Thursday, June 5, 2014

Assembly Required: Inaugural Post

A while back, I asked if my viewership would be interested in the process I use to start a campaign. My process isn't special or particular praiseworthy - but it does work, and I've used it for nearly ten years (though I've been refining it for the past twenty-odd years). It's many-layered and even I go a little nuts sometimes as I proceed from step to step, so please, be patient, if you have questions, ask them. I will respond. Additionally, because my game of choice is GURPS (though FATE is looking very cool) everything will be framed using that system. Of course, owing to GURPS truly universal nature whatever nuggets of wisdom you manage to shake loose will be useful for just about any game system you could desire. Also keep in mind that when I design a setting I do it from the perspective that I will be running multiple campaigns using it. Thus, most of the time it's not a "one-shot" campaign but one multiple campaigns with multiple characters. This might not be something all GMs do, in fact, I'm pretty sure it's not. Because of this I usually end up with a setting bible I can use over multiple campaigns in the same setting. Now, for the rundown, I have six main phases, which I remember via the acronym "DOCKET."

Phase 1: Development
This mostly ephemeral phase usually involves a lot of musings on my part, talks with my players - even votes on what they want exactly, defining the "source material," and other preplanning tasks. Though similar, it's not the same as phase four.

Phase 2: Outlining
This is where I start writing down what I need to do, ideas that I've decided (or have been voted on by players) to use, and in general making an actual outline for my setting bible.

Phase 3: Creation
Nothing clever to say here. This phase is exactly what it sounds like. I create content beginning with the stuff that will see immediate use (e.g., one of the players needs them): templates, races, powers, etc. and then go from there to things I'll be using later on.

Phase 4: Kibitzing
I go over the material I've written and decide what needs a rewrite and what doesn't. My players are an important part of this process because they help me decide what goes on the pile to burn to the literati gods and what doesn't.

Phase 5: Editing/Formatting
This is...the most annoying phase (to me), because while I am a Sith-Editer in training...I still kind of suck. Though that doesn't stop me from trying. Luckily, I've made a couple of acquaintances and learned a few things that will make this much easier on me now than it has been before.

Phase 6: Tie-up
The best part, next to creation. Seeing it all come together. Previously, I just used a raw manuscript format, but this time I'm going to try to get a friend to lay out it out and put it together as a PDF. We'll see how it goes. I may or may not make it available on my website.

Picking Over The Bones
So that's it. I'm going to attempt to post an in-depth documentation on my personal process, how you can use it, and the example of how I'm using it. This is going to be really new to me, and I've only notated the way I do things once before, so I'm bound to make mistakes and I hope y'all have patience. Look for updates on Assembly Required on the first and third Fridays of every month.

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