Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Next Campaign Survey

Recycling day-- when we knew we were close to wrapping up the Sunday campaign, I put together a list of possibly campaign ideas. I had the players rate them from "1"- I'll quit before I play in that through "10"-- I want to have that campaign's children. I figured "5" would be something like...meh, ok...

When I got the list results back, I eliminated any campaigns that had gotten a 1-3 from anyone. That took out most of the list. The diversity of responses showed what different players wanted-- at least from just reading a quick description. Mind you, we've had players enjoy things they thought they would hate (Sherri's reaction to the Vampire game, for example)-- so I don't think this method is necessarily a good indication of what people like/dislike in play. It is however a good way to weed out and find ideas or settings some people find objectionable.

The list I gave them-- and what I told them:

I'd like to get feedback from everyone in deciding what we'd like to play after we're done with the Scion game. Below I've presented fourteen campaign ideas. They're pretty brief summaries and if you have any questions about one or more of them, I'd be glad to answer them. What I'd like you to do is go through and see how much any of them interest you. To do that, I'd like you to rate them each from one to ten.

One: Really not interested at all
Five: I could go either way
Ten: I really want to play in this.

Please send your ratings back just to me-- not to the group. You're welcome to bat around questions and discussions, but I'd like to compile the numbers on my own.

I'd also like at some point to get your feelings about the length of the campaigns-- whether you prefer short (four session or so), moderate (like up to eight sessions), longer (up to say a year) or epic (multi-year) campaign length.

I guess the easiest way to do this is for you to put numbers by the campaign titles and email those back to me.

Important: In addition to the ratings, each of you get one veto. If there's a campaign you really wouldn't want at all to play in-- go ahead and write veto on it. I'll take take that one out of consideration and just score up the totals on the rest.

I may not take the one that gets the highest rating, especially if there's a disparity in the ratings, but I'm going to try to get some consensus.

I should also say that if there's something I've left off of this list that you'd like to see, go ahead and email me on that.

Fourteen Campaign Ideas

Romanus Infernus
Characters serve the Caeser and the Senate in an alternate fantastic Rome. Not historically accurate, but more drawing on the thematic elements of the Roman setting. Rome serves as the hub and crossroads of the Empire, but also the nexus for supernatural intrusions and threats. Characters have been chosen for their special talents-- the Germanic Berserker, the Oriental Mystic, the Greek Mechanic, etc. Think Hellboy meets Gladiator meets League of Extraordinary Gentlemen.

Members of an elite global troubleshooting team, characters must protect an increasingly technological world from threats mundane and esoteric. Teams can call on resources and expertise to supplement their abilities-- but in the end they are on their own. Enemy agencies and internal divisions provide challenges. The team is given a set of objectives and must figure out how to carry those out. System will borrow the idea of on the flying editing by the players to supplements their plans and deal with obstacles and snafus. Think Mission Impossible meets X-Files or Millennium, with a little bit of the edge of Bourne thrown in.

Romance in the Three Kingdoms
More light-hearted fantasy focusing on swashbuckling and heroism. PCs fill in the classic tropes while making their destiny in a set of smaller kingdoms surrounded by larger Empires vying for influence there. The world would have a number of historical analogues for Europe but be quite different. Game would focus on players charting their own destiny and trying to rewrite the course of the story. Think Princess Bride meets The Three Musketeers meets The Prisoner of Zenda.

Bloodlines Supers
A Supers game set in my Bloodlines campaign setting. Superpowers are genetic, with certain powers associated with certain family trees. As well, certain flaws and weaknesses follow those lines as well. The game aims for a more science-hero approach rather than classic supers. Characters would be relatively new, going through a training period with all the classic tropes of school competitions. Probably closest to the world of the X-Men movies, Tom Strong, or even Heroes.

Vengeance of the Fallen Temple
A fantastic martial arts game in the Wushu tradition. Characters try to thwart the forces of destiny and chart a course between the divine authority of the crumbling Empire and the rising influence of the bearers of the Black Chi. With the fall of the hidden sanctuary which has served as refuge and training ground, the PCs must find a way to extract vengeance while battling through the political machinations of the other groups who wish to seize power. This will be a classic martial arts game, with a little bit of forbidden tech thrown in on top. We will use the Wushu card style system we tested before. Think Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon; Hero and House of Flying Daggers.

Masks of the Empire
The Empire of the Hours has stood for 777 years. But although ancient prophecy allotted the Empire only that span of time, today it stands stronger than ever. A hundred fiefs and kingdoms hold together beneath its shadow. Old enemies—the Arabies of the North who follow signs, the Green of the South who follow their emotions, and the Fallen of the East who follow merit—stand quietly beside the Empire. The Gods themselves walk the streets and their blessings touch everyone. Still whispers have begun to reach even the highest offices of the Invisible Chain and the Cutters of Gods. When new territories to the west open up, it falls to a group of newly minted Masks of the Empire—knights, justicars, diplomats, to travel and bring order to the area. The characters are Masks, duty bound to the Empire, but with a variety of skills. Each inherits one of the 777 masks—each with its own history. At the start of the campaign, characters will have to make their way to their new assignment, territories outside the Empire-- once cut off from it—who have asked for their protection. Character tasks will include exploration, investigation, establishing and keeping order, and battling threats to the Empire. Tech is classic civilization level, though the ancients may have had something more sophisticated. Battles and actions take place in the real world, but also on the Hero Plane, where the enactment of stories may be used to affect the real world.

Burning Midnight
Character belong to a secret government agency fighting the good fight against the alien, strange, and supernatural in the world. The air of secrecy surrounding the work means agents are often on their own despite being able to call in extensive favors. Besides the obvious adversaries they have to deal with rival groups and factions with opposing purposes. Characters have been recruited from government agencies in secret or else have shown special abilities the agency requires. This is a modern Call of Cthulhu style game, borrowing heavily from Conspiracy X and Delta Green.

