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Hallmarks of the New Campaign pt. 2
July 28, 2011, 5:05 pm
Filed under: Campaign Brewing, Uncategorized

Last time I talked about the first basic assumptions I’ll have to make for the upcoming campaign. Most of the things I talked about dealt with the physical setting in which the game will take place and the people who will be playing.

Today I want to begin talking about the assumptions I want to make about the campaign world. I’ll be honest, this campaign pretty much sprung into my mind fully formed. Like I mentioned in the last post, our current campaign is very vanilla fantasy. That’s ok, it’s a really fun time and that campaign has a lot of neat secrets. But, for this little one shot, I want to have some fun and stretch my imagination a little. I want to give everyone a really good time and some great gaming memories.

So, today I want to focus on the city the campaign is centered on. Some of my initial concepts are, in no particular order:

  • Huge railways and¬†zeppelins.
  • A single city-state.
  • Dwarves, lots of dwarves.
I’m hesitant to use the ‘s-word’ here (steampunk) because it seems over used and I imagine the sort of people who feel very strongly about it object to it being thrown around every time there’s a wrench and some soot. Anyway, I want there to be an industrial feel. It plays well with my emphasis on dwarves because I can see them eventually taking up engineering and making huge mountain shafts with gears and elevators and underground rail lines. I may also be influenced by this guy.
I want to keep the focus tight while still providing lots of places to go and things to do. I’ve never done a mega-city before and it seems like a perfect fit. I can have different city wards with varying influences and themes: a seedy underbelly, a gated community for the rich and famous, commerce and industrial districts. Maybe an older dwarf town. I want my city to feel organic so I’ve decided that it is built around the peak of a mountain, expanded over centuries from the dwarf mines at it’s center. It’s cold outside so guards and zeppelin pilots have to bundle up but the closer you get to the city center, with it’s massive forges and machinery, the warmer it gets.
The city needs a name, and that’s what I’m going to talk about next post!

Hallmarks of the New Campaign pt. 1
July 21, 2011, 2:33 pm
Filed under: Campaign Brewing

I’m still thinking about the basic assumptions I want to make before getting into the nuts and bolts of campaign building. Several things come into play when planning something like this.

First and foremost, this is probably going to be a one-shot sort of affair, unless it goes so well that we decide to continue it online. I still have so much to show my characters about the other campaign that it would be a shame to quit it. On the other hand, the current online game is pretty ‘vanilla’, or low fantasy, compared to what I’m cooking up. I wonder whether having some face-to-face gaming might give this campaign a bit more momentum than the RP-heavy, all online game we’re currently playing. I guess we’ll see. I go where my players want me to go. Anyway, since it’s a one-shot, I need to contain the action to a relatively small area.

Second, since the current plan is for a one-shot, multiple hour session, I need to have enough stuff ready at the start to keep it interesting. Usually I plan a vague outline a session or two ahead and then prep for each session when I know where my players are headed. Now I’ll have two or three times the amount of table time to prep for. I want to provide lots of story and options so they don’t feel railroaded, but for every choice they make I need several available options. I want to be prepared but not drowning in materials I might not even use.

Finally, most of my players are relatively new at tabletop gaming. Usually when I DM, I’m playing with neckbeards who have been gaming for years, sometimes longer than me. When I start to describe a monster they already know it’s AC, average damage and challenge rating. With this game, I can bring in things that seem cliche to old players and the new guys will be seeing it for the first time. It revitalizes me but it also makes me rethink a lot of the models I’ve grown accustomed to.

So, I need to tailor my thinking to a one-shot format with focus on the action. I need to provide lots of possibilities and I need to be prepared to explore those possibilities with my players. Finally, I need to go back and look at the things that excited me about tabletop gaming when I was first getting into the hobby.

Next time I’ll talk a little more about the campaign world itself.

Just a quick update.
July 18, 2011, 12:23 pm
Filed under: Uncategorized


Here, I’m planning the districts of the city. This isn’t to scale, but more of an abstract idea of what connects to what. Size corresponds to physical size as well as importance. Dotted lines are lower levels.

New Campaign Brewing
July 18, 2011, 9:35 am
Filed under: Uncategorized

I’ve mentioned here before that I played WoW religiously. Even before I got my tabletop RPG start, I was a dedicated MMO player. Now, with that comes a lot of baggage, a lot of weird perspectives and probably some negative reactions from people who cut their teeth on “old school” games.

But, with that MMO past also comes at least one benefit. My gamer friends. I formed, over the 5 or so years I played, extremely strong bonds with a close-knit bunch of like-minded players. We’re all pretty relaxed types, mostly explorers and crafters and RP’ers. We keep up with each other ‘s Shenanigans via epic g-mail threads that go up into the 200’s. They are some of the best friends I’ve got. So, we recently started a play by post game on Google Groups using the Pathfinder rules and everyone is enjoying it. (I suppose I should write about that sometime.)

When one of them said he might be visiting from Canada this fall, I immediately offered to run a one shot campaign on a real table, with real dice! One of the things i enjoy most about DM’ing is preparing a new campaign world. I love to think about the world and the people that inhabit it. Why they do what they do. What the political structure is. What plot hooks would work best in the style of campaign I’m brewing.

When I asked them if they’d like to have me generate characters, someone suggested that they be allowed to choose what class (order selected by a roll of the dice) and I make a character with some back story and secrets, like a murder mystery. Well, I couldn’t be happier.

In the next few weeks, I’ll be sharing my ideas and work on this new campaign, tentatively named “The Heart of the Mountain.”

Life is long. Talk.
July 11, 2011, 10:21 am
Filed under: Dungeons and Dragons

This is all it took.

I’m back. I know no one reads me, and I’m not sure I care if that changes.

Thanks Zak