Today I had a chance to help out an old friend online, and took it. Which got me to thinking about the first time I met him. We are talking 1975(?), and my father and stepmom had just bought a new house. And our new neighbors had a welcome party at their house. And they introduced their son, who was a year younger than me, and like many parents when kids meet encouraged him to show me his room and toys.
His first statement was “I get to be Jim West!” and took off to his room.
Just to clarify he was talking about Jim West from the TV series Wild Wild West. And yes we immediately got to playing with action figures. Which was the beginning of a great friendship that lasted until we moved out of that house (obviously we eventually got back together.) And when I recall the things that we had fun with there were 2 primary scenarios. Either something involving Wild West, or Star Trek.
Now I don’t exactly know why westerns died as a genre in films. I mean occasionally a good one will come along, but for the most part the heyday of Westerns passed a while ago. And there are many things I feel I have done right as a geek parent, but inspiring an interest in and love of westerns just isn’t one, the kids just cannot be bothered, which is sad for me, because clearly westerns were a big deal to me.
About now you are probably wondering this has to do with role playing and D&D. Well let me tell you. Because of this lack of interest I could not get the boys to play in a Deadlands game (one of my favorites.) But as it might be getting clear I have decided to bring the feeling of the Frontier to my game.
The boys characters are basically the second or third generation of settlers on a Frontier of a Kingdom. The home town is moderately sized, and is the heart of a growing farming area. But this is an area that has not seen any human settlements until their parents or grandparents arrived. While the warlike natives were slaughtered (Orks and Goblins, so a little ‘genocide’ is ‘acceptable’.) There are still other, less warlike or territorial natives to the area. Natives who the party will have to deal with, decide if they will treat them well, or fight them.
As this is a Fantasy campaign I need to come up with some twists. There will be some variation of a Gold Rush at some point. Some raids by these Natives who do not appreciate their land getting fenced off. And I will mix in some more traditional elements: exploring ruins, dungeon complexes etc. And fighting off the wandering monster that is threatening some farmers.
One of the things I have noticed in my recent reading of the Wheel of Time is that the world is largely empty. That there are large swaths of territory that are unpopulated. And I think that incorporating a little of that in this campaign will also be nice. The idea that there are large areas where the group can go where there are no settlements at all.
My goal being to have the group really exploring the ‘unknown’, deal with strange races and tribes, explore abandoned areas from dead civilizations. And in between patrol the edges of the known lands, to keep some dangers in those lands from threatening the settlers.
Because when you think about it, the ‘monsters’ of a fantasy world would avoid settled areas, if for no other reason than simple preservation. Large groups of organized Fantasy adventurers would easily wipe out most any monster in a more settled land. But that would not be the case on the frontier, where there are fewer people, and more places for the monsters to roam and hide.
I am pretty excited by all this, looking forward to lots of potential hooks, and many different adventures. And most importantly a sense of variety and novelty for the players.