Hello to a small change from the usual schedule here. This post will be in English as a few people on Twitter expressed an interest in this idea and I’d like to share it for a more international audience. Feel free to add comments or questions! 😀
A while back, I played through the legacy board game King’s Dillema with some friends of mine. In King’s Dilemma, you play members of the state council for a fantasy kingdom (“Kingdom of Ankist”), each representing a different noble house. I have a lot of issues with King’s Dilemma, but long story short it ends up always just being another game about auctioning and a lot of issues are always a choice between “do we ban or promote book/approach/technology X”?
What I did end up thinking about is that playing such a council of state in a fantasy setting would be fun.It would be fun to have the player play members of such a council, where they would have to make decisions about a genuine state, both trying to find the best possible solution for the state while also trying to serve their own interests at the same time. That and it would be fun to have a campaign that lasts a really long time in in-game time, where it changes what characters the players play. One last comment about King’s Dilemma. One thing I also didn’t like about the game was that the players/council members ended up becoming passive, because the narrative was always presented as someone suggesting something to them and not them taking an active choice about what they wanted to do. In this campaign, I’d want the players to both take active choices and react directly to issues brought before them, to both do stuff and to solve problems.
All of this means that , I ended up deciding that the Imperial Providence of Ostermark in the Warhammer would work well for such a setup. For those who don’t know, Ostermark is a kind of depressing but also resistant and brave providence who has had to face a lot of stuff throughout Imperial History. Ostermark is interesting, because it is a confederation of various smaller towns and cities, which makes it more democratic (or perhaps egalitarian is a better term) than a lot of other Imperial providences. This means that since they work together, it would be easier to play members of such a state council because they have to work together. One of the reasons for this is that Ostermark borders Sylvania, Kislev and two other Imperial Providences (Talabecland & Ostland). In short, there would be intrigue (because this is an idea for a political campaign), but the PCs would have an interest to keep their political in-fighting under a certain level because of the amount of external enemies with fewer internal enemies.
This is also a nice transition into the historical part of the campaign and when to start it. Own idea as to when to start the campaign would be with King Adelhard and his soldiers who have just returned home from the battle at Black Fire Pass and then continued onwards. There might be breaks along the way (where we skip a century or two), but one thing that I think would be very interesting is the fact that we all know what will eventually come, namely the meteorite/comets that strikes the capital of Mordheim and destroys it. Which is intriguing, because there could be a lot of interesting ways to get to that point. And then three centuries later, there is the Great War Against Chaos and the re-unionification of the Empire.
Also, the destruction of Mordheim happens during the Time of Three Emperors (from 1547 to 2304 IC), which would allow for a lot of interesting decisions. The same would be the case for the Wars of the Vampire Counts (from 2010 to 2145 IC), since Ostermark is directly next to Sylvania.
One other interesting thing is that a campaign of such a time scope would also allow for something which rarely gets touched up in WFRP: Rebuilding, repairing and new settlements. Given that a fair amount of the Empire have burned down one time or another from time to time, there has to has been periods where towns and cities were rebuild, the dead were buried and peace settled in (I in particular like this bit because I feel like the setting’s fascination with death and destruction without humour gets kind of dull and adolescent at times). That and you would still have lot of destruction with Mordheim getting leveled and riddled with warpstone in 1999 IC. Plus war with the vampires have a fair amount of bleakness to them as well.
There are two things I want to touch on in the end. The first one: What would we play? I think what could be interesting would be to begin with King Adelhard and his lieutenants shortly after the Battle of Black Fire Pass, see them develop into noble houses and perhaps also be replaced eventually. What would also be interesting is the fact that someone would play the king and eventually Elector Count of Ostermark, where they would have more power than the others members of the state council. The Elector Count’s power would not be absolute, but it would be possible for the Elector Count to remove members of the noble houses from power or for them to take the title away from the current Elector Count. This also means that at certain times, the council could end up with very interesting members (like say a High Priest of Ranald representing powerful trade interests or the Tilean captain of a mercenary company that played a key part in some struggle and was rewarded the title of “the Margravine of Fortenhaf”). I think it could be fun to have various subplots, perhaps where the members of the Council deal with things directly. That way, NPCs could be come PCs and vice-versa (because of course some treachery would be a thing, but without it turning into a Vampire campaign). I have not made my mind about to what an extent the characters would have full sets of stats, because I can see arguments for and against (it would be awesome to play Noble Lords with full sets of stats, but it would also be a lot of work for changing characters).
