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275647 Posts in 27717 Topics by 4283 Members Latest Member: - otto Most online today: 70 - most online ever: 429 (November 03, 2007, 04:35:43 AM)
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Author Topic: Why They Tanked  (Read 2351 times)
james_west
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Posts: 292


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« on: May 17, 2001, 08:30:00 PM »

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Zak Arntson
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Posts: 839


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« Reply #1 on: May 17, 2001, 09:18:00 PM »

Okay, I'll shoot for this one ... here's some campaigns I've been in and my analysis.  Maybe if we all get our gears working we can come up with some good thoughts on how to run GOOD campaigns ...

1) Rifts/Robotech crossover (granted, this was a LONG time ago).  I played a Rifts Homeless OCC [Occupational Character Class] (or something like that) because I was excited about the RPing possibilities.  Other characters?  Um, a Robotech fighter-pilot (complete with veritech fighter), a Glitterboy (another mech), a Juicer (drug-addled superhuman).  I guess you can see it falling apart without the help of either setting.

Problem: No established balancing of player roles.

2) AD&D, homebrew campaign.  One of the most successful campaigns I've ever Dm'd.  One player (eventually two), and it was ALL reactive.  I made everything up on the fly.  The story revolved around a single character from the "East" (martial artist-type) trying to survive in a "Western" (read: D&D Medieval) port town.

Success: Player drove the story, events reacted to the players' wishes.  Through the player arriving homeless and hungry in the port town, trying to make a living, making friends and enemies, a VERY fun and personal campaign was held.

3) AD&D Planescape - I've played & Dm'd a few campaigns.  First campaign: Unsuccessful home-spun campaign.  I tried to rail-road the PCs SO MUCH that they felt they had NO influence at all.

Problem: Players didn't have any influence.  No interest in their characters or the adventure.

4) AD&D Planescape - Ran a preprinted adventure.  Failed because I ran it as-is with no changes and an arbitrarily hard encounter killed some PCs (I would say unfairly) and soured the campaign.

Problem: Again, not thinking about the Players.  It was a case of "The adventure says X so I will do exactly this."

(Don't worry, I've had lots of fun Planescape adventures, they were just mostly one/two-night adventures and not full-fledged campaigns).


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So, my personal analysis would be: When starting, make sure EVERYONE is on the same page to smooth out character creation.  Make sure the Players have influence on the story rather than being passive observers.  And as a DM be REACTIVE to the Players.  Be prepared to shift the focus of the adventure to keep things FUN.

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PS - All this talk about campaigns is getting me antsy for gaming ... any Seattle-area folks with room for another?
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Mytholder
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Posts: 205


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« Reply #2 on: May 18, 2001, 02:44:00 AM »

I'm game.

Legend of the Five Rings: (first two chapters of a campaign). Each character was a noble or agent of a noble house. Most of the campaign centred on the interactions of these houses. It worked because each player had some investment in the setting beyond their character, they had something to build up and work towards. Also, each character advanced and improved in completely different ways. By the end of the second chapter, some characters were imperial advisors or powerful generals, others were transformed into demons or ninja...but in each case, the character's final state reflected his beginning. The young assassin ended up as a powerful ninja, the humble assitant scribe ended up the advisor etc...

Legend of the Five Rings: (third chapter of the same campaign). An entirely new set of characters are part of an army during the civil war triggered in the first part of the game. Game limped on to the end, but lacked focus. No-one really cared about the army, just the results of the war. The game took off a bit once I cut the PCs off from the chain of command and gave them more independance.

Unknown Armies: Only two players really got the concept of the game, and carried the campaign until one of them left, whereupon things fell over completely.

Nobilis playtest campaign: Went fairly well. Nobilis is extremely robust, and can handle clashing concepts (one player can make a really silly character, and everyone else can have serious, roleplay-oriented characters, and it won't damage the same as much as it would in other settings.)

Hmm. Ensuring that everyone gets the premise is key. Actually, ensuring that everyone is *enthusiastic* about the premise is more important. They can be a bit hazy about the details if they really want to play the game...

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