member, 785 posts
 Game Archaeologist
Thu 30 Mar 2017
at 17:55
Domain Level Games
Has anyone ever played or ran a domain level game here?
How did it work?

Like Pendragon' Lordly Domains as an example of what I mean.

How hard is it to hold interest? What needs to happen to keep interest?

For those that have done it, what worked? what didn't?

I have tried two here and think there needs to be another way I just haven't thought of.
Togashi Kenshin
 member, 8 posts
Thu 30 Mar 2017
at 18:15
Domain Level Games
If you mean games where the PCs control a nation, city or other polity then yes there have been some in the past. The god games are also a variation of this theme and I saw one being advertised only a couple of months ago. From what I can observe, the greatest problems tend to be GM burnout and breakaway PCs which are problems many gamers are familiar with but are exacerbated by the format.

You see for the GM they basically have to keep track of statistics for the whole world map. What every kingdom is doing, what kind of policies they are enacting, troop movements, finances, relations, etc. Even if only PC nations are around, the amount of bookkeeping is horrendous. This might be fun for the PCs but for the GM it is a lot of number crunching and that is not necessarily fun.

The breakaway PC is someone who by luck or skill has arrived at a commanding position and the game now becomes less the Great Game of Thrones and more Talk Softly and Walk with A Big Stick. If the PC is of the mind to conquer other nations then the only thing the others can do is to band together to stop him. In any case you are going to be short one or more player nations soon. If a plurality or worse a majority of PCs form a coalition then you will be basically running a World War campaign sooner or later. Either that or everyone joins the coalition and you have to invent some sort of threat so that it is not just turn after turn of just seeing numbers get bigger.

I am contemplating of running a D&D campaign with kingdom building elements but I am seriously weighing how much of the campaign will focus on it.
 member, 745 posts
Thu 30 Mar 2017
at 21:54
Domain Level Games
I think you have two really good points there, TK. Provided you catch it early enough, you can perhaps do something to prevent PC breakaway (though if your intervention is obvious, you could lose the player).

However, there is no real way around GM burnout apart from finding (or devising) a set of rules that allows players (and GMs) to manage domain games realistically with minimal effort. If anyone finds such a rule set, please let me know!

The problem, of course, is that running a nation is complex, and any ruleset that represents it with any veracity is also going to be complex. And, as you say, the GM has to run every nation on the map.

Because of the complexity, and the typical length of domain campaigns, you also need to find some very special players - people who are prepared to spend years in a single game, people who are comfortable with mathematics, people for whom managing their own domain is more important than painting the map, for whom playing is more important than winning.

There is usually far too much effort involved, for players and GM. There are easier ways to get your gaming kicks. That is what you need to overcome to make a domain game work.

Unfortunately, it's like saying all you need to explore the universe is a decent faster-than-light drive. The solution is obvious. Creating that solution is pretty much impossible. :(
C-h Freese
 member, 259 posts
 Survive - Love - Live
Thu 30 Mar 2017
at 21:58
Domain Level Games
"political science" wargaming, I think at one point worked with computer spread sheets, much like the Military.