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Campaign Design: Forming a Goal

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Now that I've identified some indicators that what I want out of an RPG is actually happening in play, which of them best represent what is desired in the game?

Of those nine indicators, I think four stand out as primaries:

  • 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.
  • Moderated kibitzing (suggestions / ideas / etc.) from non-involved players on the action between the “acting” players.
  • Identification of potential end-points (i.e. Sorcerer’s Four Outcomes) and players driving their characters’ stories toward them.
  • Statements from players regarding what interests them about the kind of people the characters are, including revision as play progresses.

The next step in Jere's guidelines is to "incorporate each of these indicators (there may be one or quite a few) into a statement that tells what the game will do." Here's my shot:

  • The goal of this campaign is a set of interwoven stories (with beginnings and endings) created as the campaign progresses, not beforehand, by all of the participants at the table. During the process of creation (i.e. the campaign), each participant will be engaged in not only creating his or her character’s story - the character, the challenges it faces and what the methods it uses to overcome those challenges mean to it - but also assisting the other participants in creating the stories of their characters.

Going back to Jere’s notes, I find:

As a last step, examine the goal statement and ask yourself this: If the game achieves or demonstrates each of these would you agree that the game achieved its goal? If the answer is yes, then you have clarified the goal.

By “each of these”, I assume Jere is referring to the statements that best represent what’s desired. Let’s review them in light of that goal:

  • Emphasis on character and character change (or, maybe more accurately, character revelation, revealing who the character really is) during the campaign – Yes. I think this is an important part of meaningful story.
  • If the participants ensure the kibitzing assists the action without drowning it out, that definitely meets the goal of engagement and will assist the interweaving of stories, even if the characters never meet each other.
  • Figuring out where the campaign might end for the PCs meets the goal of story with beginning and end, not beginning and long, agonising peter-out (which will eliminate engagement).
  • Participants taking an active hand in what they find interesting about their characters is probably the biggest single factor in keeping everyone engaged.

Right; I have a goal which has been clarified. Or at least I hope it has - if you're reading this, would you care to comment or e-mail me and let me know whether the goal and the clarifications make sense to you, and if not, where the problems are, please?

Still, at this point I think I can use what I have to evaluate game rules and/or worlds in order to determine which would best meet my goal.

Next: Goals vs. Games

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This is a great journey you are on. I hope it has a satisfactory outcome for you: many systems promise a great deal and, without careful examination, are likely to disappoint. Pardon my lack of any great insight; without having examined all your posts on this, I wanted to encourage you in this valuable endeavour. I hope to be able to properly comment when things are a little less hectic personally.

Tamashek, the lack of constructive criticism makes me no less glad to read your encouragement. Thanks for posting; it lets me know that I'm not working in a vacuum here. I understand about things getting hectic personally; it's easy to think that the world revolves around me when I post on my web log.

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