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Wednesday, February 11, 2015

Campaign Sparks II

Campaign sparks, for those of you that missed my original post, are 100-150 word summaries that set off an entire campaign. Each spark should contain: a conflict, a setting, 2-3 NPCs, the stakes, and a twist.

The real beauty of a campaign spark is that it could take off in so many different directions. The one I shared last time, The Village and the Forest, was actually a little constrained compared to the ideal. There should be action going on in the setting, and the PCs should be a part of it, but they should really be able to set the campaign off in any direction.

Let me give you an example, and then break it down a little bit.

The Royal Mechanized Rangers

Monsters have arisen all over the world, and England is imperiled on its own lands. Gogmagog, ancient giant of legend, is birthing giants and dragons from the northern rocky hills. Only the elite members of the Royal Mechanized Rangers (RMR) and their steam-powered MAGs (Mechanized Armored Giant) can defend Her Majesty's holdings.

Major Whist commands the RMR and secretly collects dragons' teeth and giants' blood. Frode Torson is a Norwegian advisor to the RMR, a specialist on trolls, giants, and dragons, and a spy for Bonaparte. Corineus—the half-human son of Gogmagog—hates his father.

Not only are England and her people in danger, but the RMR is itself facing dissolution by Parliament. The MAGs are expensive and dangerous, and Parliament is in favor of hiring Norwegian mercenaries, the Skjoldkriger. Worse, Gogmagog isn't just attacking at random, his monsters are laying the groundwork to summon Gogmagog's father, the titan Ymir.


So, the PCs are obviously Rangers in the RMR, which places them smack-dab in the middle of everything. I can see several different kinds of games igniting from this spark.

1. Steampunk Pacific Rim: Basically, the PCs pilot their MAGs and beat up a bunch of giants and dragons until they confront Gogmagog and Ymir. This game focuses heavily on the MAG vs monster combat.
2. Military Espionage: The PCs still have to fight the monsters, but they also have to deal with the subtle machinations of Major Whist and Frode Torson. This game balances combat and investigation.
3. Political Thriller: The PCs fight monsters, but mostly they're fighting to keep the RMR intact.  They have to maneuver against both the Skjoldkriger and the Parliament, perhaps garnering the favor of Queen Victoria. This game downplays combat and focuses on social interaction and political maneuvering.
4. Monster Mystery: The PCs spend a lot of time fighting monsters, but they're also tasked with tracking down their origins. They'll probably have to deal with Major Whist and Corineus, and they'll have to travel amongst the rocky hills of the north to track down Gogmagog. This game combines combat, social interaction, and exploration.

And that's not even counting any other NPCs or plot threads that might emerge from developing the existing NPCs!

This is what a good campaign spark should look like.  All the basics, and not just room to grow, but room and potential to grow in almost any way imaginable.

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