AGON for a Classical Greek Campaign?

edited February 2010 in Story Games
I'm looking for a good system that will handle the political back-and-forth of the Athenians during the Age of Pericles. I'm thinking AGON was made for just such a thing. I've read it but I've not actually sat in on a session of it. Would it be a good fit, you think?

Thanks!

Scott

Comments

  • The Age of Pericles is rather short on heroic destinies and fighting monsters. I mean, there's some military maneuvering, and a few massacres, but I think you'd be better off using a game that has a strong social conflict system.

    Perhaps Reign, with it's companies. Burning Wheel has Duel of Wits, but you'd have to scrap the whole character creation system. Covenant, even?

    What do you want PCs to do in the Age of Pericles?
  • You could also check the Church Politics thread, where there are a bunch of suggestions for social-political games.
  • The idea (and it's an idea still very much in its infancy) is to have something of a simulation of life in that particular era: characters are young Athenian citizens out to make their mark on the world, to earn reputation, glory, wealth, what have you, while adhering to the societal needs of that period. I'm using Mary Renault's The Praise Singer as a template, so the game wouldn't unfold with uber-violent 300-style shenanigans. Some scenarios might involve serving as part of an embassy to neighboring states, conducting espionage or investigations in advance of law proceedings, social climbing and carousing, dealing with problems and intrigues that might arise as part of discharging ones societal duties (such as sponsoring a theatrical production or a warship -- they could get scrappy and cut-throat about such things). As characters grow in reputation, they'd have to fend off attempts by their rivals to have them ostracized and so forth.

    I like the attributes and the simplicity of AGON; the former seems to cover every possiblity (though I'd change all the ability headings to their Greek versions, and under "Craft" I'd switch "Music" to "Perform" to cover a character's poetic or theatrical bent). But, you're right that it seems more Homeric -- it's-all-about-me! -- than Classical -- it's-all-about-my-family!

    I'm tempted to hack the old Flashing Blades! rules . . .
  • I feel like you could hack it to make it work - think about restating monsters as events that need to be dealt with or something like that?

    Certainly the competition for glory and fate mechanics seem like they'd made easily onto the later period, just toning down the supernatural elements of it a bit.
  • Mike has a point, actually. You could re-skin monsters, so that PCs are instead competing at diplomacy, or researching slander for a trial, or writing plays.

    And a good fate is when you die before the war and the plague, yeah?


    I'm not familiar with The Praise Singer, so I can't suggest anything in that direction.
  • For a slightly more supernatural take on the era, you might like to look at Gene Wolfe's Soldier of the MIst.. Personally, I'd use BW or HeroQuest.
  • Posted By: JohnstoneMike has a point, actually. You could re-skin monsters, so that PCs are instead competing at diplomacy, or researching slander for a trial, or writing plays.

    And a good fate is when you die before the war and the plague, yeah?
    That's what I was getting at, although I didn't articulate it well.

    I think good fates can be better than that - being remembered is probably the big thing. Will you be immortalized in history alongside Pericles and Socrates or just be one of the people who got killed in a forgotten battle?
  • Sea Dracula would certainly provide a good mechanism for re-enacting the trial of Socrates.
  • Yeah, this will work.

    Beware the weakness of Agon, though!

    Once you start a battle, the system doesn't care as much about what you're doing in the fiction. It's really easy to start saying, "9. I hit... wound 3? Ok." You have to not do that, and the mechanics won't force you out of it. So beware.
  • Thanks for the input, guys! Luckily, the Age of Pericles wasn't quite as docile as it would appear at first glance. Everything from an earthquake that caused untold suffering at Sparta -- and sparked the helot uprising called the Messenian War -- to battles on the Boeotian frontier and the first Peloponnesian War . . . there will be plenty of opportunity for characters to distinguish themselves on the political stage, even in the long shadows cast by Pericles, Cimon, and Ephialtes.

    I like AGON's Glory, Fate, and Divine Favor mechanics. And I'm with Mike on the functions of Fate and Glory in this setting: it will mean the difference between an obscure funeral and immortality. Divine favor might be the touch of a god, or it might just be that inexplicable luck those on the upwardly mobile path seem to possess (or to create).

    Other alterations I'm thinking about include dropping starting character's name die to d4, or d6 if they belong to one of the old aristocratic families; names themselves will follow the Classical model of name + lineage + deme, and perhaps the choice of demes can substitute for heroic traits (this will depend on how much I can glean from the nature of the various demes [regional divisions, townships and villages]). Right now, I'm going to focus solely on Athens and its territory; indeed, I've taken to calling this mod ATTIKA.

    Now, to look into re-skinning monsters . . .
  • Once you start a battle, the system doesn't care as much about what you're doing in the fiction. It's really easy to start saying, "9. I hit... wound 3? Ok." You have to not do that, and the mechanics won't force you out of it. So beware.

    Thanks for the head's up, John! Isn't this a drawback of quite a few games, though? Combat devolves into mere book-keeping. But, I get what you're saying. Rote rolling and box checking isn't part of Homeric or Classical hoplite warfare, just as I'm sure it has no place in the back-stabbing world of Greek politics :) I'll have to make sure my players are in the proper mindset.

    Thanks for writing an awesome game, too!
  • Yep, lots of games have that problem. It's not very hard to design the game so that problem goes away, though (I just didn't understand that back when I made Agon).

    I'm tinkering around with a tweak to the battle rules to make the fictional actions more concrete and important. I'll post something if it comes together.
  • edited February 2010
    I would want to re-skin glory too. Perhaps to political influence, or something like that. I haven't read or played Agon for a while so I'm not sure if weirdness would result from that particular re-skinning, but glory isn't as big a deal in the Classical period as the ability for aristocrats to influence the demos. I'm not sure what I'd do with the name dice.
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