Monday, February 9, 2015

Combining City of Heroes and Necessary Evil - the Framework

Once I decided to combine these two things, I took a look at what I had to work with and how I wanted to integrate them:

  • Necessary Evil has 11 adventures that form the main plot, plus 20-odd more written adventures, plus a random adventure generator which is pretty solid. There is plenty of material here for a year-long campaign - it's more a question of what I'm going to leave out than what I need to add in. I'd be doing that even if I ran it in the original setting.
  • NE has its own setting and its own lore and some of the reveals in the adventure are very much tied to that setting. Changing the setting means changing those elements in some way or leaving them out entirely.
  • Paragon City has extensive lore, numerous characters, and a lot of enemy and friendly groups that players interact with during the game. On a basic level there is some reassignment that needs to be done but my players may want to know what happened to certain groups or teams or characters during and after the invasion, so I have to think beyond just renaming NE's NPC 's with City of Heroes names and re-write how the whole invasion went at a high level. This will give me some guidance when stuff like this comes up on the fly. I've been working on this the most over the past couple of weeks and I'm pretty happy with where it's going.

Speaking of Faultline Dam ...
I was originally thinking it would be a simple "repaint" (e.g. there's a mission involving a dam, well I'll just recast it at the Faultline Dam and we're good!) but there's so much more background available with COH that I want to do a lot more. Attempting to run this on a fixed schedule though means that adding anything in might require eliminating something to make room. With roughly 30 NE adventures and planning to run 12 sessions for the whole campaign (once a month for 2015) I'm looking at 2-3 of those per session before I make any changes. Now these are not lengthy dungeon-crawl type adventures, and Savage Worlds plays pretty fast anyway, so for now I'm going to schedule it out like this:

  • I'm keeping 10 of the original 11 core plot adventures. There's one I didn't like. Now my players have already done the first 3 back when we started this game years ago. So really I have 7 original core plotline items left. 
  • I like about 18 of the "other" NE adventures and think I can adapt them to Paragon City fairly easily.
  • Assuming I can fit in roughly 3 "plots" per session then this leaves me about 11 slots to work in something specifically tied to City of Heroes - about one per session. 
If I can pace this out correctly, that means I run a core plot item once every other session, an "other" plot item every session, sometimes more than one, and one Paragon-specific item per session too.  Now that's all fine as a mathematical exercise, but things rarely flow that neatly in play. Players get interested in a particular character/group/plotline, somebody misses a session, we have to cancel one somewhere, distractions mean we get less done than hoped for - there are a lot of variables. Heck, I don't have a great feel for how much we can get done in a "normal" session just yet so this is all just estimating for now. 

Atlas Park - head-on!
The other main consideration in planing is to make sure each session is self-contained - an episodic campaign rather than a normal serial-type campaign. By the end of session A, we should have completed X,Y, & Z. Playing only once a month I don't want to have to track combat states with a 3-4 week gap in between. This also helps deal with player schedule hiccups, among other things, and it feels more like a comic book anyway. 

Note: Thankfully in a supers game or any mission-based campaign it is possible to do this kind of planning as they tend to be more closely directed and/or more reactive so the GM has a lot of control over when and how things show up. If I was running a sandbox game or a mega dungeon I wouldn't be trying to manage it this way, namely a fixed-time type of campaign.

Now, with a framework for the campaign sketched out, I can start planning what goes into each session. More on that next time!

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