke, and the moneylenders are calling in their debts.

    For historical inspiration, you might look at British & Scottish history. Edward II was regarded by many as a weak, ineffective, generally hopeless king, and made many of his nobles displeased. Likewise, King John I of England was less than beloved, and the inspiration for several revolts. Medieval Scotland was riddled with rival kings/absent kings, proud nobles obsessed with rivalries, and uprisings. One of the Jameses, James III, I believe, was opposed by many of his nobles for arbitrarily cruel rulership and for wasting the crown's money on frivolous projects.
    Last edited by Winterking; 2007-03-28 at 01:30 PM.
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    Default Re: DM Needs (in-game) Political Advice

    To introduce the party to the political climate..

    In one of the small towns they are in, and it helps if they have a history with this town..performed tasks etc.. the local leaders and most of the town support the younger brother...

    When the kings men comes to town to collect taxes, the city leaders refuse to pay, "holding the monies for the rightful king"

    The leaders are arrested, a messanger is sent to a large city..
    In 4 days a magistrate will arrive for there trial..If you want the Kings rule to be more tyranical..you could opt for a speedy trial then and there, and a hanging in 3 days

    Some of the town folk are planning a "prison break"
    Some of the town folk are assiting the Kings men.
    The players are approched by both factions....make a choice...

    Role play it out..
    If the players go with the town, they will be emboldened to force a prison break..if they assist, outlaws to the king

    If the players go with the Kings men, the leaders are sentenced, and the towns folk have to accept the outcome since they can't take on the kings men and the party..but word spreds of the oppresion...kindleing of a movement starts and the players were there to see it..

    If the players assist none..and watch the rescue attempt..you diecide succesful or not..but both factions will make note of the parties in-action...in light of the event caused some deaths..
    Last edited by blacksabre; 2007-03-28 at 02:19 PM.

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    Default Re: DM Needs (in-game) Political Advice

    Quote Originally Posted by Attilargh View Post
    Why is the Blue Country always the good one?[/idle pondering]
    American military tradition (used in wargames), coming from the fact that the US Army originally wore blue uniforms. The British (the first people the US Army fought) wore red, thus red is used for the "bad guys".



    As for starting the war, possibly rumours could arise that the "younger" brother is actually the older one, and that they were swapped at birth by the midwife. Reasons for this could include an evil cult asking (using Commune or Contact Other Plane) which one would be the better ruler, and ensuring that the worse one gets the crown.
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    Well, I know nothing about this kind of thing in history.

    One thing, though: If you end up with a bloody coup (or riot in the palace, or whatever), don't show the Elder's body. "Oh crud, we've misplaced our king, where is he" is way more fun than "oh, hey, it's the old king. On a stick. Eeew." The old government is saying that the king is just fine, but you can't see him right now; he's... uhh... busy. Very busy. Meanwhile, the insurgents are saying they have him (or most of him); they kind of ripped off his face, but this is really him. Really.

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    Supporters of the younger brother begin muttering that the whole "quest" story is just a fiction the older brother made up as a cover for having murdered the younger. Eventually some important noble makes this accusation publicly. The elder brother, already insecure and nervous on his throne--and also feeling just a bit guilty over having sent the younger brother away to secure his own power--flies into a rage and has the noble executed for sedition.

    Matters begin to come to a boil. There is unrest throughout the kingdom, many nobles wanting the elder brother to abdicate in favor of (insert charismatic leader here). Finally, there is a public confrontation, the leaders of the rebellious nobles facing the king in open court and demanding that he step down.

    In the midst of this, the younger brother returns with the magic sword. It seems at first that everything is going to turn out okay after all. The younger brother hands the sword to the elder. The elder unsheathes it--and it erupts in flame, searing his hand. He drops it. The younger brother unthinkingly snatches it up and the flame goes out.

    At this point, the nobles go into open revolt. The elder brother marshals his few supporters against them, while the younger brother desperately tries to restore peace in the land and put a stop to the fighting that is going on in his name.

    To cap it all off, the elder brother has now concluded that the younger is deliberately trying to overthrow him, and sentences him to death...

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    Quote Originally Posted by Muz View Post
    Not a bad idea, but I'd rather avoid killing either prince off immediately. Eventually, I'd like to have things wind up with Prydain split into two kingdoms.
    No problem! He said "elite ninjas". The inverse ninja law thus dictates that they will fail. After the failed assassination attempt, the king has some of the survivors/corpses interrogated and discoveres the ringleaders. He sends troops out to round them up and some of them resist with their followers and so forth. Supporters of the younger twin flock to their side and the elder twin sends in more troops to crush what is rapidly turning into a revolt. Instant civil war!

    Another possibility is that the younger twin returns from his quest either magically dominated or possessed by some being who wishes to see a civil war.

