Conquest of the New World
Conquest of the New World is currently a Savage Worlds Deluxe based campaign, meant to tell the story of a diverse set of would-be heroes and their adventures while exploring and settling a newly discovered continent. The goal is to have high adventure, good stories and plenty of player agency throughout.
What follows is a summary of our goals, and a Statement of Intent from the GM (me) about what I hope to accomplish during this game.
CNW is aiming for an Three Musketeers meets Indiana Jones atmosphere of swashbuckling adventure and exploration with pulp sensibilities. This will not be the earth-shaking, epic story of High Fantasy, but a more cinematic tale where the heroes don’t fight the entire enemy army single-handedly, but rather cripple the rival country’s war effort by heroically fight through the ranks of battling soldiers to confront the enemy commander and slay him in a dramatic duel on the ridge above the pitched battle.
I’m using the SW deluxe system initially, because its “Fast, Furious, Fun” moniker seems better suited to this cinematic attempt, especially because it’s low need for prep should make doing things on the fly easier. It also has a more linear power curve, allowing characters to advance and grow in power without completely removing the risks of early opponents from the mix. Town guards might not be a match for a Musketeer when one-on-one, but a company of 30 guards should still make a legendary swordsman think twice (or at least result in a cinematic running battle through the streets of Paris).
I want everyone to feel free to step outside the box when deciding what to do. “I swing my sword. I hit and do 15 damage.” is nowhere near as much fun as “I jump on the table and kick the mug of beer in the guardsman’s face, then grab the chandelier and swing across the room to land behind the duchess and punch the assassin”.
My goal is to have everyone trying stuff like that, and having success be cool and failure even cooler. I’m going to try to avoid things like “Roll an acrobatics check. You fail and can’t do that cool move”, and have some back and forth about the results: “If you make the acrobatics check, you land behind the duchess and can stop the assassin from striking, but if you fail, you land awkwardly in the path of the assassin’s blade and he automatically hits you… is that what you want to try?”
The real world isn’t Fair and Balanced (despite what Rupert Murdoch might want) and neither is the world of CNW. There will be times that fighting someone or something is going to be a very bad idea, and other times that it will be a cakewalk that lets the characters feel very heroic and invincible. As you will see from the death rules, making a mistake about what opponent is overwhelming won’t (always) have permanent consequences, but could lead to interesting changes in direction (captured, enslaved, left for dead, NPCs killed).
This is not going to be just a GM-driven story. I envision a more sandbox style game, with contributions from players about direction, subplots and interesting outcomes. I hope to see plenty of suggestions and want to work very hard to make sure that everyone has the opportunity to see their own story ideas and contributions incorporated. If a new NPC gets introduced, and someone thinks the story would be more interesting if it were actually their long-lost sister, then all the better.
This is also mentioned in the Character Creation summary, but is repeated here to increase the impact. Pulp and Swashbuckling adventures often have unexpected twists as aspects of a character’s background suddenly come to light and complicate matters. Discovering that the villain’s mistress is an ex-lover, that the man who killed your father is also the general who saved the king’s life, or that the sword buried in the lost temple bears the family crest. These sorts of seeds can be part of a character background, but can also come out during play. If a specific tidbit strikes you as relevant, it should be incorporated into background on the spot. Keeping background histories brief and general can help with that, making it even easier to incorporate sudden inspirations – it’s hard to have the villain’s adoptive daughter be your long-lost sister if your background goes into exquisite detail on how you were an only child.