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General Forge Forums => Actual Play => Topic started by: dsellars on April 21, 2006, 09:11:00 AM

Title: Could I have some advice on getting my campaign started?
Post by: dsellars on April 21, 2006, 09:11:00 AM
Hello All,

This is my first post here so please be gentle I've probably misunderstood things round here, I have tried to read around things though :), I also hope that this is an appropriate topic and in the correct area.  I chose AP as it is about a game that I am intending to run and I would like some advice about how to progress.

Firstly a little about me and my role playing background hopefully this might give a little context.  The first game I played was Warhammer Fantasy Role Play which I bought when I was quite young but didn't get round to playing till I was at uni (finding people to play with).  I have since played a little 3rd ed D&D which was fun but didn't sit well with me.  More recently I have played TroS (which I rate as my favorite system to date) and now I'm back in a full circle at the new edition of Warhammer and GMing for pretty much the first time (I ran a little TRoS a while ago but we didn't use the SA rules to their full potential).

Basically what I am wanting to do is run some WFRP to some friends I am also playing with the idea of bringing SA's from TRoS in as the reward mechanic (not sure of exact details yet may be exp for playing up to them) but I'm not sure how good an idea this is.  To complicate matters this is going to be run of the Internet (using fantasy grounds) due to geographical considerations.

From looking round this forum I like the idea of creating a dynamic character driven scenario that the players can take ownership of as well as just the GM (you've made me think and also got me confused!), I'm also intrigued by a narrative apporach.

So really to the crux of my post, is trying to run a game like WFRP (which I think is very Sim orientated) in a free form character driven way a recipe for disaster and unsatisfied players?

I've chosen WFRP for a number of reasons such as it's pretty simple, I like the background, and I have a lot of time invested in creating a charsheet for the online tool.  I'm not so keen on just writing a plot then guiding them through it, I may as well just write story and email it to them.  Neither do I want to ramble on about nothing in particular.  One worry I have about the more open relationship map kind of game is that it might turn out as more soap-opera rather than adventure.

Sorry this post has rambled a bit and seem unclear, I guess in a way I'm trying to work out what I want so I know what I'm taking to the table when I ask my players what they want from the game.

Thanks for you time for reading so far,

Title: Re: Could I have some advice on getting my campaign started?
Post by: rafial on April 21, 2006, 09:53:23 AM
A friend of mine just had some good success running a WFRP2 game incorporating some of the ideas that you see around here... Here is a reference ( to an early version of his idea for a Doom mechanic in WFRP.  I've pointed him to this thread, and perhaps he can describe his eventual version in more detail.

Title: Re: Could I have some advice on getting my campaign started?
Post by: Sydney Freedberg on April 21, 2006, 10:31:29 AM
Hello, Dan. Welcome to the Forge!

I'm totally with you on the idea that, basically, if I as GM am going to predetermine everything important that happens and not let my friends I'm playing with have significant input, I might as well be putting on a play with me as scriptwriter and director and them as the actors.

Now, let me actually try to do something helpful:

is trying to run a game like WFRP (which I think is very Sim orientated) in a free form character driven way a recipe for disaster and unsatisfied players?

Point No. 1: Disaster? No! Most of the funky player-driven-story techniques were invented on the fly by people playing D&D and other old-style games -- only later did people try to formalize them by writing games specifically designed to support this kind of play.

Point No. 2: "Free-form" -- now that's a word that can get you in a heap of trouble. "Freeform" as in "the GM has no predetermined plot" -- great. "Freeform" as in "well, the game has no real rules for doing it this way, so I'm just gonna wing it" -- hoo boy. There's a reason all those pioneers exploring this style of play got dissatisfied with D&D et al and started writing their own games with clear procedures for making this happen..

I summed up a bunch of these techniques a while ago in this thread here ( ( if the link's broken).

The central insight is, "hey, my players are smart, creative people too, so I'm going to give them the opportunity to be smart and creative, which means (a) more fun and (b) less work." But at the same time, if you just dump on them "hey, you guys be creative now, okay?" then most old-school players won't believe you ('cause you're the GM! You control everything! It must be a trick!) and most newbies will freeze up. So you need some way to break the creativity into bite-sized chunks.

