The Birth of a New Campaign

Posted by Labyrinthian in ,

As Gamemaster's we never quite know when we still stumble across a small spark that will ignite a blaze of passion and form a campaign.  The spark can be any number of things; a book, a film, a comic, or any number of other things.

My most recent spark came while I was wandering the Connecticut Renaissance Faire and came across a small camp.  The camp itself was roped off providing a single entrance.  Next to that entrance was a sign that read:

Now one of my good friends that I game with (AngryBear) loves all things German and is currently majoring in German in college.  He had planned to go with me to the Fair, but unfortunately had to work.  Wanting to show him what he was missing I sent him the picture above.  Then I wandered into the camp, curious to know more.

The Geld preparing a midday meal
Though this was only the second Renaissance Fair I have been to, but this was the single greatest thing I saw at either one. The camp was a miniature version, of course, but they had sleeping tents set up, a cook fire, a weapons rack on display, and a bunch of friendly soldiers and camp follower to answer any questions you might have.  One such gentlemen came over to ask me and my wife if we had any questions.  He may have regretted that decision later as I kept him around bombarding him with all manner of questions long after my wife had rolled her eyes and walked away.  This gentlemen, and the other members of the troupe, were a wealth of great information.  He took me over to the weapon rack and showed me all of the most common instruments of war used by the company.  I got to hold most of them and even give a couple of them a swing.  Once I was out of question the I thanked the man and took one more last look around the camp before going to find my wife, but on the way out the man stopped to let me know they were performing an arms demonstration at 3pm on the green. 

We got back in time for the demonstration which was a real blast.  These guys were very funny, passionate about the subject matter, and just a blast to watch.  Here is a short video of them doing their thing.

As we were leaving the demonstration my wife was apparently asking me some pointed questions about lunch but I didn't hear her.  The cogs were already in motion. 

Everything I had learned at that camp and at the demonstration had me convinced that a D&D game in which the PCs were part of a mercenary company would be awesome.  With a ton of historical info to draw from, as well as a number of fictional sources like The White Company and The Black Company, there are endless possibilities.   

When I got home I got started on the campaign right away.  The Mercenary company I had just learned about was a Fähnlein, so I started there.   From there I moved onto Italian mercenary companies from the late middle ages through the renaissance.  I'm still in the process of getting my hands of some books to mine for material such as Condottiere 1300-1500 Infamous Medieval Mercenaries and Medieval Solder

With a solid foundation of the subject matter, I turned my attention to my fictional company.  I made some quick decisions based on the research as far as size; 400-500 fighting men with about 600 camp followers for a total size of roughly 1,000 men women and children.   The man who led the reenactment company said that he was the younger brother of a Baron and that is how he had the funds to muster and pay for his company.  That worked perfectly for me.  So my first NPC, the leader of the company, was the younger brother of a Baron.  I decided he was the middle son of three, and through he got on very well with his younger brother, he generally disliked his older brother.  So when his father died and his older brother became Baron our Mercenary Captain took his inheritance, mustered his very own mercenary company.  I settled on the name Eldon Ventris for him, a name that speaks to his adventurous spirit.  Eldon is somewhat cold and cutthroat, but in many ways he is what the life of a mercenary has made him.  Gold is what keeps his company alive and together, so when it runs out the Company's time has run out.  His greatest goal is to see that that never happens. 

Some art I created for the campaign using Terragen and Photoshop.
I had ideas for some other NPCs, a grissled old veteran sergeant who serves as Eldon's second in command, a weary old healer who serves as the company's medic, etc.  But first I wanted to find a name for the company itself.  A lot of great names for a mercenary company have already been taken; The White Company, The Black Company, The Brave Companions, The Great Company, and a host of others.  I wanted something that spoke to Eldon's feeling that he and his men aren't the favored sons of their fathers, and are in some way outcasts.  So I settled on the name "The Black Sons."

That was about all I finished that night, but by fanning the flame immedielty I made sure that the spark that was my visit to the Das Geld Fahnlein wasn't wasted.  Instead, it is well on its way to being the foundation of a very solid campaign.  If you are lucky enough to come across your own spark, don't wait.  Get right into it or you may loose your inspiration before it comes to fruition. 

This entry was posted on Saturday, November 06, 2010 at Saturday, November 06, 2010 and is filed under , . You can follow any responses to this entry through the comments feed .


As the Hauptmann of das Geld Fähnlein, I'm glad we were able to inspire you. I'm also a GM myself, so I can appreciate the idea of a 'spark'. Keep us informed on how it goes, and thanks for your kind words about our hard work!

Freiherr Gustav von Reischach, Hauptmann von das Geld Fähnlein
(aka, Stephen)

November 10, 2010 at 9:28 PM

Thanks for dropping by Stephan! You guys do some amazing work and were full of excellent information. More information on the campaign will no doubt be seen on this site in the future.

Thank again for all your work!

November 15, 2010 at 1:26 PM

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