Wednesday, June 27, 2018

Terrinoth #1 - A new RPG Campaign

I generally don't post details of my RPG sessions on this blog, but I am planning to do so for the new campaign I am starting next week. The plan is to write a post after each session, with the first part of the post summarising the play, and the second part (out of bounds to my players!) being a documentation of my thought processes in preparing for the session and during the running of the game.

One of the reasons why I plan to do this is that I am experimenting with a new system of running the game, which I call the B-Team system.

Now one of the problems many gaming groups face is that of scheduling. I am fortunate enough to have a rather regular group, but even then once in a while a couple of fellows just happen to have something else on for a couple of weeks consecutively, and we end up not playing for several weeks in a row. I developed the "East Marches" system to deal with this in my Space Opera campaign, and that was rather successful. However, that system restricted us to adventures which must end in a single session.

For the upcoming campaign, I want a more traditional tempo to it, which means we may end a session in the middle of a dungeon, and pick up the next session, so I want the make-up of the party to be the same from session to session.

To cope with the problem of not having everyone at the table on a game night, I proposed the formation of a B-Team. What this entails is each player having a secondary character, which they will play on the evenings when not everyone (from the A-Team, as it were) can make it. To make a full party, I will offer the places at my table to other players. The B-Team then will play like the "East Marches" style, with the make-up of the party being different from session to session, but with each player playing his same character, and gaining experience and leveling up. And what is more, the A-Team and the B-Team will exist in the same timeline. To the players who are only on the B-Team, this will be like a closed Adventurer's League.

Another new thing I hope to be trying out this campaign is a sandbox style of play.

This all came about two months ago when my brother introduced me to the board game Runebound. I was struck by how the whole game is basically a sandbox game in the first half, and a directed campaign in the second. I was excited to learn that FFG would be releasing an RPG supplement for the setting soon, and started planning to set my campaign in the realm of Terrinoth.

For rules I decided on D&D 5E. I like the relatively simple core mechanics of the system, and the number of spells and customisation options offered by the rules even without the new books. My players are all rather easy-going, and we have built up enough trust over the past couple of years to be able to house-rules bits we don't like.

Probably the biggest rules change we have made is to the wizards' spells. One of the chief features of the Terrinoth setting is that much of magic in the realm is bound up in thousands of shards of crystals. This gave me the idea that instead of learning spells from spellbooks and scrolls, wizards instead require these crystal shards to cast spells. This means that learning new spells is now no longer just a matter of copying them into your spellbook, but finding and gaining new crystal shards. This puts a huge handicap on wizard players, but fortunately two of my players have stepped up to the challenge.

We did Session Zero after last night's game, and created three characters (one of the strengths of D&D is how quickly one can create a character), their backstories, a together came up with how they ended up together. I required each player to come up with a short-term goal, a long-term goal, an enemy from the past, and an ally from the past for their characters, and I am very happy with what they came up with - I am already making plans to include their past into the campaign.

After all that, I showed them the map from Runebound, and asked them where they would like to go next. They picked the one hook I haven't really got a module ready for, but I did manage to find one later that night. The module in turn led me to read up on pre-Celtic civilisations on Europe... There's still a bit of work to be done before I am prepped for next week, but I am an excited if sleepy GM now.

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