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 Post subject: How Far Ahead Do You Plan Your Campaign?
PostPosted: Tue Mar 17, 2009 10:03 am 
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I'm curious about various answers to this, and the strategies secretly contained therein....

I'm currently prepping an extended adventure (following on from an extended adventure of last year, so a campaign of sorts). I have an overall arc of events linked by a major problem and an ultimate solution, with a few red herrings along the way. But really, I plan about two session's worth of material ahead. Everything beyond that could change, if the heroes zig instead of zag. The adventure that kicked off this campaign, had all sorts of encounters that got jetisonned along the way, and there was one session I basically made up as we went along, since at the conclusion of the previous session they didn't get quite as far as I had hoped we might. So, I had no clue which direction they might turn in. I just brought lots of NPCs, monsters and ideas to that next session and followed their lead and plunked things down in their path for them to deal with (the kidnaping of a high-profile NPC in their care became the focus).

So, when you are planning an adventure or campaign, do you plan out all the details out to the Nth degree for months to come, wing the whole thing, or do something in between?

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Gnome Boy (a.k.a. "Jon") • DCC play-tester @ DDC 35, Feb 2011. • Beta DL 2111, 7:00 AM PT, 8 June 11.
Playing RPGs since 1977 • Quasi-occasional member of the Legion of 8th-Level Fighters - Holds the power to play gnomes at will!

Here Be DCC Monsters...

General Yoros, Warrior, Str 13, Agl 8 (10), Stm 17, Per 13, Int 11, Lck 8; Law, HP 39, AC 17, R+2, F+4, W+2, band/shld, warhammer, longsword, longbow, pitchfork

Han Dee, (Weaver) Neutral Thief, Str 10, Agi 13, Stm 11, Per 11, Int 15, Lck 14, AC 13 (Leather), HP 25, Luck Die d6, Backstab 3, Sneak Silently 10, Hide In Shadows 9, Pick Pocket 10, Climb Sheer 10, Pick Lock 9, Find Trap 9, Disable Trap 9, Forge Doc 10, Disguise 3, Read Lang 5, Handle Poison 3, Cast Scroll d14+2, birth augur (Born under the loom) +1 to all skill checks (including thief skills), Banepicks (auto pick lock/disable trap, but lose 1d3 random ability loss, if a 3 then 1 pt is perm)


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 Post subject: Re: How Far Ahead Do You Plan Your Campaign?
PostPosted: Tue Mar 17, 2009 2:58 pm 
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Quote:
So, when you are planning an adventure or campaign, do you plan out all the details out to the Nth degree for months to come, wing the whole thing, or do something in between?


Long term - I usually have an ending that I'm aiming for, and several "big picture" events in mind that I want to lead there. I leave it all fairly rough, so I can change things depending on how the campaign goes and what the players do. There's a plan ... but much like the Cylon's plan, it's pretty hazy.

Short term - for the individual adventures I run at home, I tend to have two or three directions/options that the players can go in at any moment. (They can investigate the haunted theater, or explore the sewers, or ... you get the idea). Having multiple options gives the illusion of free will instead of turning the adventure into an obvious railroad. In some ways, it's still a railroad ... it just has a couple of different tracks. :roll:

I also layer in clues to the short-term options that lead back to other choices, whether they're old ones or new ones. For example, if the heroes go to investigate the aforementioned haunted theater, I usually drop in one or two clues that suggest crawling through the sewers might be a good idea afterwards. It takes a little bit of juggling initially, but by the second or third time running a campaign, I've got enough options for the players open (and enough loose ways of connecting them all) that I can cover just about any contingency, and deal with just about any direction that they want to go.

Detailed plans rarely survive contact with the players. While I have a plan, it tends to be as loose and as fluid as possible.

So, short answer ... "something in-between". :D

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 Post subject: Re: How Far Ahead Do You Plan Your Campaign?
PostPosted: Wed Mar 18, 2009 10:24 am 
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Mike_Ferguson wrote:
Having multiple options gives the illusion of free will instead of turning the adventure into an obvious railroad. In some ways, it's still a railroad ... it just has a couple of different tracks. :roll:

I also layer in clues to the short-term options that lead back to other choices, whether they're old ones or new ones.

I'm totally not opposed to the idea of 'railroading'.... some folks would like you to believe you should be able to do *anything* at any time... "Okay, so I choose to do nothing"; viable option; not a fun game. There are just those times when there is only one way to go to solve the problem. It happens in life -- why not in games? Plotted properly, and not overdone, one track works.

