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Thread: How do you start a new campaign?

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    How do you start a new campaign?

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    In a different thread, a comment was made about there not being a whole lot of discussion going on, so I'm starting one, which I hope will be lively!

    Ok, so you want to start a new campaign, but aren't sure how to go about it. You've got a group of players, some new, some old and you want them to enjoy the campaign, after all, that's part of the reason we play, or at least I hope it is. So how do you go about creating the new campaign?

    I'm looking for an overview discussion here, no specifics as far as system, game world, etc.

    Here's what I'm looking to do for my next game. My players are ok with my current game world and are ok with the system we're using. We've decided on the genre, fantasy.

    So our next step will be for us to sit down and have a character building session. During this session we'll discuss what they want out of the campaign, the level of world shaping events that will occur.

    I feel it's important to get the other players involved with how much commitment they want to have with the game. Mostly because of what's happened with my current game.

    The previous game I had ran had very little story to it, and some of my players complained about that lack of story content. So for my current campaign, I added quite a bit of story, so much, that it turned some of the same players that asked for the story off and they quit the game.

    In the long run, I think it has made the game suffer, and it's something I don't want to repeat with the up coming game. Also, the party hasn't always been a balanced fantasy party, you know, at least 1 magic user, 1 fighter, 1 rogue and 1 cleric. So that has to some extent caused problems.

    So, what do you do when you're working on a new campaign?
    Skunk
    a.k.a. Johnprime



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    Not really sure how to answer this question, as my early games started off by me saying, "Hey, let's play a X type of game.", and then we'd all know each other well enough to know what was acceptable or not acceptable in character creation. Then the game would start off by me seeing a photograph of some scenery, or hearing a song, or what ever that would inspire me to start pulling the story out of the aether - (I'm a big fan of Carl Jung's collective unconscious).

    As time passed and new players arrived, there would be one or two that 'needed' guidence, or rather 'house rules', to tell them what they can and cannot do. So my games turned into legal battles prior to even running the game.
    For example, Marvel Super Heroes is one of the simplist games ever. But I ended up having to write 28 pages of house rules to cover all the potential rule litigations. The game was played for two sessions, and absolutely unplayable because the flow of the game was ruined by lawyers.

    But ultimately, Skunkape, your pattern is probably most used in our circles. I thrive on story, I could care less about the rules. So long as the story flows and the players are allowed to manipulate the story. Much like a choose your own adventure book with more laterality. Heck, I'm still involved in two games that have lasted 20 years and there really aren't rules, we just use percentile dice every now and again to find a fair result. These games are based on story, not rules.

    Finally, I rarely ever 'plan' an adventure. I normally have a goal, or something at the end of the path. But the path is never revealed (even to me) prior to it actually be played out. I call it like I see it, and make it up as I go along. - Either it's endless creativity, or Jung has something to do with it.

    Mo

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    Quote Originally Posted by Skunkape View Post
    The previous game I had ran had very little story to it, and some of my players complained about that lack of story content. So for my current campaign, I added quite a bit of story, so much, that it turned some of the same players that asked for the story off and they quit the game.
    Hmm.. It sounds like you're group is looking for some sort of balance. They like the Hack N' Slash, but they want there to be a rhyme and reason behind it. I have similar challenged with my group. What I have found is that some of my group thrives on combat scenarios and dungeon delving, the others on intrigue and drama. In fact, the problem becomes even more complicated in that I, as the GM, enjoy a very story driven game with clearly flawed characters who overcome diversity despite their drawbacks.

    So, what I do in my campaign is try to balance everyone's different playing styles as much as possible. My advice would be to pay close attention to what each person in your group enjoys from the game, and then spread out different sorts of challenges for each different playing style.

    In the long run, I think it has made the game suffer, and it's something I don't want to repeat with the up coming game. Also, the party hasn't always been a balanced fantasy party, you know, at least 1 magic user, 1 fighter, 1 rogue and 1 cleric. So that has to some extent caused problems.
    The classic Fighter/Wizard/Cleric/Rogue formula is a very effective one, and it is the bar against all encounters are measured. If your group is going to go off the beaten path and have an all caster party, for instance, then they're going to need to compensate for this. Hirelings are a good option. Let the players hire some body guards. Personally, I like to throw in an NPC or two into the party to fill any gaps, and to serve the dual purpose of being a conduit for giving DM hints and input. Just don't fall into the trap of having NPCs that outshine the player characters.

