I use a campaign wiki for every single campaign I’m in. There are several solutions out there:
What are the benefits of using a wiki for your campaign?
In October they had just fought a giant snail in the ruins of Zamboanga (There Are No Tails in Zamboanga by Buzz Burgess, an entry in the One Page Dungeon Contest 2009). My players solved the Onyx vs. Obsidian riddle and were intrigued. It’s a super simple riddle but it fit into my setting. The party had met many lizard men in an early part of the campaign, all armed with macahuitls (an aztec sword looking like a cricket bat set with obsidian chips), and thus seeing an old human ruin with images showing men wielding the kind of weapons the grass smoking lizard men are still using these days gave the site a sense of history. Nobody knows why the Onyx faction dominated the Obsidian faction, but maybe that is some interesting detail to explore in another local mini dungeon.
I liked this about the dungeon: There is an in-game riddle. Not solving it is no show-stopper: Players could always decide to bash down locked doors using brute force and a lot of time. The reward for solving the riddle is a non-combat victory and an interesting glimpse of the setting’s past.
The party is also interested in learning how to activate a portal. A mysterious sage (possibly no sage at all) pointed them to a wise man, but double checking facts with a local elven mage resulted in them learning that this wise man was lost and revealed that he was in fact nothing but an apprentice to the earth mage Ken-Kuni. So after having found the dwarven hammer in the ruins of Zamboanga, they continued to the earth temple. There, I had designed a series of tests that should prepare the party for the Halls of the Mad Mage by Justin Alexander (another 1PDC 2009 entry). The party climbed down a well were gravity worked in a 90° angle, found a cube asking the party to “jump twenty feet in the direction of the earth” and a peek at a lava chamber. I’ll use the halls to deposit some useful information and a way to follow Ken-Kuni, if the party is so inclined. We’ll see how it will play out.
Right now the party decided they needed to memorize some fire resistance spells and was attacked by two trolls during the night before we ended the session.
Truly, I love this campaign, and I love using One Page Dungeons.
I recently got an email of somebody interesting in sponsoring the contest in 2011. I should start thinking about it. Is anybody interested in running the contest in 2011? If you’re interested in doing it, or in helping out, let me know. I’ll probably start looking for sponsors and judges in spring, run the contest in May, read the entries and judge stuff in June and July, and announce winners at the beginning of August.
Why is that? I think that distorting the image by reducing the resolution, adding noise, and distorting colors invites us to use our imagination to complete the picture. Similar to reading a book, where we imagine the visuals; similar to comics, where we imagine the transitions between the panels; similar to listening to people, where we imagine the rest – less is more.
Which is why we’re sometimes disappointed by movies if we’ve already read the book. I noticed that sometimes I am disappointed when I look at the high-resolution, true-color originals of these pictures. Which is why I love the dream like non-reality of these images.
Today I ran the first session of my new Labyrinth Lord campaign. The game uses the Sea of Five Winds map of the Wilderlands of High Fantasy (Necromancer Games). Our starting village is Oathcoomb. It says that there is a male human lawful evil wizard (alchemist) called Pimple Purbody. One of the missions I had offered to the players was to go and buy glass wares in the Greydowns. Check out the (German) player map for the campaign.
Since Pimple is lawful evil, I tried to play him like a little devil. He tries to trick you into signing contracts that will have you in debt, he tries to lure you into breaking contracts, etc. At first, the players were surprised that negotiations didn’t go smoothly. I suspect they felt that the negotiation was part of the prologue, not part of the game itself. I quickly introduced a new character mentioned in the village description, Esgarig the inn keeper. He warned the party of Pimple’s deviousness, and offered free dinner and drinks for a table of ten if they managed to thwart the alchemist in some way, or at least fulfill the contract without falling for any of his traps. I think this allowed the players to accept the challenge.
At the Greydowns, the players decided not to show Pimple’s introductory letter, figuring that maybe he wasn’t too popular. I decided that this saved them 10% of the price…
How much money to award for a simple trip back and forth, some haggling and dealing with the alchemist and the inn keeper, a session of three hours? I decided that 1000 gp was about right. Pimple gave them 1000 gp to buy the glass wares. Upon delivery of 1000 gp of glass wares, they’d get 1000 gp to keep. Since the players managed to get a 10% discount, they ended up with a 1100 gp reward.
If the players were really devious and managed to trick the alchemist on his own terms using forgery and the like, they could double the amount to be earned. If they felt like playing chaotic, they could just steal 1000 gp. If they messed things up, they could end up with a debt of 1000 gp. That seemed like a reasonable range.
I had prepared a thing or two for the forest half way to the destination, but the players decided to take the ship to Longbottle and travel from there, avoiding the forest. No problem, I’m sure there will be other opportunities. I improvised 2d6 (nine) bandits on the way back. They were taken care of by a single sleep spell. Apparently the spell allows no save!