A "spiritual attribute"-type mechanic is a cool start, but it only implies players have creative control. I'd go further and say openly, "hey, when you guys choose the things your characters care about, you are making stuff up and adding it to the world":

If Player A says, "I want my guy to be seeking revenge on his evil brother," then ask, "tell me more about this brother!"
If Player B says, "I dunno -- I like stories where the hero fights injustice and stuff, like Robin Hood," then ask, "so do you want a Sheriff-of-Nottingham-type corrupt official in the game?"
If Player A and Player B are in the same game, then ask them both, "Hey, how about if the evil brother is the corrupt official?" (And if they say, "uh, no," then let it go; you'll find some other way to tangle 'em up in each other's stories easily enough).

I'd do some kind of group brainstorming before you even make up the player-characters, let alone NPCs. (Face to face beats email, hands down, because you're going for social bonding as well as idea generation). You need to take a strong leadership role to get the ball rolling and keep things focused ("Hey, I want to set this along the border with Bretannia, 'cause I like people shooting poncy knights with muskets"), and if one player comes up with an idea everyone else goes "eh" about, then you should take the "chairman" role and say, "no, let's save that one for another game," but otherwise you as GM have too much power to reject anyone's ideas, because it will have a chilling effect on everyone's ideas. I would make it your personal challenge to incorporate as many of the ideas anyone gets excited about as possible, and all of the ideas that everyone gets excited about.

Then you have two options:
1) "Hey, everything's on the table, let's figure out who the real villain is going to be and what his secret plan is, right here, all of us together." A pretty radical approach -- people who like total creative control will be really happy, but people who like being surprised won't.
2) "Okay, I'm gonna go home and figure out the Secret Chaos Conspiracy now -- you knew there was gonna be one, right? -- and we'll meet again next week." This is the modified traditional model that games like Ron Edwards's Sorcerer and Vincent Baker's Dogs in the Vineyard follow.

The GM still controls the NPCs, but the key NPCs are invented based on what the players suggest, and the GM uses them to present the player-characters with choices where there's no predetermined right or wrong answer: "Do you want to ally with the Chaos cultist Karl to assassinate the corrupt Baron? Or help the mad prophet Igmar to stir up a peasant revolt? Or appeal to the Elector Count and trust in Imperial justice?" -- when Karl, Igmar, the Elector Count, and the corrupt Baron are all people that the players made up, not you, and when allying with or opposing any of them has both upsides and downsides that will lead to further complications, rather than "okay, you chose right,  everything is happy!/you chose wrong, you die!"

Likewise, the GM still knows secrets that the players don't know, but the GM's trying as hard as he can to reveal those secrets -- no endless hunting of clues, no "roll your interrogation/research/perception" checks, just shove it at them fast and furious like a good horror movie or a detective flick like L.A. Confidential. What's the point of a secret you don't tell anybody?

Title: Re: Could I have some advice on getting my campaign started?
Post by: dsellars on April 22, 2006, 02:14:02 AM
Thank you both for replying.

@rafial errm the link you posted just seems to redirect back to this thread...  It sounds interesting and I would like to have abit more of a look at it.

@Sydney Freedberg  Thanks for all the info.  Some of it is along the lines I was thinking of, although unfortunatly the brainstorming is going to have to be email driven, we just live too far apart :(  I will keep it in mind for future games though.  I'm going to have to let some of the other things you have said sink in, it all sounds pretty good.  I just have to work out the *how* of what to do next.

By 'freeform' I did mean plot wise not just making rules up on the fly, I was planning on telling the players the mechanics of any changes I make, and getting their input.

I'm going to go away have a think and probably re-read this and other stuff round here and probably come back an ask some more questions :)  I'm forming an idea of the kind of thing I want to do, but I personally need to make sure it's at least workable beofre I throw it at players, don't wanna waste their time :)

Thanks again, any furhher thoughts would be cool.


Title: Re: Could I have some advice on getting my campaign started?
Post by: Sydney Freedberg on April 22, 2006, 05:37:02 AM
Happy to help.

If links are broken, I'll just copy that summary of techniques I wrote before into this thread for everyone's convenience:

So let me throw some of these techniques out there -- all of them should be briefly mentioned in the Glossary but you can find tons of discussion in various threads:

a) Relationship Maps
The GM's job isn't to provide "the story." That's what the players do: They're going to make the decisions for the heroes, right? If the GM even has an idea like "okay, once they find all four clues, they'll find the artifact and confront the bad guy, and then there'll be the big fight," what do you do if the player-characters don't find the clues, or decide to sell the artifact on e-Bay, or join up with the bad guy? So really, the GM's job is to provide backstory -- all the stuff that happened before play started that make an explosive, unstable situation the heroes have to deal with.
Okay, how? One technique (best articulated in Ron Edwards's Sorcerer's Soul is to draw a "relationship map" (aka r-map) of all the important characters involved, with the links between them. Wait, wait, there's more. The first links you should draw? That's who's related to whom and who's having sex with whom. Boom. Everything else -- who works for whom, who murdered whose father, whatever -- is secondary and frankly optional. Family first; personal first; emotional first; factions second or third if ever. (And if you think family connections don't get people more excited than political ones, think about, oh, Star Wars).
The people on the relationship map shouldn't just be connected to each other: Those connections should be emotionally charged, so that they care about each other (hate, love, both at once, whatever; this is why the family stuff is primary). Anything the player-characters do for or against Person A should provoke a strong reaction from the people (let's call them B, C, and D) directly linked to A -- which in turn requires the player-characters to react for or against B, C, and D, which in turn provokes reactions from the people linked to B, C, D, and so on until the whole cast of characters is in motion. Everyone in the relationship map has to want something; in particular, they have to want something from the player-characters, be it "save me!" or "kill my brother!" or "go away!"; and finally, they all have to want different things so whatever the player-characters do, they'll make somebody angry.
With this technique, it doesn't matter what the PCs do, just that they do something, because everyone will react to anything they do. Conversely, how everyone reacts will depend on the specifics of what the PCs do -- you don't have to map out their possible reactions in advance, just know what they want and go with it. Run the same r-map with different players and you may find that the first group of players ends up in a big fight with Character A and rescuing Character B, while the second group captures Character B and hands B over to A for cash, while a third group ignores A and B altogether to focus on Character C; that's fine; in fact, that's great.
Variations on r-maps: The obvious way to use these is to create a self-contained set of conflicts that the player-characters then get involved in as outsiders -- like the circuit-riding investigator-exorcists going from town to town in Vincent Baker's excellent Dogs in the Vineyard. But you can also draw a relationship map around the player-characters themselves, based on the friends, enemies, and family that the players themselves make up -- Edwards's Sorcerer game advocates this. You can even draw a relationship map before any characters are created and then have the players decide which characters they want to run -- Seth Ben-Ezra's Legends of Alyria.

b) Bangs
Another Ron Edwards invention, from Sorcerer.
A "Bang" is something that the GM throws at a player-character which (a) the player can't ignore but (b) which the player can react to in different ways -- i.e. it's not an offer you can't refuse, but it's a choice you have to make. "The bad guys attack you in the shower" isn't a Bang, because the PC has no choice but fight or run; "the bad guys attack a defenseless village nearby " isn't an Bang either, because the player may not care; but "the bad guys threaten to kill your sister unless you help them attack a village nearby" is, potentially, a Bang: Maybe you say "no" and let your sister die, or say "no" and try to rescue your sister, or say "yes" and appear to go along but secretly try to make the attack on the village fail, or say "yes" and kill all the villagers -- it's all good.
In practice, a lot of things the GM thinks are Bangs end up being duds, because the players don't really care. Fine; no problem; forget that one and try another.
Key point: The players have to care -- the real people playing the game, not the imaginary characters they made up. There's no use saying "but she's your sister!" and insisting the player has to care about someone imaginary (heck, the player may not care about his real-life sister; maybe they aren't close).

c) Kickers
More Ron Edwards's Sorcerer.
A kicker is basically a Bang (an urgent situation requiring a choice) that the player invents for his/her own character: "My sister got kidnapped, but I don't know by whom!" or "I picked up what I thought was my suitcase at the airport and it was full of bloodstained dollar bills!" The big advantage of a Kicker is that the player came up with it, so you can be pretty confident they'll care (although not 100% confident: Maybe they'll change their minds); in this case, just run with it, changing whatever you prep'd to accomodate it (Edwards actually says don't even start your serious prep until you get everyone's Kickers).
The big disadvantage of a Kicker is that the player may do something kind of weak -- "The bad guy said a mean thing to me!" -- or too linear and locked-in -- "I'm gonna kill the bad guy tomorrow at high noon!"; in these cases, Edwards advises "spiking" the kicker, that is taking it as writen but adding a twist that makes it urgent, like, "and the mean thing was that he kidnapped your sister!" or "okay, you kill him, everyone things you're super-bad, but now there's a big power struggle over who replaces him, and all the factions want your help!"
A Kicker is a form of "character development," but it's a very specific one: It's character development where the player creates something specific but then leaves a big empty space for the GM to react in (just as in a Bang, the GM creates something specific but leaves a big empty space for the player to react in). If the player comes in with 20 typed pages of character backstory and specifies his character's love interest, enemy, sidekick, and exactly how they're all going to come together in a big Mexican stand-off at noon tomorrow, there's no room for the GM or the other players to add anything: The player just railroaded himself.

