Friday, March 27, 2015

Assembly Required: Outlining Step Six - Bestiary, Rogues Gallery, & Campaign Information

The last installment for Outlining - probably one you've already put the most thought into: How you plan to run a campaign. That is, the campaign's informational stats. I pretty much just use the campaign planning form from the Steve Jackson Games website and call it a day. Building up a campaign bestiary and/or rogues gallery takes time, patience, and a long lasting campaign. That said, starting out with a few adversaries and/or creatures in your portfolio (see what I did there?) is not only a good idea, it's just good GMing. And a little preplanning is not a bad thing here and can help you squarely seat any antagonists firmly in the campaign world.

Campaign Bestiary
The bestiary is typically a collection of critters, creatures, and beasties that the player characters may face eventually.

  • What types of nonhuman beings are there in the campaign world?
  • Are any of them sapient? 
  • Are any of them unknown or "mythological" (however real they might be)
  • Is there a classification system (e.g., how Dungeon Fantasy or Monster Hunters defines supernatural beings; "Faerie" or "Cryptid.")

Rogues Gallery
The term was coined by a Pinkerton in the 19th century referring to a collection of photographs of criminals , but was later co-opted by various comic books as a collective phrase for a superhero's enemies. I like using it in the same sense that comics to - that is a collection of antagonists the PCs might come across. Of course, this might apply to several unrelated antagonists or just one - but the questions refer to a group.

  • Who are they?
  • What are their goals?
  • What are their capabilities?
  • Where do they commonly show up?
  • How do they operate?
  • When did they form?
  • Why do they do what they do?

The Worked Example: Something, Something Kill Monsters Urban Fantasy Secret Magic aka "The Chronicles of Ceteri"
In my campaign I decided their were going to come up with a classification system first so I could assign whatever other critters I came up with quickly. I'd also code this system to various skills like Occultism, Area Knowledge, Hidden Lore, and so on so my players (and their characters) would have a good idea of what they encountered when they did. This is a sketch of what I came up with:
  • Angels: The messengers of God in all their many forms.
  • Constructs: artificially created beings from human clones thanks to Nazi schwarzger√§t (commonly called "geritech.") to golems or artificially created spirits.
  • Cryptids: Any living being that is a natural or mutated form of animal or animal-like being.
  • Demons: The Fallen as well as the twisted once-human demons.
  • Faeries: Any being that resides in Underhill or whose ancestors came from there.
  • Free Spirits: elementals, artificially created spirits, etc.
  • The Forsaken: Creatures descended from Fallen angels too bad for Heaven and too good for hell. Includes the succubi, varou (werewolves), ilateri (vampires), and the nephilim (who are though to be dead)
  • Giants: Ogres, jotun, giants, etc.
  • Inbetweeners: any being who occupies Between such as the ghosts of once-living men, astral creatures, etc.
  • Nameless Ones: Cthulhu Mythos-like Elder Things who existed before God said "Let there be light." Incredibly dangerous and rarely encountered.
  • Psychics: Psionic powers, psis, etc. Mostly human psis, but may also include naturally psionic creatures or psychic constructs.
  • Restless Undead: any corporeal undead, e.g., mummies, zombies, etc.
  • Shapeshifters: any being which has one or more forms and is living.
  • Vampires: any other vampire-like non Ilateri being - though this group does include them as well.

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