Also, on your 'layering clues' or 'looping-back' idea, I was lucky enough to learn this technique very early on through running a Champions adventure called Wings of the Valkyrie. Controversial plot, but the murder mystery section at the beginning should be ressurrected in something new and made into a must-read text book on how to plot an RPG adventure. It even had a flow chart to help a GM work through the clues, many of which looped back to other strands of the mystery....

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Gnome Boy (a.k.a. "Jon") • DCC play-tester @ DDC 35, Feb 2011. • Beta DL 2111, 7:00 AM PT, 8 June 11.
Playing RPGs since 1977 • Quasi-occasional member of the Legion of 8th-Level Fighters - Holds the power to play gnomes at will!

Here Be DCC Monsters...

General Yoros, Warrior, Str 13, Agl 8 (10), Stm 17, Per 13, Int 11, Lck 8; Law, HP 39, AC 17, R+2, F+4, W+2, band/shld, warhammer, longsword, longbow, pitchfork

Han Dee, (Weaver) Neutral Thief, Str 10, Agi 13, Stm 11, Per 11, Int 15, Lck 14, AC 13 (Leather), HP 25, Luck Die d6, Backstab 3, Sneak Silently 10, Hide In Shadows 9, Pick Pocket 10, Climb Sheer 10, Pick Lock 9, Find Trap 9, Disable Trap 9, Forge Doc 10, Disguise 3, Read Lang 5, Handle Poison 3, Cast Scroll d14+2, birth augur (Born under the loom) +1 to all skill checks (including thief skills), Banepicks (auto pick lock/disable trap, but lose 1d3 random ability loss, if a 3 then 1 pt is perm)


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 Post subject: Re: How Far Ahead Do You Plan Your Campaign?
PostPosted: Wed Mar 18, 2009 10:49 am 
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Again, this is just my experience.

But I've noticed through the years that if I only offer one option for players to try, and one directions for them to go, they'll resist it. ("The Caves of Chaos? Pfft. Sounds dangerous. We'll stay here at the Keep and rest up.") It doesn't matter if the single option makes the most sense and seems perfectly reasonable, some players have the mentality that if they feel like they're being "forced" to do something, they don't want to do it.

However, if you provide *opportunity* for the players to say no ... they usually don't. I've found that simply by presenting a few options, they'll always jump on at least one of them. It might not be the option I'm most prepared to run, but at least I don't have to drag the players towards one, kicking and screaming.

Quote:
It even had a flow chart to help a GM work through the clues, many of which looped back to other strands of the mystery....


This is a vastly underrated necessity for ongoing campaigns, IMHO.

I tend to make flow charts that show two things - the relationships between PCs and NPCs, and the possible connections between adventure scenarios. (If the PCs go to the Crypt first, I know that the best subsequent options I want them to go is either Back to the City or the Elven Forest. Stuff like that.) It's hard to keep details like that straight all the time without writing it down - at least, it is for me. Just making a few crude flowcharts makes a tremendous difference in being able to track the logical connections between characters, and between events.

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 Post subject: Re: How Far Ahead Do You Plan Your Campaign?
PostPosted: Thu Mar 19, 2009 10:16 am 
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Well, don't get me wrong. I'm not advocating shoving anyone down a single path.... But sometimes, there's that witch out in the woods, and if you don't so something about her, well, what she's doing is going to have a vast and horrible impact on the world. Dealing with her is the one thing that needs doing. When and how is open for interpretation.

As a further side note, I've also had players that thought I wanted them to go down one track, when what I really wanted was for them to go whichever way they wanted to go. They were used to railroading, and comfortable with it, and weren't totally sure how to deal with 'free will' in a game.

Basically, I feel like these are all tools, and part of good GMing is knowing when to use them and when not to use them. :mrgreen:

Not that I'm saying I always know when... :?

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Gnome Boy (a.k.a. "Jon") • DCC play-tester @ DDC 35, Feb 2011. • Beta DL 2111, 7:00 AM PT, 8 June 11.
Playing RPGs since 1977 • Quasi-occasional member of the Legion of 8th-Level Fighters - Holds the power to play gnomes at will!

Here Be DCC Monsters...