d) "No myth"
This is the extreme idea that nothing in a game is "real" until someone says it at the gaming table and everyone else agrees it really happens (if only by not saying "no"), so anything that's not said aloud is subject to change at any time. Maybe you thought the murderer was Mr. X, but you didn't say so yet; if a player says that Mr. X is really Santa Claus and the murderer was Mr. Y, well, that's the truth instead. Maybe you thought the world was round; if a player says "oh no, we're about to fall off the edge of the world!" then, well, you thought wrong.
This is, as I said, an extreme technique -- Jared Sorensen's Inspectres, a kind of Ghostbusters-inspired comedy game where the players make up the "mystery" as they go along, is the best example. But, face reality: In any game, even a traditional one where the GM is the final arbiter of what is "real," things are going to happen that you don't expect and that you haven't prepared for, so you're going to have to improvise and make something up on the spot.
People get terrified of having to improvise: They try to make up D&D module-style "box text" describing everything in every room of a 100,000-person city, or, worse yet, they try to railroad the players into only going into the 12 rooms in a 100,000-person city that they do have box text for. Forget being terrified and trust your own creativity.

e) Conflict Resolution
This is the trickiest one to explain, and other people explain it better than me, but I'll try again. In a traditional RPG, a character tries something, you roll for it, and then the GM decides what it really means. The classic example is

Player: I want to find the secret papers; I'll try to crack the safe!
GM: Roll for it.
[alternative reality #1]
Player: I suceed!
GM (not wanting the player to find stuff out yet): The safe is empty.
[alternative reality #2]
Player: I fail!
GM (really wanting the player to find out): But as you turn away from the safe, you see the secret papers right on top of the guy's desk!

Whereas in Conflict Resolution, you roll for "what it means," and then you work to fill in the details of how it happened:
Player: I want to find the secret papers.
GM: Roll for it.
[alternative reality #1]
Player: I succeed! But, hmm, my character's supposed to be kind of a klutz; he'd never crack the safe.
GM: Well, what if the papers were right there on top of the desk?
Player: Yeah, that's the kind of Forrest Gump sheer-dumb-luck my guy would have.
[alternative reality #2]
Player: I fail! That bites; my character's a super-spy type.
GM: So you cracked the safe, hacked into the computer, even found a secret compartment in the floor -- but, darn it, the papers aren't anywhere. Maybe the villain has them in his pocket?
Player: Yeah, that's it. I really wanna nail him now.

Note that there's some improvization vs. railroading going on in these examples. But the more important thing is that the player clearly states what s/he wants and the roll says whether s/he gets it or not -- the roll determines effect, not process. Why does this matter? Because it allows everyone to say, out in the open, how they want the story to go and then have the dice say whose vision prevails, instead of people trying to affect how the story goes but the GM ultimately having veto power no matter what.

And I'll watch this thread to see if you have any more questions. Happy gaming.

Title: Re: Could I have some advice on getting my campaign started?
Post by: dsellars on April 24, 2006, 11:55:28 AM
Right I think I now have a Plan :)

I'm going to basically follow the suggestions of having a brain storming session to come up with some characters and some key linked NPC's.  Hopefully a few kickers for each of the characters too.

I was going to then follow suggestion 2 and weave this into a r-map with may be a few more interesting characters if it needs fleshing out a bit (is this a good idea?) and think up some bangs.  I don't want to be too radical to start with and mess up all our enjoyment and get my self in mess.

A few questions:

I was wondering about thinking up some kind of back storys/themes that is going on at a different level to whatever the characters are engaged at (for example if they are quite lowly characters some kind of political back drop, war brewing or somthing) to give the idea of a world movign around them rather than just their little coccoon of relationships.  Good idea?  Bad idea? 

I was also wondering about having (if appropriate to the setting) some kind of way of summerisign current news that I could round up any events.  May be an email before play that summerised 'town crier' kind of news, this could be events that they have been involved in from an outsiders poitn of view, little bits of colour, and the wider political (filtered through rumor and propegander).  Good idea? Bad idea?

How do you keep the tone 'adventure' rather than 'day-to-day'?  I want it to be more Princess Bride or LOTR, rather than  Eastenders (british soap-opera I don't know any states ones).  I guess this depends on the ideas the players choose.

