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steph
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During your campaigns like gm, it happens that your player characters are High Nobles? King, Duke, Earl or maybe high religious, Cardinal or Bishop?  what kind of story and plot you did, political surely but otherwise, just curious

 

Steph 

 

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I never let players start off that high personally. If they want that type the. They are disowned or something is going on with their family.

 

As for scenarios, what if a cousin or uncle has taken over and ruining the estate? A niece who is about to be married is kidnapped, or even a Romeo/Juliet type deal where two of the kids run off. What is causing the famine that hits? A spell or just plain nature?

Do a henry the 8th where the Lord wants to break from the Church and you as the local religious leaders need to convince him - not just a matter of the coffers but the souls of the ones who live there. A holy man has appeared performing miracles - is he real or is he a servent of the enemy? 

 

 

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I had one campaign which started out that all three players wanted to be a lost princess who was heir to a throne but didn't know it.

 

I told each of them, separately because they didn't know each other's backstory, that I'd allow it but that we were never going to play out the scenario where they discovered their true identity and took the throne.

 

They were each satisfied with that. They just wanted the private satisfaction of knowing they were princesses.

 

I came up with vague plans on eventually running them through a series of kingdoms which each had fables of a lost princesses but we never got that far.

 

I never really had other campaigns where PC's could be considered royalty. Other than maybe some dwarves since most everyone in many of the kingdoms were at least distantly related to the ruling family. But that didn't really have any special privilege. 

 

I guess a character could have said, "You can't execute me! I'm related to the royal family!" and it would have held up under a Truth spell. But I don't recall anything like that coming up.

 

 

As for ideas, if you aren't adventuring at home, you're going to be on the road probably a long distance to someone else's kingdom, duchy, or whatever.

 

1) Escort Mission: You owe them gold or a part of your harvest and have to get the delivery on time. Or delivering a prize stallion or bull to stud.

 

2) Escort Mission: You're delivering a distant relation to their wedding. Or maybe exchanging hostages to ensure a peace.

 

3) Traveling to a tournament. Jousting, sword-fighting, archery, feasting, and lots of beautiful local ladies (or willing peasant boys/girls). Typical road hazards. Getting mugged on the way home if you won a prize.

 

4) If you can't deliver High Justice yourself (death penalty), you'd have to take prisoners in question to the capital. Escape attempts and rescue attempts. Or maybe you're the one both being the escort and needing to arrange the escape unnoticed and unblamed.

 

5) Harvest festivals or high religious holidays where you need to get out of your home and go into the city.

 

6) A sickness or plague forces you to travel to locate a rare medicine or herb. Or to get one particular priest who knows how to heal the malady.

 

7) Hunting season. You could go with individual hunts for meat or organized boar hunts bringing in your rich and fancy peers for feasting.

 

8 ) Showing the flag. If you don't make the rounds regularly to the villages under your care, they'll feel both neglected and frisky. That'll make them unwilling/unready to show up as peasant militia and make them prone to things like poaching and not taking care of the roads/bridges.

 

 

Um, I find political intrigue less than interesting. 

 

Religious people would need to make the rounds to collect local tithes to bring back to the central church. Recruitment of willing volunteers who appear intelligent enough to learn to read/write. Escorting priests to their new assignments. Reassigning priests who appear to have "gone native" and are sympathizing more with the nobles or people under their care than with the church. Assessing aged priests to see if they're still capable or if they've gone senile enough to become an embarrassment. Assessing new religions which sprout up to see if they're becoming a threat and/or whether they can be co-opted. Watching over church businesses (which usually accrue as people have donated properties to the church over the centuries). Watching over new construction projects.

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1 hour ago, Scott Ruggels said:

Done it. It worked pretty well, but it takes a player that can plan, take a long term view, and for people that are comfortable with a hands off approach.  It’s not for everyone, but it does work. A good scenario is sending princes on a diplomatic mission to another country.  

 

 

Ditto, and on all counts.

 

We've done it more than once over the years, and it's been something of a non-issue, save that I freakin' _hate_ politics, and as the GM, having to come up with appropriate intrigue, etc-- well, I was having less fun than they were.

 

The third time-- and every subsequent time-- that one or more of the players wanted to be a "somebody," I put the onus on them:

 

"I have absolutely _no_ problem with that.  Here is a rough sketch of the game I have prepared.  I need you to explain to me what good reason your noble has for participating, and why he's willing to endure the sorts of situations that are going to come up."

