As I’ve mentioned before, Dungeon Monkey Eternal was created to help me learn Python and to try out some new systems that I hope to include in a new GearHead game. Unfortunately, because DME creates short static adventures rather than a large dynamic world, it isn’t really a good test for some of those systems. Recently I came up with an idea for a campaign world that I wouldn’t mind trying.
It all starts out generic-fantasy enough. Ages ago there was a devastating war; the winners sealed off the underground empire of the losers, and the kobolds have remained trapped under the mountain ever since.
Yes, kobolds. Nasty kobolds. The big bad will be quite small, actually.
So at the very beginning of the game, the kobolds have broken free. Kobold scouts have infiltrated various areas. Some people have been kidnapped. The PC could be sent to investigate, or fight some of them, or travel to a nearby polis to gain support against this ancient evil. These kobolds are quite nasty. But it seems like a manageable problem; after all, they were defeated once, they can be defeated again.
At some point the PC will find out more about the kobolds, either by infiltrating their mountain or by the kobolds themselves launching a real attack. It turns out that the kobolds have been busy during their imprisonment. Their society has transformed, they’ve had an industrial revolution, and they now possess steam-powered mecha + war machines that the surface world is mostly defenseless against.
All hell breaks loose. Different factions try to fight the kobolds, or turn the situation to their advantage. The PC gets to play through a GearHead-style randomized core story cumulating in a battle with the ultimate kobold death machine… probably. Might be nice to have several different endings depending on which way the campaign goes.
The human royals are mostly concerned with preserving their own power. As long as they aren’t the ones who have to suffer, they don’t take the kobolds too seriously. In fact, maybe it was a royal who released the kobolds, hoping to use a new war for political aims, probably against the guilds or the peasants.
Previous to the war, the lower classes (guilds, peasants) were starting to organize and agitate for better conditions. The growing wealth of the guilds, and the sheer number of the peasants, meant that it would not have been easy for the royals to simply stomp out these heretical ideas. Now that the kobolds have returned, any such reformers can more easily be charged with treason.
The Shining Temple has a secret weapon: an urn containing an angel that was sent to punish the world during a past age of sinfulness. But, not everyone in the temple agrees with using this weapon. The scriptures are incomplete; how can we be sure that the being locked in the urn really is an angel? More to the point, how do we know what side it will be on if released?
The rival human city-state plans to use the kobold invasion to take over the first human city-state. More royals, more problems.
The druidic forest-folk are neutral; aside from protecting their wilderness areas, they do not want to get involved in the conflict. This makes perfectly good sense, since they know empires always mistreat nature and break their promises, so whichever side wins makes no difference to them.
The mountain folk, dwarves and gnomes mostly, still bear a lot of grudges against the kobolds and are making plans to strike back on their own. The dwarves are searching for a legendary metal that can easily pierce the steam mecha, while the gnomes are working on steam mecha of their own.
The orks also bear grudges. But then they also bear grudges against just about everyone in this world. Still, it’s gonna be one hell of a battle, innit?
The chaos raiders (Mammoth Tribes?) are really happy about the return of the kobolds, because it’s more chaos. If they can topple the royals, the kobold leader, and maybe the pope of the Shining Temple, they win.
The reptals, already teetering on the edge of extinction, just want to survive. Unfortunately their last hidden village is in the middle of the warzone.
The wizards want to find out more about kobold technology, and to make contact with kobold mages in the possibly mistaken belief that all academics are on the same side. So far the wizards have resisted calls to get involved in the battle, but it’s not clear how much longer they can hold out.
A martial arts temple sends a student to fight the kobold war machines in order to prove that spirit is mightier than steel.
Let me know what you think.
yeah, but what about the monkeys?
If you follow the GH1/2 model, then it only has one big ending, even though it followed multiple paths; personally I’d like moar randomness fun. I think a story like this has potential for setting up multiple endings.
Potentially interesting campaign, though I am not sure about a few things.
For example, nobles are portrayed as kind of united front in regards to kobold reemergence, but in reality I’d assume some would probably either act as heroes trying to fight them to ensure some reputation or support, use the situation to strike at their enemies or maybe even fight out of honor and expectations other folks would have in regards to their lineage.
Mechanics-wise, it’d probably require different factions and smaller faction in overall area of those, with conflicts and diplomacy behind these sub-factions affecting overall condition and stance of the “overfaction” (useful for determining ending based on which attitudes of what factions one has reached, with possible random factor thrown in if the player does nothing). It would also look better for other factions – not all magic practicioners should be in wizard faction and not all of them (or even wizards) should be eager to compare notes with kobold mages. Same with gnomes – some may want to create their own mecha, some may want to concentrate on supporting dwarves in creation of anti-mecha weaponry (or making mecha equipped with that weaponry!) or simply steal some kobold mecha to figure it out.
Quite many endings would probably also be required, though some probably would only differ in a few lines of text (ie. peace achieved with different role and overall attitude between kobolds and other factions) – without that variety, lots of inter-faction diplomacy and connections will be useless.
Chaos riders as mamoth tribes? Maybe, but the seem to be morally simple – we’re evil, kobolds do evil, let’s have evil. Why not some lose kingdom of cooperating, potentially specialized and not-really-so-primitve groups/clans/fiefdoms connected by culture and/or religion yet very different from the rest of the world and happy that kobolds are about to wreck stuff due to their own relative separation from lands affected by the kobold emergency and socio-political reasons?
Those are just thoughts I had more so than actual suggestions – since you’ve asked what I think. That aside, it seems interesting but a lot depends on the scope of it and frankly – it’d be a really big scope if you want to make something like this and not make it slightly underwhelming.
Beside that, I’d personally still like to see Gearhead as a priority – especially when it comes to including some assets and content from japanese/international fan version, finishing all graphics (some mecha still lack images and descriptions, images of some look weird [rovers and truckers’ trucks look like race cars]) and polishing features already in (for example, while I don’t expect complex, yet procedurally generated romantic relationship feature, it’s kind of weird how little high NPC opinion and flirtation skill effects have on overall NPC attitude towards and interaction with PC).
It sounds interesting. I do wonder what the Kobolds’ end-game is… what are they shooting for? Do they just want to kill all the surface people for revenge? Are they trying to get revenge on the royal family or a few people in particular, and they’ll stop once they have it? Do they want to carve out a kingdom for the Kobold people, and they could be negotiated with if they were given a proper offer in that regard?
Conquest, raw materials, to start their own empire, fueled by more than a little bit of revenge. I think they’re probably suffering from a collective Napoleon complex (both figuratively and literally). Given their recent social changes, Napoleon might be a good model to use for them.