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The TTRPG Revival of PC Bases, Strongholds, and Communities

Aldarc

Legend
One thing that I have been noticing in a fair number of TTRPGs over the past decade has been an increased attention to giving PCs a base, stronghold, or community that, in some respects, acts as a shared point of interest for the party. In many cases, these bases/strongholds/communities can be upgraded as part of play. So there are incentives for sticking around, forming attachments with the community or area, and investing character play into a region. I'm a massive fan of this style of play, and it shows up in a lot of games that I like. While strongholds and the like were part of TSR D&D play and are nothing new in the grand scheme of things, strongholds and the like were often (a) considered part of the "late game" for these older editions, but also (b) largely abandoned as a core part of play in WotC era D&D. So there does seem to be a growing revival in using bases, settlements, and strongholds as core parts of TTRPG play that offer both a means of PC party progression that also serves as a focal point of play in the fiction.

* Beyond the Wall and Other Adventures (2013): a B/X OSR game where the players and GM build and populate the village as part of character creation.

* Blades in the Dark (2017): The PCs choose a playbook for their crew based on what sort of operations they want to expand their lair, turf, or ability to conduct crime.

* Stonetop (2022): the iron-age village of Stonetop gets its own playbook. The village can be upgraded through time and the efforts of the PCs.

* Vaesen (2020): the characters are members of a once defunct supernatural investigation Society who are handed the keys to the society's headquarters.

* Numenera Destiny (2018): as part of "Numenera 2," the game was updated with rules about upgrading communities and settlements through the various numenera players can find and build.

I am sure there are plenty of more and I certainly welcome hearing about them. But what might have triggered this renewed interest in having bases, communities, and strongholds be a part of play?
 
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TwiceBorn2

Explorer
Other settings where/strongholds bases are integrated into play from the beginning:

* Ars Magica (1st ed - 1987): Player characters typically alternate between the role of a magus (plural magi; female maga/magae), and a companion (Consors). Companions are select skilled non-magi who help wizards conduct their affairs (as magi tend to be distanced from "mundanes" due to the effects of their magical "Gift"). The wizards generally gather in specialized strongholds called covenants, which are often built in places of power. A covenant is typically a 'home base' where the magi are in charge (though they may travel Mythic Europe for reasons of politics, resources, study or even leisure). Some consider the covenant to be the central character of the game,[11] and the official rules encourage troupes to develop the covenant along those lines.

* AD&D 2e Birthright campaign setting (1995): The setting revolves around the concept of bloodlines: divine power gained by heroes and passed to their descendants. Characters with a bloodline create an aura of command known as Regency, which is measured in the game using regency points or RP. Using regency, characters acquire a domain composed of provinces and holdings. The development of these domains is as much a part of the game as development of the characters. The game uses three-month domain turns to model actions of rulers over nations in much the same way as Dungeons & Dragons uses combat rounds to simulate time to model the characters' actions in battle.

* Mutant Year Zero (2015): has two major game environments, each with its own style of play...

The Ark, your home in the dawnworld. A nest of intrigue and Lord of the Flies-style power struggles, it’s far from a safe haven. But it’s the only home you know, and just maybe the cradle of a new civilization. The game rules let you improve and develop the Ark in the areas of Warfare, Food Supply, Technology, and Culture. It is up to you, the players, to decide which projects to embark on.

The Zone, wastelands outside the Ark. You will venture into the Zone in search of food, artifacts, other mutants, and knowledge – not least about The People’s own origin. Where in the world the Zone and the Ark are located is up to you – why not play in a post-apocalyptic version of your own home town? The modular approach of this game lets you place all of the campaign material wherever you like.
 


doctorbadwolf

Heretic of The Seventh Circle
The game I’m building, Quest For Chevar, has Contacts, and every PC has a home and occupation, right out of the gate. Many Archetypes gain a Sanctum of some type as their main trait, and keeping and developing relationships is a big part of the game.
 





overgeeked

B/X Known World
I am sure there are plenty of more and I certainly welcome hearing about them. But what might have triggered this renewed interest in having bases, communities, and strongholds be a part of play?
My guess is a desire for more immersion and for the game to change as you advance. Instead of just slaughtering monsters ad infinitum, players want to steep themselves more in their worlds and become more invested and immersed by living more in the worlds they're playing in.
 



