Warning — there are lots of links in this post.

Are you familiar with the DotA (Defense of the Ancients) phenomenon? Well, I tried to figure out how to get the excitement and strategy of DotA at the game table.

Like a gazillion years ago, I wrote about “location types” — Home, Center, Corner, Rank, and File — in a post appropriately titled, “Home, Center, Corner, Rank, and File.” I like how DotA migrates “base defense” into the popular culture.

Link: “Home, Center, Corner, Rank, and File” (Mar 9, 2012)

Using PC strongholds to encourage the use and proliferation of player factions and affiliations in the game — particularly around the Paragon tier or so — ties right into this base defense thing. (Thanks for strongholds Labyrinth Lord!)

The hapless mooks who swarm up the lanes to assault the enemy base? Why, they’re none other than the followers PCs can recruit to help pad out the party starting from 1st level! (Thank-you 4e for combat roles and minion rules!)

There was a 3e supplement, Heroes of Battle, that got me thinking about flowcharts and victory points for running non-linear adventures and assessing success, and the Miniatures Handbook got me thinking about skirmishes.

I think the combination of elements — strongholds, followers, PC affiliations, skirmishes, control points — would make the whole thing not only possible, by which I mean manageable, but dare I say fun? And also possible. But fun.

More than once I’ve had my players approach me about training NPC recruits to defend a location, but I think that sort of thing is better delegated to their various affiliations — freeing up the players to burn towers and raid enemy bases.

Er, and of course I have the 3e Player’s Handbook 2 to thank for ideas about streamlining and incorporating affiliations into the game. The Faction system I’m developing will be simpler than Affiliations, but there are good ideas here.

All of this stuff? This is going into the system I’m working on. And if everything works out (it will), building player factions will be as easy as building player characters… which will itself be easier because everything will be easier.