May – Love ‘Em or Hate ‘Em – These Guys Juice Up Your Game
Roleplaying Tips Newsletter #0794
I’m reading Kings of the Wyld (aff.) by Nicholas Eames. It’s tongue-in-cheek fantasy. Not normally my fare, but the world has interesting ideas and I’m getting drawn into the plot.
In the world of Heartwyld, adventurers form bands, as in music bands. Except the bards always get killed. Agents book adventures and send their signed bands to clean out dungeons and rid the land of foul monsters.
Turns out there’s a bit of an economy afoot: the best bands get the most lucrative gigs.
Take, for example, the Stormriders. They’re just returning from a victorious dungeon looting. They pay for a parade to celebrate and make the whole city aware of their leetness.
The parade starts with armed thugs clearing the streets. Following is a herald announcing the adventurers. “Good people of Conthas! Hear me! Make way for the Stormriders, only just returned from a daring tour of the Heartwyld.”
“They will be preceded by the Sisters in Steel, who have subdued the goblins of the Cobalt Caverns and their fearsome Warchief, Sicklung!”
Next, a cadre of drummers. Clad in long gowns sewn with strips of bark and hats sprouting tufts of green foliage. Then children dressed as wood sprites. Then a Feral Man, face painted blue, a dragon tooth horn slung over his shoulder.
Soon the Sisters of Steel march past. In front of them are their goblin prisoners, two rows of six, chained by the ankles.
Behind the goblins is their warchief, Sicklung. Battered, bruised, and limping.
The Sisters have their show armour on.
Eventually the Stormriders appear. Before them, an ox-drawn cart loaded with crumbled remains of an ancient golem. Then a lanky troll in chains escorted by heavily armoured men bearing torches to keep the creature at bay.
Then an enormous ape striped like a tiger.
Then a cart as wide the street, hauled by six oxen and rolling on ten stone wheels. Behind the steel bars of a cage is crowd-pleasing creature of legend. A chimera.
Finally, the Stormriders. Standing on a curtained flatbed heaped with treasure. Open chests brimming with gems and jewels. An escort of pikeman keeps would-be looters at shaft length.
Women dressed as nymphs grab coins from the wagon and fling them into the crowd. Conveniently, only copper pieces line the edges — the gold and silver are piled in the centre.
Girls scream hysterically as the adventurers roll by.
Why go to all this expense and trouble? Why pay people to herald, escort, and parade?
The best bands get the best gigs. And a band’s reputation and fame lets their agents find the best gigs (for a treasure share, of course).
Your world might not be so cheeky. But think though, how would your players react if a group of NPCs rolled into their town this way?
And what if more and more plot hooks started bypassing the PCs and instead went to their rivals? Players only get the goblin gigs now.