Sunday, September 22, 2013

What can be Gleaned?

I have been running campaigns in the campaign world of Fletnern since 1981 - yeah - 32 years. Not surprisingly some things have changed. Not as much as you might think. More has been enhanced rather than changed. Also not surprising, some things have been forgotten. With 30+ years of missions, campaigns, notes, etc., a lot of paper accumulates. I have spent some time over the last couple years trying to cut down on the paper. Rather than have four boxes of paper in closets, I scanned everything and have been sorting the pages into individual files. Sometimes it’s easier to just retype some stuff, sometimes, I leave them as images. But something important is happening - I’m remembering (maybe relearning) about my world. Many missions have some notes on a small town here, a famous battle there, or a description of the countryside in a region I haven’t thought about in decades. When I stumble on these items, I copy and paste them into my “Gleaned” file. The Gleaned file every once in a while gets cut and pasted into the master file for the world, so that the things I wrote up years ago, but were lost in the reams of paper are now finding their way back into the official accounting of the world. Why? Well, I spent time on them. They further enhance the world that my characters live in. Why wouldn’t I want to recapture that work and those thoughts? But there’s more to it. In a lot of situations, story lines simply ended; ended before they were truly completed. Maybe the player characters moved on. Maybe that mission was done, but questions remained. Sometimes there are notes on the paper: “This guy got away”, “delivered to sheriff for trial”, “mercenary never hired”. Leaving fully developed characters in a vacuum is against my beliefs. I am driven to ask - well, what happened next? Sometimes, it is easy - the trial resulted in him being executed - done. But what about those missions where the party did something important? Did the party defend a castle against bandits? Assuming so, did any bandits escape? If so, where are they now? An actual example: The party defeated a clan of rebel dwarves who were trying to take over a mine they considered theirs by inheritance. The rebels were defeated, but the rebels owned a castle not too far away. With the rebels all dead (or awaiting execution) who took over the castle? What happened to it? Is another rebellion brewing there? The mercenary is a real example too. She was intended to help the party, but they didn’t trust her. Where did she go? Well, I decided she became a gladiator, but worrying that she was becoming too big in her home town, she decided to move to a city where she could fight lesser opponents with better odds. Thus she will run into the PCs again. Assuming you haven’t thrown out or deleted all your old missions, take a look at some of them. Is there an urban adventure that details a bunch of businesses in your city that you forgot about? Any characters left hanging? Any descriptions of minor kingdoms that no one has visited since? Use them! Use them again if you can. Maybe they saved the Kingdom of Whateversville three years ago. The king is going to know who he can trust if some new threat rises. And you already have all the background completed, maybe with a couple of brief updates. Saves you time, and adds a richness that every fantasy world needs.

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