Revisiting Adventures Great and Glorious

Seven years ago (!) I posted here that I was working on a sorta-supplement/sorta-it’s own game called Adventures Great and Glorious. The idea was to capture a couple of different RPG concepts in one place, and make them fit well with conventional you-play-a-character RPGs:

  • The Colony game. What happens when someone strikes out on their own on the fringes of civilization, and carves out a freehold of their very own. Clearing territory, attracting settlers, and starting your own economy.
  • The Power game. The interactions between various factions and centers of power in an already-established nation, allowing the best to rise to the pinnacle of power.
  • The Long game. Rules for playing a game over successive generations of player characters, a la Pendragon.

Plus rules for mass combat and such.

Despite the apparent lack of progress, this is actually something I’ve been working on somewhat steadily since then. I just haven’t made much progress, having restarted the thing on an almost annual basis. About the only thing that is in a pretty close to releasable form are the naval combat rules. Why I’ve made so little progress, or rather why I’ve needed to keep starting over, is worth exploring.

The Colony Game is what most people nowadays call The Domain Game. I eschew that label because it carries with it a lot of baggage that doesn’t necessarily mesh with my own concept for it. This is the classic 1E end game; you gain high enough level, you clear a wilderness, build a fortress, and attract followers and settlers. Translating the old AD&D rules into a new format is dirt easy. But what is stopping me is the fact that they’re just so… fiddly. When you’re calculating the g.p. cost of each murder hole and arrow slit in your stronghold, this becomes not the direction I want to go in. That might be saved for an appendix, but I want something that’s light and abstract, but also flexible. What I have is great if you want to map a castle like a dungeon, and use that as a basis for a siege wargame using miniatures, but it’s not really conducive to what the rules imply such a game should be about; attracting peasant settlers to your island of safety in the wilderness, charging taxes, and building trade. That’s something that needs a more abstract approach, and that’s the direction in which I intend to turn for this segment. But that’s a whole reconceptualization of this element.

The Power Game is another animal entirely. This is where you have an established civilized realm (or realms) and each player is playing not an individual, but an entire faction. Adam is playing the thieve’s guild, Brianna is playing the school of wizards, Chris is playing the king and his court, Darlene is playing the army, and Ed is playing the Church of the Sun-God. Each of those factions has a set of attributes that are analogous to those an individual player character would have, but applicable at a much larger scale (the dexterity-equivalent, for instance, would determine how quickly a faction can respond to someone else’s action). The “adventures” here would still be run by the DM, but on a scale or weeks or months. What’s holding me up here is how to manage the difference between the characteristics and experience levels. When a thieve’s guild reaches a certain size, does that mean their dexterity-equivalent goes down, or does it mean something else? This is a conceptual hurdle I need to overcome.

The Long Game is pretty straightforward; I just haven’t given it much attention. Rules for Courtly Love, generational transfer and the like. The thing here would be dividing the time-frame into short turns (for conventional adventures) and winter turns (to accelerate the passage of time). So the PCs would do a couple of adventures, and then winter down for the season, where they’d engage in something analogous to the “carousing” rules some games use. Basically, “what happened to me while we were hold up in the inn for four months?” with a bit more interaction and player involvement. Where in conventional Adventures Dark and Deep, a player might say “I attack the troll” and go into combat, in Adventures Great and Glorious that same player might say “I court the daughter of the baron.” Eventually, they would be able to play their own PCs’ children. This is where magical research would happen, and the time-frame of turns would fit in nicely with the other two games.

Mass combat is probably the easiest thing to do. I’d just Adventures-Dark-and-Deep-ify the “Swords and Sorcery” book from 0E. That always seemed to me to make the most sense; just pick a unit scale for troops and “scale up” knights, elven archers, orcs, and the rest to match in terms of hit points, etc. Put together combat tables that fit the scaled-up numbers and reduce unit strength based on averages. That’s just a bunch of spreadsheet-crunching, which is something I’ve done for a living. Just need to set aside the time.

I should point out that my Golden Scroll of Justice book was stuck in exactly the same doldrums for more than a year. I just couldn’t figure out how to fit in kung fu, which I knew had to be central to the whole book. Once I hit on the idea of building it into the skill system rather than the combat system, it all flowed out of me like water onto the page. I’m sure the same conceptual breakthrough will happen with AGG, too.

So that’s where this particular project stands. I need to reconceptualize one piece, have a conceptual hurdle on another, and just need to put in the time on the rest. It’ll happen, but no telling when the Muse will strike.

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Wargamer and RPG'er since the 1970's, author of Adventures Dark and Deep, Castle of the Mad Archmage, and other things, and proprietor of the Greyhawk Grognard blog.

3 thoughts on “Revisiting Adventures Great and Glorious

  1. Joe,

    Probably a reiteration of prior correspondence but…

    Because CotMA and ADD are as good as they are, I am eagerly looking forward to AGG. I say this not to pressure you but as encouragement because your prior products have been so excellent — and right in my RPG wheelhouse.

    Happy gaming (and writing),

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