Back in June Tim at Gothridge Manor talks about Day Jobs. I was the GM for all three examples he gives here.
How all of this came about? When you run the same setting for decades, you need to mix it up a bit. Especially when you have players with as much experience as Tim and Dwayne (of Gamer's Closet).
The first with Devon the Blacksmith originated in a idea that I had for a campaign. Namely discovering the secret of gunpowder. I just finished reading Guns, Germs, & Steel and followed up with some more reading on the history of Gunpowder. Because Gunpowder was first used as a way of making better siege equipment I could introduce into the Majestic Wilderlands without causing a lot of change the esstential medieval feel of the game. Because of some events that occured in a previous campaign, the whole idea for a new campaign just popped into my head at once.
In the Majestic Wilderlands, City-State is the seat of the Tharian Overlords. The Tharian Overlords are leaders of a confederation of provinces and clans stretching from the Estuary of the Roglaroon to the Viridistan border. One of the province, Bernost, lies north, next to the Tharian Coast. It's Dukes have always resented living under the rule of the Overlord and every couple of decades will forment a revolt. A revolt that usually ends with the Duke head cut off, and a lot of Bernost folks dead.
This time the Duke has an edge, he lucked into a alchemist who showed him the wonders of something called Dragon Powder (aka Black Powder). The alchemist, being somewhat of a reinaissance man, not only could create Dragon Powder but also had designs for using Bronze Tubes to create seige engines of unparralled powers (i.e. cannons). The Duke immediately became the alchemist's patron and started mass producing Dragon Powers and Cannons. Among other things this required the hiring of a lot of metalsmiths who could cast bronze.
The hiring of all these metalsmiths did not go unnoticed by the Overlord and thus enter our heroes. Dwayne played an agent of the Black Lotus and Tim played a blacksmith. The two were charged to go north and find out what the hell was going on. The resulting campaign played in several distinct phase: The journey to Bernost, getting hiring, the gathering of information, the escape, and the denouement. The way it played it out the players rarely (if at all) got into a fight. I believe there was a encounter with bandits during the journey to Bernost. The most dangerous moment came when they were sneaking around and wandered into some wood downrange from where they were testing the cannons.
Now the campaign sounds much like a railroad. I assure you it wasn't, the combination of the fact it was a mission and that both characters where hired meant it was focused on specific goals from the get go. The campaign was proposed pretty much as all my games do with those two. "What do you want to play?" When Dwayne said "Black Lotus Agent" and Tim said "Average Blacksmith" I thought it was a perfect setup for my idea.
The crowning moment of the campaign was in the denouement. Dwayne's Agent got a promotion to a prestigious position within the Black Lotus, and Tim's Blacksmith gained his guild mastership along with a leading position in the monopoly that the Overlord was setting up to control Dragon Powder. We all looked at each other and came to the same conclusion. "This campaign is over. The characters got what they wanted and there no reason for them to adventure." It wasn't a feeling of "aw there nothing more to do" but rather the satisfaction of something that was just well done.
Allen Hess, the village priest, was a campaign involving GURPS 50 point characters. Now in GURPS 50 points means that you are a joe average person. Your best skill may be a 13 or 14 and the rest dead average. It is not quite as bad as AD&D's 0-level but close. I ran two campaigns with 50 point characters in college and they were a lot of fun. The main reason is because the group has to work together to get anything done. With normal 100 pts the individual characters usually just enough versatility that they can go off and do something by themselves. Not so with 50 pts, try to do that and likely you will just wind up hurt or worse dead.
This particular 50 pt campaign was a couple of years later and set in City-State. I took a neighborhood in the southeast corner near Guardsmen Road and populated it. Including a vampire that was preying on the locals. All and a fun campaign to play.
The twin brother campaign, was definitely not what I planned. The campaign was supposed to be a foray into the underbelly of the world of thieves and thugs. The basic idea is that the players were to be the goons and go up from there. Not burglars, pickpockets, con-artists, but just plain thugs. Well it didn't work out that way. Dwayne decided to play a very anti-social character and like it was told over at Gothridge Manor, got Tim fired. Afterward Tim decided not to be mad at Dwayne's character. No siree, he was just going to be mad as insane period.
The reason that Dwayne got Tim fired was that they can do this job they got "right away". Well Tim taught Dwayne a new definition of "right away". What followed was a rampage of violence and brutality that would leave even Quentin Tarentino gasping. They made their way up the hierarchy of the thieves guild to find out where the Baron's Heirloom was. At some point things just were getting way out of control.
When I feel out of control what is happening is that players are going things that will bring down the big guns of the campaign on them. But I don't like doing that in general unless there is a fun way of doing it. Which is not very often. Being blue bolted sucks and feels arbitrary no matter how much you sugar coat it. Well two encounters later they just about exhausted the hierarchy. They were only one step away from the Grandmasters themselves. Then I thought of the twist about the Grandmasters returning the item. In the end they still got blue bolted by the baron, but the twist made for a nice ending for the campaign.