One last thing that I want to focus on here is the whole question of “historical accuracy”. Thankfully, a lot of the period is not overly described and I like that. No doubt that something can be found in some obscure 1st edition book or a novel somewhere, but I would like for there to be a lot of room for what the PCs can do. It would obviously be a lot of work to make such a campaign, because you would need to have an idea of what power the various PCs have. Of course certain things (like the historical events that I have already mentioned) would be included because the players expect them to (As would I!). I just think that making things up as to how and why things happened along the way would be a lot of fun and add some weight to the decisions made around the table. That and I would personally like to have some point, where the time line become independent (since I probably won’t be playing the End Times or for that matter Storm of Chaos), since it would also mean that it would be possible for the players to have even more freedom in the way the approach the various issues that are put before them or the issues they bring to the table themselves.
Long live the Free League of Ostermark! May Morr, Sigmar and Ulric protect us and may Taal and Rhya give us a bountiful harvest!
6 meninger om “State Council for the League of Ostermark: A campaign idea for WFRP”
Great idea, Theis. You could consider adding some “system” to the political level of play. As an example, I would point to Free League’s Elysium RPG, where the players have a character and play ‘the house’ that character belongs to on a strategic level before each mission. It is at the strategic level they decide which mission to take, and who is trying to sabotage the Elysium for their own political goals. Doesn’t Pendragon do a lot with generational play? I think playing both the elector’s advisors and one of their henchmen on missions could be fun (and then the daughter of the advisor and perhaps the same henchman or their offspring.
There should totally be some system to it, absolutely. And I agree that Pendragon would no doubt have a lot to add as well.
I could totally see adding a lot of stuff to the various capital/cities/towns with various fancy buildings…until the comet hits and smashes everything near Mordheim 😀
I see you are hacking the Warhammer setting, hm…? Someone should definitely do that 😀
And yes, Pendragon comes to mind, as does Legacy (including the standalone book, Free From the Yoke). Or Dune RPG, for that matter, but I have not read that.
I totally like hacking the Warhammer setting, yes 😀
And of course, I should check out Legacy! Makes total sense.
Cool idea. But I have opinions.
Honestly, Ostermark is not my favorite province. I’m more into The Moot and Averland or even Middelland. I like the idea of playing a provincial council over several generations. However, letting the narrative run over 2000-3000 years seems completely crazy to me. That’s 70-120 generations and, even in a fantasy setting like Warhammer, a completely different world at the start and at the end. In addition, I don’t think Ostermark is a council-controlled province until Mordheim is destroyed in 1999.
I can see a point in playing a prologue that takes place at the birth of the Empire and with King Adelhard, Galin Veneva and the rest of the noble families of the Ostrogoths, where you lay the foundation for the high and finest families of Ostermark. Then I would jump to Mordheim anno 1999 – just before the Chaos Comet. Play the descendants of those who rode with Adelhard. Play for a good time, making them be the best of Ostermark. But where we knows that destruction is coming and that their characters will not make it out of the city alive.
Then, after several months of prelude, you play the country nobility, those half kislevian families from the northern parts and that slightly too squeamish cousin who was in Taal Monastery deep in the forest then the comet hit. They, those who were otherwise far from power, must convince the common people that they are the power and try to hold the province together while one or more emperors want to put it under administration and the chaos demons and the skaven want to have a hand on what sweet wrap stone from the comet.
And here you play for several generations.
Check out the game: Free from the yoke. It is all this and more.
Awesome, I have opinions too 😀
I get what you are saying and it probably is crazy. I would totally skip some (aka a lot of) generations, but I the idea of going through history. You’re probably correct about the council not having as big a role before 1999 IC, but I’d take some creative liberty there.
And of course, playing up to the whole destruction of Mordheim would be an important part of it, including trying to pick up the many, many pieces afterwards, which then leads up to the Great War against Chaos. I would just start some time (maybe a generation or so) before 1999.
As for choosing Ostermark, I like the ideas of vampires, dealing with Kislevian influence, Chaos and Skaven. And I will check out Free from the Yoke, thank you!!