General Yoros, Warrior, Str 13, Agl 8 (10), Stm 17, Per 13, Int 11, Lck 8; Law, HP 39, AC 17, R+2, F+4, W+2, band/shld, warhammer, longsword, longbow, pitchfork

Han Dee, (Weaver) Neutral Thief, Str 10, Agi 13, Stm 11, Per 11, Int 15, Lck 14, AC 13 (Leather), HP 25, Luck Die d6, Backstab 3, Sneak Silently 10, Hide In Shadows 9, Pick Pocket 10, Climb Sheer 10, Pick Lock 9, Find Trap 9, Disable Trap 9, Forge Doc 10, Disguise 3, Read Lang 5, Handle Poison 3, Cast Scroll d14+2, birth augur (Born under the loom) +1 to all skill checks (including thief skills), Banepicks (auto pick lock/disable trap, but lose 1d3 random ability loss, if a 3 then 1 pt is perm)


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 Post subject: Re: How Far Ahead Do You Plan Your Campaign?
PostPosted: Thu Mar 19, 2009 3:03 pm 
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GnomeBoy wrote:
But sometimes, there's that witch out in the woods, and if you don't so something about her, well, what she's doing is going to have a vast and horrible impact on the world. Dealing with her is the one thing that needs doing.


I trend toward "free will" kinds of games. I present options through the narration and NPCs, and the heroes respond or not as they see fit.

They may know about the witch, but if they don't deal with her at Opportunity 1, she gets tougher.
If they don't stop her minions at Location A, by the time Opportunity 2 comes around, she's got a cool new toy.
If they miss that chance, they'll have a shot at disrupting an evil meet-n-greet at Location B.
If they fail there, by the time Opportunity 3 comes along, she's really powerful with lots of allies, and I may have Opportunity 3 come looking for them.

(I'm a big fan of having evil seek out heroes once they get a rep)

The way I run games, I have a timetable of events, and a series of factors that affect the timetable. Probably more accurately, I plot out events as if there were no heroes, then give the PCs every opportunity to screw with it.

If the heroes stop the village boys from going hunting in the spooky woods, Bill the Peasant doesn't get kidnapped and the witch doesn't learn about the heroes yet, so she doesn't call for and re-equip the gang of ogres in the Hilly Hills. Now if the heroes go clean out the ogres, they're easy pickings.

Kinda a rambling response, but that's how I run home games.
Writing modules, however...totally different.

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 Post subject: Re: How Far Ahead Do You Plan Your Campaign?
PostPosted: Thu Mar 19, 2009 9:38 pm 
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Jengenritz wrote:
I plot out events as if there were no heroes, then give the PCs every opportunity to screw with it.

This jumps out to me as sage advice... And coupled with the 'if the heroes have a rep, get them' idea, you cover a lot of how to conceptualize an adventure/campaign, right there.

My own metaphor is the playground. I try to build a playground for the PCs to play in. I don't care if they go to the swings first or the monkey bars or the slide, but I try to make each of those options as interesting as I can. Once they start playing, they can decide what to do next and how much time to spend on each feature, and even if they want to go back to something they've already visited.

But, to get back the main topic of this thread, how far out do you plan a campaign, Sir, and what strategies do you employ in doing so...?

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Gnome Boy (a.k.a. "Jon") • DCC play-tester @ DDC 35, Feb 2011. • Beta DL 2111, 7:00 AM PT, 8 June 11.
Playing RPGs since 1977 • Quasi-occasional member of the Legion of 8th-Level Fighters - Holds the power to play gnomes at will!

Here Be DCC Monsters...

General Yoros, Warrior, Str 13, Agl 8 (10), Stm 17, Per 13, Int 11, Lck 8; Law, HP 39, AC 17, R+2, F+4, W+2, band/shld, warhammer, longsword, longbow, pitchfork

Han Dee, (Weaver) Neutral Thief, Str 10, Agi 13, Stm 11, Per 11, Int 15, Lck 14, AC 13 (Leather), HP 25, Luck Die d6, Backstab 3, Sneak Silently 10, Hide In Shadows 9, Pick Pocket 10, Climb Sheer 10, Pick Lock 9, Find Trap 9, Disable Trap 9, Forge Doc 10, Disguise 3, Read Lang 5, Handle Poison 3, Cast Scroll d14+2, birth augur (Born under the loom) +1 to all skill checks (including thief skills), Banepicks (auto pick lock/disable trap, but lose 1d3 random ability loss, if a 3 then 1 pt is perm)


