Sparking a rebellion

Sparking a rebellion

Sparking a rebellion

Just had a very interesting session. The players have picked up a follower – the outlaw princess of the Kingdom, intent on reclaiming the throne and take her revenge on the evil advisor who has the king in his thrall.

Sparked by this, and the general shitty conditions of the common people in the border town they’re currently in, the characters want to start a full out rebellion.

Any ideas how we can facilitate this in play? A custom move? Some sort of countdown clock to represent the population’s willingness to rebell? Two opposing clocks perhaps – one for the rebellion and one for the ruling powers to squash the will to fight?

12 thoughts on “Sparking a rebellion”

  1. Just in your head, plot out the factors needed to get a revolution going, and guide the players to those points to fulfill – usually with some kind of complication or cost.

    Also remember that there should be 2 sides to the conflict. The Tyrant might have harsh punishments for even mild offences, and taxes are high, and all these other things. But he also keeps the dragons and the Hydras at bay, so people’s lives are actually far better off with him then without (you can’t expect a peasant who has probably never left his village to understand the whole picture).

    Here are some questions to ask yourself out of game:

    What is one good thing the powers that be provide for the population (even if they don’t realize it)?

    What is one bad thing the revolutionaries support?

    What are things that would be needed for the revolution to be considered a success?

    What means are the revolutionaries willing to employ to get them?

    What outside factions are involved with the conflict?

    What is one problem that remains despite the success of the revolutionaries?

  2. Asbjørn H Flø Yep, and while the revolutionaries are causing this whole mess, the Black Goblins get to run rampant because the king has to pull troops away to fight the rebels. Seeding resentment against the revolution for screwing them over.

  3. I’d probably write up the evil adviser, the Black Goblins, and even the outlaw princess as dangers/threats, each with their own grim portents & impending dooms (and stakes/cast/moves as appropriate). I’d probably use the threat types & guidelines here rather than the ones in the core book.

    As for trying to start a full blown rebellion… I’d use something like the Ritual move to sketch it out for them and yourself. Not because it’s a magical ritual, but because that move gives you a great way to communicate the things that are required in order to accomplish something. Here, Johnstone said it better than me: – Designing Quests

    So, then… you pick your “top level” requirements for starting a full-blown rebellion and you present those to the players with little check boxes next to them. Best if you give them a couple “OR” options, because that gives them choices. And then when they’re like “well, how do we marshal an army of our own?” (one of my hypothetical requirements) you give that a set of requirements, with check boxes, and ask them what they do.

    And meanwhile, of course, your threats/dangers are doing their own things, advancing their grim portents, and making the PCs react to that as well. And between each session, you’ll be re-evaluating these requirements and the grim portents/impending dooms, adding new threats/dangers/dooms, etc.

  4. I can only concur with Jeremy 🙂

    His mash of AW threats and DW dangers is spot on – you can be as detailed or brief as you’d like.

    I’d only add that its wonderfully tense when you add in to the mix folks or things that the players care about…

    So maybe the Cleric’s God grants them a vision that compels them to put down the rebellion, or that the Rebellion goes against the Paladin’s precepts. Perhaps the halfling character’s kid/partner/lover has been sacrificed or that the Black Goblins are pressuring them to join.

    Even better still, have the agents of the evil adviser offer the neutral / chaotic / evil player(s) something they desperately want or need in return for handing over the princess.

  5. I guess this question also ties in with another question I’ve been pondering. How do you run city adventures effectively? We have a lot of stuff going on in this town, and I’m struggling to find a good way to manage scenes with all the threats and story threads going on at the same time. I think I managed to check off quite a few grim portents last night, but it’s a struggle to keep an eye on all the moving parts!

  6. I like the responses here so far, and what you’ve done with them.

    I’d also consider a Compendium Class, for “When you have led a populist revolution” – something that lets PCs make moves related to the revolution: recruiting hirelings, pooling resources, espionage, sabotage, diplomacy with common enemies, etc.

    Just make sure the CC moves could be relevant once the revolution ends, whether in the PCs’ favor, or against. And, of course, assuming they survive.

  7. Oh, that’s a great idea Andrew Fish! We have a couple of players who are really into the social aspects of the game. They’ve been putting of going into the wilderness and stopping the mad wizard-linguist from unlocking the words of power and releasing the imprisoned Ur-powers from beyond this world, just because they’re so in love with the idea of leading a revolution.

  8. That move for the success of the revolution is WAY to much for a single roll. Instead you should have it they get hold every time they complete something that benefits the revolution. Then they roll to see if it actually helped a lot, or was a waste of time in the grand scheme of things. Once they get enough hold, they can claim victory and demand capitulation.

    But obviously you can use that hold against them, and the bad guys will be pushing back, and any failures will reduce hold. If they strike out with 0 hold, the revolution is crushed, and the princess is killed or forced to renounce her claim.

    Also revolutions are never not bloody. There has never been a successful revolution where there weren’t immediately mass purging of opponents. Purging and expunging is a requirement for a revolution to be successful.

  9. I agreePatrick Schenk about the your sentiment about revolution in general, but the wording is “no more blood is shed than necessary”. Perhaps revolution is to strong a word. This is a small town of about 1000 people, far from the central powers.

    The move was intended to only cower the actual coup of power in this town, after they’ve met the requirements and made a plan for starting the revolution. The time frame would also vary according to the results.

    Settling of debts, purging of opponents and general unpleasantness will both precede and follow, covered by achieving the requirements, existing Dangers and probably new ones we’ll discover in play.

    I’ll ponder possible mechanics some more. Your hold option is something I’m considering, maybe modelled on the big showdown battle in Plundergrounds: Kazarak.

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