Saturday, January 16, 2010

The School Campaign: Examples from Libri Vidicos III

Last part of some example materials drawn from my own steampunk fantasy school-based campaign. As I talked about in the first post on this topic, Libri Vidicos strongly centers the school as the campaign premise. It has run well over the last two and half years, with some of that strength coming from a dynamite player group and some of it coming from the player group being willing to buy into the whole HP inspired premise- working and playing with those genre conventions.

Clubs
GM Note: Once I got the players settled into classes then I brought up the idea of clubs-- another means for encouraging interaction with NPCs, a chance to met students in other classes, and a means of illustrating some characters other interests.

Once First Year students have settled in they will have the opportunity to join one of the many clubs and organizations on campus. These groups provide an opportunity for students to interact with persons from other grade levels and Houses. It can also be an awful brewing cauldron of rivalries and peer group scapegoating. Still, we at Libri Vidicos believe that this can only be for the good of your character development. Consequently, students must choose one club or group to join. First Years may not join more than one. We have found that having to serve as a dogsbody in more than one group is not conducive to a positive self-image. The House Prefect will be able answer questions regarding clubs and provide the latest gossip.
 
Each of these clubs has a long and storied history. All clubs are registered with the Grandmaster and have their coat of arms displayed proudly in the Trophy Hall.  
 
The Equestrian Club: Many students pride themselves on being able to ride a horse, but there is much more to it than simply riding. You must learn to look good at all times while doing it. Our club is famous within the school for inculcating a sense of grace and style rarely found elsewhere. Membership is contingent on riding ability as well as other intangibles.
 
Reader's Salon: Books from the outside can be a valuable commodity here at the school, especially one's with great fighting or romance scenes. Our club works as a book exchange. As well we get together to talk about books and what we thought was great about them. On occasion one of the instructors will come down to talk about one of their favorite books, but thankfully this is relatively rare.
 
Inventors Club: This is a great place to meet with like-minded individuals who truly understand your work, not like those other philistines who refuse to acknowledge the greatness before them. We show off inventions, discuss techniques and prepare for the annual Science Fair which is the true test of genius.
 
Wickets and Imps: Each House will provide a team for Wickets and Imps. Should you display any talent for the game, it is likely that the House Prefect will draft you for this sport. You likely have never played Wickets and Imps. If you've played croquet, imagine that. With the hoops in the air. And being able to wallop other players. And traps. And you have to fly. But otherwise much like conventional croquet.
 
Fencing Club: Few skills mark nobility so much as skill and finesse with a blade. While you will gain some training in your courses, such things are rarely as instructive as the opportunity to pit yourself against other worthy opponents. On the other hand, you may not feel up to the challenge—we understand. There are many other clubs to test your mettle, such as the Sewing Club…
 
Libri Vidicos Host Society: A transcendent art, the skills of the beautiful, the delicate flower of youth, it is the burden of the Host Society to provide a certain comfort to students in their busy days and hours. The blossom can only truly bloom with care and attention.
 
Sewing Club: Some look down on what are considered the domestic skills. However when they tear their cloak, or need a dress for a ball they have to come to us. And they will. After a few rounds of sewing their own pockets together they will realize that they need an expert. Then they are ours.
 
Ballroom Dance Club: If you wish to stand out, to make a mark both here and at home, it pays to know how to dance. Become the envy of all others and the object of affection for many. Gentlemen, the ratio of males to females in our club is often advantageous, if you take my meaning!
 
Debating Society: Our members dwell on and consider the important issues of the day. We take rhetoric and put it into action! Debating requires a unique combination of eloquence, improvisation, logic and fast-talking. The skills you develop here will last you a lifetime.
 
Spirit Club: This club is currently on probation. Any activities held by the club must be overseen by a Master skilled in the appropriate arcane arts.
 
Lords of the Air! The aviators club for the school—the newest of the clubs, only having come into existence some thirty or so years ago. The school has two flying vehicles it can spare for such activities. Members must sign a special death and bodily dismemberment waiver before joining.
 
Magical Society: Only those who have been accepted into one of the Chantries are eligible to join the Magical Society. As you can see we are elite. If you apply it is highly unlikely you will be accepted, it is as simple as that.
 
Gardening Club: This club is noted for covering activities both animal and botanical. The Gardening Club aids in the management of the Menagerie on campus.
 
There are a few other Clubs, but they are exclusively for upper classmen. (Though some listed here are as well) ((Yes, but best to provide them with at least a partially accurate list)) (((If you are going to do a job you should take pride in it and finish it completely))) ((((We will continue this discussion later)))) (((((Hrumph.)))))

Vignettes
GM Note: One of the other tricks borrowed from HP is the use of dramatic vignettes given out before the start of each year-- ambiguous, foreshadowing scenes the characters themselves aren't privy to. They're more tone setting than anything else and some of those things get played out and revealed throughout the year. I think they do a nice job of suggesting a looming threat (in some cases) and providing insight into NPC personalities in others.

Gravast Direlond, Grandmaster of the Libri Vidicos, put yet another spoonful of sugar into his cup. Regardless of how many times he'd asked for a weaker brew, it still managed to come up to his offices black as pitch. Tea was never meant to be that dark. He was beginning to suspect that Mrs. Weft had it in for him. He stirred his cup again and then looked back up to address the question.
 
"Yes, I think this will be a terrible year—one marked with death, tragedy, and the downfall of civilization. Old powers wait at the gates, conspiracies boil over, swords are being sharpened across the land, and I cannot get a decent cup of tea made for me…"
 
His assistant, the Submaster, Avansa Nullproof nodded carefully at his words. She had to nod carefully or else the visitor's hat she was always forced to wear when meeting with him would slide off and crash on the table. It had happened before and the Grandmaster hadn't been pleased.
 
"With all due respect, Grandmaster, you have said that for the last dozen years. In fact, the exact same words…let me check…" she held up an index card. "Yes…exactly that…old powers…swords sharpened…bad tea…"
 
Direlond made a face. "I have survived to reach where I am by being cautious. Mark my words, when a disaster comes you'll be running up here to call for my assistance and vast preparations."
 
"Which are?"
 
"Wouldn't you like to know…" Direlond nodded sagely. "Now, how is the new Master of Students holding up?"
 
"The Master of Students has been here five years. He is hardly new." She looked down on her notes while keeping one hand up to steady her shifting headgear. "There are some anomalies in the numbers…he has a report on it and the Fetchers have been acting up…but overall he is pleased."
 
The Grandmaster stroked his braided beard as she finished. "Yes, I've heard about the Fetchers. I've looked into it. Actually that's the reason I called you to meet with me. I've consulted the Antithetical Ouranomastikon on the matter." He fell silent.
 
Nullproof waited for some time before speaking. "What…what did it show?"
 
"One meter in the Houses of the Lost; another marking the course of the Splinter of the 9th Sphere and the other readings…ambiguous…situation unclear…try again later. But the brass hand…it moved."
 
"What?" Nullproof was surprised at how loud her voice sounded when she blurted it out.
 
"Yes…there's to be something afoot. We may have to undertake some things we aren't quite ready for. There may be sacrifices to be made." The Grandmaster sounded tired.
 
"Then we will make them."
 
He looked at her. "Yes, I thought you might say that. More's the pity in these things—they are better undertaken by the reluctant, the hesitant. But that is as it may be." He sighed. "I don't like losing First Years—that's blood on our hands before they've learned enough to make a choice. But…it will have to be done." He stopped. "I think that's all."
 
The Grandmaster waited until she left. He hadn't told her everything, that the one he'd spoken of had already passed, that some of the wards of the Libri had already been passed by. She was Submaster, but she hadn't yet learned everything about the school. On the day she did, Direlond knew he would be dead. No, he had things to do—things that had been set into motion…perhaps this would be the year he'd see his plans come to fruition. He wondered at the horror the others might express if they knew the truth…but they wouldn't—not until it was too late.
 
He thought for a second about cackling madly, but decided against it. Was he an evil genius or a force for good—it bothered him that he couldn't tell. Perhaps he would figure it out soon enough.