D&D General What is your favorite "campaign paradigm"

Stalker0

Legend
As a DM once you have gotten a few campaigns under your belt, you might find that certain styles of campaign work better for you and/or your players than others.

So what is your favorite type of campaign?


For me I keep coming back to the "Guild Mission" paradigm. The party is a member of a guild or organization, and most adventures are missions for the guild. I also add in the "Q from James Bond angle". The party is often provided magic gear to help them on a given mission, however, any magic items they acquire are property of the guild and so it switches out mission to mission.

Why I like this model of campaign:
  • You can justify a huge variety of adventures. One day we are at a baron's bday party, the next diving into the city's underground sewers. Its all easily justified as "that's the mission".
  • Likewise, it gives you a nice built in justification for characters to go on adventures. Whether they have joined the guild for money, glory, or some other personal reason, they all have agreed to do the missions as an implicit part of the game.
  • The guild house gives you a nice home base and a core cast of NPCs. The party can travel to far away places but always comes back to the guild, and this allows you to create some nice bonds with core npcs which allows for some good roleplaying. And of course if the guild is ever threatened it increases the PCs connection to the people there and raises the stakes.
  • The "Q from James Bond" idea I find has a lot of benefit. It allows you to play with a lot of magic items you might otherwise be uncomfortable putting in a game. You want to give the party some crazy game breaking item, sure its only 1 adventure, then they give it back. Likewise you can have enemies with magic items without worrying that you are just piling on magic loot to the party, so this model solves that very common problem.
  • It can help the players feel they are "a part of the world". On the one hand, if they engage in nasty actions....they are impacting the guild and may face consequences. But on the other, they can get in trouble and the guild will offer help and support. It creates a nice sense of connection to the world and the events.

What is your favorite campaign paradigm?
 

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payn

I don't believe in the no-win scenario
Great topic!

I'm going with open world "empire building" campaign.

Why I like this model:
  • Meta goal sets a point on the horizon that every adventure leads towards. Players have a focus, thats not entirely specific, and will adapt.
  • Faction play gives the players a lot of choice to engage the setting.
  • Play agency isnt just given, its rewarded.
  • Proactive play as opposed to reactive play.
  • Stakes are not world ending, but can build up to, its flexible.
 

James Gasik

We don't talk about Pun-Pun
You know, I've tried a bunch of things, and what works best is "Stranger in a Strange Land". This allows you to explain lore as your leisure, instead of writing a 60 page text document full of "your character should know this" stuff that nobody is ever going to read.

So now, I find a contrived way to plop the party down in an unknown place with a vague "we have to get back to whence we came" motivation.
 

Reynard

Legend
Supporter
Since this is D&D General and not TTRPG General, I will say that what I like best for D&D and what actually works best are two different things.

What I like best is an open world sandbox environment where players not only drive play but in so doing help create the world. The ideal for me is a frontier teeming with factions and adventure sites, with players (through their characters) deciding what is important to them, even as the world itself grinmds on in response to their action or inaction.

In reality, that can be a bit of a slog unless your players are really self motivated. So, what actually works best in my experience is to start with the above but then focus with a particular Big Bag Guy or Event on the horizon. Still not a railroad but there is an inevitability that very strongly encourages the PCs to engage with that particular thing. I like my fantasy big and bombastic most of the time, so it is stuff like invasions or cataclysms or the gods returning, etc.
 

payn

I don't believe in the no-win scenario
I'll take every opportunity to plug the campaign players guide the likes of Paizo APs. Regardless of campaign type, I really appreciate a players guide that outlines the types of characters that live and adventure in the setting that will align with the campaign well.
 

@Stalker0 I’m considering something similar to this framework for the next time I run a fantasy game: Savage Pathfinder Society as a home based campaign. What kind of pitfalls or problems have you experienced with this game framework?

Do you find that due to the nature of the game it’s tough to place characters and their motivations or goals into play?

I love the ideas of guild ‘Q’ and it’s a fantastic way to put items into play that you may not normally see.
 

Clint_L

Legend
"Unexpected alliance." The players make a choice to work with someone that I expected to them to fight, and then I get inspired to build out that backstory and create reasons for the alliance to become even more impactful.

My just-wrapped school campaign took a huge swerve after the players decided to scam their way onto a pirate crew instead of fighting them. Then they decided they genuinely liked their new pirates buddies, and vice versa, and a whole new story arc developed. In the end, they wound up working together to defeat a pirate "king" who was drawing on the power of an atropal in his scheme for local dominance.

Atropal fight.jpg


My home campaign recently went on a long arc after the party first attacked a hag, then made a deal with her, then became besties and helped her reunite with her scattered coven sisters.

Hag Swamp Battle 4.jpg
 

payn

I don't believe in the no-win scenario
"Unexpected alliance." The players make a choice to work with someone that I expected to them to fight, and then I get inspired to build out that backstory and create reasons for the alliance to become even more impactful.

My just-wrapped school campaign took a huge swerve after the players decided to scam their way onto a pirate crew instead of fighting them. Then they decided they genuinely liked their new pirates buddies, and vice versa, and a whole new story arc developed. In the end, they wound up working together to defeat a pirate "king" who was drawing on the power of an atropal in his scheme for local dominance.

View attachment 366433

My home campaign recently went on a long arc after the party first attacked a hag, then made a deal with her, then became besties and helped her reunite with her scattered coven sisters.

View attachment 366434
Nice sets!
 

Guild Mission mixed with Base Building mixed with Stranger in a Strange Land. I want to be in a weird world, with a weird organization, and building a base to interact with these weird NPCs.
 

aco175

Legend
I tend to have smaller campaign arcs in a larger scope that is not that defined. Levels 1-5 might start out one thing like save the town from orcs or such and then once you defeat the chieftain to win the day, you find out he is working for a giant. This next part takes you levels 6-9 and then you manage to save the day, for a while. Some other threat comes along for levels 10-13 and you may find out that it was somehow tied to the first one.
 

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