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 Post subject: Re: How Far Ahead Do You Plan Your Campaign?
PostPosted: Tue Jul 27, 2010 2:00 pm 
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first of all !! I have noticed through the years that If I only offer one option for players to try and one Directions for them to go, They will resist it. It does not matter . If the single option makes the most sense and seems perfectly reasonable, some players have the mentality that If they feel like they are being "forced" to do something, they do not want to do it. However, If you provide *opportunity* for the players to say no . They usually do not accepted and I have found that simply by presenting a few options, :P

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 Post subject: Re: How Far Ahead Do You Plan Your Campaign?
PostPosted: Sat Jul 31, 2010 9:46 am 
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My DMing style is to try and let the players do what they want. As a player myself I always hated making say a ninja. Then never getting to really play him as a ninja because of the rail we were stuck on! When planning I would spend most my time on the beginning then a fair amount on the middle and almost none on the end. I did this because players seemed to follow along with the story line the most in the beginning to get things rolling. Once they got an idea of what they were supposed to do they would start planning. This could take you in any direction. I'm still amazed at the things people dream up that I would never think of. The end is mostly up in the air. When we get closer to the end I do more planning for it and try to make it a big climax. Although until we get to it I don't see a need to do a lot of planning ahead. So I guess my answer is that I lean more towards free wheeling it.

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 Post subject: Re: How Far Ahead Do You Plan Your Campaign?
PostPosted: Mon Nov 29, 2010 1:46 pm 
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I've tried planning every detail and planning no details and each style works well with some groups, fails with other groups. As with most things, the "correct" answer is probably somewhere in the middle.

The problem with planning too many details is the "railroad" effect where players start thinking "what am I supposed to do next" instead of "what do I want to do next." I ran into this in the 1970-80 years when I tried out the Star Wars RPG (West End Games) and James Bond 007 RPG (Victory Games). In both instances, players tried to follow an expected plot too closely. "Okay, we've rescured the princess, now let's escape to Yavin and destroy the Death Star." Sometimes it's hard to get them to tell their own stories becasue they think they are supposed to follow the story they are familar with already.

The problem with not planning any details is the "now what?" effect. I ran a modern paranormal game (with Dresden Files RPG rules) where I had prepared a newspaper full of articles with leads and dead-ends. The group enjoyed reading the paper, but then couldn't decide what the were "supposed" to do next -- there were too many options!

My most successful campaigns have a clearly defined goal but lots of ways to achieve it.

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 Post subject: Re: How Far Ahead Do You Plan Your Campaign?
PostPosted: Sat Apr 09, 2011 1:36 am 
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GnomeBoy wrote:
But, to get back the main topic of this thread, how far out do you plan a campaign, Sir, and what strategies do you employ in doing so...?

It's slow board, but this is threadnomancy in my book.

For the first session of a new campaign I have rather small onions of dungeons in the overall dungeon (world) area. This includes all alignment areas (lawful civilization, neutral wilderness, chaotic barbarism) on a small scale, but to be grown Referee's Map. I detail this the way D&D recommends, with the PCs starting on the level 1 layer with progressively more difficult layers within each alignment territory. For example, B2. The keep map, the wilderness map, the chaos caves. It's a campaign starter in a bo... er, module.

Why design this way? Because as a reality puzzle game I'm running the world as a determinist universe. The design is a variant of Conway's Game of Life, but with far more rules, and yet less than you'd think. The maps and description define the configuration of the puzzle world for any given slice of time past, present, and future.

So, also for the first session, and for every single session there after, I generate out the current configuration. That means running the puzzle forward to generate the changes in the world along a time line. This is my scenario for the session. It is as broad, deep, and temporally long as will cover everything the players can get to during the length of the game session. If they reach an edge early, I stop. But it isn't that hard generally as they get interested more often than bored telling me to move time forward.

As this is a reality puzzle game, basically your standard cooperative simulation game hidden as a code behind a screen, it is played like a situational puzzle. This means everything the players attempt in the attempt/result format of play that is NOT accounted for in the code is right then in session added to the code. See why I have to generate a new scenario for every session between each session? The players grow the puzzle game each time we play, so each session scenario can only be generated after every other.

And what about the starting configuration? Or howabout adding to the outer edges of the onion when the waves hit these edges?