Ok, what did I use at the table?
Many of these require reservation!
When I read Opening Your Game Table by Justin Alexander, I started thinking about DM Peter’s Grenzmarken campaign that tries to follow a West Marches model. I played in Season 1 of that campaign and enjoyed it very much. In Season 2 character goals got introduced. Going on adventures in pursuit of those goals during the game earns you an experience point bonus. Writing about your character on the wiki also earns you experience points.
I decided to share Justin’s article on Google Buzz and some comments were made that got me thinking about running a campaign with a changing pool of players. This page tries to summarize the discussion on Google Buzz.
Justin basically advocates that expeditions into a mega-dungeon enable this sort of play. He also says that there are probably other ways of achieving it, but he didn’t know of any.
I argued that I’ve been doing something along these lines by having a big pool of players both for my Monday and my Sunday games. At one point I had seven regular players! Some of these players showed up for every single session, other players had to skip sessions every now and then.
There were two drawbacks to this very simple method:
Turning a blind eye to editing errors works well enough if the players are willing to accept the somewhat lame excuses. In some instances, this can even add to the game world in that players will post on the wiki a sentence or two explaining what their characters have been up to. But Justin nails it on the head when he comments that “it can also be very dissatisfying; and if you’re seeing complete player turn-over (nobody here this week was here last week) then the effect can be completely disjointed.”
Some time ago the Triple Secret Random Dungeon Fate Chart of Very Probable Doom by Jeff Rients inspired the OSR. It essential forced characters back into a safe haven at the end of the session. I guess something similar could be cooked up with a wilderness map. One of the remaining problems would be explaining the presence of characters that ended their last games in different save havens. I haven’t tried using the table because I’m afraid my players wouldn’t like it. But I can’t forget it either.
Thus, while I think this episodic play with a changing cast of players is already possible outside a megadungeon, finding more techniques to enable it would be cool.
Lior commented on the fact that maybe we needed to structure our sessions differently. He suggested that each sesssion “has an end that can be reached within 4-6 hours of play.” I think he wanted achievable ends in every session.
How to achieve a simple structure without also falling back to formulaic adventures? Set a scene, small fight, scene, big fight, loot, epilogue? You can spice it up with offline contributions on a campaign wiki, character goals, but in essence you’re recreating the format of TV series where at the end of the session the status quo has been regained. This problem gets worse if you only have three hours per session during the week.
Trying to think of orthogonal methods of solving the problem I thought of Burning Empires. This Luke Crane game is mostly similar to Burning Wheel with the addition of a competitive players vs. game master plot of planetary conquest. The campaign is split into three phases (infiltration, ursupation and invasion) consisting of six sessions each on average (assuming 4-5h per session according to page 15 of the rule book). And now the interesting part: Every session consists of one or two maneuvers. These are the adventures, and the moves in the strategic game. “Players strategize about maneuvers before diving into the scenes.” There are different kinds of scenes: color scenes to set the scene, building scenes to set up favorable conditions for the real conflict, and conflict scenes where things are resolved. Every player should have their spotlight scene, every side should have their conflict scene. In Burning Wheel, this is then factored into a roll to see who “won” the maneuver, disposition is lost (sort of hit-points per side), and the conflict proceeds to the next maneuver (page 612 f). There’s more discussion of this in the Getting Past the First Turn series of articles on the wiki.)
So, what tools does Luke Crane offer?
Trying to transpose this to the starting adventure of our current Labyrinth Lord campaign, I’d do the following:
Opposition characters: the alchemist is trying to purchase glass wares and cheat players into debt; the sheriff wants to find some allies (already I see a first difference: the other characters in the starting town did not play a big role in our last session; I’d treat the inn-keeper as a minor ally that can be “circled up” using Burning Wheel terminology), the bandits want to rob travelers, the elves in exile want to retake the palace of Seithor.
First maneuver: Characters want the job, the alchemist wants to give them the job and trick them. Second maneuver: Characters want to travel to other village and secure glass wares, bandits try to find and rob them.
Actually, I think this might work. Setting the scene in the inn, finding an ally, finding henchmen, final negotiations… Then skipping the forest and taking the boat, doing stuff, fighting the bandits on the way back… Maybe I just need to make the scene economy and maneuver structure more obvious?
We’d need to think of a common goal uniting all the characters into one “side” of the conflict such that every subset of characters depending on the players present is interested in doing “maneuvers” to win against the opposition.
I’ll have to think about this some more.
Ich habe mal beschlossen $20 in die Hand zu nehmen und etwas Werbung für meine Rollenspiel Zürich Facebook-Seite zu machen. Ganz schön interessant!