    A third and diabolical idea is this: It is rare but possible for a woman to give birth to twins who have two different fathers. What if the queen had a secret lover and the elder twin is actually his son while the younger twin is the son of the king. Unless the throne is passed down through the female line, it would mean that the younger twin is actually the rightful heir. Let's say he gets back with the sword that can only be wielded by a rightful king only to find the elder twin can't wield it. This is because the elder twin is not the rightful heir, even if he's been crowned. The younger twin, however, can wield it because he's the rightful heir. Magical investigation ensues and the whole mess gets laid out. Suddenly, the younger twin has no lawful compunctions against seeking the throne because he knows he is the rightful heir, not his (half-)brother. The elder twin isn't about to give up the throne, however, and perhaps doesn't even believer (or want to believe) that he's not the rightful heir. Civil war ensues.

    To add to this, perhaps the queen's lover is still around and determined years ago via magic that the elder twin was actually his son and so has been manipulating things to ensure his son will gain the throne. Perhaps the old queen maneuvered him into a position as a prominent advisor to the elder twin. Perhaps he's been working secretly to kill off the younger twin so as to secure his son's throne. Perhaps, the elder twin actually is willing to give up the throne once he learns the truth but his father convinces or manipulates him into staying, or simply manipulates a civil war into starting so it's out of his hands.

    (ooh, I've got to use that in one of my own campaigns!)
    Last edited by MaxKaladin; 2007-03-28 at 04:16 PM.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Dausuul View Post
    Supporters of the younger brother begin muttering that the whole "quest" story is just a fiction the older brother made up as a cover for having murdered the younger. Eventually some important noble makes this accusation publicly. The elder brother, already insecure and nervous on his throne--and also feeling just a bit guilty over having sent the younger brother away to secure his own power--flies into a rage and has the noble executed for sedition.

    Matters begin to come to a boil. There is unrest throughout the kingdom, many nobles wanting the elder brother to abdicate in favor of (insert charismatic leader here). Finally, there is a public confrontation, the leaders of the rebellious nobles facing the king in open court and demanding that he step down.

    In the midst of this, the younger brother returns with the magic sword. It seems at first that everything is going to turn out okay after all. The younger brother hands the sword to the elder. The elder unsheathes it--and it erupts in flame, searing his hand. He drops it. The younger brother unthinkingly snatches it up and the flame goes out.

    At this point, the nobles go into open revolt. The elder brother marshals his few supporters against them, while the younger brother desperately tries to restore peace in the land and put a stop to the fighting that is going on in his name.

    To cap it all off, the elder brother has now concluded that the younger is deliberately trying to overthrow him, and sentences him to death...
    Hum. Actually I was going to suggest the same. So, seconded ;)

    Maybe you could add some known, high-ranking guard who was send on the quest together with the younger brother who is some kind of fanatic supporter of him (Or a Tregerian spy; but as you don't want them to be involved, as you stated previously, make him a fanatic).
    He leaves the party and comes back to Prydain all alone and with some terrible injuries all over his body.
    He vows he had seen the younger brother getting slaughtered by mercenaries, thus confirming the noble's accusation.

    This could make the uprising because of the accusation a little more credible.
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    WARNING: Silly post.

    Rember the age old idiom that "Kingdoms are good, Empires are evil". Also, it's always the scheming advisor. And the princess actually loves you. Then again, 9 times out of 10, the princess is secretly in your party (hint: she's the only female, or the most tomboyish of the 2) .


    But whatever, just kill 'em all and let god sort it out.
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    Default Re: DM Needs (in-game) Political Advice

    hmmm.. . I stopped reading the thread, so I apologize if I step on anyone's ideas.
    The problem is that you've got two fairly likeable NPCs. They're both ethical (lawful) men, and the one that would normally challenge for rulership (the younger brother) is a good guy, and supports his brother's rightful claim to the throne. There's no conflict. All of that can change though.. . *evil grin*

    1. Change your LN king to CN or LE, and give him ranks in diplomacy and bluff.
    2. When your king draws the "sword from the stone" or what have you, make him fail. Have the younger brother succeed, preferrably by accident. Make all of this public.
    3. your king should be supported by both the nobles and a section of the greedy merchant middle class. Your rightful heir should be supported by The People and a smaller section of the merchants.
    4. In fear of losing his position to religious omens (the sword), your king should have his brother assassinated, or at least attempt to do so. Voila, the first act of violence, leading to a heroic escape by the prince, and the gathering of resources, etc. . .for his rebellion.
    5. You can extend the time between 3 and 4 a bit by having your king's supporters fund the border disputes, thus giving him an opportunity to say a) we've no time to discuss this, we've got a border to control, and b) an opportunity to put your prince in combat, and possibly assassinated during the fight.

    That's just one suggestion. I'll post if I come up with anything else.

