28 September 2010

The First Pebbles : A Campaign Concept

  Last weekend Cory Matt asked me to run Renegade Legion : Interceptor for my evening Game Day slot.  Now, for reasons of family I didn't get to actually run  my evening slot, but it made me pull out my Renegade Legion books and start reading.  As so often happens, I started to get a campaign concept running in my head.

  For those of you who aren't familiar with Battletech's lesser-known sibling, the Renegade Legion game world takes place in the 69th century.  Earth was conquered by a race of centauroid-reptilian creatures known as the KessRith, and reduced to slavery.  During this period, they placated their slaves by allowing bloodsports for their entertainment.  One of the gladiators, Alexander Trajan, managed to amass some contraband weapons and use the ruse of gladiator training to form a resistance that cast off the KessRith in a bloody war.  Since the rhetoric and rabble-rousing Trajan used to incite the rebellion was based on the glories of ancient Rome, and Trajan's father was a professor of history, he formed his new Terran Republic around an idealized Roman empire.

  This, of course, was doomed to not go well.  After Trajan's death, the Republic became corrupt under the leadership of Ivanolo Bunatri, who claimed the title Caesar for himself.  He created a social class of Overlords, responsible only to the Caesar, to help him govern the realm he now called the Terran Overlord Government.  A small percentage of the Republic's military under Admiral Constantin rejected these changes and went rogue - or Renegade - and made for the Commonwealth, a smaller and less powerful star empire that was more open and egalitarian than the new TOG would ever be.  Thus began the emnity between the TOG and the Renegade Legions and their Commonwealth allies.

  The above is, of course, a drastic simplification.  FASA created a great groundwork for this series of games that, if successful, would probably have become as detailed as Battletech's history and fluff.  As it is, what can be gleaned from the rulebooks and the Legionnaire RPG are enough for a lot of adventures to be told.  Why FASA bothered to come up with such detailed and interesting backgrounds to set their boardgames in is anyone's guess, but it was a good move.  Many a player has gotten emotionally invested in this faction or that due to good fluff, novels and sourcebooks.  Renegade Legion still has some die-hard fans out there on the web, myself included.  I own almost everything produced for the line, and have looked for a reason to run it for years.  Maybe someday soon I will, thanks to this recent campaign concept I came up with.

  My idea focuses on a modified version of the official RenLeg continuity.  Mostly, to scale things down by at least a factor of 10.  The TOG Navy has 150,000 Battleship GROUPS?  That's almost an unfathomable number of vessels, fighters and spacers.  The Legions alone number troops in the billions, which is nearly beyond my ability to wrap my head around.  So, we go with a more compact RenLeg universe, keeping the relative sizes of the powers invovled and scaling them all down.  We then modify the current situation to have the Renegades either newly arrived in Commonwealth space and licking their wounds from the initial defection, or having pulled back after an unsuccessful thrust into Shannedam County.  Either way, the border has been at an uneasy peace for years, not through any loss of hatred on either side, but simply due to the fatigue in both militaries over ongoing hostilities.  I may have to have something else threaten TOG to keep them from using their overwhelming numbers to simply steamroller the Renegades and the Commonwealth, but we'll see.
  Into this stalemate we introduce the players.  The basic take on this campaign could be played like BSG with a fighter squadron on a carrier.  (OOH!  Playing a carrier group escorting civilians out of the TOG during the initial defection would be AMAZING...)  My more focused thoughts, though, are to a resistance group that is disheartened by the unwillingness of the Commonwealth and the Renegades to commit to liberating their world, and hatch a plan to force a confrontation.  They recruit the players, who have some space skills due to being commercial or merchant pilots, or perhaps militia etc. to take the six old TOG fighters they've managed to misappropriate from mothballs and use them to attack and destroy the corvette that is covertly bringing an Overlord to this world on a fact-finding mission prior to renewing hostilities on the border. 

  The PCs must attack and destroy the Cingulum-class Corvette and its two Spiculum escorts before they can reach the small TOG base on the planet, and they attempt to do so by posing as escort - their fighters being the same outdated make deployed around this world.  If they are successful, the death of an Overlord causes the TOG military to suddenly rememeber that small piece of the border and mobilize fleet assets, which causes the Renegades to move to counter with their own and Commonwealth vessels.  In effect, the PCs are the pebbles that start the avalanche, for better or worse.  The actions of a few heroic individuals will set into motion events that will shape the future of the sector.

  This idea came to me whilst we were discussing the primary problem with the RenLeg universe - that it is so damn big, no PC can ever possibly have a lasting effect on the game world.  Even if your PCs manage to destroy a squadron of Battleships and their escorts, there's still apparently 149,999 more at least before the TOG runs out of navy...

  Of course, now that I'm thinking about all of this, the BSG-style ragtag run for the border sounds like a great campaign idea, too.  Maybe a beleaguered old Admiral cut from the cloth of Gloval or Adama (either one) decides that he does n't like Ivanolo Buntari declaring himself Caesar any more than many of his troops do, and declares that he's joining up with Constantine in the Commonwealth.  So his older, battered Battleship group (1 BB, some CAs and Figs and Cans) begins escorting liners, freighters and more filled with citizens that feel the same way- and there's a long road ahead through occupied space as the loyalists try to stop them.

  Damn, I wish I had more time to game.

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