I was wondering how to present teh game and started to think about just present in the basics of a scene an letting it roll, then I read about 'Scene Framing' so I think I am roughtly onthe rigth track there.

Should the r-map be updated between session to take into acnount shifting alliences?  Should players think up new kickers during play (later sessions) if they want a change of direction.  If things slow down a bit should I introduce more bangs?

I think I just need to get to it now :) I've probably over analysed this a bit too much.  Once I get myself and the players organised I'll probably pop back in with more specific questions.  Any thoughts would be cool though :)



Title: Re: Could I have some advice on getting my campaign started?
Post by: Sydney Freedberg on April 24, 2006, 12:21:23 PM
Hey, I'm right with you in the "hey, I think I just did too much thinking, I think" trap -- it's too easy to do for us game-heads once we get going. Y'know what, though? All the thinking about it only gets in the way if you're not willing to abandon it the minute you start playing: If you cling to a neat idea you had by yourself even in the face of a new, different, and probably better idea from your fellow players, you've screwed yourself -- but if you treat it all as raw material to be used, discarded, or remade at will, you're fine.

About relationship maps -- I'm not the best qualified guy to advise you here, as I've never used the full, formal technique laid out by Ron Edwards -- but everything I've read and heard suggests that
 (a) absolutely, you may need to add a few more characters to keep it from becoming too incestous and
 (b) actually, don't worry about updating it -- the Ron Edwards strategy is build your relationship map only out of relationships that can't change. E.g. (1) "I am your father," 92) "you killed my father," (3) "I swore to serve you," (4) "we've had sex." What these relationships mean and how people feel about them can certainly change (e.g. (1) "...join me and we shall rule the galaxy!"; (2) "...but I forgive you"; (3) "...but I am now in rebellion against your unjust rule"; (4) "...and now we're married"), but the idea is to start with facts that are going to affect how those two people relate with each other, for good or ill, forever. Edwards actually doesn't advise you to write "little things" like who's allied with who on the r-map at all: That goes in your notes file, maybe, but it's just tactical stuff, not the deep personal history that really gets your players in the gut.

About having broader underlying themes and a wider world -- absolutely! Get the players to suggest some. If they don't, look carefully at what they do say and extrapolate from that, then feed it back to them: "John, you want to play a uber-barbarian guy, and Bob, you want to play a sophisticated courtier - I guess that means we have a refined kingdom with some rough tribesmen on the border? Okay, so are the kingdom and the barbarians at war, or are the barbarians mercenaries defending the kingdom, or both depending on the tribe?"

Of course you should have some Big Picture ideas in mind before you start, if only to get everyone started, but make sure you run them by everyone else before making them "real": If they're not excited about something, well, guess you'd better save that something for another campaign later.

On the flipside, I'd be pretty leery of you, as GM, prep'ing "news" from the wider world. It can be cool if the players read it and go, "hey, look at this thing we did in last week's game -- they're talking about it all the way across the province!" But it can be deadly if players look at it and go, "aha, this is what the GM thinks is Officially Important, anything that's not in here doesn't count, too bad if we liked it." Plus it's a hell of a lot of work for you.

And your most crucial question: How do you avoid a little incestuous soap-opera nest? By making the wider world not only relevant to the player-characters, but a reflection of what the real people playing care about. The easy way to do this is have the actions of the player-characters reshape the world -- I've used this a lot -- but if your players want to stick to a lower power-level, you can still make sure the "big world" is all about what they care about.

For example (remembering the Warhammer setting from years back), if your players are hunting heretical Chaos worshippers, don't bombard them with news about a big war with Bretannia that makes their local hunt look insignificant -- unless, of course, there are hints that Chaosite conspirators have played both sides against each other, or that the Empire-Bretannia feud is distracting both sides from the true threat of chaos, in which case the players get to feel like the one sane voice in an ever-madder world.

Conversely, if your players are happily bashing Bretannian knights on their poncy, ostrich-feared, armor-plated heads (and who wouldn't be?), don't start trying to tell them that the real enemy is the Chaotic taint within: No, regale them with tales of how Bretannian perfidy has imperiled the Empire, giving them a sense that they are heroes in a great and epic conflict.

Listen to your players! Listen to your players! Listen to your players! Even if they don't seem to be on fire with imagination -- even if they feel intimidated and unimaginative themselves -- chances are they are actually little hot coals of creativity, constantly giving off sparks ("gee, it'd be cool if..." or "I liked that movie where...") that not only tell you want they like but that you can help fan into a great big bonfire o' fun.

