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My wife bought me the Dungeons & Dragons 4e Player's Handbook for my birthday, and we've been talking about playing it. She has experience with video games: we've always played video games, and even met on one. She also has some experience with RPGs: she has a level 85 on World of Warcraft, so she gets the basics, and a few months ago we ran through a Tolkein-based solo RPG, which was a lot of fun.

However, for the most part, my wife is apprehensive about playing D&D due to the violence involved. We reached an agreement that she'll play if we can find a campaign wherein her character can be a princess at a ball.

My first thought was "is the ball being attacked by goblins or something?" and then it occurs to me that there is of course much much more to D&D than just killing goblins. But, as I search for campaigns, I am finding great difficulty finding anything based more on politics and princesses than "Let's go take out a dungeon!" - low or high level. I'd like to avoid making one myself if possible.

So: Where can I find a couple of adventures that let the players be gentlefolk at a ball? Are there any campaigns about political intrigue anyone's run successfully? She's willing to do some combat-oriented dungeon crawls as well (for in-character and out-of-character experience) if it has a higher level adventure, but we're looking primarily for this.

(Update: Our game plan is to convert the challenges from our Tolkein RPG into D&D encounters - it will be close enough. After that, we'll go through the Brother Ptolemy and the Hidden Kingdom adventure suggested by @GPierce, and possibly go on to create our own adventures.)

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see: meta discussion here –  Brian Ballsun-Stanton Sep 29 '13 at 12:30
    
While not made for 4e, Blue Rose en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Blue_Rose_%28role-playing_game%29 may have a setting and adventures that fit a less combat-oriented sensibility. –  leokhorn Oct 8 '13 at 19:25
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6 Answers 6

up vote 7 down vote accepted

We currently have the same situation on my table. And, let me tell you in advance: be prepared for a lot of Eladrins, Devas and "we are good and perfect" races.

Our player here rejoiced in Ravenloft. It may be quite a surprise as that's the darkest D&D scenario, but the main point was that she was always the good hero, saving desperate people from the hands of Count Strahd and fighting evil. In Ravenloft she always felt like the last beacon of light and hope for the world. The Ravenloft campaign's DM was also her husband.

I would point Eberron as a second option. I'm currently DMing a Eberron based campaign that focuses into the intrigue between organizations like the crown, the Lords of Dust (a Demoniac Cabal), the Church of Silver Flame and the Emerald Claw (who, despite the name, are the entry level evil group for the scenario). She made an Eladrin sorcerer and is investigating the Mourning (something like a magical nuke that destroyed one of the human kingdoms) to discover what happed with the Eladrin fortress that was located inside this kingdom.

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I'm accepting this as my answer mainly because my wife made an Eldarin Wizard, and switched to an Elf Sorcerer. Then my friend's wife made a Deva Wizard. So I laughed pretty heartily! On point, those mechanics you mentioned seem like I could glean some good concepts off them. Thanks! –  corsiKa Jun 16 '11 at 4:53
    
If you wish I could tell you a little more about the campaigns or even work with you to adapt them for your group. They were wife-tested already, so it could be an easier for your group. Thanks for the acceptance. –  rafgoncalves Jun 16 '11 at 13:11
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Sadly, I suspect this isn't the answer you hoped for...

D&D 4E is highly combat focused. Not that it can't be used otherwise, but the rules and the product line both focus on the battle aspect far more than anything else. The Retail Play

You are unlikely to find extant modules for your desired style of play for D&D 4E below 10th level.

That said, there are a number of other games far more suited to that kind of play with starting characters; too many to make a reasonable list here. Also, there's the option of just starting at 10th level or so.

There are, however, a number of other games that are much better suited to that style of play, and have support for it. Most of them also have rules for Social Conflict as well as physical combat, an arena with which she might be more comfy. If you want a list, let me know.