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    Quote Originally Posted by PnP Fan View Post
    hmmm.. . I stopped reading the thread, so I apologize if I step on anyone's ideas.
    The problem is that you've got two fairly likeable NPCs. They're both ethical (lawful) men, and the one that would normally challenge for rulership (the younger brother) is a good guy, and supports his brother's rightful claim to the throne. There's no conflict.
    But that's what I liked about it. I wanted a war that came from unfortunate circumstances and bad decisions rather than pure evil (any Tregerian manipulation of existing fractures notwithstanding). Wars can snowball easily enough on they're own once they're started without a purely evil influence.

    And regarding the quest for the sword, no one's really sure if the sword even exists anymore or if the younger brother will find it (including me). I just figured getting the younger brother out of the picture for a while would allow for others to go to war in his name before he could come back and stop them. By then, momentum has taken it's toll and stopping the war would be a lot more difficult. (The older brother just sent him away because he's an idiot and chose the exact WRONG solution to his problem, even though it made sense in his own mind for him to do so.)
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    Default Re: DM Needs (in-game) Political Advice

    Civil wars never emerge for casual reasons. An incident to set the spark may be trivial, but it will never ignite a war unless there's already a lot of fuel to be set ablaze.

    So, you need two things:

    Grievance. The legitimacy of the regime in the eyes of those fighting against it must be somehow eroded. Things could be better under a more competent leader, sure, but things could always be better, so what's this particular ruler screwing up to make some group of people despise him and his reign? What conditions imposed by the existing government are intolerable to some? This can't just be discontent; it must be a threat to some group's way of life or even continuing existence.

    Gain. There must be some kind of benefit attainable by fighting against the existing government. Having marginally more competent leadership at the helm isn't sufficient. Why are people willing to put their lives on the line to struggle against the regime? Considering the possible punishment for treason, there must be some powerful motivations driving those in revolt, which might include higher loyalty to factions other than the existing government (such as ethnic loyalty).

    Establishing these generally takes longer than the older brother has been in power. You mentioned that the leaders on the borders are restless, but if civil war breaks out, the threat of invasion will become much worse because military resources will be committed to internal struggle. The older brother would have to have completely destabilized the realm before they would stand to gain by taking up arms against him, and if the realm was approaching collapse, Treger would already have made their moves. A quiet, efficient coup might be an option on the table for the kingdom's sub-rulers, but that won't lead to what you want. For a civil war, you'll need social forces that have at least been in play since the old king's reign, and you'll need more differentiation between the brothers.

    If keeping both brothers alive wasn't a priority, I would suggest your simplest option to be going for a disguised, efficient, succesful coup, but giving Prydain a culture that places an enormous emphasis on tradition and regal authority. When the younger one returns, he finds himself coronated, but only because of what he quickly deduces is murder. The coup isn't just an assassination, it's a ferocious blow to royal power, implying that the king has no authority without the approval of the sub-rulers. To peacefully accept the throne in that circumstance would be to put your head on the chopping block, and the heads of all your descendants. The new king would have every reason to try to bring in the coup organizers for treason, and with plausible deniability, those responsible (now facing death) could keep their local populations and armies at their side (particularly if those territories have been neglected or burdened by the crown for a long time). The king deploys loyalist military forces to seize the perpetrators and their holdings, thus looking like the aggressor, and the territories aligned with the coup defend themselves, effectively seceding. Bam, civil war.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Muz View Post
    Or were you asking what their involvement was so far? They did run across Tregerian plans to take the border castle (and reported it to Prydainian forces), and they've actually met the (now dead) high king very briefly in the context of the party's discovering a drow slave trade operating out of the capital city itself. Other than that, they've mostly just been hearing rumors and reports of events as they travelled.
    Thanks for clarifying. My advice for determining how to get to war is to offer the PC's involvement.

    As they're known already for discovering the Tregerian plot, the factions know them to be capable and not spies. During their brief pass through Prydian, I'd have a representative of every faction trying to get these known heroes to work on their behalf. Each one would paint the others as corrupt/inept/etc, subjective assessments.

    If they ignore them all and continue on their business, you could have the Rhyl folk reach out the their countrymen about fears to a Prydian crack down. The new king may not have the stomach to take on fiesty little Treger, but putting down the western revolt and squeezing the Rhyl is easier, especially if he spins it as preventing another war.

    Perhaps the vampire-mage lair has been claimed by another evil force, who holds the younger prince captive along with the mythic sword? Are they inleague with the Elder? The noble? Treger? Independant?

    In short, when in doubt about your world encourage the PCs to make history.
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    Default Re: DM Needs (in-game) Political Advice

    I think Winter King and MaxKaladin present some good ideas here. Winter King is definitely right that you ought to create an Evil Aligned faction that takes advantage of the potential for discord. Civil Wars, as ide from being bloody and undesirable affairs for those who are happy with the status quo, are opportunities for others to take risks for gain and settle old scores under the pretext of another cause.

    Battles are unlikely to be frequent, much more likely are raids and sieges. With the Prince away, others can act in his name, perhaps even his Mother or Sister or some other relation. The war should be a chaotic mess with main factions seeking the support of lesser factions.

    Lots of potential for fun, here.
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