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Re: [ironclaw] Looking For Long Campaign Suggestions

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  • pbourque@c2i2.com
    ... Well, unless you ve got some particular arguments against it, I d really recommend using a single group of characters, and ship them all over the world.
    Message 1 of 11 , Dec 1, 2003
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      > Well, all four plot threads actually originate from one guy;
      > specifically, a PC-turned-NPC character of mine in the Rinaldi who looks
      > out into the world, thinks, basically:
      >
      > "Something wicked this way comes, and I seem to be the only one who sees
      > it. Better work on it."
      >
      > He investigates some, and decides, "Shit, I can't do this all by myself.
      > Better hire some people."

      Well, unless you've got some particular arguments against it, I'd really
      recommend using a single group of characters, and ship them all over the
      world.

      Why? A couple reasons:

      1) As a player, I think it'd be easier to keep track of one character, and
      one (*big*) storyline. Inventing (and keeping separate!) two characters,
      and personalities would be difficult. Add in complications that Party 1
      may not know what's going on with Party 2 (or Party 3, 4, and 5)... It
      could get ugly.

      2) It being just me (and a couple buddies), saving the world is /way/
      cool. You lose some of that if you're just one of a cast of thousands.
      That's not to say thousands of Nameless Extras aren't helpful (you'll need
      an army to face the Army of Nameless Ruin), but the important part is that
      *YOU* (and your intrepid band) are the Real Heroes. You're not one of the
      nameless Rohan who fought (and died) against the Orcs at Helm's Deep.
      You're *Aragorn*. (Note: I'm assuming you're going for "heroic" themes
      here - an entire campaign about being just a Storm Trooper or Rebel
      Footsoldier on the muddy frontlines could be fun, too...but that's just
      not appropriate for your story, IMO)

      3) If it's an "epic" game, having to travel all over the world is part of
      the genre convention. You don't save the world sitting at home. You
      travel from Ecuador to Germany, then to Southern Africa, and maybe a
      pitstop in China or Tibet, before the final showdown in Egypt (for Indiana
      Jones, anyway -- for Frodo et al, it's The Shire, followed by a dozen
      places in between, and finally Mount Doom). If the Big Powerful NPC is as
      big and powerful as you say, he should be able to foot the resources to
      make it possible (arranging for a private fast ship with a seasoned,
      brave, and loyal crew; the fastest horses/jennets/destriers/chocobos in
      the land; or maybe even something as exotic as a Final Fantasy-style
      Airship).

      4) Having the single "Dream Team" gives you a /lot/ of freedom when it
      comes to character selection. You can have one guy be a Phelan Atavist,
      and another guy be a Zhonggese Sword Saint. Throw in a Triskellian
      ex-pirate, and maybe a princess on the run from an arranged marriage. And
      the neat bit is that you can have all that without stretching plausability
      *too* far. I mean, you've got the All Powerful NPC (AKA: Charlie) behind
      it all, and it's conceivable that he just happens to know everybody...

      5) A side note - There's no *real* reason you can't adjust your plot so
      that it's doable with a single group. So rather than having the world end
      in Six Weeks, stretch it out to a couple years (or some nebulous amount of
      time sufficient to wrap up all the plot threads). Instead of having to
      insert the four Orbs of Whatzit into altars at the four corners of the
      world simultaneously, have there be a single Temple of Elemental Unity
      (with one altar, and four "slots").

      6) Side Note The Seconde - The "Dream Team" could work with starting-level
      characters, rather than experienced veterans, too. Rather than the Big
      NPC picking them because of their skills, they've been chosen because of
      something more...cryptic. They're fated. They have the same wierd
      birthmarks. Something really strange ties them all together (each had one
      of 8 magical beads given to them at birth, to steal an idea from The
      Hakkenden). They're all bastard children of the same (good/evil) dude.
      They each have tattooed on their bodies a portion of a treasure map/magic
      spell/etc. All kinds of possibilities herre...

      Now that I've said that, here's a couple reasons you might WANT to use
      multiple parties:

      1) The individual plot calls for too many really /wierd/ things that you
      can't possibly imagine having any given character having something
      meaningful to contribute to each of the major plot threads. (Alternately,
      building that "Dream Team" might stretch your plot-plausibility too far)

      2) The specific plot elements would work better if you had a Team of
      Experts for each segment (so a team of Archaeologists...a team of
      Soldiers...Zhonggese locals...whatever). The key is EACH TEAM MUST BE
      UNIQUE. You NEED to justify why one Dream Team can't be doing this job.

      3) Sometimes it is fun to play a different character periodically. That's
      the problem if you use the "Fated" McGuffin in #6 above - it's tricky to
      write out a character, and bring in a replacement if they're Fated
      ("Uh...oh yeah, Bob II just happens to have the same wierd
      birthmark...funny how the Oracle didn't remember him earlier...")

      Whereas in the first half of this email, I was referencing Indiana Jones,
      and The Lord of the Rings as examples of the single "Dream Team," the
      "teams of specialists" shows up in say, Tom Clancy style books. You've
      got your teams of Special Operations commandoes, a team of
      (Russian/Chinese/etc) spies, a team of politicians/political officers.
      Each team is essentially designed to handle one threat/environment - we
      don't have Navy Fighter pilots doing detective work on Cuban druglords (or
      whatever).