Mein erster, deprimierender Versuch:
Geschätzte Reichweite: weniger als 20 Personen
Mit der folgenden Werbung hatte ich zwei (!) click-throughs:
Geschätzte Reichweite: 1.420 Personen
Jetzt habe ich die Kriterien etwas erweitert:
Geschätzte Reichweite: 39.880 Personen
(Wobei dd = D&D)
Wow, die Computer-Rollenspiele sind schon verdammt populär! Am allerpopulärsten sind aber die Vampire. Das hat mich echt erstaunt.
Most people agreed that the Dragon Age RPG is “old school inspired”. And I wondered: What does that mean? This goes back to the various definitions of traditional role-playing games out there.
I think when people think of one of the following ideas whenever they hear old school role-playing games:
Personally, I think that the Dragon Age RPG is a recent game inspired by the old games and clearly not a clone of an existing game. Thus it basically belongs to the Old School Renaissance.
I think this also has two other consequences:
I think this is supported by my favorite Rob Conley quote: “It is about going back to the roots of our hobby and seeing what we could do differently.” I think Chris Pramas and Green Ronin are doing just that with the Dragon Age RPG.
I also liked Daniel M. Perez’ blog post Wait, There’s A Video Game As Well? where he explains that he never played the video game and he still enjoys the game. That’s a big plus in my book!
I’d love to get into a campaign.
Last time Noah had learnt that his priest of the Iron God could remain at an abbey in Yellzurthi for a year and study to be great and gain levels. Apparently he had been thinking about this ever since the last session because he announced that this is what his character was going to do. Without missing a beat, the others handed him a new character sheet for the character he was going to play in the mean time. Awesome old school spirit, I say!
I started using my Character Generation Shortcuts. He didn’t know what to play with the stats he had rolled, so I asked him if he was going to be religious (cleric). He was not, and thus he rolled on the fighter table. The result was mercenary and I explained that the Swiss used to be fighting as mercenaries all over Europe. Immediately his character switched to a different Swiss dialect. We looked up pictures of halberds in a book I had bought (Weapon by Richard Holmes and others). We also rolled up some useful dungeoneering equipment (torches and chalk), a trait (vain, start with a mirror, razor, soap, perfume, kohl, and lipstick) (having lipstick resulted in big laughs all around the table) and being an explorer, thus owning a mule, a map, and being in debt (starting with -20 gp).
The map was immediately understood to be a map leading the party to the hidden fortress of the Mitra resistance in the area (remember we’re running this in Rob Conley’s Wilderlands setting from his book Points of Light.
The new character was called Voldemort. A bit later the name Tom Riddle was added to that. I said that Voldemort was obviously a forbidden name and that nobody should speak it aloud. The kids couldn’t resist, of course, and so I said that I’d be rolling a d20 and on a result of 20 something wicked was going to happen. Zeno said that they should be careful, but the kids proceeded to chant “Voldemort! Voldemort!” This happened while they were being attacked by ten pirates. I decreed that an Erynne (from the Swords & Wizardry Monster Book: 0e Reloaded) showed up in the middle of the fight.
To make a long story short, once again their daddy’s character bit the dust… And it was a Str 18 fighter, too! This is the second time the kids caused their dad’s character’s demise. I laughed.
I actually wrote a session report (in German).
Wow, what a spam storm! I rolled back all those changes and locked the wiki for the moment. There’s no fighting a bot manually. 😊
I’ll look into what allowed this to happen later today and hopefully enable page editing and commenting again.
Update: IP number blocked, lock removed. That was weird.
Seit dem 8. September 1961 erscheint der Groschenroman um Perry Rhodan, den ersten Astronauten, der auf dem Mond gelandet ist. Man bedenke, dass die erste reale Mondlandung am 21. Juli 1969 statt fand. Seither beschreibt die Serie eine Art von retro-future. Jeweils 50, 100, oder 200 Bänder à 50-70 Seiten erzählen ein grosses Kapitel der sich ewig fortsetzenden Geschichte. Die Hauptfiguren sind unsterblich, in der Serie ist man im sechsten Jahrtausend angekommen, pro Woche ein Heft über fünfzig Jahre macht etwa 2500 Hefte insgesamt.
Angenommen ich lese jede Woche ein Heft à 70 Seiten im A5 Format, dann muss ich jeden Tag 10 Seiten lesen. Wenn ich doppelt so schnell lese, brauche ich fünfzig Jahre, um aufzuholen! Das ist ja schon fast ein Lebenswerk!
Zur Serie gab es übrigens auch ein Rollenspiel. Und gerade sehe ich, dass Ende letztes Jahr die Lizenz ausgelaufen ist. Wenn ich das richtig durchblickt habe, war der Midgard Autor Jürgen Franke auch Mitautor des Perry Rhodan Rollenspiels.
Ich habe mir auf alle Fälle die Hefte 0001-0099 als PDF Dateien gekauft und bin im Moment an Band #3. Es gibt noch viel zu tun!