Sunday, February 24, 2013

Great Campaigns

My son asked me yesterday, “How do you know that a campaign will be good when you’re writing it?” I answered, “Just concentrate on writing one or two really good adventures. The players will tell you where they want to go.” While I still consider that good advice, I missed something really important. You need to get the players invested in their characters. That’s what this blog is really about - Helping GMs (especially Legend Quest GMs) get their players invested into the characters and the campaign. Once they’ve bought in to the campaign, they’ll keep coming back. So how do you do that? Well, read this blog’s archive. There are tons of ideas, and most of them end with “That’s how you’ll keep your players coming back”. In the best summary I can think of: Make the campaign work so that the characters they developed become more interesting to them. I strongly believe that the gold farmers out there could not care less what happens as long as they are tallying up experience and gold. They’ll go from one game to another without any true loyalty, because they’ve never really bought in. They may stay with a game, no matter how bad it is, because they have the most points there, but that isn’t really what you want. How to make it interesting? Some of the better ideas: - Permanent enemies - An enemy who gets away and then returns to fight again another day is someone the players feel they must conquer. They will want to return to defeat him or them. - Interesting items - A +1 sword is boring. Oh, they want it at the low levels, but they don’t really care about it. But, a magical sword that gives +10% to attack, +10% to parry, and +15% spell resistance, and was the sword of the famed bounty hunter and assassin from two generations ago, and the blade is carved from obsidian (magically hardened to steel) and the handle from mastodon ivory. That’s cool! Also - hate to admit it, but items with charges or potions that are one-time use - great for game balance, but you need to have a couple of these permanent magic items in there too. - Contacts - Players like knowing who their characters hang out with. Role-playing the sale of loot at the weapons shop and making the owner someone they want to know, or role-playing how they pump the bartender for information, and then having that same bartender greet them warmly when they return from the mission - This really helps them to see their characters as more than a series of numbers on a page. Do you see the pattern? Permanence, continuity, these are the things that make a campaign memorable. These are things that any GM can do. Being able to run a fun and fast paced game may take some experience and the right personality, but anyone can add consistency into their game. If you want some more ideas on permanent enemies, check out Character Foundry. It runs with the idea.

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