Designing a Campaign

Has this been done? It sounds familiar, but I listen to a lot of gaming podcasts, and I know you’ve touched on the general topic of campaigns, so I’m not sure.

You want to run a campaign. You get together with your group, everyone creates a character, and then you run a few introductory sessions/scenarios so that everyone has a feel for their character and the setting and mechanics.

Then you realize that you didn’t really set up anything long-term. In the past, I always got ideas from the character backgrounds or things that happened in those first few sessions, and then I built off of those. Inevitably I seemed to end up with several ongoing, interweaving storylines that went until I felt it was time to wrap them up. Those were often replaced with others. When I was down to one big, dramatic storyline (usually the one that sparked the idea for the campaign in the first place) I would work to wrap that up and ta!da!..we came to the end of a long, enjoyable game.

A few things are working against me this time. I had a rapid, unexpected turnover of players right at the beginning of this game. This is an SF game instead of a fantasy game. My current players aren’t nearly as into providing a lot of backstory for their characters as past players have been.

So, I’ve got a good size group with characters everyone is happy with. They’re interested in the setting and the game. I’ve run a few scenarios. But nothing has really developed. I have a few ideas, but they’re going to take more laying out than usual (I don’t do railroads…I let the players decide what they want to pursue and try to stay ahead of them. I know what various groups will do if not interfered with. I adjust that as the players interfere.)

Hm. I may have talked my way to my own answer. I’m still curious as to how you would set up a campaign. How much depends on the players? How much do you plan in advance as opposed to responding to your players? Do you outline general elements and fill it in as the game progresses?

Anyway, if this has been discussed, please point me to the specific episodes…thanks!


We’ve talked about this before, in parts, over the years - but this would be a good topic to pull back up and take another look at.

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Has anyone ever set up two separate Cthulhu campaigns where the first is in Cthulhu Dark Ages and the events and outcomes of that game inform aspects of a follow up Call of Cthulhu campaign in the 1920’s?

I’m starting to wonder what that might look like and what the pitfalls would be running a game of that nature. I wouldn’t want the players rehashing the same mysteries or trying to prevent the same events from coming to pass but having bits of lore, entities that may have survived the original encounter with the players or even artifacts from the first campaign reappear could be cool.

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Just off the top of my head the dark ages would need to start several weeks ahead of the second campaign. This would allow you time to process the happenings from first game. It would also allow cushion time in case the group had a down week here or there.
As far as plot goes, demon cults and ancestral blood lines?
To keep too much over lap on what the players investigate it might be helpful to figure motives of the monsters in the dark ages, then use a different motives in the next one.
Tools and technologies would also be way different so even similar happenings would play out different.

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Ancestral bloodlines for both cultists and players could be a lot of fun. Ancient feuds reignited. The cultists could be further or closer to their goal, of unlocking some horror, depending how successfully the first game went for the PCs.

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I have been wanting to run a legacy super hero games that bounces decades between adventures. Will Hitler win WWII or will McCarthism have a lasting effect, do drugs and super powers react poorly and questions like these would be dropped into the campaign with the characters advanced in time between adventure to see what was the results of their actions.

My big deterrent is that I have not found the system to run this campaign in. Icons seems to be a good system, but I am not sure that their build system works well enough. Maybe the Cortex system but I need to try that out first.

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GURPS master Christopher Rice talks about his method of creating a campaign, and a lot of it universally applicable. Really good episode on this podcast.

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