RPGs How do I run a campaign like this?





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  1. #1
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    ° Ignore Rechan

    How do I run a campaign like this?

    So, I joined a group a group 5 months ago. They meet once a month, and the Dm will run a game if 3/4ths of the players can make a session. Before I joined they had a full 3 months of no playing because no one's schedules matched up. And since I've been with them, we've missed 3 months.

    That is ludicrous. But apparently this is becoming more common among the gaming friends I have online. Playing continual-story games where even if you get to play, someone's character is dragged around while the player isn't there, and people have to either 1) play the missing guy's PC, or 2) find some silly reason why he wasn't adventuring on session 3 of the dungeon and yet not eaten, and then when he gets back he's missed the Story Elements.

    Now, I had an idea of a way to run a game that might address this, however I feel sort of overwhelmed by the idea.

    The Concept

    Game Day is set in stone. It's say, every second and fourth weekend of the month, or whatever. Anyone who shows up that day gets to play.

    Adventures are structured to be 1-session length, so that if the players who were present for session 1 aren't there at session 2, then there's no story confusion. For this reason, the campaign's setting allows for many smaller stories. A colony on a lost continent, a Thieves guild, the town Watch, a monster hunter guild, something that permits short missions that anyone can complete, but that can build off one another.

    Everybody levels up whether they show up or not. The prize for showing up is getting to play that day, as opposed to xp.

    My Problem

    1) Balance. I have to be prepped so that if the Rogue and the Cleric show up that day, I have something for them to do that they can theoretically do that isn't either certain death or non-challenging it's insultingly boring.

    2) Adventure design. Since any number and combination of classes could show up, how do I design an adventure to accommodate this and write them so that they're both 1-session length and interesting/rewarding?

 

  • #2
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    ° Ignore Crothian
    I'd run games so that at the beginning and end of the session the PCs are in a safe place like a town, or defensible ruins or something. That way any character not there the next week is just left at the safe place. so even if the PCs are in a dungeon at the end of a session they would retreat back to someplace safe and regroup for the next session.

    I would also have multiple potential plots going on. This way with different plots and different types of adventures attached to these plots players would have options on what to handle. Some would be combat heavy and others would be very combat light. I have found though that players can get really creative to deal with situations their characters are not built for.

    Best of luck!

  • #3
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    ° Ignore S'mon
    I pretty much do it this way. I don't worry too much about balance, so the party may be underpowered or overpowered, though I may tweak things a bit. I often use 'Dungeon Delve' type design for adventures; 3 scene model with beginning, middle and end, playable in 1-2 sessions.

    I do strongly recommend sticking to a regular schedule, and not cancelling because of player absence. I'll run for 2-6 players.
    ***Henry/S'mon Super Quick d20 NPC Generation System*** The Gods of the Copybook Headings With Terror and Slaughter Return!

    eriktheguy, on S'mon's latest idea:
    There are 2 major problems with your idea:
    1: It is far too awesome
    2: see 1

  • #4
    I'd make it an urban campaign with the PCs a single unit - City Watch, Supers, Gumshoe, Theives Guild, Western Posse. Being urban gives lots of chances for downtime as the missing PCs either go home or go investigate something else.

    Also if a player is really active would they be allowed more than one character each on a different mission?
    Quote Originally Posted by IcyCool
    Man, given the average Int of an Otyugh, I can just see the boss monologue now...

    PCs: "Before we fight, why don't you tell us your master plan?"
    Otyugh: "I like poop."
    PCs: "Umm, what?"
    Otyugh: "Do you have poop?"

  • #5
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    ° Ignore Rechan
    I generally dislike 'you're in the dungeon for weeks' type adventures, so the players would generally have a Home Base that they return to at the end of the adventure. In all honesty I'm leaning towards the Colony game, but will offer other options of that doesn't appeal.
    @S'mon , I am quite concerned with balance though.

    Quote Originally Posted by Tonguez
    Also if a player is really active would they be allowed more than one character each on a different mission?
    As in, play two characters on the same session, or decide "should I bring my barbarian or my warlock today?" I'm quite happy with the latter.

    The former, I find it really slows things down, so what I would probably do would design a companion character that can be played easily. Someone with a very brief character sheet, no fiddly bits, that can fill a hole and be run by a player, but doesn't take up too much resources. (Ye olde healbot, or meatshield).

  • #6
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    ° Ignore S'mon
    Quote Originally Posted by Rechan View Post
    @S'mon , I am quite concerned with balance though.
    Some solutions are

    (a) Let the players decide what challenges to take on, and
    (b) Schrodinger encounters, "1 Orc per PC present" sort of thing.
    (c) NPC Companions who fill in for absent PCs.

    But I tend to find if I have 6 players, and run fortnightly, my player group is pretty consistently 4-5 and nearly always in the 3-6 range.
    ***Henry/S'mon Super Quick d20 NPC Generation System*** The Gods of the Copybook Headings With Terror and Slaughter Return!

    eriktheguy, on S'mon's latest idea:
    There are 2 major problems with your idea:
    1: It is far too awesome
    2: see 1

  • #7
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    ° Ignore Nytmare
    Another way to deal with party/adventure balance is to do what a lot of old action-ey TV shows would do, and have a stable of possible characters where the players choose which group goes out adventuring each week.

    "Cobra captured Duke and they're holding him hostage under the polar ice caps? Good thing Snake Eyes, Lady Jane, and Shipwreck are here to run off and save him!"
    Life's a die and then you bitch.

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    ° Ignore GhostBear
    Quote Originally Posted by Nytmare View Post
    Another way to deal with party/adventure balance is to do what a lot of old action-ey TV shows would do, and have a stable of possible characters where the players choose which group goes out adventuring each week.
    A long time ago, some of my gaming buddies ran some games like this. It was a GI-Joe inspired type of D&D game where there was an elite, largely autonomous organization with maybe 15-20 "agents" in it. Players were given the mission briefing and could then pick and chose whichever character they felt would be useful - which meant that Character A could be played by different people in subsequent missions.

    This did lead to some role playing irregularities from time to time, but since the game was less role-play heavy it didn't matter all that much. And, sometimes, it lead to some interesting moments. Different points of view on why someone would do something and all that.

    Just jot down a few short notes about the character's personality and background, maybe a quirk or two, and let the players have fun with it.

    We also passed around GM control each storyline. It was, as a whole, a very fluid and flexible way to run games and we learned to do a lot of impromptu story / dungeon / combat development along the way. Also great for breaking in new GMs - no big world building mega plot, just a small one or two session thing.

  • #9
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    ° Ignore Agamon
    Sounds like a West Marches-style game. Ben has a lot of advice for that kind of game and the comment section for those posts are full of gold, as well.

  • #10
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    ° Ignore Agamon
    Quote Originally Posted by Rechan View Post
    My Problem

    1) Balance. I have to be prepped so that if the Rogue and the Cleric show up that day, I have something for them to do that they can theoretically do that isn't either certain death or non-challenging it's insultingly boring.

    2) Adventure design. Since any number and combination of classes could show up, how do I design an adventure to accommodate this and write them so that they're both 1-session length and interesting/rewarding?
    I wouldn't worry much about balance. If the players are short-handed or missing a key role, they need to address that themselves or go into the adventure with the knowledge of what they are missing. Player problem solving is one of the keys to a sandbox game, as is the good sense to avoid or leave for later any encounters that they can't deal with.

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