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View Full Version : Viking campaign pitch - feedback and advice needed



Riksfalto
2017-10-07, 12:22 PM
So, I'm starting a new game soon.

The setting of the campaign is a broken northern (read Scandinavian) kingdom, which lost it's king and patron god centuries ago. By the end of the campaign, the players will reunite the kingdom, put a king on the throne and make a new god.
The game will be divided into three arcs. The first arc, Men Arc, will be about finding an ancient magic throne of the northern kings, which has been lost to time. This is essentially a set-up chapter - it will set up northern politics and factions, future antagonists and such. The stakes are not particulary high yet, so it will serve as the part where a party can reasonably take their time to do things that have no relation to the metaplot whatsoever without feeling guilty about it. The arc ends when the following conditions are met - they find the throne and bring it back to the capital, and they learn about the threat of a gathering orc-demon army that will wipe their civilization out.
The second arc, Kings Arc, will be will be mostly about electing a new king - the one who will lead the country against the coming threat. There are a lot of pretenders to the throne, and some of them have foreign allies, so it will be a political ****storm. The players will also have an option to gather allies for the coming war, of course. The arc ends when a new king is crowned (they will have to eliminate or neutralize the opposition to ensure no civil war, and find a crown for him too), and they learn about an even more effective way to save the North - a new god.
The third arc, the Gods arc, will center around finding an object that can make a mortal a god. This is an arc where all plotlines collide and end. It resolves when the northern army - and their god - defeat the invaders - orcs, demons and their god, and they all live happily ever after. Or not.


So the way I think I'm gonna make it is, I'll create three distinct antagonists in each arc. Each much represent something unique, or oppose the party for their own reason.


The antagonists of the first arc will all be concerned about the throne.
1) Since this is pretty much Viking Indiana Jones adventure, the first antagonist will be an adventuring group of nazi archeologists. An extremely diverse Axis Powers group, in fact, with a teutonic knight, a samurai, an unreliable italian and a collaborator northman. They seek the throne for their own reasons - to claim it's magic powers, and since there is only one to spare, they will come to blows with the party sooner or later.
If they somehow, unlikely, survive the adventure, they will probably become recurring minor antagonists, like the Linear Guild.
2) The second will be a succubus, the spy of the orc/demon army, whose role is destabilizing the kingdom and keeping it weak. She's a trusted advisor to the Jarl (see second arc), so she has a lot of political influence to spare, and her mind influencing powers make her even more dangerous. Her motivation is keeping the throne hidden, since fractured kingdom is easier to defeat than a unified one. The moment she gets the information that the party is searching for the throne, she immediately tries to paint them as villains and renegades, who are working against the interests of whoever is listening, and are likely agents of foreign powers. Or even demons!
3) And the third one will be a barbarian king, who will be a full-on Holywood viking with a bare chest and might makes right attitude. He currently has the throne in his possession, though it's not a widely known fact, and he'll have problems with the party trying to take what's his.


Since the second arc will be about electing a king, then naturally the villains should be candidates for the throne.
1) The Jarl, who's largely a generic viking at the first impression (aside from rumors of him being a werewolf), but being a druid, he's far more knowledgable and powerful than he lets on. He's the deliberate aversion of the Hippie Druid trope - not only he's very involved in the civilized matters, being politically ambitious, he also wants to establish a kingdom where the druids rule, being the wisest and godliest men of the North. He represents the Church, or Piety, or divine right to the throne.
2) The second villain will be a vampire, aristocratic Dracula ****, who just doesn't get the society he wants to rule. From his point of view, he's dealing with just another kingdom, and due to having royal blood in his veins, he's the rightful king of those savages, and he's really annoyed at why they don't understand it yet. Vampires can be viewed as a metaphor for blood-sucking aristocracy, so he'll be a perfect representation of Nobility, or claim to the throne through lineage.
3) The third villain will be a northman, but probably raised outside of the kingdom itself. He's a viking - but not a warrior and conqueror, he's a merchant and a trader. He intends to abandon the old ways and the old gods, because being an unwashed heathen is bad for profit. His allies, likewise, are mercenaries and foreigners, whose loyalty he bought with gold and promises. He represents Gold so much, he intends to buy the election.