 

 

I got to run games I enjoyed; they got to play characters they enjoyed--   just worked out all around.  To be fair, it worked out in the early games, too.  The only problems there where when they wanted to get involved in some politicking.  _They_ still had fun, but good God, Man!  Politics is one of the reasons I need some escapism!   :lol:

 

 

 

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I've never run or played in a game where the PCs started out as members of the nobility or other elites, aside from a backstory of being outcast or disowned like HeroGM suggested above. But I have been part of campaigns where the PCs ascended to that rank through their deeds and accomplishments. IME that campaign worked best when everyone in the group was comfortable with raising the stakes and making the plots more epic. It strains credulity for these increasingly important people to keep dungeon-delving or trekking through wilderness, instead of tending to duties at their own manors or at court. Particularly as a group.

 

Duke, I sympathize with your attitude toward political plots in fantasy games. They hold little appeal for me as well. However, partly as a creative exercise and partly to assist GMs who do like that dimension in their games, some time back I posted a series of political plot seeds: Besruhan Intrigues . As the default it's set in Hero Games' Turakian Age world, but I did offer a few suggestions on adjusting them for other settings (although in most cases that should be obvious). I believe they would mostly fit with the subject of this thread, too.

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I have had players who played characters with noble lineage.  Two of the cases involved female characters being disowned.  In one case for not fulfilling her family duty to marry a nasty older nobleman.  In the other case because her brother caused her to lose face.  The third character was not disowned but found out that his 'dear sweet' grandmother is the high priestess for a very evil cult.  The player had no idea that sweet grandma was evil priestess and his character didn't find it out until much later.  Everyone loved that. 

 

BTW:  The campaign in which this is unfolding is about to move from the middle part of the epic to the final stage.  Confrontation with grandma and her hoard of minions should be fun.

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12 hours ago, Lord Liaden said:

I've never run or played in a game where the PCs started out as members of the nobility or other elites, aside from a backstory of being outcast or disowned like HeroGM suggested above. But I have been part of campaigns where the PCs ascended to that rank through their deeds and accomplishments. IME that campaign worked best when everyone in the group was comfortable with raising the stakes and making the plots more epic. It strains credulity for these increasingly important people to keep dungeon-delving or trekking through wilderness, instead of tending to duties at their own manors or at court. Particularly as a group.

I id neglect to mention that. that yes, when the Noble Characters achieve their goal, at that point they have duties to the land, the realm, what have you and at that point they become an NPC< who can do cameos, but their adventuring days are done. I had a Paladin in D&D 5e, who was a member of the Royal Family, and due to war, was next in line to the throne.  IT was a thrilling campaign, and the stakes got higher and higher as he overcame obstacles, Delved dungeons for loot to pay his armies, engaged in mass warfare, and won the throne. The Character was retired at 7th level as the Current King of Glimvale.  The Rest of the party were then tasked by him to ferret out the clues to a much older and larger problem that needed to be dealth with, and the party got a perk of Royal Support. I then had to play the Ambassador from the Elven city, who also had an interest in resolving that ancient problem.   So yes, once the Noble is seated, his role becomes more abstracted to the background of the campaign, but it sure makes for some good first hand history in the campaign.

As for the politics, depending on it, I can love it or hate it, but that's a result of detail and background. 

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I did this a lot way back when (before 1e Champions, let alone any other Hero system game!)

 

Obviously conventional adventuring doesn't happen, or only does so as a change of pace.

 

If something like that is necessary, delegation is often possible, but naturally your character has to delegate to people they can trust. And sometimes your character has to be there in person... that's when their faces get melted.

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  • 5 months later...

I've run two games with "high nobles."

 

#1

 

In the first one of the protagonists was the (eldest) bastard daughter of a baron and, at the time, one of his father's vassal's daughters. The PC had initially been sent to an orphanage by her mother's kin, but her father saw to it she was apprenticed to the kingdom's master harper when he became baron. He didn't acknowledge her for a long time, but she became popular at court, was informally dubbed "the lady of the strings" by the king, and became embroiled (along with her friends) in a lot of intrigues, mysteries, and general oddball adventures. Her existence infuriated the baron's estranged wife (an earl's daughter whose father happened to be the baron's liege). This provided her with a decidedly unpleasant rivalry. Fortunately, the baron's wife's antics were so scandalous and over the top that her father finally decided the social consequences at court were too high and stopped shielding her. The baron, using the PC as a lever in his "scorched earth connubial warfare." decided to acknowledge her and, after seeing to it his other two daughters who out of the running (one was sent to study to become a priest and the other was married off to a son of one of the earl's rivals), ultimately acknowledged the PC as his heir.

