I have been playing D&D of one sort or another for nearly 40 years. And in all that time there is a type of campaign that I have always wanted to play, but was never able to.
In 1e, the classes had different names for each level of character. So a first level fighter was a “veteran”, and a second level fighter was a “warrior”, for example. At higher levels, usually around 9th or 10th, the level name would be something that indicated a measure of power or nobility, and names would stop changing so fast. So a high level cleric was an “archpriest”, a high level fighter was a “lord”, high level paladin was a “paladin”, a high level High level ranger was a “ranger lord”, a high level thief was a “master thief”, etc. We usually referred to this as “lord level” or “name level”.
Around that time, most of the classes gained the ability to construct strongholds (and possibly obtain income from the surrounding lands) and/or attract a body of followers. So for instance, an 8th level cleric (“matriarch”) could construct a place of worship, in which case she attracted a body of 20-200 fanatically loyal followers, plus some men-at-arms. And at 9th level (“high priest”) she could build a fortified religious stronghold, and if she cleared the surrounding lands of monsters, she would gain an income from the population that would settle in the area.
Similarly, a 9th level fighter (“lord”) could construct a stronghold and clear the surrounding area, and thereby attract a body of followers and collect an income from the settlers. A 10th level ranger (“ranger lord”) attracted a body of various sorts of demihuman or monstrous followers (including the possibility of a copper dragon!) without having to construct anything. A 12th level magic-user (“wizard”) could construct a tower and clear the area, and obtain an income but no followers. And a 10th level thief (“master thief”) could set up a thieves’ guild in or near an urban centre and attract thief followers.
In addition, there were lengthy rules on the hiring of henchmen and mercenaries, as well as other hirelings necessary to run a stronghold. High level contemplated players commanding armies and defending or expanding their territory.
And I really want to play and run that sort of campaign. Or at least have the option of doing so. High level D&D is a bit wonky in every edition, and needs a workable alternative. And the older I get, the more I feel like powerful adventurers who have paid their dues aren’t likely to be interested in spending their middle age slogging through dungeons for treasure; they are now in a position to have people for that. They are rich as lords, maybe they should live like them.
But other than rules for obtaining followers and hiring armies, in 1e there were no procedures for how to run that sort of campaign. So I am trying to make them. Continue reading ““Lord Level” Campaigns – Alpha”