      However, that said... In those types of books, it still becomes fairly
      evident which team of characters are the "main" heroes (it's Jack Ryan and
      company...or it was, until Ryan became President and got transformed into
      an NPC). So there's basically one Main thread, and three or four
      "supporting" threads.

      A different (but neat, IMO) way to do it would be to make 4 teams, but
      have each team consist of 1 Main Character, and the other 3 are
      "supporting" characters. For instance, in Team 1, Alex (player) is the
      Main Character; but in Team 2, Brian is the Main Character, and Alex plays
      a "supporting" role. So everyone gets to play one powerful character
      (say, 40-50pts), and then 3 others (of normal 20-30 pts).

      ...Oh, and one last thing:

      Be REALLY careful about how you use your Big Benefactor NPC. Cardinal
      rule of GMing is "Thy NPCs /shalt not/ out-shine the PCs". Well, wih
      villains, I guess it's Ok. But definitely not something to do with your
      benefactor NPC. I just bring that up because your Big NPC was an ex-PC of
      yours... In the end, it's "their story," after all...:) Be prepared to
      write him out of the story (gets assassinated, goes comatose, gets
      captured, whatever), if you need to. It's less problematic if he's on the
      same power level as the PCs... But he still shouldn't be out-cooling the
      players.

      Though I think I find in my GMing, I err too much on the side of caution
      there - aside from the opposition, I'm really reluctant to bring in
      particularly competent NPCs. Sure, they'll show up, fight/help the party,
      but I let them fade into the background perhaps all too easily...

      So I suppose that's to say "And I've still not found the right balance, yet."

      Pierre
    • Krystal Tyler
      I don t usually have time to read the longer e-mails posted to this list, so if I m repeating something someone else has said, just nod and smile and feel free
      Message 2 of 11 , Dec 1, 2003
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        I don't usually have time to read the longer e-mails posted to this
        list, so if I'm repeating something someone else has said, just nod and
        smile and feel free to ignore me.

        In another RPG I play, we can have up to three characters, and it really
        isn't hard to switch between them every week (or sometimes in the same
        night). As long as one doesn't create the same ol' base character all
        the time, it shouldn't be that hard to keep a couple characters
        straight. Two of mine seem the same on the outside (both warriors), but
        they have very different personalities, so that helps to distinguish
        them (so does the German accent I give one of them ;-] ).

        I'd say if characters are in completely different parts of the world and
        doing completely different things (i.e. different plots, goals, etc.),
        it shouldn't be hard to switch every once in a while. 'Course, even
        better is if the players go through some character-development episodes.
        A well-developed character is harder to confuse with another character
        than a poorly-developed/understood character. It's not impossible, mind
        you, and it will happen now and then, but it shouldn't be too much of a
        problem.

        I've done it both ways. My Ironclaw groupie has been on this massive
        campaign for a year and a half, and the Adventure Quest RPG changes
        characters, plots, and missions multiple times a night. They're both
        fun, in my opinion.



        ---Krystal
        _______

        My reality check just bounced.
      • pbourque@c2i2.com
        ... Actually, it s good to hear from other people on the subject... I forgot to put big bright-red In my opinion... and This is all colored by my personal
        Message 3 of 11 , Dec 1, 2003
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          > I don't usually have time to read the longer e-mails posted to this
          > list, so if I'm repeating something someone else has said, just nod and
          > smile and feel free to ignore me.

          Actually, it's good to hear from other people on the subject... I forgot
          to put big bright-red "In my opinion..." and "This is all colored by my
          personal tastes..." disclaimers at the top of my post. :)

          Me, I get kinda attached (I like to call it getting "focused") to one
          character (possibly part of the reason why I suck at running lots of
          different NPCs). Plus, the few times I've seen one guy with multiple
          characters (in the same group/party), it was obnoxious (he got to have
          basically one uberfighter, and one ubermage, where the rest of us got one
          or the other, or someone who tried to do both poorly). If you split it
          into multiple groups, that'd mitigate things a bit.

          > In another RPG I play, we can have up to three characters, and it really
          > isn't hard to switch between them every week (or sometimes in the same
          > night). As long as one doesn't create the same ol' base character all
          > the time, it shouldn't be that hard to keep a couple characters
          > straight. Two of mine seem the same on the outside (both warriors), but
          > they have very different personalities, so that helps to distinguish
          > them (so does the German accent I give one of them ;-] ).

          It's strange how the little things can make a big difference...

          > I'd say if characters are in completely different parts of the world and
          > doing completely different things (i.e. different plots, goals, etc.),
          > it shouldn't be hard to switch every once in a while. 'Course, even
          > better is if the players go through some character-development episodes.
          > A well-developed character is harder to confuse with another character
          > than a poorly-developed/understood character. It's not impossible, mind
          > you, and it will happen now and then, but it shouldn't be too much of a
          > problem.

          Course, if you're doing character development-y stuff for 16+ characters,
          you're /really/ adding quite a bit of overhead. That's cool if you've got
          the time, though...

