The New World. An exotic new continent! As the powers of the Old World quarrel amongst themselves for newfound lands and wealth, ambitious adventurers brave the New World in search of fortune and riches. Lots of monster-infested wilderness to clear, trading and warring with both natives and other colonies, and maybe even ancient ruins to plunder!
The Crusader Kingdoms. Deus vult! Religious firebrands whip the people into a frenzy, mustering ragtag armies united by faith who cross halfway around the known world, to “liberate” holy sites and sacred artifacts from “heathens” (who, in a fantasy game, may actually be demon-worshipping sorcerers!). With the infidels laid low, the victors divide the conquered lands amongst themselves, and the domain-level game begins…
The Great Game. Two empires vying for influence over an ancient, harsh, untamed but strategically important country. PCs work for either side, or both, or just try to steer clear of this shadow war as they strike out to make their fortune in a land of crisis and opportunity.
My upcoming hexcrawl is “New World” inspired. The party is sponsored by a nation to explore the land around their new colony and help protect it, with land titles as reward for their service. The new continent has ruins of an ancient civilization previously unknown and a few “barbaric” civilizations that require diplomacy or war to deal with. Not to mention potential problems with other nations and/or their own colonies. Should be fun.
All of those sound amazing! If I had to pick one, I'd go with Crusader Kingdoms, because of my love for R. Scott Bakker's Prince of Nothing series and the whole First Crusade era.
My Crusader Kingdoms of the Unholy Lands campaign takes place in a First Crusade inspired setting, with the heathens being Chaotic demon-worshipers. One of my wife’s PC’s henchmen has “Deus Vult” tattooed on his knuckles.
I believe Beedo of Dreams in the Lich House is running a Viking-style ACKS campaign, where the players sign on to longship crews, explore fog-shrouded islands in the fjords, raid nearby settlements, and will eventually ascend to captaincy and thanehood.
I do really like the New World idea, though - I’ve been planning something along those lines for a looong time, but haven’t gotten around to running it yet.
What, no Great Game love? I was thinking of the 19th-Century kerfuffle between Russia and the British Empire for control of Afghanistan. And, of course, of The Man Who Would Be King (never read it, but watched the movie as a kid, was fascinated).
The Viking game sounds mint too, especially if at some point they just go “aaah fuck it” and graduate from raiders to conquerors, Danelaw style.
As for the New World campaign, here in Brazil we once had a RPG set in a fantasy version of Colonial Brazil. It used Brazilian folklore (a mishmash of European, African and Native American myth) as the source of the monsters and magic, and it assumed players were bandeirantes (gold-hungry explorers searching for riches in the newly discovered land). Good stuff.
I’d also take a look at John Bell’s campaign notes, over at The Retired Adventurer: http://retiredadventurer.blogspot.com.br/ for a similarly themed game (Emern) using Swords & Wizardry.
My ACKS game is heavily inspired by sub-Roman Britain and the Anglo-Saxon invasion. The Empire has pulled out causing a collapse of the local economy, the elves and goblins have stepped up their raiding, and the high king has hired a bunch of scruffy foreign mercenaries to help defend the land.
The Mongol Empire would be a cool setting. Gives you the mobility to be all across Eurasia and the Middle East.
Adventurer: You are a Mongol warrior
Conquerer: You ride through the Middle East/Russia/Europe/Northern China
King: Do you carve out a kingdom in these foreign lands, or fight for succession? Or join the campaigns against Southern China to seize the dragon throne?