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Prepping for a Campaign

Campaign Pre-Production [1], by Michael Zenke [2], offers a range of good general advice about campaign prep.

The format is a bit frustrating (large blocks of text), but the tips are worth it — particularly as an overview for a new GM. (Via DM Haven [3].)

6 Comments (Open | Close)

6 Comments To "Prepping for a Campaign"

#1 Comment By Buzz On June 23, 2006 @ 11:43 am

I wasn’t that happy with the advice in the article. Talk of “outlining the plot,” “figuring out how it’s going to end,” and the like seems pretty old-school. If you want to write a novel, write a novel.

#2 Comment By Frank On June 23, 2006 @ 12:44 pm

Hmm, I wouldn’t call that old school (I consider old school to be gaming of the 70s before this plotted game style started in the mid 80s or so).

That’s definitely a good example of the style of prep that I decidedly don’t do, and that can lead to railroading and illusionism.


#3 Comment By Martin On June 23, 2006 @ 1:44 pm

I’m pretty sure I had “heavy prep” in my first draft of this post, but decided that was just my personal bias and took it out. 😉

I certainly wouldn’t disagree that it’s old school, and that it can lead to unsatisfying play. That said, it can also lead to very satisfying play, which is why I think it makes a good overview.

#4 Comment By Rick the Wonder Algae On June 27, 2006 @ 7:16 am

I always make sure that I know step by step where my plots will go if no one interferes. I also make sure that I know how that changes if the players take likely actions at likely junctures. I don’t consider this railroading. On the other hand, if the PCs do something unexpected, novel, or just odd, sometimes we have to off-road it a bit and that’s just fine too.

So I don’t think settin up an outline ahead of time and planning how you’re going to finish up are strictly speaking a bad thing. It’s only a bad thing if you’re unwilling to deviate from those plans.

#5 Comment By Buzz On June 30, 2006 @ 8:43 pm

“No plan survives contact with the enemy.” Given that this is, well, a given with players, I don’t see any point in even contemplating an “ending”. You’re never going to see it happen unless you railroad, or some miracle of probability. Ergo, why even plant the idea that, as a GM, you need to “direct” the players towards a goal?

Plotting out what will happen if the PCs do nothing is one thing; that’s more situation than plot. Plotting out a “story” for a campaign is a recipie for disaster. RPGs are not fiction; you can’t construct them the same way.

#6 Comment By Martin On July 5, 2006 @ 9:19 am

Buzz, I think Rick’s comment tackled what you’re getting at pretty well — it’s fine to outline, just don’t be stubborn about sticking to it.

When I outline a campaign beforehand (which I don’t always do), one of the things I love is seeing how the actual game differs from my outline. 😉