Well, that stuff is pretty easily tracked and, when I think I need to expand out the area, I add more converted modules. Modules are a big requirement to this style of play and converting them is something I do when I think I have a good one. Not that players don't tell me to include one's they like too. But I tell them it won't be exactly as they read it. I need to convert it to my rules so it's balanced according to the system I use. Actually, I prefer material the players come up with themselves. Stuff like their character background or simply "hey, let's go search the forest for a leprechaun!" It's all material they add, but I flesh out what they didn't with all the stats I cover and place it in the world.

FYI, this is a system I heard through the DM word of mouth mill at college back in the early 90's. It's only not until the past decade have I ever been a part of a campaign run in this manner. And I liked it so much now so do I.


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 Post subject: Re: How Far Ahead Do You Plan Your Campaign?
PostPosted: Fri Jul 27, 2012 2:02 am 
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To answer the question of this thread: I never plan farther ahead than the next adventure. The first adventure is always a struggle for me but once the players have taken action in the world it's easy enough to lay the groundwork for whatever should follow. When the players keep getting distracted with their own goals and plotlines, I've always seen that struggle of trying to start the next adventure as part of the GM's job.

But when players don't have their own goals?
finarvyn wrote:
The problem with not planning any details is the "now what?" effect. I ran a modern paranormal game (with Dresden Files RPG rules) where I had prepared a newspaper full of articles with leads and dead-ends. The group enjoyed reading the paper, but then couldn't decide what the were "supposed" to do next -- there were too many options!


"When in doubt, have two guys come through the door with guns." - Raymond Chandler

I've applied this quote of Chandler's to my open world games before. When the players languish and don't know what to do, I just have a few thugs show up to rough one of them up. They always have enemies somewhere and it's easy enough to tie these enemies into a fresh plot, which will have connections to other plots and stories. I always assume that once the PCs start down a path they can gain enough momentum to just keep rolling through every plotline I might have planned.

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 Post subject: Re: How Far Ahead Do You Plan Your Campaign?
PostPosted: Sun Aug 19, 2012 7:26 am 
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This is a fascinating thread.

It's been a while since I've mapped out a fantasy campaign, but I've been doing a lot of stuff with other games, mostly Warhammer 40k Dark Heresy RPG.

That game has the advantage (but also limitation) of an exhaustively predefined campaign world. This can constrain things a bit, but makes a lot of the "common sense" of the characters' world fairly intuitive. How I approach campaign-building, though, is through defining the structure of motivations of various people/factions in the campaign world.

Recently, for example, I've created a world (a Place, with physical confines that serve both as context and also provide various options for agency) where there are Imperial and provincial interests, the Law and various criminals, the Ecclesiarchy of the Cult of the Emperor, the Imperial Navy, a secret society of sorcerers, and the PCs themselves. Right now, they have other factions and persons with whom they interact, these from the history of the various story lines that have occurred in the campaign (over the course of about three years). I try as much as possible to do things that make sense within that configuration of actors, motivations, and the forms of agency available to them. Here's an example of some of my campaign info for our current storyline.

First, on the issue of Place: I like to provide enough details that my players have a sense of where they are, down to describing the geography, a general sense of the weather, and a general sense of the relationships between the physical locations and the people and things in them.

A sample of Place:

Quote:
PLACES

Ursula II (a.k.a. Valis)

Ursula II is the only habitable planet in the Ursula System, and is called "Valis" by its inhabitants. Valis is a medium sized planet in a system with three small to large gas giants, and their accompanying moons. There is also a large and rich asteroid belt inside of the orbits of the gas giants, but relatively distant from Valis. Most likely, these are the remains of at least three planets. It is an imperial world, and is the seat of a largish, and tense, congregation of Imperial interests.

These interests include the Imperial Navy, the Ministorum, the Adeptus Arbites, and, of course, the Emperor's Most Holy Inquisition. There is also an entrenched nobility, mostly in the two major hive cities, and tensions tend to run high among them. There is, in addition, a small but influential criminal underground, led by two crime lords whose interests run in different directions (for now).

Among other things, the Ursula system contains an important refueling station for the Imperial Fleet, a lot of asteroid mining, some manufacturing, and a limited amount of agriculture. The planet Valis (aka Ursula II) is host to a large Adeptus Arbites training base. For this reason, the planet is considered to be among the most orderly planets in the Empire. This is true among the commoners, who are relentlessly surveilled by the Adepus Arbites trainees, and, as a result, the criminal underground of Valis is secretive and incredibly paranoid. Its members tend to either stay out of the spotlight entirely, or to take on "protective coloring" as businessmen and philanthropists.

