Sunday, December 28, 2014

D&D 5E, BRP, and Other Acronyms

I received, as a slightly belated Christmas present, a copy of the 5th Edition Dungeon Master's Guide.  Currently this makes the only two editions I own a complete set of core rules for 5th and 1st Edition AD&D.  I've got a couple of coworkers that have expressed an interest in playing some D&D or another RPG, and they're all good people that I think I'd really enjoy running games for.

Part of me wants to run D&D in some form, simply because that's the universally-recognized short-hand for "role-playing game."  But I'm not feeling overly inspired on that front.

I think it would be a harder sell, but I think I'd rather (and would be more successful) run an alternate/secret history game like my last campaign, which pit Elizabethan-era pirates (the player characters) against the forces of a Spanish Empire backed by alien Greys in a world where the Roswell crash happened four centuries early.

Doing a little reading, I came across the mysterious circumstances surrounding Meriwether Lewis (of Lewis & Clark Expedition fame)'s demise.  While the official verdict is suicide, and there's certainly evidence to back that up, there was enough funny business around the site at the time, and enough people with motive, that in some ways it looks an awful lot like a murder.

In short, he was on his way to Washington to negotiate for reimbursement of expenditures accrued in the process of serving as governor of the Louisiana Territory (modern day Missouri) - reimbursements he'd previously been denied due to the libelous campaign of his secretary, Frederick Bates, who'd sent letters to Congress claiming Lewis was profiteering on the side.  After suddenly changing routes halfway along his journey, Lewis ended up spending a night at Griner's Stand, a small inn.  The innkeeper's wife heard gunshots and someone crying out for help in the middle of the night, but waited until morning to send her children to summon Lewis' servants to check on him.  He was found bleeding out with wounds in his stomach and head.  Add to that the fact that Lewis was a tremendously unpopular governor due to upholding treaties made with the local Native Tribes instead of throwing them over the barrel in favor of white settlers and he was up to his eyeballs in debt, and it starts to look a lot less like suicide.

So I think that would make an interesting campaign - Thomas Jefferson assembles a team of investigators to look into the circumstances of Lewis' death and determine if it really was a suicide or not.  Along the way they'd encounter road agents, hostile tribes, wild animals and perhaps supernatural threats from America's primordial past.

I'll run it past them and see what they think.


  1. Leaving aside the usual engines that's I've used for my own games in the past - Storyteller, CoC and Chill - the new edition of DnD is very, very, very good. I'm running it with people who've never tried any RPGs before and they've grasped it very quickly and the game runs very smoothly; you might well find it works well for you - and this is coming from someone who really doesn't like D&D as a rule.

    Or, as a total curveball, if you want something more swashbuckly, I can recommend 7th Sea.

    1. Fantasy RPGs in general give me trouble as a DM. I have a much harder time preparing adventures for out-and-out fantasy vs. games set in "the real world." I excel with Call of Cthulhu and similar style games, especially using the BRP engine.