Friday, April 10, 2009

The all bard campaign

I decided to start the blog off talking about the all bard campaign I am going to start DM'ing soon.

My friends have appointed me to DM an all bard group. They are each going to play a bard, but the type that never leave the city. They are basically going to roleplay the equivalent of a modern rock band in medieval times. They’ve been watching way too much Metalocalypse lately.

In keeping with the typical rock band, their primary concern will of course be sex, drinking/drugs, and music. The characters do not want to go on adventures. No causes for the greater good. They just want to be famous and get laid a lot. They are not going to leave the city. Ever. The players of course want some combat, here and there, but they don’t want any campaigns. More like short stories than novels, essentially. And they’ll never seek the adventures out. It’s going to be a roleplay heavy campaign.

This is perfect for me, as I have wanted to run a more old school feel game for a while now. This reminds me of the Fafhrd and Grey Mouser crossed with Josie and the Pussycats. I am using Green Ronin’s Freeport setting as the city, and Necromancer’s Wilderlands of High Fantasy for the campaign setting. I am going to drop Freeport on one of the islands in the sea. In DS9/Babylon 5 style, the adventures and other adventurers will come to the city.

One other thing I am going to do is drop in Castle Greyhawk. The castle will just be opened/discovered on the island, and there will be an influx of adventurers. Since Zagyg created it, it gives me as DM the leeway to introduce all kinds of crazy crap into the game for random unexplained reasons. I am also going to do some Cthulu dark scary themes as well.

We are going to run it under the Pathfinder Beta rules, and convert to regular Pathfinder once it comes out. We are making one change---Comeliness from 1st edition Unearthed Arcana is being introduced as an ability score again.

All of the characters have been rolled up, and they intentionally created them with no wisdom scores above an 8. They will always do the stupid thing, roleplay wise, especially if it could land them some money, or get them laid. They are going to have lavish lifestyles, like the guys from the HBO show Entourage. Any money they get they will spend fast on wine, women, clothes, gambling, and lifestyle stuff. In other words, they will be perpetually broke. They will resort to stealing from people if necessary to survive, but mostly only from people who piss them off for whatever reason.

As for alignment, we really don’t use that much. They will not be “out to save the world” types. They will be grudgingly good if called to be so, but basically will just try to avoid being put into a situation where they have to make any moral decisions whatsoever.

Their main goal in life as bards is to play the Freeport Opera House. That would be the equivalent of playing Madison Square Garden and being on the cover of Rolling Stone magazine, all rolled into one. Of course, they are going to start off playing in the crappiest rat hole in Freeport, and will have to work their way up.

Another thing I am making them do is not just roll the dice and make a Perform check. I want to know the names of every song and the first few verses of each one that they will be playing. Meaning, the players have to do some song writing. A song about nailing the farmer’s daughter will go over well in a bar where soldiers hang out, for example, and not so well in a bar where farmers hang out. They are going to have to take this all into consideration when they play their songs. I want the songs to be played that evening told to me in advance, as well as the order they will be played in.

As for NPC’s, I am going to bring in all the characters from all the books in the sword and sorcery genre that I like, such as Conan, Fafhrd and the Grey Mouser, and Elric, as well as all of the original looters and plunderers of Castle Greyhawk like Robilar, Tenser, Mordenkainen, etc. Freeport is going to be a wild free-for-all sort of town. Moreso with those guys to hang around with. I am also working on a way to bring a Harry Dresden type character into it. I will be making Freeport into a sort of crossroads of the planes as well, sort of a Sigil type of place, for those who can get in. Portals will be scattered about the island and city, due most likely to the Zagyg influence. As such, the city itself will be a rough and tumble place.

Again though, the bards will want nothing to do with ever going into the Castle to loot and pillage. If they just happen to be playing in a bar, and the floor erupts under their feet, and a giant worm blasts into the bar with Robilar on its back, with his sword buried in the worm’s torso and Robilar holding onto the sword like a bull rider, then I guess the bards may have to fight.

I can envision later on the band having groupies and roadies as followers, as well as perhaps an illusionist for a light and sound show. A sleezy manager with a bad British accent and at least 2 addictions is also a must. Magic items might be created to basically take the place of microphones and speakers, so the band can play larger venues.

Also, any and all ideas are appreciated in general. Especially as relates to drunkenness, gambling, expanded performance checks rules, getting laid rules/tables.

Forgot to mention, I am looking for alternative ideas for the big bard singing bonus abilities. Since this is not going to be a fighting focused group, who cares about singing during combat to give you and your companions bonuses while fighting? Some sort of ability to give the ladies in the audience the tingles down below, now that would be the sort of ability my group would be interested in. Any ideas along those lines are welcome.