Critical Role beat out Matt Colville’s Strongholds and Followers to be the most successful RPG Kickstarter. Looks like it’s time for a rematch.
There comes a time in every D&D campaign’s life where the characters spend a few moments thinking about what it would be like if they settled down and ran a town, or a kingdom, or a thieves’ guild or what have you–usually followed by the DM hastily homebrewing up some rules to try and adjudicate the decision they weren’t necessarily prepared for. Then about two months later the campaign fizzles out because of scheduling issues. Well, really, the campaign fizzled out the session afterwards, it just took time to actually get everyone there to realize that the game was done.
“I can’t play Tuesdays unless it’s a leap year…”
But that need not happen. Colville’s Strongholds & Followers introduced some great rules for developing henchmen and powerbases, and now Kingdoms and Warfare is here to complete it by introducing what Colville calls “Domain Level Play,” where you take on the role not just of your character, but of the domain they command. This is a classic D&D idea, an enduring one that’s been around since Birthright at least, where players inherited power through their divine heritage (because hey let’s take the divine right of kings literally), and is at the heart of one of the most popular Pathfinder Adventure Paths of all time.
Even the latter stages of popular video games that have sprung up as a result, show your character having an impact in the world. Mass Effect 3 and Dragon Age Inquisition both had rules and subsystems for having minions do things–often with an in-game benefit. And with Colville’s Old School sensibilities, you can feel some of the classic ideas getting a new lease on life for 5th Edition. Which is great to see, you’re not really losing that much of the streamlined, accessible, fun-to-play system we all know and love. This content sort of slots right on top.
Of course you’re getting more than just that. I mean this is a roleplaying Kickstarter in 2019–there’s gotta be minis in it. And indeed there are. Spades of new minis that range from new lower-level foes to epic new encounters with beings of divine power that look straight out of a soulsborne game. Let’s take a look at the Kickstarter.
Kingdoms and Warfare introduces Domain-level play to your game, allowing players to become Regents running a Kingdom, Duchy, or Barony! Or a Church! A Thieves’ Guild! A Bard’s College! Whichever you choose, it’s your Domain. Your domain can take actions, raise armies, conduct espionage, and wage war!
Different kinds of Domains have access to different actions. A Thieves’ Guild is quite good at espionage, not so good at raising armies. So you may need allies! Because you will certainly have enemies!
Characters are still adventurers! But now the stakes are higher. Now the dragon threatens your people! And the dungeon contains the power you need to stop your enemies’ schemes! While you’re away; your Lieutenant runs your domain (by your command) allowing you to continue adventuring as normal. Or as normal as anything is in this game.
These new rules are broken down into three broad categories:
- Kingdoms – These are territories that you control and give you access to special domain actions that involve interacting with and leading the people living on that territory
- Organizations – These are groups of people, knightly orders, thieves’ guilds and so on that let you impact the game with a network of followers
- Titles – These are special accolades for your adventurer that can grant you extra abilities. If you’ve been watching The Chain, Colville’s livestream, you’ve seen a version of these rules in action
And then there’s the Warfare aspect of it:
Expanded rules for Warfare allowing faster, more balanced battles, more and different kinds of units. Pikemen who thwart Cavalry charges! Sappers who undermine fortifications! And more and better rules for Battle Magic; spells that affect units and the entire battlefield.
New Maneuvers allow characters to directly command their units, executing daring ploys that can change the course of war!
New rules for the Tide of Battle create a connection between the Encounter your characters are fighting and the Battle your units are waging. Doing well in the Encounter gives your army a boost! Doing well in Battle gives your characters an advantage! Of course, doing poorly has similarly predictable results….
New rules for using PCs and monsters as units, as well as more advice for building an army and waging war. The rules for Warfare in Strongholds & Followers are only the beginning of a more robust system.
Finally, you’ll get new monsters (with accompanying minis). Here are three, starting with the Ultralich, the King Below:
Also the new Prince of Dis:
And the massive leader of demons: