Which Comes First? The Campaign or the System


First Post
For me it is the system first, but since I play D&D exclusively, it is a no-brainer decision, bordering on not a choice at all. Well now I need to decide between 3.5 and 4E, but even that is a rules thing, and not a campaign thing as I can do campaigns in both systems.

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First Post
d20 mechanics suck for this because it's very difficult to extrapolate from the strongly tied individual combat rules to a group combat.
It just takes longer, which is not so relevant to people who consider it takes too long in any case.

Naval rules are in the original D&D set, the 1st ed. (and probably 2nd) Advanced, and both Expert sets. Numbers are not a problem.

According to Mike Mornard, the longest D&D battle he ever saw in Gygax's game took 45 minutes. It involved an attack on a caravan of several hundred orcs.


First Post
The second issue I had was the magic system. It was just so incredibly overpowering that it wasn't fun. A lyre of building makes your ship invulnerable to damage for an hour (longer with chances of mishap). An extended wand of fireballs has a range of almost half a mile.
I would call that stuff, not "the magic system".


For longer games, I put "campaign" (75% "play style" + 25% "story ideas") before "system". That is, I start by learning what and how my players would like to play and by deciding what I want to put in the game, and then I choose a system that fits it (and maybe houserule it a little).

Short games are often another way around, because I use them to test and learn new systems myself and to teach them to my players. Thus, I read the books, find what the rules are good for, prepare a story that uses the bet parts and avoid the weakest ones. Then I go to my players with "You know, I have this fun new game, who would like to try it?". Both style and story is fit to the mechanics and we check if we like it or not.

Hand of Evil

Not sure you can have one without the other; they work hand in hand with each other and I think when selecting a setting you have to select the sytem at the same time, the same with the system. Just creating one then adding the other to it, means adhocing the gaming enviroment; too much work.


Ideally, my friends and I would know 50 system by heart and we would simply choose the one that suited the campaign idea. Obviously, that's not the case, and the system comes first for social/political reasons. Not that it seems to bother any of us, we've had a good game through the various incarnations of D&D for a long time.


First Post
It depends on the group and the campaign. I have run games where I saw the system and world and thought it would be fun to run something using it, and so I did. Other times, I have had an interesting idea for a campaign, and I found a system that would work well for it.

I think the system is most important if the campaign idea comes from the system, if the players are opposed to different systems, or if I'm tired of a system. Currently, I'm running a 4e game and playing in two 4e games, so if I were to run a one-shot, I would probably avoid using 4e for it, as I would take it as an opportunity to inject more variety into my gaming.


First Post
Campaign. Although I wouldn't really call it that. I'd say inspiration or plot-kernel is the more specific thing that comes first when thinking about a new game. For me at least.


The system first. There is no way I could run a Dragonlance type campaign with Role Master. Every rule set brings a unique feel to the table so they will influence what your campaign will be like.

The reason the system comes first is because it will set some limitations on your story. (Extreme example: a high magic game can't use the original Harn System.) You have to have a system that your players are willing to play. Bringing Role Master or Harn to group that prefers D&D style of play with levels being really important is not going to work.

Then you can use the system to play up or down verious elements in you campign.


First Post
I tend not to play D&D, or other games where setting is different from system. The two are intertwined, and I really don't see them as seperate choices.

Though if the system is bad enough, then that can overrule. For example, I'm getting ready to start a heavily Supernatural inspired game. Since I and my group despise Cortex, we're doing it with Hunter: the Vigil.

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