Tuesday, December 6, 2011

DnD End Game: Empire Building

One of the forgotten pleasures of Dungeons and Dragons is reaching name level and being permitted to establish your own stronghold. This early feature of DnD is obviously inspired by the wargaming traditions of the first roleplayers.

The problem is, there are woefully inadequate rules in Original DnD to govern stronghold and empire building, and stonghold-building precipitates player-versus-player conflict, particularly when the name-level players want to expand into the same territories. Not to mention that the level of abstraction necessary to handle a game of empire building is different from the level of abstraction necessary for a game of dungeon-delving resource and hit point management.

Though not perfect by any means, I get my fantasy empire building and PvP conflict fix from our occasional games of Settlers of Catan. Settlers is at just about the right level of abstraction to avoid getting bogged down in the minutae, and allows for a certain amount of PvP conflict without resulting in the total elimination of the other players.

Settlers would be a suitable base upon which to build a really interesting high-level fantasy empire building game. I've heard good things about Small World as well, but have yet to give it a try.

9 comments:

Trey said...

It is funny a D&D add-on for this sort of thing has never been published. Or at least, I don't think it has.

blizack said...

The Adventurer Conqueror King system could be described as an attempt to build this type of play into the core assumptions of D&D.

Lord Gwydion said...

Small World is fun, but it's not quite what I'd want to model domain-level play in D&D. Each race blasts out onto the board, and two or three turns later goes into decline as the player abandons them for a new race. Repeat for 10 turns and the game is over. You don't get the sense of 'development' that you do with Catan, only expansion/contraction of your holdings.

Justin said...

That is how I am designing AZ Adventures! A map divided into territories, fought over between multiple races/armies. It can be treated as a Risk/Cataan type wargame battle between opposing armies, or you can play a D&D type adventure within each territory. The end goal is the same: territorial dominance for your people.

Aaron E. Steele said...

Trey said...
It is funny a D&D add-on for this sort of thing has never been published. Or at least, I don't think it has.

Just speculating here, but I think a lot of RPG game designers have a hard time adjusting to the level of abstraction necessary to make empire-building work, while still maintaining the D&D feel.

Aaron E. Steele said...

blizack said...
The Adventurer Conqueror King system could be described as an attempt to build this type of play into the core assumptions of D&D.

I was unaware. If true, all the more reason for me to acquint myself with ACK.

Aaron E. Steele said...

Lord Gwydion said...
Small World is fun, but it's not quite what I'd want to model domain-level play in D&D...

We purchased a game called History Of The World, which sounds similar. I didn't find it all that enjoyable, because you never felt invested in your current civilization, knowing another one was just around the corner.

Aaron E. Steele said...

Justin said...
That is how I am designing AZ Adventures! A map divided into territories, fought over between multiple races/armies.

What I like most about Settlers of Catan is the core mechanics are economic, not military. You win by outfoxing, outproducing and outgrowing your opponents. It would be interesting to add a military component to that, as long as it did not overwhelm those basic features.

yellowdingo said...

I can pretty much describe anything economically. You want a Wizard with a 6&1/2 Acre Vinyard? fine - It produces 7 Tuns of Wine a year(Tun=216 gallons, 7x216 gallons=1512 gallons 1512/5=302.4
302.4 x 85lb=25704lb white wine grapes. A ten row vinyard-acre yields 2&1/2 ton of grape) and that is at 83% yield (medieval optimal).

Sure there are a hundred other things. I can describe to you the economy of pretty much most of it to the degree you will know how many wagons hauling in firewood the PCs must pass on the road to a town of such and such population on any given day.

And doing so drew a lot of hatred to the point of insults on assorted D&D forums.