Monday, January 7, 2013

Lysander Returns from the Immaterium (Campaign Construction 101) - Logistics

Finally the warp storms have cleared and I have reemerged better than ever.  In this post the opening phases of planning a campaign are discussed.  Thanks for hanging in there team!

Well folks its been a long time… about 4 months in total.  But here I am again and hopefully I'm here to stay.  Lets leave what I've been doing at keeping busy adjusting to college and move on, this is of course a blog with a purpose and not a personal diary like certain other blogs (which of course would be more entertaining anyways than what I have to say).  So now that I've lost all rhythm of posting whatsoever, its time to get back in the groove of things.  Fortunately no one else has stepped into the same niche that I set myself up in where they are devoted to crafting story as best I can tell… or unfortunately since it means I still need to come up with all my material from scratch.  Moving on, thus far we have discussed army lore, battle Reportification, designing a planet, done a small amount of story telling, and shared a few battle reports.  Since I first got into the blogosphere (before I wrote in it) I enjoyed a particular blog devoted entirely to campaigns,  Unfortunately it was very brief despite what the website looked like, only taking me about 30 minutes to get through in spite of how many links were up on it in the form of tabs.  And as best I can tell there is no other blog that is like it with a collection of campaign making articles.  So to begin with we shall begin with the original organization for constructing a campaign.

Before you even draft up the rules, drawings, or lists for your campaign you might want to see if other people are even interested in it in the first place.  Delegation can be key, and if you can ensure that, say, three others are also agreeable to the suggestion, they may in fact be willing to pitch in.  You can go about the organization of the whole thing in several ways:  group sessions where you brainstorm collectively and take the best ideas from what all of you have to say.  This can be good because it eliminates some of the wasted time when someone thinks of an idea and presents it several days later to the others who then reject it (whether or not it was a good idea) when they could easily fix that in 2 minutes so that they can move on to thinking of better ideas.  It also means that it is less likely that the thought process would become cyclical, more heads means more input and stimulus for potentially newer ideas, keeping the brainstorming fresh and not stale.  The bad part of it is that one everyone needs to be available at one time and all in the mood for it.  Leaving someone out of this session is a bad idea because they may feel cheated or not like the end result.  In a large group this is unavoidable (for instance if the campaign involves 8+ people) but in 4 and less everyone should take part.  Second sometimes discussions can end up in bickering, name calling, and short tempers because people have conflicting ideas and no one wants to back down, insisting their idea is by far the best one.  But far be it for me to suffocate your creativity, if you think there won't be a problem then go for it.  Another method for delegating the organization is actually dividing up different parts of it.  For instance, one person gets assigned with coming up with custom missions, another drafts the rules for progressing the campaign, someone else draws a map or tree, etc.  This can efficiently deal with problems, however if one individual is not particularly pleased (or just bad at) their task it may bring down the rest of the campaign because of that one ruined aspect.  You don't want an ornately detailed and story driven mission to be ruined by the effect of the battle being something as basic as "gain one point, you are that much closer to victory".  How boring.  How…. Depressing after that epic battle and story of the clash between the opposing forces.  This could be fixed by having everyone take a look at the finished product for each person and coming up with comments and CONSTRUCTIVE criticism to be shared.  And then apply those changes, review again, gain group consensus, and continue.

So everyone is interested and involved with the campaign?  That’s great.  There are a few things that might be crucial to knowing where to start designing a campaign.  First try and know what the range of people involved will be.  How many people can you guarantee will participate, and how many are simply looking into it?  Based on these numbers you may have to widen the scale of your ideas or prune them to a more reasonable size.  Second what armies will be involved?  Perhaps it would be best to decide before everything if you already have a theme in mind.  Do you only want Imperial forces versus Chaos?  Perhaps a select amount of xenos are involved in the conflict, such as the Eldar, Orks, and Necrons all fighting amongst themselves?  Or would you prefer to leave it open and craft the story based on who is involved?  It is all up to you, just keep in mind that the more you specify the less people are going to be able to participate due to your restrictions.  If you feel too many people would be cut out, but your idea is far too awesome to be thrown out, perhaps you should look into doing multiple campaigns with different groups of people so that they don't collide.  Use the same basic formatting and rules, and just adjust the story and missions or so on as you see fit to make each unique.  Having a standard format is fine, but you may want to try and mix things up a little bit so that both campaigns don't begin to feel the same to you.  And if you come up with a good enough set of campaign rules and an excellent template, perhaps you can recycle it in the future and propagate further fun, perhaps you'd even be willing to share it with the rest of the community?

Perhaps figuring out the frequency or duration of the campaign is another good place to start, do you want it to go on for a few weeks, months, perhaps a year?  How many games?  Or would you prefer to not set an ending point to it, just keep playing through it and seeing what happens, like in the Aleph Sector Campaign blog, which has been going since 2006 I think… A bit ambitious to pursue 12 years I think, but who knows, go for it if that’s what suits you.  So based on these details, decide whether you want to set aside your normal gaming days to do this until its over, or only once a month, or separate days entirely, but with that decided you should be able to find out who might not be able to participate then as well, giving you more needed details.  And this could also be subject to change if it proves to have too much of an impact on participation than you wanted, so keep that in mind.  This whole thing will become your baby, you can craft it however you like (since it’s a clay baby and you have the magic molding hands).

So that’s it for today.  Daily posting should resume as of this post.  Remember to try and figure out the logistics of the campaign before hand, so that the feasibility of the whole thing can be fully realized.  And thanks to all of you who inquired as to how I was doing and were interested in the blog coming back to life.  Here's to all of you.  Make sure to check out those blogs that I have links to on the sides and also the active posts that change frequently on the side as those posts are put up, unlike me they remain active.  Cheers!

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