GreyLord

Legend
Don't forget Paizo's Pathfinder: Kingmaker AP path (and eventually, hardback AP release with rules adaptations for Pathfinder 1e and D&D 5e if I understand it right).
 


Aldarc

Legend
Matt Coleville's Strongholds & Followers for 5E was a 2 Million dollar Kickstarter. It is rooted in the old school AD&D concepts, but allows for strongholds to come into the campaign at lower levels.
It's definitely a supplement that I had in mind when creating this thread. S&F was a highly successful kickstarter, but I wasn't sure whether or not to include it since it's a 3pp that doesn't necessarily reflect the core game experience of 5e D&D.

I think that WotC, in general, doesn't really see PC strongholds and bases as an integral part of 5e D&D's gameplay. So that has resulted in 3pp like Matt Colville or @Morrus having to pick up the pieces.

My guess is a desire for more immersion and for the game to change as you advance. Instead of just slaughtering monsters ad infinitum, players want to steep themselves more in their worlds and become more invested and immersed by living more in the worlds they're playing in.
That's a good bet, though I definitely am biased as I possess a similar sentiment. I do know that in the case of Stonetop that the author was intentionally writing and defining their hearth fantasy game, in part, as being an "anti-murder hobo" work. And murdering your way through the countryside won't necessarily solve the problem of a famine or plague in the village.

But it's also, IMHO, not just an anti-murder hobo trend but also an anti-setting tourism one, which I believe you also allude to. What's one way to prevent your PCs from being turned into tourists for the game master's world? You make the tourists into residents of a village/city, community, or headquarters who have all invested personal interests in that place. It also keeps the locations (generally but not always) smaller scale, and I also am growing to like smaller scale settings (e.g., OSE's Dolmenwood).

Forbidden Lands does promote the use of a Stronghold with things to improve, their cost and a list of resources. There's also tables to roll on while the PCs are away.
Yep. It's a game that really wants to support this old school play where strongholds were part of the mid to late game.

I don't know what triggered it but I'm all for it! :)
Same. It would also be a great addition for West Marches style games.
 

But it's also, IMHO, not just an anti-murder hobo trend but also an anti-setting tourism one, which I believe you also allude to. What's one way to prevent your PCs from being turned into tourists for the game master's world? You make the tourists into residents of a village/city, community, or headquarters who have all invested personal interests in that place.
That's a good observation.

Beam Saber, which is Forged in the Dark, has a home base for a military unit that you buy upgrades for, a bit of a step up from the criminal lair in Blades in the Dark.

One variation on the theme is the travelling base - often some kind of ship.
I must go down to the seas again, to the lonely sea and the sky
And all I ask is a tall ship and a star to steer her by
Scum and Villainy has a Firefly-esque or Cowboy Bebop-esque ship that the crew shares, but even going back to the early days of roleplaying, Traveller and the various Star Trek and Star Wars games have all had a PC home ship by default. Warbirds has all the PCs flying fighters from a single carrier airship...
 

MGibster

Legend
One of the few things I liked about the Rogue Trader RPG was that every character has a stake in how well the the ship does. For those of you unfamiliar with the game, it's set in the Warhammer 40k universe and you're crewmembers aboard a rogue trader, a ship captained by an individual with a mandate to explore and trade (even with aliens) outside of the normal laws of the Imperium of Man. When the missions are successful, it isn't just the captain who reaps the rewards it's all the PCs. They all have an incentive to improve the ship.
 

One of the few things I liked about the Rogue Trader RPG was that every character has a stake in how well the the ship does. For those of you unfamiliar with the game, it's set in the Warhammer 40k universe and you're crewmembers aboard a rogue trader, a ship captained by an individual with a mandate to explore and trade (even with aliens) outside of the normal laws of the Imperium of Man. When the missions are successful, it isn't just the captain who reaps the rewards it's all the PCs. They all have an incentive to improve the ship.
Does it do the Scum and Villainy thing where some of the upgrades to the ship give buffs to all PCs?
 

I don't know what triggered it but I'm all for it! :)
The Fallout series (Video) has steadily moved into the player base concept, with both Fallout 4 and especially Fallout 76 putting considerable emphasis upon it. Speaking of which, I need to remember to craft and display my new beer stein in 76....
 

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