2019-10-05 Campaign Progression

@lskh recently asked about predetermining the main plot when starting a new campaign. My campaigns end up having a main plot after a while, but not from the beginning.

I usually just play about ten sessions of predetermined adventures: I just pick a few modules, or write up a few missions and maybe a dungeon or two, to set my players up with something to do. I’m basically throwing a bunch of not-so-urgent plots at the players to see what they’re interested in. These plots must be slow moving, less important ones, so players don’t feel like they must get involved. I need to see that they want to get involved. It’s unfair to do this when people are dying and the world is ending.

For example, the Alder King wants to know what the loggers of Barrum Bay are up to; random encounters point to lizard people on giant wasps scouting the territory; a dwarf merchant has an extra eye stalk and seems way too noisy. Eventually, this might lead to a campaign involving a war between the woodlands and civilization, or an invasion of the lizard people and their super lizards grown strong with dragon blood, or the exploration of dwarven strongholds ruled by devils and beholders.

I think the problem players have when faced with urgent problems is that they feel they have no choice. same with adventures with a ticking clock. As long as the clock is ticking, I don’t think people feel free to do something else instead. That is why I try to limit that to very short arcs, if at all.

However, once the main plot is set provisionally, I will add many distractions to test their resolve. Perhaps they prefer to follow up on the troll king? Or the netherworld elves? Or take over the oil fields of Boghra Little? Essentially I am promising my players that I will be expanding the campaign if they start looking for stuff. The more they look into something the more there is to find.

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