Birthright and Hyboria posts got me thinking about this old head-scratcher of mine: how can you extend domain-level play in classic D&D such a way to meet the promise of a satisfying “endgame”?
Or rather how can we not make it an endgame; not a dullish semi-retirement wind-down but a more vibrant game play area that can draw players in much earlier in the campaign arc—and lock in their interest at the higher levels.
For sure, discussions about enhancing domain-level play have seemed awfully a lot like that old jokey cliché about the weather: we all talk about it, but nobody does anything to change it.
Well Ok, that's not totally true, a few retro-clones have done some nice work streamlining mass combat and stronghold construction rules. But I've yet to see an effort that goes beyond the high water marks of attempts to this in D&D: Birthright and Mentzer's Companion set.
In ruling domains we've seen everything from very abstract domain management (Birthright) with it's somewhat rigid computer game-like domain turn actions to the highly granular world of Tony Bath's Hyboria where the resources of a hex are spelled out in exacting detail (and play paradoxically more free-wheeling).
War has gotten a gamut of campaign treatment: miniature rules, abstract mass combat rules, cardboard wargames, even card games.
Are we doomed to just re-hash these efforts? What features would you like to see that you haven't seen before—or haven't seen implemented in a way that is both workable and fun in your campaign world? How can we make it work better with the standard game play of older editions of D&D?
Is it even possible to out-flank the computer-strategy games that seem to have a lock on this kind of play? What could a table-top game do that these games can't?