Saturday, January 20, 2018

Return of the King - Lord of the Rings: A Master Class in Campaign Planning Part 3

So here we are in part three of our epic fantasy campaign based on Lord of the Rings. When we last left our heroes, the Fellowship had fractured, with our hobbits Sam and Frodo in desperate peril, Sam following the captured and incapacitated Frodo into Cirith Ungol, and the rest of the crew, including new character Faramir, split between marshalling the forces of Rohan and riding to warn Minas Tirith of a coming attack.

Our intrepid GM now faces a further challenge; not only have his gaming groups split in twain, his Saturday group is now facing a potentially long-term party split. He briefly considers branching off into a third gaming group but decides even for him, that's untenable, and besides, the Saturday group are all still pursuing the same goal. He'll deal with the split party by switching back and forth at dramatic moments. He's also got a grand plan, if he can pull it off, for the end battle.

This final section of the series on Lord of the Rings as a class in campaign planning brings it all together, looking at some of the major problems a GM faces when they are many months into an epic game and nearing the end: player drift, party split, character death or incapacitation late in the game, the need to bring everyone back together, and what happens when, after the campaign ends, some of your players aren't ready to let it go just yet...

And so we begin.

Image source: Wikipedia

Friday, January 19, 2018

The Two Towers - Lord of the Rings: A Master Class in Campaing Planning part 2

Check out Part One, here!

The Two Towers: Setting up the Next Stage

Welcome to part two of our look at how Lord of the Rings offers us a master class in creating and running an epic campaign in the old-school style for your home game. In part one we looked at how the campaign starts simple and grows through side adventures and the addition of new players, and how it deals with divergent character levels by allowing for foes of different abilities and giving all players a chance to shine despite their relative level of power. It also deals with what happens when people's schedules change and the game needs to divide.

It also touched upon the commitment that a GM puts into their campaign, how there's a ton of planning and time put into it, and admittedly it faces issues that some people have difficulty facing: those of simple time. You may not have the time to deal with the issues that come up in your life as they appear in this series, and if that's the case, there's nothing wrong with that. Not everyone has the kind of time to create new gaming groups and play several times a week.

When we last left our heroes, the Fellowship had fractured, largely due to life and scheduling reasons. Merry and Pippin's players had to drop out of weekly play, but agreed to keep in touch in hopes they could jump back in eventually. Frodo and Sam's players had moved to Monday, and had left alone with the Ring, heading for Mount Doom. Aragorn, Legolas and Gimli's players had sworn to track down Merry and Pippin, and run interference for Sam and Frodo in the process by making some noise to draw the attention of the Enemy. Boromir had died.

What had begun as a straightforward quest has now, of necessity, turned into a very nuanced game with multiple storylines and multiple adventuring parties. No longer is the GM planning a straight quest to Mordor; now he's dealing with two major story paths.

In this blog we'll move on to part 2 of our Master Class in running an epic home campaign: The Two Towers. The theme here is running variant groups of gamers in the same campaign world, roughly simultaneously in time, and how one group's actions could affect the others. 

Thursday, January 18, 2018

Lord of the Rings: a Master Class in Campaign Planning

Every GM dreams of that magnum opus campaign, the one that's so epic it's unlike anything they've done before, which people will talk about for years, and which they'll never top again. That campaign that's epic in scope, that's rich in the world you've built, with fully-realized characters and deep, instense storylines that your players will never forget.

In short, every GM dreams of running their own Lord of the Rings.

And yet, a lot of people have discussed over the years how Lord of the Rings doesn't work as a proper fantasy role playing campaign. It's too divided in its stories. The goal is too big. It doesn't allow proper dressing of in-game party dynamics. The characters are too level-diverse. Gandalf is only 5th level (a claim dating back to the old Dragon Magazine, and entirely ludicrous and unsustainable if you have a tiny bit of brain cells).

Here's the truth: Lord of the Rings is a master class in a role playing game campaign, both in its novel and its film versions. Indeed, it's particularly salient to an old school style of play, where "game balance" meant "everyone's having fun," as opposed to, "everyone's of the exact same power level." Take a look at how Lord of the Rings as a master class in home RPG campaign design begins and comes together with The Fellowship of the Ring.

Photo Source: Wikipedia

Wednesday, January 17, 2018

Aihrde Under the Stars

On dark knights, particularly in the cool of winter, one can see the Maelstrom, her violence fed by the Firmament. Aihrde under the stars.

Tuesday, January 16, 2018

Norgorad Kam

The mountain fastness of Norgorad Kam, the Brass Halls, the oldest of realms in all the world of Aihrde.

Wednesday, January 03, 2018

Free Book January!

Sign up for our mailing list and you get a free digital copy of Engineering Castles! Floor plans, bastions, keeps, temples... it's got it all. Sign up here and begin designing tonight!

Memories from the Office of a Game Publisher – Office Space

Everywhere I look across social media I seem to be encountering two things. Economic news about the pending commercial real estate collapse,...