Title: Re: Could I have some advice on getting my campaign started?
Post by: ScottM on April 24, 2006, 01:00:44 PM
Sydney's suggestions are great.  If you're interested in different angles on the same basic idea, has a greatDoyce one-page introduction (  Similarly, Bankuei's  Conflict Web ( has advice on creating and linking NPCs to encourage the situations you're looking for.  If you're particularly interested in an expansion of any of Sydney's five terms above, I have a few links to threads about each over on my  RPG Styles ( page.

Good luck!

Title: Re: Could I have some advice on getting my campaign started?
Post by: dsellars on April 24, 2006, 01:44:30 PM
Excellent thank you.

I have read the Conflict Web blog post, but didn't book mark it so I was trying to find it again :)


Title: Re: Could I have some advice on getting my campaign started?
Post by: Wade L on April 24, 2006, 03:33:19 PM
  I'm also pretty new to all these new-fangled games, although like you they've certainly informed how I've run my old campaigns in ways that have definitely improved them and seem stunningly obvious once you do them("Say yes or roll the dice" from Dogs honestly works in almost any RPG - shorthand for 'only spend time on things someone at the table cares about'.  How could I not have already known this??).  Just wanted to make one comment, though...

I was going to then follow suggestion 2 and weave this into a r-map with may be a few more interesting characters if it needs fleshing out a bit (is this a good idea?) and think up some bangs.  I don't want to be too radical to start with and mess up all our enjoyment and get my self in mess.

  The not wanting to be "too radical" can potentially be a huge trap, depending on what you mean by it.  I know, because I have said the same thing sometimes, and it usually leads me to create, well, boredom.  I like the setting and established relationships we've come up with a group so much that I'm afraid of "messing it up".  What I throw at my players is thus often small and honestly unexciting.  I'm too afraid of things going boom or chaos erupting at the table.  I'm afraid I won't be able to predict what happens next.  Of course, I am coming to realize that unpredictability and chaos can sometimes be a good thing, because it often is good proof that I, as GM, am not the only one with creative input!

  Any way...if I understand them correctly, bangs often will be radical, and they'll create all sorts of interesting messes.  This is, perhaps, nothing to shy away from.

  Of course, if you meant "too radical" as throwing in all sorts of crazy and difficult techniques that might scare the wits out of your players...well, that's probably healthy caution.  Good luck with it.

Title: Re: Could I have some advice on getting my campaign started?
Post by: dsellars on April 25, 2006, 12:08:33 AM
Of course, if you meant "too radical" as throwing in all sorts of crazy and difficult techniques that might scare the wits out of your players...well, that's probably healthy caution.  Good luck with it.

That's what I meant :)

I'm not sure how well these ieas are going to be received, I have a mix of players two play together alot (one it the guy who usually GM's for me, but he should know where I am comming from as we have talked about TRoS alot) and another one hasn't played in this group before.  I'll see I guess :)


Title: Re: Could I have some advice on getting my campaign started?
Post by: Sydney Freedberg on April 25, 2006, 06:37:00 AM
Yeah, you may have to ease people into being creative -- which means being an especially good listener and saying, "So you'd like something like X? Okay, here's an X!" a lot: "echo and amplify." Eventually people tend to realize that they have been having genuine input all along and that "the all-powerful GM" has actually been taking the players' ideas and running with them, not following a Super Secret GM Plot. You can and should tell people that you're doing this, but a lot of them won't really believe you until they've watched you do it for a while.

Title: Re: Could I have some advice on getting my campaign started?
Post by: Sydney Freedberg on April 25, 2006, 07:38:42 AM
P.S. Here's another neat trick that I just came across, although people have been doing it without thinking about it so clearly for years: the law of conservation of NPCs (

The link explains more, but the idea's beautifully simple: If you introduce an NPC off the cuff to serve some momentary purpose -- the captain of the city watch who shakes down the party for bribes, the fat merchant who buys the magic gem from them, the crazy monk who tells them about the hidden temple, whatever -- then the next time you need an NPC to serve a different purpose, try to use the same people again -- the captain of the city watch is the one who breaks up the bar-fight in the PC's tavern, the fat merchant is the only guy who knows where the missing jewels went, the crazy monk happens to have a healing potion -- so they start turning into real people that the players care about, if only to say, "oh no, not this guy again!"

Title: Re: Could I have some advice on getting my campaign started?
Post by: dsellars on April 25, 2006, 11:50:38 AM
Thanks for that, another good link, I seem to be collecting quite a few here :)