          > I've done it both ways. My Ironclaw groupie has been on this massive
          > campaign for a year and a half, and the Adventure Quest RPG changes
          > characters, plots, and missions multiple times a night. They're both
          > fun, in my opinion.

          So see? It can work both ways... :)

          > ---Krystal

          Pierre
        • Krystal Tyler
          Oh, yeah. I wasn t meaning, like, 50 different characters. It would definitely be hard to keep those straight. But just a few shouldn t be a big problem...
          Message 4 of 11 , Dec 1, 2003
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            Oh, yeah. I wasn't meaning, like, 50 different characters. It would
            definitely be hard to keep those straight. But just a few shouldn't be
            a big problem...

            _______

            My reality check just bounced.



            ----
            Course, if you're doing character development-y stuff for 16+
            characters,
            you're /really/ adding quite a bit of overhead. That's cool if you've
            got
            the time, though...

            > I've done it both ways. My Ironclaw groupie has been on this massive
            > campaign for a year and a half, and the Adventure Quest RPG changes
            > characters, plots, and missions multiple times a night. They're both
            > fun, in my opinion.

            So see? It can work both ways... :)

            > ---Krystal

            Pierre
          • Krystal Tyler
            Actually, opinions are understood. To put in my opinion, etc. is unnecessary and, technically, bad English. (Yeah, I know I put it in my own post. Mleh.)
            Message 5 of 11 , Dec 1, 2003
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              Actually, opinions are understood. To put "in my opinion," etc. is
              unnecessary and, technically, bad English. (Yeah, I know I put it in my
              own post. Mleh.) :-P

              (Isn't it scary when the science major starts yapping about proper
              English? *shudder*) ^.^


              ---Krystal
              _______

              My reality check just bounced.



              -----Original Message-----
              From: pbourque@... [mailto:pbourque@...]
              Sent: Monday, December 01, 2003 11:36 PM
              To: ironclaw@yahoogroups.com
              Subject: RE: [ironclaw] Looking For Long Campaign Suggestions


              Actually, it's good to hear from other people on the subject... I
              forgot
              to put big bright-red "In my opinion..." and "This is all colored by my
              personal tastes..." disclaimers at the top of my post. :)
            • Sean L. McLane
              ... Actually, when someone puts that clause, or one of its variations, into a statement, it usually means Don t take this as a fact, or gospel truth!
              Message 6 of 11 , Dec 1, 2003
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                > From: "Krystal Tyler" <ktyler@...>
                > Subject: RE: [ironclaw] Looking For Long Campaign Suggestions
                >
                > Actually, opinions are understood. To put "in my opinion," etc. is
                > unnecessary and, technically, bad English. (Yeah, I know I put it in my
                > own post. Mleh.) :-P
                >
                > (Isn't it scary when the science major starts yapping about proper
                > English? *shudder*) ^.^
                >
                > ---Krystal

                Actually, when someone puts that clause, or one of its variations, into
                a statement, it usually means "Don't take this as a fact, or gospel truth!"

                Something that is unfortunately quite necessary on the 'Net.

                -Sean, CI
              • Krystal Tyler
                True bout needing it on the Net sometimes. Though, I think it s easy to distinguish opinions from fact. For papers, though, I ve been chastised quite a few
                Message 7 of 11 , Dec 1, 2003
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                  True 'bout needing it on the 'Net sometimes. Though, I think it's easy
                  to distinguish opinions from fact.

                  For papers, though, I've been chastised quite a few times for using the
                  phrase and variations of it. ;-]


                  ---Krystal
                  _______

                  My reality check just bounced.



                  -----Original Message-----
                  From: Sean L. McLane [mailto:zodo@...]
                  Sent: Monday, December 01, 2003 11:53 PM
                  To: ironclaw@yahoogroups.com
                  Subject: RE: [ironclaw] Looking For Long Campaign Suggestions

                  > From: "Krystal Tyler" <ktyler@...>
                  > Subject: RE: [ironclaw] Looking For Long Campaign Suggestions
                  >
                  > Actually, opinions are understood. To put "in my opinion," etc. is
                  > unnecessary and, technically, bad English. (Yeah, I know I put it in
                  my
                  > own post. Mleh.) :-P
                  >
                  > (Isn't it scary when the science major starts yapping about proper
                  > English? *shudder*) ^.^
                  >
                  > ---Krystal

                  Actually, when someone puts that clause, or one of its variations, into
                  a statement, it usually means "Don't take this as a fact, or gospel
                  truth!"

                  Something that is unfortunately quite necessary on the 'Net.

                  -Sean, CI




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                • Diana Wray
                  ... Well the truth is (this coming from another scientist who has a thing for English grammar), it s perfectly good English to say In my opinion. It s just
                  Message 8 of 11 , Dec 1, 2003
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                    > For papers, though, I've been chastised quite a few times for using the
                    > phrase and variations of it. ;-]

                    Well the truth is (this coming from another scientist who has a thing for
                    English grammar), it's perfectly good English to say 'In my opinion.' It's
                    just bad science writing. :)

                    LP
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