In the book, we detailed the differences between brutal games and a standard D&D game, along with the types of themes they involve. In this blog, however, we will talk about some topics that “it would be good for you as players to avoid.” Of course, these are just suggestions for the course of the game and to maximize enjoyment. Using these in different games could be very enjoyable.

Most Brutal Races are underdeveloped in many respects. They lack the large number of warriors to protect themselves, high walls, a politically stable management system, and many similar formations. While there are exceptions, in most small Brutal Race tribes, generally, the strongest rule. We already discussed this topic under the Powerful Leader section in the Themes chapter of the Book of Conflict.

The invisible trap here is the players’ ability to easily control small tribes. The typical leader(s) of any Brutal Race tribe of 50-100 people will only be around levels 4-5. A Brutal Party of around level 3 can easily defeat these leaders. If they are racially compatible (for example, if they are not goblins trying to control Pureblood orcs) and can intimidate the tribe sufficiently, they can take control.

The same does not apply to Civilized settlements. Whether Brutal or Civilized, if a player party defeats the leaders of a human village, the humans will flee, continue fighting, or submit. However, almost always, such human villages are politically connected to another place. This situation attracts the attention of more powerful entities. Forces could come to support the village from a larger town, city, the lord who controls the area, a dominant temple, etc. Even if the entire human village is killed, someone will try to apprehend those responsible. However, for Brutal tribes living in isolation, this is not the case. No one cares who leads a small tribe or how many people died in the fight for leadership. This situation can be very enjoyable for players but might spoil the fun of the game in the long run.

If an adventurer party has a small community to meet their basic needs, they stop striving for many things. Is there a troll in the cave ahead eating everyone it catches? Going there as a large group is no more fun than going to a four-person party. Putting forward 5-6 people just to lure the troll out of the cave makes the job much easier. You can think of many small quests in the same way. As long as you have the manpower to easily spare, some quests become meaningless. Being very successful in these tribal leadership issues causes another problem.

Success brings the need for expansion. You’ll certainly be more successful than a single leader as a group of adventurers. You’ll have more advanced skills and perhaps even better equipment. By dividing the leadership and having each player deal with something, you create an extremely effective tribal management. Then you set your sights on other tribes. Incorporating other tribes into yours and progressing in this way is an attractive option. This actually meets the expectations of most people from a Brutal game up to a point.

Up to a point…

At that point, the game exits the realm of D&D and begins to lean heavily towards strategy. If you’re managing 100-500-2000-10000-200000 people, you stop doing most things. The number isn’t that important; while you might easily sacrifice 10 people out of 100, you would do the same for 20000 out of 200000. When it comes to this, you start making mostly management decisions. You strive to keep the group you’ve taken over together. Of course, abandoning them at the first problem or sacrificing them for your interests is an option. In that case, the number of people you can manage decreases. But as the numbers grow, the components that should be in a standard game disappear. They are replaced by other components.

These are not bad on their own. Being commander with a massive Brutal Horde at your disposal in a D&D game is a fun option. However, this situation tends to be challenging for the DM. Large battles, countless NPCs whose names need to be remembered, internal strife, and problems like food and shelter follow one another. In practice, while playing a game like Assassin’s Creed or God of War, depending on the detail, you find yourself in a game like Age of Empires or Crusader Kings. And since D&D is not designed for these types of games, you drift away from the game’s roots at every step.

Certainly, some experienced DMs can make the necessary homebrew moves for such a “strategy” game, operate some official rules, or find and use suitable resources from well-made 3rd party sources. But most DMs struggle with this, and the game changes more dramatically than you might expect. At some point, the details can start to become exhausting.

For these reasons, think carefully before taking over the tribes you encounter in games and making them your subjects who fulfill your every wish. If you and your party decide to take this path, a very fun and different game awaits you. However, in the long run, this game starts to deviate from what you’re used to. Especially if your games tend to go in this direction multiple times, you might lose some of your enjoyment. Consider this a warning from us…


In the future, we are planning another project under the name Brutal Leaders, focusing on the principles of tribe and horde management.

If this Brutal Leader idea excites you, please don’t forget to reach out to us!

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