 

For a while she was the constable of his keep (and put her two compatriots up as permanent houseguests). We ran numerous local adventures and they dealt with an abusive local lord, a corrupt hundred bailiff, scheming nobles and land politics, a haunting, brigands who heisted a bishop's tithes on the road, and an angry dryad and her faerie attendants who terrorized the woodcutters and charcoalers working nearby with nightmares as well as some intrigues around a slowly erupting civil war. Her father died very early in the war when his liege pulled a face-heel turn and left he and his forces exposed on the battlefield to be slaughtered. Now baroness, believing her liege was on the losing (and worst) side she turned to an Earl whom she and her friends had saved from assassination very early on in the game. The earl who had become an intimate friend with a lot of unresolved sexual tension over the course of the campaign, provided the PC and her friends refuge. A widower (45 years to her 28 years) whose son had died leaving him without a male heir, he offered to secure her barony and "birthright" in exchange for her hand in marriage, which she consented to.

 

Our PC, now a countess, brokered a deal between her new husband and a faction of three royal barons, two sheriffs, and an earl (arguably the most influential one in the country) who were backing a popular candidate for the throne. Failed crops, a hard winter, a fire in the capitals granaries, and subsequent grain riots and widespread banditry delayed she and her compatriots from leading a contingent of soldiers to retake her keep, but it was ultimately done, and shortly thereafter a decisive mass-battle was fought nearby with her husband and his allies coming out on top. Her barony was made a royal barony under the new king. She ensured her friends were knighted for their (truly insane) heroics and appointed them bailiffs of some choice nearby manors.  When last we saw her she was heavily pregnant with her Earl's new heir and her barony had been placed in the royal domain, making her a countess and royal baron.

 

The player, however, has been agitating to play her again. One option is to have the party become re-embroiled in court intrigues aimed at getting one of the other PCs appointed to a vacant nearby sheriff's position... thereby launching them back into the fray.

 

#2 

 

I had a player ask to play the heir of one of the kingdom's earls who, in a fit of guilt over a sin, made a vow to walk barefoot to a distant abbey as penance. He departed on this journey, quite uncharacteristically, incognito and without warning. This happened during the lead-up to the aforementioned civil war. This prompted his father to send a group of men to shadow and watch over him, but not to interfere unless absolutely necessary. The earl-to-be was rescued from brigands by the other PCs (a group of traveling thespians with a penchant for swindling and picking pockets) who were traveling in the direction of the abbey and invited him to travel with them (not knowing who he was). They got involved in some early shenanigans and he finally had to admit who he was when his shadows started creating total paranoia with the other PCs. They helped him give the shadows a very ignomious slip and invited him to join them as an "actor" on their journey to triennial thespians guild meeting that occurred in a kingdom to the south. They had numerous crazy adventures (in which his knightly skills proved invaluable) both on the way and at the great fair where the "thespians convocation," but word came of the civil war back home and he insisted on returning.

 

His friends very begrudgingly agreed to follow him back, but they ended up snowed in half-way back and spent the winter, very uncomfortably, in a town where they had ripped more than one person off. Fortunately, the used his position to get them lodging at the kingdom's royal castle, where the players solved both a murder and an assassination plot. When spring came they set off again for home, but upon arriving he discovered his father (the face-heel turn earl mentioned above) had just lost the final decisive battle of the war. His father was beheaded and he was taken into custody and expected to be beheaded as well. His friends, however, had other plans and hatched a wild Rube Goldberg machine level of complexity plot to set him free. This did not exactly go to plan, but when last we saw them, they were riding hell-bent-for leather on stolen warhorses towards the western highway and the kingdoms beyond. Fare thee well, my friends, fare the well. 

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One conceit that I have used to explain why nobles might go dungeon delving goes something like this: first, the feudal structure basically has the peasant support the nobility and the nobility is supposed to protect the peasants.  In a dangerous fantasy world with monsters roaming about, bands of adventurers are often hired by the nobles to fulfill their role.  But a noble will often be the leader of a band of adventurers, for the glory and excitement of it.  In a society where being a top-notch monster slayer carries high prestige, nobles compete to be the best, especially minor nobles who see it as a path to greater political power.

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I had one campaign setup where all the PC's would be noble: Younger sons and daughters of major houses and one heir to a minor house. They were all 15- 17 year-olds who were being sent to study at a famous martial and magical academy in a bordering nation when a three way civil war broke out in their home nation. 

 

They had the typical fantasy academy thing going for about 3 sessions then the war broke out. They were called home by their families and travelled together to a border fortress to be met there. They got a full brief from fleeing merchants  on the war and learned that their group would be split amongst the 3 factions and they were expected to fight their friends and romantic interests. They also got hints that there was a hidden faction causing the war. They decided to go the Robin Hood route and seek out the hidden enemy. We got about 1-2 sessions in but real life broke that group up before they could make progress and the campaign just died off.

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