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Campaign Design: Items of Play

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After I wrote the last Campaign Design article, I realised I missed a step from Jere's notes, and that step (with a little editing from myself) is to "indicate the type of play that would demonstrate that that goal was working." With that in mind, I went over the list of "What I Want" and tried to summarise what would happen in play for each item if it were happening:

I want everyone at the table to be engaged, even when the current moment mightn't be about their character.

  • Moderated kibitzing (suggestions / ideas / etc.) from non-involved players on the action between the “acting” players.

I want everyone at the table to have the opportunity to contribute to and build upon the game world during the session and right there at the table (even when the current moment mightn't be about their character), not in a wiki or blue booking session between games.

  • Players creating specific set elements / items / NPCs on-the-fly based on broad-strokes GM definition of scenes / sets.

I want the campaign concept and action to flex around absent players with minimal "injury".

  • Each sesion has its own beginning and ending (i.e. resolving an episodic problem) allowing character absence next session to be more easily explained.
  • Flexible “team” concept with built-in plug-points for player justification (i.e. got off at Bathgate Abbey) or "split team" with unconnected individuals / small groups and "spotlight time" governed by scene-framing.

I want to give players the opportunity to create interesting and engaging characters.

  • Character sheets that clearly indicate items of player interest.
  • Statements from players regarding what interests them about the kind of people the characters are, including revision as play progresses.

I want to give players the opportunity to drive their characters via interesting and engaging situations.

  • Incorporating player suggestions for scenes, or giving players authority to set scenes.

I want the important, engaging, interesting stuff in the campaign to be about characters, not fights (not saying there should be no fights, but fights should be a function of character and not vice versa.)

  • Ongoing emphasis on what and who characters are and how the events of the campaign (including but not limited to physical conflicts) change the characters personally.

I want the campaign to have an identifiable point at which it can end on a good note instead of dragging on for ages out of inertia alone.

  • Identification of potential end-points (i.e. Sorcerer’s Four Outcomes) and players driving their characters’ stories toward them.

I want Story Now.

  • Moments of player emotional, gut-level engagement (“Oof” or “Holy shit! What did we just do?”) due to PC choices and actions during play.

The next step is to "sort through the statements for those that best represent what is desired in the game (and) incorporate each of these indicators (there may be one or quite a few) into a statement that tells what the game will do." More on that in a future post after I've done some more percolating over this list.

Next: Forming a Goal

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