You all know the drill by now. I drop off the face of the Earth for a year, and come August when the stars are right, I awaken from my slumber and crawl back to the blog to share my stories and ideas form RPG a Day. Now it is #RPGaDay2019, and I’ve been doing this since 2015. Here is the first post from #RPGaDay2015.
Back then I posted most days, but for the last three years, I’ve been doing video entries for RPG a Day. In recent years I began to do two posts for each day, one in Spanish for the Desde la FosaYouTube channel, part of an RPG project here in Puerto Rico with a couple of friends, and the English videos I would post in my personal YouTube channel. I’ve always collected them here in the blog, and I plan to do it again this year.
For #RPGaDay2019, the creator Autocratik changed things around, and instead of phrases or questions each day. Instead, we have one-word prompts that give participants leeway on how they interpret the concept and their response. It’s been great and reading the posts and watching videos form participants I can tell the format has been a success.
I guess Monday is a good day for off-topic posts. But what I am about to share with you, is just too awesome. I recently stumbled upon a web series called “Kestrel Investigates” about a British paranormal investigator called Agravain Kestrel and his elusive cameraman Mike. At first glance it might look like just another shaky paranormal investigation video blog on YouTube, but instead it’s a very British satire of the genre. In my opinion it’s brilliant!
Two series have been released at this point, and series three is currently being worked on. I have enjoyed every single episode tremendously and I can’t wait to see how the story of Agravain and Mike continues after the cliffhanger ending of the second series!
And to give this post some RPG-related spin, you can watch it as inspiration for the “The Unexplained” tabletop RPG. You can check out my review of said game here.
I am currently reading through the D&D Rules Cyclopedia from 1991 and I’m constantly discovering game aspects that the later editions lack or which have been severely limited in scope. One of these things is the idea of a travelling vs. a land-owning character.
In Basic D&D there was a concept known as “Name level”. When your character reaches level 9 you get a fancy title and you have to make a choice: do you want to own land and construct your own stronghold, tower or hideout, do you join a noble’s court or do you continue as a travelling character? Some classes have more options than others, but that’s basically the gist of it.
Personally I love that a lot. Strongholds, towers, and hideouts are not just a physical sign of a character’s achievements, it’s also a great plot device. A personal stronghold can be attacked, there might be conflicts with neighbors, or there are disputes for the lord of stronghold to settle. Players have to make important decisions which not only affect themselves, but also their staff, their subjects, the lands around their stronghold. It’s not just dungeon delving and monster killing anymore, but starting with level 9 politics get into the picture.
When the player characters want to go on a quest away from their personal holds, new questions arise which may be hooks for exciting adventures. Who will manage the daily affairs when the player characters’ are away? Will something happen while they are gone off on a quest? Perhaps one character is in the service of a noble who asks a favor from the party before they give permission for the character to leave. The adventures basically write themselves.
Even if you decide against being a land-owning character, the so-called BECMI edition of Basic D&D offers a couple of interesting options. Fighters can become Paladins or Avengers and swear fealty to a clerical order. Or they can become knights and pledge their allegiance to a noble. Magic-users may work at a noble’s court as adviser. A cleric may decide to become a Druid. Regardless of what option you choose it will tremendously affect how the campaign develops from this point on. Reaching “Name level” and settling down may also be the perfect end goal for a shorter campaign.
I don’t remember building one’s own stronghold being part of AD&D 2nd Edition (but I might be mistaken since I haven’t played it in a long time) and when Wizards of the Coast took over, it didn’t make a comeback either. Was it that unpopular with the majority of fans? Or are there other reasons why this feature of the game was faded out? If one of my honored readers knows more about this, please share in the comments below.
By the way, in 1993 Stormfront Studios developed a D&D computer game called Stronghold (not to be confused with the game series by Firefly Studios which started in 2001) which was basically a D&D-themed city builder. It might have out-dated graphics and a worse user interface, but it’s still quite enjoyable to play and it has a certain old-school charm. It’s available on GOG for about 5€ and thanks to DOSBOX it runs great on modern PCs.
What are your thoughts on strongholds, towers, and hideouts? Is this something you miss in newer editions of D&D or are you glad this aspect of the game had been thrown out? Please share your thoughts in the comments below!
A Roleplaying Games blog
If you leave a comment on our site you may opt-in to saving your name, email address and website in cookies. These are for your convenience so that you do not have to fill in your details again when you leave another comment. These cookies will last for one year.
If you have an account and you log in to this site, we will set a temporary cookie to determine if your browser accepts cookies. This cookie contains no personal data and is discarded when you close your browser.
When you log in, we will also set up several cookies to save your login information and your screen display choices. Login cookies last for two days, and screen options cookies last for a year. If you select “Remember Me”, your login will persist for two weeks. If you log out of your account, the login cookies will be removed.
If you edit or publish an article, an additional cookie will be saved in your browser. This cookie includes no personal data and simply indicates the post ID of the article you just edited. It expires after 1 day.