Two weeks ago, I teased you with how different the cabin areas of the Camp would be for the campers. Rather than try to spend words describing them here, I’m going to give you the description directly from the text.
The cabins at Camp Adventure are perhaps the most unique and adaptable part of the campgrounds. Unlike the other parts of the camp, which are controlled directly by the counselors, the cabins are enchanted to simply respond to the needs and desires of the campers themselves.
Practically speaking, what does this mean for a camper?
As an example, it means that if a camper needs a specific type of sleeping accommodation, the cabin will supply it upon the entrance of a registered camper. Bed, sleeping mat, dirt bed, water tub–the possibilities are as varied as the makeup of the campers who attend the Camp.
Bedding is just one example of these types of adaptations. Broadly speaking, whatever vision a camper has of what their cabin will be like, that is what they get. This is true for all campers who reside in a given cabin. Usually, this means four different visions of what it means to be a camper, and that is exactly the point.
One of the major purposes of Camp Adventure is to help aspiring adventurers learn how to work well with others of widely varied backgrounds. The cabins adapt to all campers simultaneously. There is no illusion magic involved. Campers must spend the summer adapting to and accommodating the environmental needs and desires of the other campers with whom they will adventure.
It doesn’t take long for campers to learn that the cabins adapt to their needs and desires. This may seem to be an opportunity ripe for exploitation, but there are safeguards in place. The first of these is that the magic is able to discern the difference between true needs and whims. The magic has a limited intelligence, and is able to determine the value of what a camper requests of it. As well, it cannot and will not provide anything that is obviously dangerous or deadly. A camper cannot, for example, will poison into existence.
As well, the counselors have ultimate jurisdiction over this magic. As they observe the campers throughout the summer, they are able to curtail the abilities of the cabins to avoid problems.
It may seem as if putting a group of young campers into an environment where they can seemingly have their every desire granted would lead to a great deal of problems. This is the perfect kind of obstacle for a new adventurer to learn to overcome. The life of an adventurer is one that can lead to great riches, and even to magics that could grant wishes. Having a short exposure to a magic like this helps campers learn the depths of their morality and character. Lessons like this last a lifetime.
Functionally, the cabins serve as an indication to the campers of how amazing this camp is. When I’ve used them in playtests, I’ve described how they adapt and change as each camper comes into the cabin. One player wanted windows to peek through, and a chimney to sneak down. Another wanted writing desks and an area to study. Another, an awakened skeleton, needed a crypt along the wall and a place to hang their lute.
Most players, so far, haven’t tried to abuse the nature of the cabins. It’s just a cool way to introduce the camp. Those that have tried to push and get something that would derail the game or the narrative just got some pushback. “The cabin doesn’t seem to be able to create weapons.” It worked well. This kind of explanation would go in a sidebar in the final book itself: GM’s need to know how to handle this kind of stuff.
The Camp is fairly well described so far. Next I’m going to move on to the people who make the Camp run. I’ve got a list of names and a few different descriptions, so I’ll explore how I go about writing NPCs and how to give GMs what they need to use those NPCs at the table.
If you’re going to be at Origins this week, come say hi! For the first time in years, I don’t have events scheduled, so I’m planning on a lot of hanging out and chatting with people. Hit me up on Twitter (@TheOtherTracy) if you want to say hey. See you there!