Tuesday, August 23, 2016

Campaign Preparation: Things I think I Need To Do Better

Epic for the win, buddy.
What are things to consider when planning a campaign? I've got a lot of lessons learned from all the campaigns I've planned and didn't work out, so let's take a look at what is needed to make a campaign work out.

Good Books

Things to look at when planning a campaign for GURPS

Questions To Ask

Take a look at the campaign planning form and see what kinda questions that inspires. You should probably answer this in tandem with your players to make sure you are making a game they want to play, but also make sure that you come up with something that you run. When you reach a compromise, sleep on the plan for a few days and imagine running the campaign, do you feel like you will enjoy this? Do you feel like your players will enjoy it? If you say no to the first, definitely reconsider investing energy in it, if you say no the second, try having a conversation with that player about the specific concerns you have; don't ask something dumb like "do you think this campaign will be fun?" Ask constructive questions about it like, "So, how are we going to handle this if we have no magic this time?" or "What kind of character do you think you see yourself making for this action campaign?"
Some other questions to get sorted out a bit earlier that I don't think either the Extended Campaign Form or the regular campaign form cover:
  • How important is regular attendance? Get a feeling for this because some genres can accommodate players with volatile schedules more, but it's a thing that really needs to be built into the DNA of the campaign. It is hard to make it any way but one way or the other. A campaign that can *kinda* support someone just not showing up for an important climax is hard to design.
  • How detailed are each of the mechanical elements of the game? To break that down, I think some major elements in GURPS are Combat, Negotiation, Adventuring, Survival, and long term strategizing, but there might be more. A player expecting a lot of social engineering in a combat focused game might be disappointed, likewise, a "rogue" in "GURPS: Huge Open Field Hex Crawl," with no parkour, sneaking, shadowing, etc. might potentially feel underutilized... but maybe not, ask the player.

Some Important Lessons Learned That Work For Me, But Maybe Not For You

  • Have an objective in mind that is achievable and tangible. "Have a great adventure" is not specific or tangible. How can you know if you are progressing towards anything? If you have a goal, there is always a next step. Sure, for some, the journey is its own reward, but to me, the adventure being great is a side effect of doing something. "Getting strong" is a side effect of doing something. I think planning can't be finished until all players can come up with something they want to do, even if that thing might be "help that other player do the specific tangible thing they want to do." This objective needs to be something that you can loosely visualize as well and at least imagine it happening. "Winning the lottery" is pretty specific and tangible, but no amount of planning and progress can put one especially closer to that goal, so "Getting bit by the right type of radioactive spider" is, in turn, a pretty difficult player objective to work with... well, I guess if they make a character with gadgeteering, and Nuclear engineering and Bio-engineering, it might be possible... but if they give you He-Man, the master of Eternia, and come up with that objective, then it starts to look a bit difficult to layout a map.
  • Make sure that all players have some disadvantage or advantage that can be used to pull strings when they are knee deep in mud and don't know what they are doing. I know, some people hate the idea of "controlling" or "railroading" PCs, and some players seem to have enough self-determination to make things happen when nothing is happening. Some don't though and if their only disadvantages are "Bad Eyesight," and "Bad Temper," there is nothing that can be done to get the machine firing on all cylinders again.
  • This one is especially important for me, but I think it's important to not rely on the book to look up rules in the middle of a game...
  • ...But at the same time, the rules need to have some firmness. If someone doesn't have the S.O.P. perk for always having their arrow knocked, shield at the ready, and/or sword coated with venom, it isn't so. If a player says that they pull out a piece of equipment from a bag and readyit and deploy it... and they don't have pack-rat, fast-draw, and some really good rolls besides, then it isn't so. The game is fun for me personally when the players run into challenges, and even following the rules, succeed. There are so many games that are easy to win when you break the rules (almost all of them) so what's the point? Sure, dramatic license, but let me, the GM, decide when it is dramatically appropriate for the player to pull off some unrealistic upset.

No comments:

Post a Comment

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...