And since the third arc will involve making a god out of a man, three villains must be people who want to become gods themselves. And here's when my imagination just doesn't work that well.
1) A kraken priest, who's a deliberate rip-off of Euron Greyjoy. He was a northman once, who was lost at sea, and while drifting his mind was touched by a kraken. He's an insane, but incredibly powerful warlock with a god complex, and I'll make it intentionally ambigious if he's even a person anymore, or if there's nothing left of him, but a human looking skinsuit that kraken uses to get support and achieve godhood for itself.
He'll have a gimmick, similiar to the Harbringer from Mass Effect, when he can possess his followers and act through them, massively empowering them as a side effect.
2) Since this is not-Scandinavia, I simply must use a giant of some kind. Probably a frost giant. But for it's motivations or character, I simply have no idea.
3) And for the third one, I have no clue at all. I'm really not sure what other monsters to use for this one, but I'm sure that I don't want to use any sort of a humanoid after the human-infested Second Arc.

But wait, there's more.

Riksfalto
2017-10-07, 12:23 PM
Since I have the first and second arc antagonists mostly figured out, I can begin to fill them with plot and dungeons. I've always thought that dungeon must not only fit into the campaign, but also must be unique (only so many undead-infested crypts before it gets boring), serve some kind of purpose like foreshadowing future plot twists, or at least have some sort of a gimmick. Even for level 2, just a cave of goblins is boring. So here's some stuff I came up with.

1) Mage tower
A tower of an evil wizard, that players will rob while raiding on their first session. Evil wizard is not home - and while he's away, his tower is in a bit of a mess. The captured test animals escaped, brooms of cleaning have gone berserk, and there are also the traps he left for the intruders - like mimics. After returning to see his tower not only ransacked, but also robbed, the wizard will seek revenge.

2) Twin Crypts
A crypt of twin dragonpriests, who died a long time ago. Many people tried to clear it of undead, but they all failed to kill them for good - they keep rising again. The reason is simple - in order to kill the priests for good (and to lift the spell that protects their treasures), you must kill them roughly at the same time. Which is problematic, because they are buried very far away from each other.
The gimmick of the dungeon is, I'll introduce the villainous adventuring party right at this moment, and they'll propose a team-up. The parties will be mixed with each other, and the Axis character sheets will be handed over to the players to be controlled. Effectively, this dungeon must be beaten twice - one with the first party of 3 players and 3 "DMPCs", and one with the second party.

3) Prophecy tower
In this dungeon, the party must meet with a seeress to learn information. The problem is, the seeress spends her entire life dreaming of past and future, and she can only be contacted in the dream world. The party will smoke magic mushrooms until they're high enough to not only see visions themselves, but also fight them.
Since the dungeon's whole theme is prophecies, the party will fight a lot of powered down future enemies, who are making cameo in this particular place - for example, the Kraken's troops, complete with their possession gimmick.

4) Muspelheim pocket
In my setting, giants live in another world, but it's not a parallel world - instead, it often interlaps with the human realm. This is not a common knowledge in the setting, so the first taste of the giants will come as a surprise - I intend it to be like an utter "what the Hell is going on, where are we" moment, as I describe some kind of a lava cave in the middle of a pretty mundane forest. It will only have one actual giant, probably an exile of some kind, or a hunter, but a lot of otherworldly magical beasts. Since I intend to use giants at a later time, this will serve to establish their place in the world.


Okay, now I'm finished. Feedback, criticisms and suggestions, please.

Berenger
2017-10-08, 09:26 AM
He intends to abandon the old ways and the old gods, because being an unwashed heathen is bad for profit.

It's also bad for representing a viking. Being despised for being a vain, tarted up fashion victim that spends too much time grooming and bathing is an important part of the authentic viking experience.

Faily
2017-10-08, 09:57 AM
It's also bad for representing a viking. Being despised for being a vain, tarted up fashion victim that spends too much time grooming and bathing is an important part of the authentic viking experience.

