Thursday, August 25, 2016

Campaign Status and the What's Next Conundrum

If you're a GM who's running an ongoing campaign you know there is some pressure to have some idea of what's happening "next" - next session, next month, next year, etc. In a heavily plotted campaign it's somewhat easier to manage as there's a plot to follow. With a sandbox campaign you might have the local region sketched out and some idea of what's going on there. You have to be careful though because players have a tendency to wreck detailed plans as fast as you can come up with them. My approach is not to waste time on a lot of detail for more than the next session or two and just have an outline, a sketch, of what's going on where and how the players might stumble into it. For me, the sweet spot is "I know where we are and I have some idea of where we might go next".

Right now the existing campaigns are in a pretty good place:

  • With Pathfinder we are working our way through an adventure path - no worries there. We'll be playing it for another year most likely.
  • With d6 Star Wars I know where they are going at the end of the current hyperspace jump and I have an idea of what is there. No worries here either. This will be a largely player-driven space sandbox with no particular destination in mind on my part. 
  • With Deadlands the Apprentices are in the middle of an adventure - a short one, but still - so the next session or two is pretty straightforward. Long term we will probably investigate some of the published adventures.
  • With ICONS I have an adventure I want to run so when we get time and interest that's what we will do.  It should be a single session so it will continue our nicely episodic approach to that game. Down the road I have several adventures I like plus some homebrew ideas to explore. 
  • With M&M I also have an adventure I want to run. It is not a single-session type and will probably take 5 or 6 to complete. The trick is finding a window where all of the players who start it could continue to meet every week or two in order to finish it. I really want to run it and I don't want it to fall apart or have a 3-month break in the middle so I'm being picky about starting it. It may be an "intermission" between the Pathfinder AP books 3 & 4. 
  • Marvel Heroic is one we only play every once in a while but we always have a really good time when we do. The good thing is that I have a definite (though pretty flexible) campaign in mind for it and we are ready to start the second chapter of that the next time we play. Plenty of material ready to go!
  • The best thing about Savage Worlds apart from the system itself is the plot point campaigns - typically it's a setting, a campaign outline, and supporting adventures all in one book. It means I always have "one in the chamber", ready to go, for at least six different campaigns.  
Before anyone gets too jealous let me say a lot of these games are not on any regular schedule. We played Star Wars d6 twice in July, and if we're lucky we will work in another session labor day weekend, and I'm not sure when the next one will be between then and Thanksgiving. The boys are still excited about it, I just don't have all 3 of them here very often. We had our second or third Deadlands session of the year then too, and the last Marvel game was in February. I tend to have one or two games running on any kind of regular schedule and the rest drop in when we can manage it.  

Other games on the horizon are a little less set:
  • For FFG Star Wars I have a pretty good idea of where and how I want to start and where I want to go after that but a lot of it will depend on actually getting a game started and seeing what the players want to do. I could probably summarize it as a 12-episode outline with some notes but that might be getting a little carried away at this point. 
  • The DCC RPG has a lot of published adventures but no particular, expressly stated setting. I have chosen one to use as a starting point (probably one good session) and then one more as a follow-up (probably 1-2 more good sessions). I figure 3 sessions of material is plenty for a new game. After that we will have to see how much everyone likes it and how we want to continue. If I need a world to play in I have a homebrew I have used for Basic/Labyrinth Lord in the past and I would likely just adapt it as it has some similar flavorings. I might also set it in Greyhawk. Not sure, have to see how it goes. 
  • Runequest: I have a nice retro-rulebook and an idea of what I would like to do with it for a session or two. That's enough to get a game going.
  • For Trek I have a fairly solid idea on where to start for a Next Gen campaign and I'm working on a TOS idea too.  
The odds that I will run multiple sessions of all 4 of these before the end of 2016 is slim. I'd like to at least have a try-out session of all of them but even that is tricky. 

The real conundrums:
  • Savage Rifts: The rules look great and I have a bunch of material ... and that's the problem! I wrote up my previous experiences with starting a Rifts campaign here but I still haven't decided what I want to do with the next one. There are plenty of options, I just don't know where I want to start things up.
  • 5th Edition: I had mixed feelings about my first experience as a player but I want to give it another chance. I don't really like what I've read of the big published campaigns so I'l be homebrewing or converting some stuff that I do like. Part of it is going to be influenced by setting:
    • Back to the Realms? Maybe a Return to the Ruins of Adventure again? Give Haunted Halls a try? Finally try that Waterdeep game I think about every few years? Also - when should it take place?
    • Greyhawk? I haven't touched it in years but I've had a lot of fun there. Plus most of the classic adventures have a home there. Maybe run the Temple/Giants/Drow in the original setting?
    • Scarred Lands? This was my favorite 3E setting and there's a 5E version of it due out soon from a Kickstarter. Because Pathfinder exists I can't see us going back to 3E any time soon and I like running PF in it's own setting so Scarn is not likely to get attention that way either. 
    • Homebrew? I have more than a few worlds of my own, some of which were written for D&D games a long time ago. I could dust one of them off and see where it goes. 
    • Wild cards: Eberron? Probably not. Dark Sun? Nah. Primeval Thule? That one does look interesting. 

Beyond all this I still have other stuff I want to try. I'd like to introduce the boys to Traveller and Gamma World. I'd like to run through an old Marvel Super Heroes adventure. I'd like to play some old DC Heroes with the crew. FASA Trek sits there staring at me on the shelf. Champions awaits a rebirth for at least a one-shot. Then by next year we're going to have the Mutant Crawl Classics stuff from that Kickstarter, Freedom City for M&M 3E, a new Star Trek game, and I'm sure there will be a Savage Worlds Kickstarter of some kind because they seem to have at least one every year now. 

Then there are the mini's and the boardgames.

Man, I need more time.

Anyway, there's the present and the future and at least as many questions as answers. The good thing is that in between all of the grown-up stuff, work. relationships, and all of the kid stuff we still manage to find time to have fun with this stuff too. 

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