The nobility of Valis, on the other hand, fight and feud among themselves like unto the fabled Stunties with their Book of Grudges. Many of the families have lineages which have "always been at war" with other families. Their dwellings usually are castle-like hive towers, and each family seeks to outdo the others in its own particular ways. Assassinations are common, and dueling is both common and accepted. The nobility, male and female alike, are expected to carry dueling pistols and/or swords, and to be able to use them.


So, we introduce the place and the people. There are a lot of other details (e.g., the two hive cities, the various seats of power of the factions, etc.), but this is the background for the more granular details.

As far as the NPC factions and their motivations, I represent them a bit like this. Here are my notes about two of the eight noble houses and how they relate to each other. It also includes info about who in those factions are the focal NPCs, the ones who actually will interact with the PCs:
Quote:
House de Jagger

House de Jagger is one of the oldest and most honored of the Great Houses of Valis. They are reputed to be exemplary citizens of the Empire, and are pious followers of the Imperial Creed, donating generously to various Ministorum charities, which explains their friendly relations with Sapphon, the Crime Lord. They are, however, pretty thorny about their reputation, and expect a high degree of respect. They are excellent duelists.

Base of Operations: Spire de Jagger, Greystone
Motivation(s):
1. Primary: Reputation of the house.
2. Secondary: Service to the Empire.
3. Tertiary: Personal glory

Potential Allies:
• Senjak’s party
• Ministorum Witchfinders
• Adeptus Arbites
• Sapphon
• House Dakkarta
• House Gallo

Enemies and Potential Enemies:
• House Mythrux
• Willian Bellhouse
• House Narutha
• House Paxxu

This Faction Consists Of:
• Groot de Jagger, Patriarch. Straight-shooter, associated with the Adeptus Arbites. His daughter, Cornelia, was one of the young nobles killed by the daemonhost. He wants to get to the bottom of this, and lusts for vengeance.


House Paxxu
At war with House Cortenses over control of shipping and manufacturing interests. They are merchant magnates of the highest order: venal, greedy, and just a little bit evil.

Base of Operations: Spire Paxxu, Greystone
Motivation(s):
1. Primary: Power
2. Secondary: Destroy House Cortenses, once and for all
3. Tertiary: Destroy Sapphon, and take over his enterprises.
Potential Allies:
• Adeptus Arbites (because of their hatred of criminals)
• Administratum (because of their ability to produce revenues and exploit resources)
Enemies and Potential Enemies:
• House Cortenses (traditional enemy)
• Sapphon (because of their harsh treatment of workers)
This Faction Consists Of:
• Paxxu Melus, Patriarch—He is not aware of his young daughter’s involvement with sorcery, and would probably kill her, himself, if he knew. Much of his day to day work involve running the business interests, dealing with the crime families that run the system’s shipping concerns, and so forth.
• Paxxu Gloriana, Youngest Daughter of Patriarch--She is a spoiled little tart, with no morals to speak of, but she presents herself well, and is far, far more intelligent and cunning that her shallow socialite demeanor would lead one to believe. In "normal" society, she is considered the greatest beauty on Valis, and uses her looks, wits, and ruthless nature to great effect, cutting a swath through her vastly overmatched peers. She is, however, a bit of a prude, and usually uses the implicit promise of sex, rather than its actuality, to achieve her ends.

Secretly, she is a sorceress, and a member of The Order of the Infinite Way. She is affliated with Miklas Freeny, though she has embraced darker magics, and sees him as naïve about the true nature of power. She is a former apprentice of Miklas Freeny, but he's grown wary of her increasing power. She trusts him, to an extent, and will support him against his rivals, though mainly to keep him around until she can get him to part with some of his great store of arcane knowledge. She was jealous of Davilia Mythrux’s growing influence, though she wouldn’t whore herself out to him like, “that slut.” She resents the growing distance between herself and Freeny, and is incredibly glad to be rid of Davilia Mythrux.


Finally, I try to have a sense of what possibilities are in play. This means that there is a plot afoot, and that the PCs have a stake in dealing with it. In this case, they work for a relatively puritan faction of the Inquisition, and they have recently discovered the existence of a cabal of heretics consisting of practitioners of old-style sorcery (not the Psychic powers, not simply evil Chaos magic). Here's how I set that up:

Quote:
What's really going on?