CSI: Arkham Harbor
Characters play police investigators assigned to deal with the strange, bizarre and fantastic in the strange East Coast city of Arkham Harbor. Characters serve as an investigative unit, with SWAT training for special duties. The world has supers as well as known supernatural happenings, but the city elders want things kept quiet so as not to scare the tourists off. Seen as a pariah division in the police department characters will have to earn the respect of their peers while keeping the Hellmouth closed. This has a little but of Buffy, CSI, American Gothic and the Nocturnals thrown together.

Mage: Sorcerers Crusade
The various orders of magic have existed through the ages, but now with the rising of a new era of knowledge, the fundamental rules have been threatened-- so begins the Renaissance in Europe. The two forces-- the Orders of Reason and the Mage Traditions have fought a bloody war which threatened to tear the new world apart. Now a tentative settlement and truce exists between the two sides. Players will be young mages assigned to reestablish a lost chantry in the midst of these political tensions while also face the changing face of the new world. This will be primarily a building game, borrowing heavily from the concepts in Ars Magica.

Maps of Decay and Destiny
The Blight and the Bane struck the world and brought down Empires across the globe. Much has been lost and the huddled masses of humanity exist and survive within the dark enclaves known as the Metropoli. Only by embracing the wonders of Steamtech, unspeakable sciences, and fringe occult theories has society been able to survive. And while outside, the world in dark and dangerous, it is just as gritty, deadly and dark within these cities. Players must contend with an increasingly decaying society, supernatural infestations, and the darkness within their own souls to survive and make their place. This is a Victoriana Steampunk game with elements of Ravenloft and Dark City.

The Unending City
This would be a slightly different take on the HCI-multi-genre concept-- characters in a strange town find themselves drawn into a nexus that seems like a dream fantasy, but has significant consequences for themselves and for others. Who else is involved with this? What is behind it? Are these other places real or a metaphor for something else? As the characters progress they discover more and more as the many worlds begin to bleed over into this one. Probably a darker game with elements of Silent Hill, Persona, and Changeling.

Set in a pseudo Star Trek universe-- in the sense that's it is Star Trek but don't hold me to any continuity-- players would run two characters. The first would be a main crew members-- one of the starring players from your average show—full of competence and self-importance. The second would be a Red Shirt-- desperately fearing the call for duty. Like Star Trek, the sessions would be episodic and mission-based. In each session, one player gets to play their main crew member and everyone else plays their Red Shirt. The starring role would shift from session to session. Directed at a lighter side of things, with players trying to get the mission accomplished while obeying orders and trying to remain alive and intact.

Legend of the Five Rings
We'd go back to do another samurai campaign.

Third Continent Fantasy Campaign
A campaign set on the 3rd Continent (where we've run a couple of times before), but some time after the last campaign.


Last campaign standing was the final one on the list.


  1. Heh, well I guess they had a really good time with the Third Continent game. But I don't know how they made a choice!

    Are these all real game systems that you can buy?

    I am reading the list thinking "That's cool! Oh wow, that's pretty cool too! Oooh, I like that idea!" But I figured there would be at least one that I would think "Nah, I wouldn't like the sound of that." But no! They are all really cool! Or maybe you just write them cool.

  2. Romanus Infernus and Burning Midnight would be my faves. Not that it matters, bc I'm not in the Bend [sad emoticon]...

    I also really like Redshirts. It has elements of what made Paranoia great, without being so completely nihilistic.

    'Course, the real reason I game is I just like hanging out shooting our mouths off!

  3. Third Continent Fantasy Campaign - 10
    Legend of the Five Rings - 7
    Redshirts! - 4
    The Unending City - 5
    Maps of Decay and Destiny - 5
    Mage: Sorcerers Crusade - veto
    CSI: Arkham Harbor - 7
    Burning Midnight - 4
    Masks of the Empire - 9
    Vengeance of the Fallen Temple - 9
    Bloodlines Supers - 8
    Romance in the Three Kingdoms - 7
    Spyworld - 5
    Romanus Infernus - 7

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  5. You may wish to use a spread of 1-5 next time. Data studies I've read show better results with that level of detail, than with 1-10 - even though 1-10 would represent even percentile blocks.

    CSI: AH, Spyworld, Maps of Decay and Destiny, and Romance in the Three Kingdoms sound the most fun to me, in that order.

    Maps of Decay and Destiny also sounds similar to ideas that Andrew Peregrine and I tossed back and forth to expand his Deadworld in Worlds of the Dead.

    (deleted and reposted for spelling challenges)

  6. Mmmm. Ancient Rome campaign. Someday...

    Spyworld, Romance..., and Vengeance... also hit the right buttons for me. And the "on-the-fly editing" rocks.

    @Gene: That's what it's all about, and the beauty of tabletop gaming!

  7. Key Kaiju,

    That's why I stopped going to gaming cons. I realized I don't want to hang out with THOSE people. I want to hang out with my friends, and people my friends like.

  8. I agree-- although I like running at cons, mostly as a challenge to my skills and to see how other people react to situations. But I'm not as fond of playing games there.

  9. And to answer a question Cher Mere put forward--

    I expect for most of these I'd use a homebrew system: likely the "Action Cards", a modified version of old "Storyteller", "Gumshoe" with changes if it had a mystery/investigation element (CSI: Arkham Harbor), or possibly "Gurps".

    Of the one's listed above, "Legend of the Five Rings" has its own game books but the system is bad. "Mage: Sorcerer's Crusade" is the other with strongly existing material. For a Wuxia game I probably wouldn't use the setting of "Weapons of the Gods" but I would lift heavily.

    I clearly need to figure out how to format italics in comments.