Changing Campaign Styles

When players begin to get jaded, consider changing the style of the campaign. Higher level characters have great power--they should have adventures where that power influences and involves them in the campaign world. As leaders, rulers, and wise men, their actions affect more than just themselves, spreading outward in ripples over those they rule and those they seek to conquer. Political machinations, spying, backroom deals, treachery, and fraud become more pronounced. While these elements can play a part in a low-level campaign, at higher levels, the stakes are much greater.

Added intrigue can be introduced into a campaign gradually. For example, Varrack, a mid-level fighter, is appointed sheriff of a local village as a reward for his sterling deeds. He can still adventure as he has been accustomed to, but now he must also watch over the villagers. The DM has the local bandits raid the trade road. As sheriff, Varrack must stop them. He goes with a small group, only to discover a camp of 500 outlaws. Realizing he's badly outnumbered, he beats a hasty retreat, raises a small militia, and clears the countryside of the enemy.

With this he rises in level. In addition, his lord is pleased and grants Varrack stewardship of several villages, with sheriffs under his command. The neighboring baron (who organized and sent the bandits) notes Varrack's success with mild displeasure, planting the seed of a festering hate. More immediately, the craven and vengeful sheriff of the next village on the road (whose incompetence allowed the bandits to flourish) suddenly finds himself out of favor. He blames Varrack and searches for a way to bring the new steward down.

As the campaign progresses, the DM can slowly spin a web of intrigue around Varrack as enemies, open and hidden, seek to block his progress or use him to topple his own lord. Against the odds, Varrack may find himself destined to become the king's champion, gaining new titles, responsibilities, friends, and enemies along the way.

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