Gerald Cameron recently linked me to an excellent post on his blog, My Play: the cryptically-titled BHACs (thanks, Gerald!).
BHAC stands for “Big, Hairy, Audacious Campaign,” which Gerald explains like this: “The basic idea of the BHAC is to build a campaignâ€‰–â€‰whether a one-session change of pace, or a traditional multi-year epicâ€‰–â€‰around the seed of a truly outrageous, grabby, inspiring idea that will never appear in anyone else’s campaign…”
Now that’s a cool approach.
Best BHAC I ever heard of, Timeship titanic, a time travellers attempt to save the titanic sends a copy of the ship Skipping trought time and space.
Slave campaign: A guy complained on a D&D message board that it stands to reason that hill giants should rule the world in D&D. I think he’s wrong, but what if some powerful race did rule? In most games, player characters display heavy weapons openly and try to be as powerful as possible. In this game, troublemakers are killed or made into slave laborers. Players who gain levels must either hide how powerful they’ve become, or make a deal with the giant overlords.
Everybody has powers: In most RPG’s, amazing powers belong to the few. In this game, everybody has them. It could be like in Alfred Bester’s “The Stars My Destination,” in which everyone has learned to teleport. It could be like in the film “Cast a Deadly Spell,” in which average joes use spells to light their cigarettes. Maybe the background mana, the source of magical power, has been very low for centuries, and now it’s rising and rising…
Vampirism out of control: Say that vampires are very powerful and that everyone killed by a vampire becomes a vampire. Say also that vampires usually consume one person every night, more than that if they’re greedy. For centuries, vampires used careful discipline to keep their numbers from getting out of control, but now that’s all broken down. During the campaign, first there’s hundreds of vampires, then thousands of vampires, then millions of vampires. Players try to survive as long as possible in a world where the thirsty dead will soon outnumber the living.
Another end of the world: A super ecological catastrophe is starting, and will end with Earth’s atmosphere becoming unbreathable. Someone discovers a giant artificial space habitat. It’s weird in there, but you can live in it, and there’s room for everyone. Player characters can fight to get on an evacuation spaceship, then explore the strange environment in their new home. They’ll have to deal with the weird aliens that live in there, and the power struggles among the humans.
I like this I think it deserves its own pdf or at least a wiki entry. I could have a lot of fun with this.
I donÂ´t think you necessarily have to try a concept that will be remembered for many generations.
Most of times, what players remember are the funny or interesting scenes theyÂ´ve played. The details really…
Really simple ideas can give lots of fun! even when they get bigger, more complex and more “bizarre” heheheh
Of course you don’t have to. If you did, either a) I wouldn’t have had any reason to write the post in the first place, since it would be common practise or b)RPGs would have died out ages ago because anyone that didn’t think to try out a BHAC would have left the hobby from boredom ages ago.
The idea is to just consider how something big, bold and audacious can be more fun for the simple reason that it may be very different from a normal campaign. Also, for people that have found that the magic has gone out of role-playing, it is a poossible way of reinjecting life into the old hobby.
In no way did I try to imply that BHACs are a One True Way (heck, I hate One True Ways in RPGs).
P.S. I think trying to define a BHAC as an idea that will be remembered for generations may be a bit of a straw man, too.
I like hearing about different BHACs — it’s always interesting to get a peek at how other GMs think. Personally, I love the “city built around the tarrasque” BHAC Gerald linked to in his original post. That one’s been stuck in my head ever since I looked through it.
And “one true way” is a term that’s worth considering for our GMing glossary — I’ve heard that one several times recently. Thanks for the reminder, Gerald.
city built on a tarrasque. yeah, that’s going into my eberron campaign somehow. 🙂
Hehe. No problem, Martin. That was part of the plan all along 😉
Maybe it’s just me, but the line that stands out in this whole thing is Gerald’s, “Also, for people that have found that the magic has gone out of role-playing, it is a poossible way of reinjecting life into the old hobby.”
On one hand, I can see this happening. When everyone knows all the rules (and classes, monsters, etc), a lot of the mystery is gone.
