Friday, December 13, 2013

Savoring the Game

I stumbled upon this post earlier in the week. In it, Tori Bergquist brought up an interesting idea: episodic campaign stints.In other words, every few levels you take an in-game break from adventuring and let time pass. Tori:

 It would be interesting to consider a narrative arc which encompasses two or more decades of time. This might not have as much impact for a party of elves or other long-lived PCs, but for humans, halfings and such it could pose an interesting challenge.
I've thought about this before, but never implemented it. Rarely does a sequel pick up 10 minutes after its predecessor.  Tori goes on to say:
Not only would a campaign built around a multi-decade long narrative be interesting for its dynamics, a book like Ultimate Campaign might make more sense, providing some unique ways to flesh out lengthy downtime. You could have a campaign that ends with a four story arc involving the liberation of the city from an evil baron...then next session picks up five years later, with the PCs the legitimate saviors of the city, and a "catch up" session to see what everyone did.
This idea fits well with the narrative style I try to have my games take. I touched on this years ago. And I have a house rule to aid in this. Every character must do his/her leveling in a settlement, and must spend an uninterrupted number of consecutive days honing skills, etc. The time required is as follows:

Next Level
Days Required
where x = next level

Now, I haven't encountered a group of players yet that doesn't have at least one person who gets bored with their character or a long campaign. Sometimes they just want to play a different game/character in order to refresh their RAM or something. In between these episodes, there's a great way to break the monotony while still moving the campaign forward. Have everyone make a level 1 NPC (commoner, expert, etc.) and have them either perform a simple escort quest or survival encounter. The events of those mini-games affect the campaign, and the players get to see them through a new light.

ICOSA is about to release our PDF of Commoners (as soon as Pure Steam hits shelves this month.) It will have plenty of ideas on how to execute this kind of mini-game. 

Until next time!