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+1 for tactfully saying what I was trying to figure out how to say. –  Brian Ballsun-Stanton May 27 '11 at 6:10
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@Aramis - While I agree with pretty much everything you said in your answer, specifically about 4E being combat heavy (unless you make it otherwise,) I think starting out at 10th level for a first-time player would be a mistake. True, if you are using only Essentials it would be a lot easier than the rest of the Core, but it's going to be confusing enough learning that system and the character without all of the extra levels and powers. Just my .02 –  GPierce May 27 '11 at 15:06
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To echo Aramis, this is the wrong system for that kind of play. There are many other RPG systems out there that are far better at dealing with social interaction, and rewarding goals not kills. As an absolute minimum, use a system where XP is not awarded for kills but only for goals completed. Having a system where the social interactions have a bigger depth then an opposed check will help. –  Bobby May 31 '11 at 7:31
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@Ian and Seven, let's use term "Social conflict". It signifies a clash of interests but is much less aggressive than "Social combat". It is even adaptable to other forms like "Physical conflict" and "Mental conflict". Even rarer forms like "Academic conflict" don't sound out of place. –  edgerunner Dec 19 '11 at 15:28
    
While it's not impossible to run a social game in D&D 4e, maybe using skill challenges, the problem is that most of the rules, of the sheets, of the in-game rewards are focused at combat, tracking stats and being more effective while fighting (respectively). Quite differently from previous editions, this is pretty clear in the manuals. I wonder what made you think it was not and maybe suggest different games. Would you like to come to the Role-playing Games Chat sometimes? –  Zachiel Sep 29 '13 at 15:14
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I don't know about D&D4e, but back in the AD&D2nd ed. times, there was a campaign setting called Birthright, which, surprisingly enough for D&D, revolved more around courts and politics: PCs come from bloodlines that are imbued with powers inherited from the gods, and as such, are perceived as natural leaders, destined to rule over land and man.

A typical party would be part of a court, possibly with one of the PCs being the appointed leader of some territory. Being a princess is definitely possible. PCs must face court intrigues and political challenges to try and expand the influence of their territory, be it a small barony or a full blown kingdom.

You will have to convert from AD&D2 to D&D4, but it might be worth your while to look into it.

Edit: It turns out there is a quite active community around the Birthright campaign setting, having done the conversion to D&D 3.5. Might be easier to work from that to convert to 4e. You can find it at birthright.net

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Welcome to the site! Please take a look at the tour and the help; they're a useful introduction to the site. Could you add some more details about Birthright, please? It's hard to evaluate this answer's usefulness without knowing more. And since you have 20+ rep on another site, feel free to join the chat! –  BESW Sep 27 '13 at 11:18
    
Birthright is an AD&D2 campaign settings in which PCs come from bloodlines that are imbued with powers inherited from the gods, and as such, are perceived as natural leaders, destined to rule over land and man. –  Sven B. Sep 29 '13 at 10:04
    
A typical party would be part of a court, possibly with one of the PCs being the appointed leader of some territory. Being a princess is definitely possible. PCs must face court intrigues and political challenges to try and expand the influence of their territory, be it a small barony or a full blown kingdom. –  Sven B. Sep 29 '13 at 10:14
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My best recommendation is to begin penning your own modules. As Aramis states the product line is centered very heavily on dungeon crawls and combat. If you would like a happy medium of some pre-made content and original content, you could purchase Dungeon Delve and just let the players wander around in town for a while first, or you could write a little extra exposition to lead into the conflict.

The Dungeon Masters guide(s) provides many mechanisms for non-combat encounters, which allow you to play through sections that require skill and provide experience points. The system is very formulaic allowing you to set difficulty and make the encounter level specific. Perhaps the best approach would be to make modules that are 50/50, introducing some physical conflict but allowing the players to interact more to give the combat meaning.

This can result in a very satisfying game, since non-combat encounters tend to be more group inclusive and fast in contrast to combat. We recently had a game where a party member took a townsperson out on a date to build trust and garner information. This resulted in a montage/skill challenge that had everyone rolling on the floor laughing! The module ended with a bloody showdown but the experience was better for it due to the build up.

This particular non-combat encounter was improvised as well, not all encounters need to be planned. You'll find this come up more with new players that want to test the bounds, and players that have special skills for non-combat. Something ridiculous became real and satisfying by operating within the straightforward constraints in the DM guide. Hope this helps, happy gaming!

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If you don't mind going the 3rd party route, there is an excellent adventure that has some combat but not an overwhelming amount. It's main focus is on story, intrigue, abductions, and in the end a trial that the players run (think of it as a big skill challenge if that helps!) The adventure is called Brother Ptolemy and the Hidden Kingdom by Nevermet Press.

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I see your dilemma. The skill challenge framework, however, does allow for some nifty social roleplaying with dicerolls.

In a very recent issue of Dungeon, there is actually a description of how to run a masquerade ball. While it is subscriber content, a month's DDI subscription is not a nightmarish investment. http://www.wizards.com/dnd/Article.aspx?x=dnd/dun/201105masquerades

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