    Quote Originally Posted by Moritz
    Finally, I rarely ever 'plan' an adventure. I normally have a goal, or something at the end of the path. But the path is never revealed (even to me) prior to it actually be played out. I call it like I see it, and make it up as I go along. - Either it's endless creativity, or Jung has something to do with it.
    I'm pretty much in accord with Mortiz on this one. When I create a new campaign, I always have a beginning and an end in mind, but I also usually have a few pivotal points planned out as well. I also generally have a timeline of specific events that happen external to whatever the players may be doing, making the world in which the players reside a living and breathing place.

    I basically look at the process of creating a campaign as a lazy writer might. I know where I want the story to go. I have a smattering of important parts of the story I want to tell. But, I don't outline every step from beginning to end. I allow the story to develop and evolve based on the player's actions. And, I allow for the possibility that the story may end in a far different way than I originally planned.

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    I take a somewhat controversial standpoint for starting a campaign. I don't bother asking potential players what they want to do. I take my inspiration and come up with a game, and then let friends know what I'm up to and see who's interested. There are always more people looking to play than looking to run a game -- and I'd rather be a happy GM running a campaign I enjoy.

    Happy GM = better game. While I don't discount the value of player involvement, I save that for post session reviews where I can see what worked and what didn't for each person involved. Then I can make minor tweaks based on the feedback if I think it fits.

    I'm also a strong proponent of GM fiat. People who start to rules lawyer on me get shut down fast. I'm an Evil GM I suppose. Never had a shortage of players though. :P
    --
    Grimwell

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    Quote Originally Posted by grimwell View Post
    I'm also a strong proponent of GM fiat. People who start to rules lawyer on me get shut down fast. I'm an Evil GM I suppose. Never had a shortage of players though. :P
    I'm willing to have some dialogue on the rules, but the problem is that it quickly bogs down the flow of the game. I've adopted a policy in my games that if you disagree with a ruling, you can briefly make your argument (no more than 1-2 minutes), but ultimately, I may not change my mind and if that is the case, the ruling stands. But, I generally make an agreement with the player that we'll look it up after the game to make sure we're both clear on what the rule is actually supposed to be.

    Rules are just a guideline. They should never interfere with the story. But at the same time, they should be as consistent as possible, lest your players may loose their suspension of disbelief.

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    I'm pretty much the same way. If someone brings up a rules point I hear them out once, reference the books if needed, and then make a decision and move on. The only time I stop and go slow and careful is if it means life or death for someone. Then I allow them to grab any book they want and show me what they are saying.
    --
    Grimwell

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    I agree that the rules shouldn't spoil the game and also that you must be consistant in your rulings. In our current group, if there is a rule that I or the other GM who runs isn't clear on, a player (it often ends up being either myself or him, but not always) who isn't involved in the action will look up the rule and once found we either take a moment for that player to read the rule or let the GM look it over and make a ruling. That has seemed to work pretty well for us and hasn't really bogged down the game.

    As far as having party problems, I really don't have a problem with the current problem, but some of the players have grumbled a little over the lack of a certain character classes. As far as the game discussion, and my decisions on how I'm planning the campaign, I'll end up making my own choices when I finalize the campaign, but I wanted to get the players' input first!

    Oh and my group isn't really a hack and slash group per say, but they have gone out of their way to attack things that they really didn't need to. On the flip side, we've had plenty of sessions where we don't have any combat at all, so that's why I really don't term them as a hack and slash group.
    Skunk
    a.k.a. Johnprime



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    Another old thread resurrected! I think this question depends on the players involved. Do they prefer hack n' slash? roleplay? I think the best bet is to run 50/50 which tends to keep both sides in the game. If people want to slash 80% let them go play a video game. If they want more story tell them to watch all 3 LOTR extended editions!

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    So far, I've mostly improvised the beginning of a campaign without looking at my player's character sheets. I may have a few maps for them to run through, some encounters set up, but to get them to go into those maps is usually a "Um... well... each of you has won a ticket for an interplanetary roundtrip. You were separated from your tourist guide when X happens." kind of deal.
    One of my players is going to try to GM now, and he too went the "I have no idea who or what your characters will be, but I have some ideas of what will happen to them."
    After all, life doesn't throw events at you based on your character class either, eh?

