Wednesday, September 10, 2014


I figured out what I liked so much about False Machine’s SAVAGES campaign concept. not only does it flip a bunch of stuff on its head(see the other posts about this sweet, sweet idea); but, like the games Pandemic or Shadows over Camelot or even XCOM, I enjoy working together to hold back the inevitable. This is a campaign where entropy is the main villain. Or, in this case, being entropy and resisting order. Here's how I'd run a Savages game:


-Start with a big hex map. Any wilderness terrain works. Players start out knowing the terrain and they are in the middle in their home dungeon. They live here. Maybe its a small place they made together or a bigger place where someone is their master. 
-There is a normal distribution of events, other dungeons, caves, etc. No towns or civilization at first.
-Run it like a normal sandbox, except the players are monsters. Their motivations are inverted, and perspective flipped. This is the outside looking in. Most other monsters are still hostile unless you know them specifically, but now towns and cities are like dungeons to the players. 
-Get stronger by surviving, stealing, and battle. 100 exp for each day survived. Money is meaningless but stealing it from the civilized strengthens the wilds and the thief, gain exp equal to half the value Man would give to it and it must be kept hidden away from them in a lair or dungeon. 
-Roll 1d6 for each hex moved. ‘6’ is a random encounter (Gygaxian roll for empty, monster, etc.) and a ‘1’ means seeing the signs of civilized creatures: one of the factions is active. This means some hexes are now dark, and you probably don't know who took that hex until you investigate.
-Keep a civilization at bay by re-conquering their territory for the wilds, killing them, or driving them off. Each faction has strengths, weaknesses and rewards. Getting rid of a faction means traveling beyond the wilds, into the heart of the beast. When they are first active, start them at a random location on the border of the map. This is almost literally an invasion of hostile aliens from your perspective.
-Some factions are evil savages. They took on ideals and principles from your foes and turned bad. Except for Savages this includes notions of civilization, allegiance, honor, merit, equality, fairness, or trade.

The Outsiders

[Mongols] The Horde: A large, hierarchical tribe of semi-nomadic warriors. Were savages, but took tribalism, loyalty, and a warrior ethos too far. Grouped together in larger and larger gatherings and started acting like man. They gave up their individual spirits and lost their pride in their small tribes. Active: Gain a bordering hex, then move their whole territory one hex in a random direction (remember their size if it goes off the map. Strengths: Mobile, use teamwork, and are accustomed to the wilds like a savage. Weaknesses: Rely on their warlords to keep unity. Weak individually. Most are not too far gone from their savage ways. Rewards: Horses, Beasts, and Savages. 
“Lost souls who have bargained their savage spirit away for the ease of a big, organized tribe. Free them from their living death.”

[Conquistadors] Marauders: Well armored and trained expedition forces looking for plunder and slaves. Active: Each hex moves independently towards the nearest dungeon or towards the center. They loot and pillage those hexes and send the slaves and plunder to their homeland. If they loot two dungeons, another expedition is called, and a Marauder hex appears on the edge of the map. Strengths: Good weapons, thick armor, and good tactics. Weaknesses: Greedy, poor survivalists, and rely on supplies from their homeland. Rewards: Take their metal, turn their swords against them! Tempt their fellows with their own gold, wait for the screams and the sound of man fighting man. 
“They are lions, stalking the lands for their precious gold. If they hunt well, more lions will come.”

[Crusaders] Missionaries: Religious zealots, apostles, pilgrims, and their savage converts. Those unwilling to convert will be worked until they convert. Active: Convert two random hexes within two hexes of a hex they control. Strengths: Slave labor, magic, and fast spreading. Weaknesses: Lots of ‘converted’ and enslaved savages around. Discount the threat of savages. Churches and shrines are important to them. Rewards: Steal their magic, take the favor of their gods, and free their savages. 
“A pox, spilling from their sanctimonious mouths. A fungus, sprouting where you aren’t looking. ”

[Tang China] Builders: Deeded and fat nobles come with their peasants to build new towns, cities, and walls. Trade and buildings will bring civilization to the savages. Active: A random hex in their territory is built up. Then, they claim a new hex on their border, trying to keep their territory roughly semi-circular. Hexes are built up as follows: None->Trading post -> Village -> Town (wooden walls) -> Large Town (stone walls) ->City->Castle. Each City or Castle adds another hex to the closest border. Strengths: Strong structures, secure supply lines, and a luring influence on weak-willed savages. Weaknesseses: Fat bureaucrats, weak discipline, and hyper-specialized/unstable. Rewards: Lots of food, things to steal, and slaves. 
“Like a weed slowly spreading its roots and choking the land. Burn it all, or even the smallest root will sprout again.”

[Zulu] Warriors: Were savages but fell to man’s ideas of unity, equality, and merit. Strong warriors conquer and integrate savages. They accept and unite with those they defeat instead of killing or eating them. They are like a cancer, they turn good savages into men like them. Active: Gain a new hex along a random border. Gain another hex for every 5 hexes they hold. Strengths: Strong survivalists. Knowledgeable about every aspect of being savages. Good at making men out of savages. Weaknesses: They have the same knowledge and weapons as savages. ‘Honor’ and ‘Merit’ are too important to them. They will leave you alive to try and turn you. Rewards: Knowledge of other tribes of savages. Gain savage allies. 
“Even cancer and blight are ashamed of the deeds of these savages. Equality, honor, and merit are a corruption of the wilds.”

[Heroes] Explorers: Bourgeois merchants, adventurers, and scholars seeking to take the hard fought knowledge and land of the savages and the wilds. Active: Try to explore a dungeon or POI within 2 hexes of a hex they control. If they are no more places to explore, they take control of a random new hex.Strengths: High level adventurers. Can show up anywhere. Weaknesses: Concerned with exploration. Easily distracted. Low numbers. Rewards: Powerful magic. Unique weapons. Secrets.
"Unwelcome guests, like fleas and ticks, to be picked off when found."

Some other thoughts

There are lots of play styles possible for a for Savages game to use. They could go ape-shit and just try to smash as much of man as possible before they get taken out, or fight your way through the largest of cities. Savages could stalk and hunt, trying to find the jugular of each civilization to rip out. The lives of a prophetic tribe might suit them, gathering what they need to build a mega-dungeon deep into the earth. Gather other tribes and weather the storm, like your tribe sees the writing on the wall of a coming apocalypse of man. Defend your dungeon and get as deep as you can, MAN is coming.These are sort of the inverse cousins of the hack & slash/dungeon crawler, stealth, or politics game styles for Savages, respectively.

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