Thursday, November 17, 2011

Sharpened Hooks: The Root of All Evil

This could fuel a whole campaign.

Arms dealing is fairly ubiquitous in modern society — go look at that list on TV Tropes and you'll likely recognize something, from Lord of War to Iron Man to EarthBound.  The World of Darkness gets a treatment of the subject in Armory, Armory Reloaded, and Dogs of War.  Shadowrun is basically built on arms dealing — what mega-corporation isn't running guns on the side? — so modern and near-future settings have everything well in hand.

What about fantasy settings and settings taking place in the past?

This post over at Porky's Expanse discusses the prospect of funding warfare.  Furthermore, Porky also notes that most fantasy types tend to back one faction over another during warfare (typically for ideological reasons), but someone selling equipment to both sides is going to increase profits significantly.

That post also links to this post at Hill Cantons, where he talks about a youthful, ham-handed campaign prompting the player characters to back insurrections and overthrow the rulers throughout Oerth.

Likewise, one could combine the above concepts of arms dealing and class warfare with the topic of a previous post at Porky's Expanse, that of inflation.  It is a common observation that the influx of gold supplied by adventurers would unbalance economies and promote runaway inflation, eventually leading to some economic timult.

Combine all these things, and you have a full campaign.  The PCs are adventurers who, upon amassing some gold, decide to get into the lucrative world of arms dealing.  They spark some insurrections, finance some warfare, and make some money.  Meanwhile, these wars are tearing apart the countryside, and the excess gold dumped into local economy has devalued the currency to the point that a loaf of bread is ten gold.  This chaos promotes the rise of local warlords and cults of personality, either providing new opportunities for the PCs, or creating new antagonists to oppose their plans.

This cycle could continue endlessly — the PCs could aid in recovery efforts, or could simply spread to another area and repeat the process anew.  Characters with plane-hopping abilities might do this on a large scale — imagine engaging in war profiteering on Oerth, Mystara, Toril, Eberron, AthasAebrynis, and Krynn consecutively or concurrently.  Epic-level characters might even attempt this behavior in the domains of the gods themselves, likely overthrowing the gods and causing great cosmological upheaval by accident or design.

Consider this to be added to the list of campaigns I might someday wish to run.


  1. I remember you mentioned mixing them up together, but hadn't realised you actually did it here. It's a very interesting basis for a campaign and world, especially in a world being used by several groups simultaneously, one or all of which could at any given time be causing all kinds of trouble for the others. There's definitely an attraction in the idea of the characters creating their own worst enemies, and that much of what is wrong with the world might ultimately be their doing.

  2. That's perfect. A structure with multiple groups like
    Jeff Rients' Caves of Myrddin would have some amazing interplay as everyone realized that they were in competition.

    This could possibly work with a couple of GMs, too — everybody compares financial data and the economy changes accordingly for all player groups.


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