The planet's nobility contains elements of a very, very old order of sorcerers, The Order of the Infinite Way. Their symbol looks like an ankh, but with a Moebius Strip in place of the regular, single loop. They are sorcerers, some powerful and some not, and they tend to draw members from the nobility, especially among the Great Houses of Mythrux, Dekkarta, and Paxxu.

A member of the Order of the Infinite Way, Miklas Freeny, brought in a new member, his young mistress Davilia Mythrux, who more or less began to teach the magic she was learning to her peers, in order to show off and gain status among them. The young nobles tried to create a daemonhost out of a mendicant found in one of the hive city's seedier districts, not taking it as anything but an amusing diversion. Many of them had no clue what could (or would) happen next. Things did not, shall we say, go as planned. The mistress was killed along with her circle of dilettantes, and her lover/teacher's grimoire was recovered at the crime scene. It is the malefic codex found in the room where the creature was made to exist. Feeny will want to recover it at all costs.

Miklas Freeny. is also, in fact, the leader of The Order of the Infinite Way, and has many resources at his disposal, though they will have to be deployed subtly, so that The Order is not discovered. He is motivated to act now, not only because of the obvious danger of discovery by the Inquisition, but also by his anger at himself for falling prey to the oldest of magics: Feminine wiles. He also, now, and somewhat irrationally, has hardened his stance toward House Mythrux, largely due to the fact that one of its members (Davilia, his mistress) precipitated all of his current problems. He fears that Alize Mythrux might just use this incident, should it come fully to light, to replace him as leader of The Order. He is not incorrect in this, by the way. She does want to do that. This campaign to replace his leadership, probably, would precede (but only by the slimmest of margins) her campaign to end his life.


So, all in all, I think my approach is a literary one. I provide settings, characters and factions with real motivations, a sense of a plot (or several to choose from), and a the ongoing, historical inertia of the campaign as it has unfolded, complete with friends and enemies acquired along the way, and so forth.

I think it would be hard to do all of this in a module, but I think that most modules (good ones) do tend to provide, as one of you suggested, a "playground" (or theme park, perhaps), in which certain things that are possible, probable, definite, unlikely, etc. It also is sort of hard to do in that the GM (and players to some extent) have to remember a LOT of information. I like that, though, because I'd rather have a good sense of all of these things, as I don't necessarily try to drive the action if I don't need to. While the various plots and motivations and so forth do lead fairly predictably along various tracks, my "railroad" has many tracks to choose from. To extend this metaphor, the PCs also have knowledge that some of the things happening on each of those tracks are way more important than others, both in terms of their "mission" and in terms of their broader, long-term campaign goals.


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 Post subject: Re: How Far Ahead Do You Plan Your Campaign?
PostPosted: Mon Jan 07, 2013 1:49 pm 
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Wild-Eyed Zealot

Joined: Sun May 18, 2008 7:47 pm
Posts: 81
I want to plan further ahead but never seem to find the time. As my players have expressed various interests, I've modified my plan. My campaign started with discovering a book and delivering it to the person who could decipher it. I had intended for it to be about that book. Instead they started investigating the history of the native people and has spun off from there.

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Identical Games


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 Post subject: Re: How Far Ahead Do You Plan Your Campaign?
PostPosted: Mon Jan 07, 2013 3:23 pm 
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Hard-Bitten Adventurer

Joined: Thu Apr 09, 2009 7:14 pm
Posts: 138
I'm DAMN lucky if I have fully read the store bought adventure I'm running and more often than not my own homemade adventures are scrawled out on one page of notes.

I might go by them or I might not.

I have a HUGE book that I slam full of maps,npc's,adventure ideas,traps,names for everything from Inn's to hobgoblins(even a three page Book list and five page What in its pockets list),riddles(and the answers)pictures(people,places and things).

I'm all over the map.

I am not aiming to tell a story,create a work of art or express myself. I don't care if something is unrealistic or makes since(to a point).

My aim is to have fun and make sure everyone else has fun to.

Now my idea of fun is sometimes the Ogre pounds you to death with a large stick and then eats you. I find that all kinds of funny. At the same time if you shut my egomaniac powermad Wizard up by slamming your sword through his face....I find that fun to! Even more so if I had planned for that guy to be the huge eventual big bad villain!

Due to this I might at most have a rough idea of where I want things to head and perhaps have the next three adventures sketched out but that could change on a dime.

One thing I realized years ago was I will NEVER be able to guess what the players will do,think and come up with ahead of time.


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