Monday, August 27, 2012

Last Rest Goal Posts

Gearing up to start a new RPG, using the REIGN One Roll Engine rules and a home brew setting and just wanted to get my goals down on virtual paper.  The last few campaigns I've run have been very unfocused, and to some part a little more unsatisfactory because of that.

  • Party Cohesion
    • This is a big one, the last two D&D campaigns I've run have used the "forced together by circumstances" method of party building and while some party dynamics have emerged, they never cohered the way I would have liked.  I'm hoping that limiting the PCs to a single company or at most two companies will help give the PCs a sense of belonging to the same group, not to mention similar goals.
    • But aside from the somewhat forced PC relationships, I also hope to encourage the players to develop personal relationships between their characters right from the character creation process on.  
    • One of the most memorable D&D games I ran was a one-shot where the players decided to all play Hobbits (eschewing the much less cool Halfling designation) and in the course of creating their PCs also came up with relationships and one sentence descriptions... exempli gratia: the do nothing hobbit with a heart of gold, his slightly shut-in wizardly uncle who had an unseen servant to carry him above the filthy ground, a bardic rival who was slightly jealous of the do nothing hobbit, et cetera.
    • The most enjoyable D&D games I played this last year both had relationships, in one I blatantly stole the Hobbit schtick and played the middle brother in a trio of mischievous halfling children. In the other, it was a semi-cooperative game where each PC had relationships to the other PCs that shaped how semi-cooperative they were, with slightly disastrous results as my half-dwarf PC killed his unaware human half-brother perhaps a little too early.
    • Recently I played in another D&D game as a crazy ardent (psychic healer) with a telepathic brother, but since we had vastly different goals and did not share anything other than being brothers, that was much less satisfying and my character couldn't rely on his brother the way my spastic hobbit monk could rely on his siblings.
  • PC Goals
    • Another thing I want to focus on is PC goals.  My last efforts have seen a few PCs have very vague goals (get rid of this magical mark) and most of the PCs lack all but the vaguest goals (stop evil).  I abused my DM powers and let the PCs be led on by hazy party goals that merely led along the plot-point stops.
    • For Reign I want each PC to have a goal or two, even if they are largely the same as the goal of the company they belong to.  I'm hoping that the PC goals will then drive the plot instead of the PCs merely ferreting out the clues that lead them on in the DM driven narrative.
  • An End In Sight.
    • Perhaps my biggest DM sin is that I plot campaigns too big.  My RPG Spiritual Advisor, Thomas, of Tower of Infinite Evil, is constantly warning me against going too big.  In that spirit, and drawing on the meta-flavor text of our Fading Suns as sci-fi television series, I am going to run the REIGN RPG in Seasons.
    • Each Season will be a self-contained plot-arc lasting 3-6 months (8-16 sessions depending on play).  If after the first season the players decide not to continue playing REIGN, then we'll have a single season.  If they decide to continue playing, we'll decide if we keep the same characters for a second Season with a new self-contained plot arc or if we start fresh with new characters.  
    • I'm hoping this avoids the trap that my last two D&D campaigns fell into, where I planned out the EPIC level secrets and conclusion.. Leading to such classics campaign plots as: Three Insane Wizards, all thinking they're the same dead Wizard's Guild Master, tricked into a ritual by a Dark Force that feeds off the world ruined during the last Guild War or the PCs are descendents of a sorcerous family that became gods and somehow the plot would involve the players playing the long dead ancestors of their PCs in a flashback.  Such epic level plots are all well and good, but it would have probably been more satisfying for all involved if the Heroic tier of play had a better defined plot arc instead of being just the tip of the eventual plot iceberg, as it were.
So those are my goal posts for right now, three fairly simple things I want to make sure I do with this game, encourage Party Cohesion, let PC Goals drive the game and keep a reasonable End In Sight.  Now to force myself to stick to them.

Oh, also, you can follow the goings on of the Reign Campaign I'm running at: Last Rest - A Reign RPG Chronicle.  Right now there's just some setting notes, possible plotlines and an example character, but I'm planning to post Episode teasers and summaries and to have players write in character journal entries about the episodes.

2 comments:

  1. Z.,
    I think the EPIC plot is a pitfall we all fall into. I know I'm guilty of it constantly. There is the want to tell this grand story worthy of telling our other Gamer friends. However we rarely get to those EPIC conclusions because games end, people are forced to spend more time with 'real lives', or any other myriad of reasons. I've found that the games I remember the most fondly have tended to be well prepared but built on the 'Now'. I'm trying that with our current campaign and it's worked alright thus far. Although 'Plot Wishlist Creep' has gotten it's tendrils on me lately.
    As for REIGN, color me interested! The DREAD game you ran was an absolute blast and I'd count myself lucky to be at any table where you are running or playing.

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    Replies
    1. The REIGN train is fast leaving the station. Right now I have 5 probable players with the possibility of one or two more, so if you want to get on the train before it leaves the station you need to let me know soon. Our first game will be Monday 9/10.

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