On the other hand, there’s still plenty of room for imagination, if the group can let go of the very modern need to have everything dissected and defined.
I have one in the works that involves the PC’s being the “monsters” and the DM running the “Heros”. The PC’s are given a min. ECL to create with and must defend the sought after items at all costs.
The PC’s are defending a 10’by 10’room with a treasure chest in it? I like it!
DM: “You are an orc, standing in a 10′ x 10′ room.”
P1: “Do I have any starting equipment?”
DM: *rolls* “You have a pie.”
P1: “Aw, crud.”
I can’t claim credit, but this one sounds like a BHAC: The PCs are summoned or called, so they don’t really die, and can try their most audacious plans and tactics.
From a GMs point of view, this is very liberating, because you can take the gloves off and really unload on the party, and they can do the same with little fear of losing their characters.
I’ve had two that I would consider BHAC.
One started when a small (artificial, magical, god-related) moon crashed into the campaign’s inner sea, just as the campaign was getting started. The players all knew it was coming (because their previous characters were involved in the sequence that caused it), but the new characters didn’t. The campaign was about putting civilization back together after the cataclysm. (It took on a more somber tone than intended, when the Indonesia tsunami happened two months after the session where the moon hit in our campaign world. I wouldn’t have played it that way had I know what was coming.)
The other was a campaign built around the idea that certain races were linked magically by blood–and this crossed non-traditional boundaries. For example, Orcs, men, and dwarves were all “children of the soil”. Elves, trolls, and goblins were all “children of the wood.” Any magic that was bane or boon to trolls also was bane or boon to elves. And the game was very high magic. When you must fight trolls, and the elves want to take your axe and cast it into the sea, it creates tension. 🙂 Everyone civilized has a strong reason to distrust several other civilized races, but they need to somehow get along anyway.
i think most of my recent campaigns might qualify as BHACs. 🙂
year zero – an AD&D 2e campaign set on an alternate earth at the beginning of the common era. unfortunately, there was a bug in the world, and when the calendar rolled from 1 BC to 1 AD all magic broke. spell durations were inverted, so that instantaneous spells such as fireball became permanent, and permanent spells such as cure wounds became instantaneous. the party embarked on a long quest to recover the three artifacts which the gods had used to create the world and use them to ‘reboot’ magic.
dragons – an AD&D 2e campaign set on the same alternate earth some four hundred years later. wherein the party learns that the world was created when marduk slew tiamat, and divided her body into five parts (the five chromatic heads) to form the earth. long after the babylonian empire had waned and the creation story faded into dusty myth, new empires had arisen, each associated with one of the five parts of tiamat. the events of the previous campaign had reawakened the long-dormant dragons, but typhoeus (the red dragon associated with greece) had been slain by the olympian gods before they could rejoin as tiamat. one of the PCs entered the campaign with her memory sealed by the gods, and the party embarked on a quest to restore her, which involved resurrecting typhoeus and so tiamat, the only being they knew of with the power to oppose the gods and break their seal.
Jerome and drow,
Ooooo….I like all of those. Especially the meteor and the year zero campaign.
I’ve just finished prepping what might become a BHAC in the D&D Forgotten Realms 3.5 setting, entitled ‘Death to the Deities’.
Basically, the pc adeventurers will have to start a major chain reaction which involves all Faerunn people to become truly and completely atheistic.
Since the God’s overlord AO has installed the rule that no God can survive without followers, the ultimate quest for the PC party is to make these followers lose their faith.
This will not be achieved by a massive slaughter of believers and/or their deities’ avatars, but through cunning politics, extremely convincing deeds and speaches or less positive moves like blackmail and the occasional brute force.
Should the PC’s succeed in this tremendous task, there lies an even bigger challenge before them: in a godless world, what/who do people believe in, what are motivators, which moral codes remain, …
This campaign starts next week. The player group seems very solid to me, with no one planning to move, or drastically alter their personal lives.
So I’m very anxious to discover wether or not the above plot will be played out to its full extend.
If so, in a year or so we should be on our way for a truly great BHAC, right?