(Continuing from last week.)
The core of the campaign is the overworld exploration. Early on this is concentrated on the area around the Patron's stronghold as the Patron seeks to pacify, secure, and fortify the core of his Domain's economy and thus enable the logistics needed to push forward towards the tower.
Adventurers, being (more or less) free agents, will be wise to use exploration to seek out opportunities to find new locations to delve into before rivals or enemies do. Patrons are wise to establish and maintain good relations with such adventurers to benefit from their discoveries.
The mid-game begins for a Patron when they've secured their stronghold's immediate area out to any natural barriers, lock down the chokepoint(s) such as a mountain pass or a river, and expand into the nearby region. Adventurers by this point may be reaching Name Level and seek to establish Domains; this would be a good opportunity to do so.
With the frontier, the front pushed out comes a new cohort ready to repeat the process anew. This is the point when I expect Patrons will make contact.
The wilderness gets more dangerous the closer that you get to The Tower. The unique treasures to be found in the dungeons are able to explain how and why this is so, and that knowledge will be useful during play.
Early dungeons will not be mega-dungeons. These are monster lairs located in prospective mines, ruins, caves, etc. and will be suitable for ambitious players to take their hirelings into (i.e. three levels or less in depth).
Dungeons will have the usual coin, gems, and magical items as treasure. They will also have valuable treasures of unusual sorts that can change how the campaign runs for those who are able to discover, retrieve, and decypher these findings and once cleared and secured some will prove useful as the basis for Adventurers to establish their own nascent Domain- again, ambitions is rewarded.
Certain dungeons will also have specific Points Of Interest affixed to them; Adventurers will not able to rip out everything of value and haul it away. These Points will mean that Adventurers and Patrons alike will have reason to revisit the location, maybe even to secure it for themselves, and definitely to ensure that hostile parties do not close them off from it.
Mega-Dungeons--defined as a dungeon-style location with more than three levels of depth--will appear starting with the mid-game. Some of these will have areas large enough for an large raiding party, or even an army, while others will not. The Tower is the largest Mega-Dungeon in the campaign.
Some of these locations will have areas that cannot be accessed without special treasure from previous locations, including locations from regions that no one in a group may have been to; this is where Patron relations start becoming important.
Patron And Adventurer
The advancement of the campaign requires on the interaction between the Patron and Adventurer tiers of play. I do not expect that all participants will find both tiers fun, which is why I find it practical to recruit for each tier separately. To a Patron, Adventurers are necessary freelancers (for lack of a better term) to handle matters that cannot be done in-house.
For Adventurers, Patrons are sources of opportunity and advancement. The scarcity of talent is what drives Patrons to engage with Adventurers. The scarcity of resources for advancement (in real and game terms) are what drives Adventurers to engage with Patrons.
As Adventurers succeed and achieve their advancement drives, they slip into the middle slot initially left open that occupies the liminal space between the two tiers--what Alexander Macris calls the Conquerer Tier--and maybe choose to become Patrons in turn and join that tier of play.
The initial Patrons have their mission's objective in The Tower. Securing a route to The Tower, maintaining that route, and then breeching The Tower to find their lost hero (who, in turn, can direct the Patron to the salvation for their people that they came for) ensures that a consistent Pull force to the goal is present. The threat of both the threat left behind catching up to them as well as the threat that others can block their way to The Tower and their hero is an equal Push force.
Patrons and Adventurers need not be formally aligned to mutually benefit, but initial circumstances will promote a certain degree of mutual agreement on the overall course of action; this will be spelled out in a later post.
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