BW Campaign Idea: The King’s Crown

“Listen. Strange women lying in ponds distributing swords is no basis for a system of government. Supreme executive power derives from a mandate from the masses, not from some farcical aquatic ceremony.”
-Dennis the Peasant, Monty Python and the Holy Grail (but you knew that)

The horrible thing about role-playing games is that, no matter how many you are in or running at a given time, you keep coming up with ideas for more that you also wish you could be running.  If there is something I think is really neat in Burning Wheel, it is campaigns that start with Player Characters in situations they, the characters, not the players, are NOT ready for and let them learn some new skills and dig themselves deeper for a while before they pull themselves out of it.  Add that in with my latest urge which is the idea of running a nation/kingdom building game in Burning Wheel, and my mind goes to something along the lines of a certain sword in a stone.  Still, I am not quite sure if calling this idea Arthurian or not is quite correct, as I think part of the fun of Burning Wheel and nation building in general is choosing the values that you will uphold or sacrifice in the process, which may not align with the classic legends of knights of the round.

This land was once a great kingdom, or so the stories tell.  Bountiful, just, and good, ruled by a wise line of kings and queens who were faithful to the people and the land.  For a time, there was peace.

But such a peace can not last forever.

In a far away place, a great evil came into this world, and Sirus, the Last King, heard the call of Almighty God in his heart, and knew he must set out to right it.

Yet Sirus has no heir,  no siblings, and none to carry his name.  The people despaired, for none knew what they would do without their king.

“I shall return.” He told them “Although you may not know me when I do.”  He removed his crown and handed it to the great priest of the land “My crown shall slip from the head of all who are unworthy.  And you shall know me by my right to wear it.”

With that, he rode off, along with his most trusted companions, never to be seen again in this life.

Ages have passed.  Our once great kingdom now but a shell of its former self.  A few counts and barons honor the old ways, but many are little better than warlords or thieves.  Our Kingdom is no more, and now we fight over its remains…

Now… A young peasant found an old crown in the ruins of an old temple outside their home.  It sits perfectly balanced on their head, refusing to topple from even some violent jostling, but will remain on the head of no other.  Rumors have spread, and those who suffer under the current system welcome the return of Sirus Reborn, while those who benefit under it seek to discredit or find a way to exploit the situation.  You play the young destined ruler and their most trusted mentors and advisors.  Right now your entourage is small and your numbers few, but if you can rally the peasants, and forge alliances, earn fealty, or conquer the neighboring nobles, the kingdom might once again return to the glory days of yore.

PCs and Beliefs

The PCs in this are the young peasant who is being called Sirus Reborn, and their trusted advisors.  In my head, this game would be one player as Sirus and two players playing advisors, if all players would prefer to be equal, the young ruler can easily be an NPC.  While there is only one destined ruler, there is no real limit on the number of advisers, although I suggest that each of them have their own niche (a magic user, a noble, a knight, a merchant, etc).

Sirus Reborn

If you are truly a reincarnation, a worthy successor, or this is all just a big coincidence is a mystery even to you.  What you do know, is that the crown you found can be worn by none other than you, and many say that makes you the rightful ruler of this land.  The gender of this character, and whether that makes them more or less qualified in the eyes of the present culture, are free to be worked out between the player and GM.

  • Make a 2 or 3 Lifepath Character, you may not be born noble or city born
  • Take the bonus Trait “Sirus Reborn?” This trait grants you the ability to wear the crown, and also grants you a 3d reputation which is famous among those sworn to you and the peasantry, infamous among your enemies in the gentry
  • Take the Crown without paying any RP for it, aside from how well it stays on your, and only your, head, you do not know of any magical properties of it.
  • Write your beliefs:
    • Write a belief about your new destiny, do you intend to use your power to make the land a better place, do you seek comfort and power for you and yours, or do you resent this whole business and want it all to go away?
    • Write a belief about a problem this crown has brought you, what do you intend to do about it?
    • Write a belief about a problem from your old life that this rulership business has done nothing to resolve.

The Advisors

Whether you saw something in them before they even found the crown, wish to honor your ancient vows and duties, or merely wish get in on the ground floor of this rightful ruler business, you have pledged yourself to aiding the so-called Sirus Reborn.  You are older, wiser, and more skilled, but you are not the one in charge, guide them so they turn out to be ruler you know they can be.

  • Make an up to 6 lifepath character.  You may not take the Duke, Noble Prince, or Prince of the Blood lifepaths.
  • You should provide something to the party that is unique to your PC (be it magic, noble rank, wealth, business acumen, fighting skill)
  • You MAY take Loyal (to Sirus Reborn) as a bonus trait
  • Write your beliefs
    • Write a belief about the next step the ruler must take to get the country to recognize them as such, how will you help them?
    • Write a belief about another advisor, or if there are no others, write a belief about someone who has ill intent for the young ruler,
    • Write a belief about a personal problem, enemy, or grudge that will come to threaten the entire group by your involvement
    • Loyal (if taken): Write the oath you swore to Sirus Reborn when you pledged yourself to them as your belief.

I have no idea if/when I’ll have time to run a game like this between the other stuff I got going on, but it still might be a good thing to keep in the back pocket.

Current PaDC score: 14/31