Friday, October 17, 2014

Assembly Required: Outlining Step One - Campaign History


And we're back! So it seems like you guys are pretty interested in my particular method of campaign creation by the number of likes, views, etc. so here's the next installment (warning, might be a little boring to some)....

Outlining any writing project is necessarily unless its a) short b) you have a excellent memory c) plan to make it up as you go - in which case you're going to need to keep lots of notes. Outlining a campaign setting you plan to reuse at least once is no different. The first part of any campaign setting is by far the most important - its history. What happened there? What groups are in place for players to interact with? What's the technology like? These are things the players are going to want to know and unless you are really good at improv (and some GMs are - including myself) you're going to want to have at least a sketch of the world "in motion." Here are some questions you can ask yourself:

  • What organizations exist in the campaign setting? How do they interact with the player characters? What purpose do they serve?
  • What is technology like? Are there any "wonders?" Anything secret from the public?
  • What was the known past history of the setting? Any secrets? Any things purposefully hidden from the public and by who? 
  • What are the major languages of the setting?
  • What are the major cultures of the setting? 
  • How does this complicate the lives of the player characters?


The Worked Example: Something, Something Kill Monsters Urban Fantasy Secret Magic
I've actually done a lot of the work for this already in my setting, which I have named "The Chronicles of Ceteri." But using some of my notes I'll answer the above questions so you can get a idea of how it works:

  • What organizations exist in the campaign setting? How do they interact with the player characters? What purpose do they serve?
There are several, including the Conclave (a shadowy organization that serves as the "government" of the supernatural community), the Prometheus Directive (a government sanctioned organization or hunts and polices the supernatural - much the annoyance of the Conclave), the Ilateri (vampires), the Varou (werewolves), the Fae (various feudal kingdoms ruled by powerful sidhe), and the cabals, covens, and Great Houses of sorcerers (magic using humans). This also includes the forces of Heaven and Hell. These various monster groups will serve as a intro point to player characters.
  • What is technology like? Are there any "wonders?" Anything secret from the public?
Modern tech (TL8) with no "public" changes. In secret there is all manner of "black tech" from failed Nazi experiments to a mad man inventing things he shouldn't. PCs will have access to some of this if they take the appropriate advantages.
  • What was the known past history of the setting? Any secrets? Any things purposefully hidden from the public and by who? 
This one is just too broad to give cover in a single post, suffice it to say that each of the factions within the setting are hidden the entire damn world of the supernatural, while Heaven and Hell play their eternal game for the souls of mankind. The PCs will have ot navigate all this while trying to do their best to protect humanity.
  • What are the major languages of the setting?
Any modern language is available, but magic users will need to select a "casting tongue" and each of the factions have their own tongue that is learnable. For example, vampires speak Ilaterian among themselves - rarely to outsiders who might learn the language if they have enough points in Hidden Lore.
  • What are the major cultures of the setting? 
As above.
  • How does this complicate the lives of the player characters?
Considerably. The vampires believe that they are "superior" to all non-vampires and this tends to cause any number of conflicts. The PCs will have to be careful because both Heaven and Hell will try to recruit them if they become "players" in the Great Game. Furthermore, those violating the Conclavi Cordant - the rules of the Conclave - will end up dead or sent to the Donjon (the Conclave's mythical prison in another dimension).

No comments:

Post a Comment