I recently kicked off a Star Wars: Edge of the Empire campaign using the published adventure in the back of the core book, and that got me thinking about this topic again. There’s nothing wrong with this approach, but it’s not my favorite and in this case it didn’t click quite as well for me as other approaches I’ve used in the past.

To date my favorite approach has been the PC background-independent pilot, which I learned from the Stew’s own Don Mappin. I’d have used this method for EotE save that my time was short and my familiarity with the system was limited; using a published adventure designed to be the first in a campaign seemed like a decent alternative.

A few days ago, while I was noodling idly about this in the back of my head, Adam Koebel, co-creator of Dungeon World, described his favorite campaign opener on Google+:

“You’re in the middle of the street. There’s a carriage overturned nearby and two dead horses. Someone is bleeding to death nearby. It is very important that this person does not die. There are people around you, shooting arrows at you. It is obvious they want you to be dead, yourself. Only the ruined carriage is protecting you. It is on fire.

Who is trying to kill you?
Who is the dying person?
Who paid you to keep them alive?
Where are you?
and, as always, what are you going to do?”

I love this idea.

It gels with where my head’s been at lately with Meguey Baker’s no-prep indie RPG Psi-Run (which I’m running for my Hangout group): not just in media res, which I’ve done before, but in media res plus collaborative session creation under time pressure. It’s a fantastic approach in Psi-Run, albeit implemented differently and explicitly for a short-form game, and Adam’s spin on it speaks directly to the You Must Try This part of my brain.

It also goes straight into my toolkit of campaign openers. Having a toolkit of options makes it easier to choose a good one for your specific group, campaign, situation, and goals, and there are lots of ways to start up a new campaign — many of which I’ve never tried and, I’m sure, many I’ve never considered (or even heard of).

Which brings me to the question in the title: What’s your favorite way to kick off a campaign, and why do you like it so much?