Wednesday, June 7, 2023

The Campaign: From The First Shot To The Last Stroke

(Following yesterday's post.)

You've got your team, you've made your conversion notes, you've specified Character Generation procedures, and your campaign maps and calendar are ready.

It's time to get this campaign going, so let's talk about how to do that without overwhelming yourself, your team, and your players.

Slow Is Smooth and Smooth Is Fast

You have Faction players and Adventuring players.

You start with the Faction players. For these players, the campaign is a wargame; they are to submit Orders to their designated man on your team before a specific day of the week or month, and then you gather with your team to resolve those actions by tracking them on the map and calendar. Failure to do so means that their faction did nothing; if standing Orders are in effect, those are maintained by default.

Danger And Opportunity

The interactions of these Orders have ordinary results most of the time. Write those down and put them into the Action Reports for the relevant Faction players.

Where those interactions do not have ordinary results, or are uncertain in their results, the relevant players are to be notified immediately of the situation. They are to be told (a) what assets are available to address the issue and (b) what personnel are on hand to deal with it.

If there are other parties able to take advantage of the situation, those players are also notified and granted the opportunity to intervene. All those that accept the offer join the contending players for a session at the table. Welcome to Braunstein!

The results of that table session are inserted into the Action Reports, and the beneficiaries thereof are granted their rewards.

The Faction players should get two or three rounds of play in before the adventurers come on board. This is to set the campaign into motion, making adventuring opportunities come up organically via Faction interactions, and thus showing where the hot spots for hungry adventurers are going to be. This, in turn, allows the Referee and his team to focus attention on those immediate environs instead of guessing which places are going to interest players.

Hither Came Conan...

Once the campaign is in motion, it's time to talk to those players playing adventurers. Give each one the briefings on where the hotspots are and let each one decide where they want to start. If you did your job, you'll have plenty of players--more than you alone can handle--so each of your team should be prepared to run adventuring sessions in the region they are responsible for, and that includes yourself.

(E.G.: I'm handling the Wolfen Empire, which has one of its minor factions--an ambitious Coyle bandit warlord--decide to false-flag a war between the Empire and the Eastern Kingdom. I chat with my man handling the Eastern Kingdom and we figure out where the initial theater of action is, and where the base camps (for lack of a better word) are on each side.)

Every adventuring session takes place with the larger campaign conflicts as the context within which they operate. Even if they are not acting directly in the conflicts, those larger conflicts shape everything they have to deal with--who is where, what routes are available, service and material availability, etc.--and part of this tier of play is dealing with the effects of the larger conflict upon their plans and ambitions.

Those that succeed will attract the attention of Faction players, which is Working As Intended as they cannot help but to become important enough to be relevant players on that tier of play.

Which means that the odds of adventuring players and parties crossing swords--Player vs. Player combat--increases as their man levels up and grows his man's power. That Coyle warlord may not be willing to stand up against either the Wolfen or the Eastern leaders, but he sure as Hell ain't going to hesitate to shiv some sellsword making a name for himself in his hunting grounds.

And I haven't mentioned the monster hunts, research projects, dealings with local cults and temples, and other things that are bound to come up in such a chaotic environment.

Expect similar happenings in other places.

Coming To A Conclusion

This is a game. Games have winners and losers. That means that players are going to get knocked out of play along the way; this is Working As Intended. For adventurers, this isn't as big a deal as it seems; the Character Generation procedures will address what happens if your man gets ganked for good. For Faction players, they are out of play unless and until they are invited to take up another Faction leader OR they decide to roll up an adventurer and get into the field (metaphorically speaking).

Once someone, somewhere, hits their Win Condition and no one can gainsay it the campaign is over. The same happens if everyone hits their Loss Condition more or less at the same time. In the former case, congratulations to the winning player. In the latter, everyone is a loser.

The last thing that the Referee and his team does is a final round of Action Reports followed by a Denoument that summarizes what happens because (X) won or everyone lost.

Then, even if this is years after the launch, you go out for pizza.

Don't be surprised if someone asks "When's the next campaign?" before the bill hits the table.

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