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    When creating a campaign, I usually try to get a sense of either the kind of story they want to be in (city, dungeon, planar etc) and what sort of characters they're looking to play (classes, backgrounds etc). If they have no opinion about either of those...then I take that as me having free reign on what to create. I do my best to accommodate the kind of game they want and try to play to the strengths of the characters they'll play, but I still put my own twists and such in there. I try to keep it fun for everyone and as the game gets more involved, I'll weave the characters and their background into the plot to make it more personal.
    I have seen that trying to please everyone doesn't work either, players can be fickle when it comes to what they like/want and if you try to please everyone's whim-the game ultimately suffers and no one has fun.

    It's quite a balancing act which is why I like to play with the same group so I already know their play-styles and what they like, what they're likely to play etc.

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    I like to get the players involved from the get-go. Because if the players don't like it ... who is there then to play with? A solo DM as the solo player game sucks ... I did it in my early years of playing D&D when moving around, I would have to beg family members to play. So the players are the most important part as a whole, the DM is but one person ... the group consists of more than just this person.

    When creating characters, I like to do this together, not just to make sure no one cheats, but so we all "gell". And I tell them of the world as a whole that I have in mind to see if it's to their flavor as a group, similar to a democracy; majority rules but the DM is the tie breaker. Then I begin asking them what they like to see in a campaign: certain monsters, certain political factions, religious factions, etc. Then I take their suggestions, their character backgrounds and personalities, and I fit them into the world I had created. If the dwarven fighter's brother had been kidnapped a few years prior to the adventure and I had a mountain full of slaves in the story somewhere ... I'd pop that brother in their with a subplot, the enslaving Deurgar must be stopped!
    "If riding in an airplane is flying, then riding in a boat is swimming. If you want to experience the element, then get out of the vehicle...SKYDIVE!"


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    During character creation, we would hammer out some ideas. The GM would have things in mind of what he wanted, and we would let him know what sounded interesting and boring.

    Game specific (1st ed D&D), my friend and I had a LONG hiatus from playing because all of our older player friends had gone to college. We were learning about the canterbury tales in English, and get revved up for the game. We got hold of our DM, told him we wanted to play again and we'd figure out who to invite as newbies.

    First thing we did was decide on a pantheon. So we look through his Deities and Demigods and find a very interesting pantheon. All i remember was the main dude had a big arrow pointing upwards as his holy symbol.

    The whole pantheon was chaotic, save for the main dude. It was based off of some book series. As such, society was chaotic. There were governments and such, but it was treated like mexico. My friend was a paladin of the LG deity which was a very underground church (like catholicism in Poland when the Pope was preaching there). From there the game blossomed into a very interesting story. Our ultimate goal was to bring down the CE church, bring power to the LG church. The other interesting part of the game was magic. All magic items were imbued with an entity of sorts. Whether it be a minor elemental or a full-fledged demon. So magic was SUPER rare, but also every item had a level of intelligence.

    All from picking the pantheon.

    So I think a good approach (if you want to decide as a group) is to sort of have a brain-storming session. Maybe hammer out backstory before you start playing to get the players in the mood and give them inspiration for character creation/development.
    "I'm not going crazy. I'm going sane in a CRAZY world!"

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    I think if a DM is a really good storyteller then letting your players decide what kind of game should ensue will just take away from the DM's strengths. Its easier to allow the DM to play to their own strengths. Like a quarterback on a team. He runs the show.

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    Quote Originally Posted by yukonhorror View Post
    All from picking the pantheon.


    I like that idea, I'm actually writing a book (doubt it will get published, but it's fun to write) based on a character of mine that I've been playing for years. The book is his life's story, and it's setting is one based on the Celtic mythos of the Deities and Demigods of the 1st Ed AD&D, he is a priest of Arawn. The setting is a cross between Cimmeria and Celtic lands of the Dark Ages where superstions are high, and fear of the gods is strong.
    "If riding in an airplane is flying, then riding in a boat is swimming. If you want to experience the element, then get out of the vehicle...SKYDIVE!"


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    Quote Originally Posted by Panthro82 View Post
    I think if a DM is a really good storyteller then letting your players decide what kind of game should ensue will just take away from the DM's strengths. Its easier to allow the DM to play to their own strengths. Like a quarterback on a team. He runs the show.
    our DM was a great storyteller, but he wanted to make sure we were playing a story we enjoyed. We mainly worked with his ideas to see where a consensus could be made on what we all liked.
    "I'm not going crazy. I'm going sane in a CRAZY world!"

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