Thursday, October 02, 2008

The High Chaparral as an LoS campaign

Back in April of '07 I posted about an idea I had after reading a book called the Spider's Test. The idea was to have a campaign revolving around settlers in a new land carving a new life out for themselves. I made mention in passing that The High Chaparral television series would make a good template for this type of adventure.

Recently I've had the opportunity to watch the complete series from its first episode onward, and my feeling is stronger than ever that this would make a great campaign for a mature group of players who enjoy a little role playing mixed in with their hacking and slashing.

For those of you who may not familiar with The High Chaparral, here is a quick synopsis clipped from The High Chaparral Homepage:

One of the most successful and highly acclaimed Westerns on television was The High Chaparral, the name of the ranch owned by the Cannon family in the Arizona Territory during the 1870's. Stubborn, determined, 50-year-old John Cannon is the patriarch of the family with ambitions to establish a cattle empire while finding a way to co-exist with the Apaches and the Mexicans just across the border. To help him, he has his younger brother Buck, who can out-drink, out-shoot, out-fight, and when motivated, out-work any man alive. He also has his son, Billy Blue, a young man in his early 20's, whose mother is killed in the first episode. In an arranged marriage intended to keep peace with the neighbors, John then marries an aristocratic Mexican beauty, Victoria Montoya, daughter of Don Sebastian Montoya, a wealthy Sonoran rancher. Her brother, Manolito, accompanies Victoria to the Cannon ranch as her guardian, staying on as a member of the household even after the arranged marriage turns to one of substance and trust.
Created and produced by David Dortort, the genius behind Bonanza, the writing was superb with plenty of action and biting dialog. The series strove for realism...the sweat, the dirt, the heat, the desert...even the Apaches who worked on the set as extras were real. And it explored culture and class conflicts among white Americans, Mexicans, and various Indian tribes at a level not attempted before or since by a television Western.

I started thinking where and how would I fit the premise for The High Chaparral into one of my own games? I settled on an area south of the city of Al-Khalid right at the foot of the Drujistan mountains.

Here is my outline:

An ex-adventurer from Tyros decides to settle down and try his hand at raising cattle. He finds his opportunity in the Southern Kingdom of Al-Khalid. Using the wealth he has managed to save over the years he purchases a large piece of land at the foot of the Drujistan mountains. His intention is to import and raise cattle for sale to the Southern kingdoms. With him are his brother, and his son and daughter.
In addition he brings a dozen or so trusted men and their families, with promises that after 5 years of service he will help establish each on their own plots of land. The settlers travel by ship from Pyrani to Al-Khalid and then drive their cattle to the land at the base of the mountain.

When they get to the land they discover the following:

* The land is beautiful but harsh, there is sufficient water and grazing land but just enough, and it must be managed wisely.

* There are other more established land owners. Amongst them a powerful Nobleman/Merchant whose fortune comes from raising sheep. his stock has been grazing on the land up until now. As stated before he is powerful and has a small army of henchmen at his command.

* There are mountain tribesmen- The Jaga and the Morgal (AKA Apache & Navajo) they are in constant contention with the land owners the city of Al-Khalid and each other.

* Some of the merchants in the city of Al-Khalid would be very happy to see this venture fail since domestic beef would cut into their profits from the imported beef they now supply the city with. they will use their influence to see that the government and the military give as little aid a s possible to these foreigners.

* Toss in your occasional wandering monsters, beastmen, ancient ruins, skirmishes and intrigues and this could really turn into a sweet little campaign.