Being a Scandinavian, I feel my culture is deeply offended by this!

...

Just kidding. Honestly, go for the unwashed Barbarian type if you want to, Riksfalto. :smallwink:

At a first glance, I'd suggest something else than a Vampire for your second villain. Vampires were never really a thing until fairly recently here. I'd suggest doing something like the Draugr (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Draugr) instead perhaps?

Riksfalto
2017-10-08, 10:52 AM
A politically-minded draugr?

Mark Hall
2017-10-09, 01:06 PM
Actually, I don't have a problem with the vampire, simply because he DOES represent an outsider. He's not a local, so making him a more exotic type of undead for the milleu works.

Demidos
2017-10-10, 05:43 PM
I would vote that the third antagonist for the god arc be the Vestige of the old god that was lost to time, who can slowly extend in his influence via taking over the dream-scapes of enough mortals to be reborn again from the space between dimensions and time. He has some overlap with the kraken in otherworldly minions, but focuses more on transdimensional beings and elementals and the basic building blocks of reality. He represents Knowledge and Air. His limited troops are largely focused on intelligence gathering and ambushes.

The giant could be seeking to create a new utopia for giants in this world with human slaves, but offers the chance to become giants with enough years of service, possibly a strong enough incentive for the party to side with him. He also has domesticated many forms of wingless dragons and drakes, which are used as messengers and mounts (which should serve to reinforce his power in the eyes of the PC ("What do you mean he used a freaking dragon as a messenger boy?!?!"). His troops show morale and tactical ability. He represents Flexibility and a combination of Earth and Fire.

The Kraken of course represents Power and Water. His troops are seemingly inexhaustible hordes with some intensely powerful beings between.


I would also note -- you list everyone as antagonists or villains, but I think it might be more useful to think of them as powerful NPCs, rather than necessarily enemies. It is unclear what you intend for who to be elected as king or god (whether that be a party member or an unmentioned ally), but I think you should consider the possibility for the PCs to join the camp of any of the king pretenders or god pretenders, and then also offer them the option to go for the throne themselves. You might be already planning this in any case, but if you're not it can really make the players have a lot more flexibility of choice. Furthermore, when they reach the third arc and can call upon the support of their King, they'll really begin to feel the immersion.

Just a thought.

paddyfool
2017-10-11, 03:11 AM
Since you're dealing with godly matters, you could always have the classic Loki as a third antagonist in that third arc.

Beleriphon
2017-10-11, 08:59 AM
3) And for the third one, I have no clue at all. I'm really not sure what other monsters to use for this one, but I'm sure that I don't want to use any sort of a humanoid after the human-infested Second Arc.

But wait, there's more.

Dragon. Obviously a dragon.

Altair_the_Vexed
2017-10-16, 01:15 AM
Why won't any of the PCs want the throne? I know I would.

If I have just gone on a quest to retrieve the royal throne, defeating bad guys who had stolen it - and then quested to find the crown - then dammit, they're mine! I'm gonna want to crown myself (or one of my party who fits the bill better).

Riksfalto
2017-10-16, 04:54 AM
Because there's more to being a king than wearing a golden hat. I'll certainly give the players an option of crowning one of their own, but it's not going to be an easy task - it will require gathering support, playing politics and gaining at least some semblance of claim to the throne - and then winning the election, of course. If the only people who recognize you as a rightful ruler are four other guys, you are a king of nothing.

Altair_the_Vexed
2017-10-16, 05:13 AM
Because there's more to being a king than wearing a golden hat. I'll certainly give the players an option of crowning one of their own, but it's not going to be an easy task - it will require gathering support, playing politics and gaining at least some semblance of claim to the throne - and then winning the election, of course. If the only people who recognize you as a rightful ruler are four other guys, you are a king of nothing.

Of course they would have to be recognised, but my point is that in a Norse society, a smart party could readily drum up support for their own claim - having done deeds of amazing daring and awesomeness, amassed lots of gold to gift out to their friends, and so on.
The Sagas of the Icelanders are full of such leaders: people who gained influence and political position by going Viking and handing out treasure to allies. They sound a lot like adventurers to me.