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  1. - Top - End - #1
    Dwarf in the Playground
    Join Date
    Mar 2015
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    Reno, Nevada
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    Default How do you keep the beat of a campaign?

    I firmly believe that many campaigns falter because eventually there is no beat, a constant tone of the campaign that everyone falls into. How do you make sure that your campaigns get a strong beat so that they don't collapse? What are your tips and tricks for novice GMs?

    I learned my two biggest tips from my uncle, who only plays once per 6 to 9 months. First off he records everything about his world, and about his session so that he can remind players what has happened. Secondly he makes sure the world is consistent, and if he adds details on the fly they become part of that campaign world. As such he has been playing for 10+ years with the same group.

  2. - Top - End - #2
    Firbolg in the Playground
    Join Date
    Jul 2006
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    where the wind blows

    Default Re: How do you keep the beat of a campaign?

    Those are good, but an important part for me is a sense of "urgency."

    As in, sandbox is good if you're into it, but both for sandboxy campaign and more storytelly campaign, there should be a reason for the players to do something and not just dilly dally randomly. The reason could be advancing horde of monsters that will arrive in six month if not stopped, cultist that will summon ancient evil if they manage to collect 5 macguffin, or simply constant need for food or maintenance of their gear/home/farmstead/castle/town.

    The thing that put me down in campaign or session the most is when there's no urgency. Like, you're set up on your own in a sandbox without rhyme or reason, or you're supposed to meet an important person in town, but there's like, no reason that it has to be done now instead of after visiting all the tavern and haberdasher in town.
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  3. - Top - End - #3
    Ogre in the Playground
     
    BardGuy

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    Mar 2015
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    Texas
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    Default Re: How do you keep the beat of a campaign?

    Quote Originally Posted by Fri View Post
    Those are good, but an important part for me is a sense of "urgency."

    As in, sandbox is good if you're into it, but both for sandboxy campaign and more storytelly campaign, there should be a reason for the players to do something and not just dilly dally randomly. The reason could be advancing horde of monsters that will arrive in six month if not stopped, cultist that will summon ancient evil if they manage to collect 5 macguffin, or simply constant need for food or maintenance of their gear/home/farmstead/castle/town.

    The thing that put me down in campaign or session the most is when there's no urgency. Like, you're set up on your own in a sandbox without rhyme or reason, or you're supposed to meet an important person in town, but there's like, no reason that it has to be done now instead of after visiting all the tavern and haberdasher in town.
    +1 to this.

    Make sure the players have meaningful impact in the world, that they can look back and say "we slayed that monster, or burnt down that tavern, or saved that village" or something that without the PC's intervention there would be none of. But even this is lacking without urgency- make sure the world is spinning and without the PC's there should be a set of things that can and will happen.
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  4. - Top - End - #4
    Ogre in the Playground
     
    Comet's Avatar

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    Default Re: How do you keep the beat of a campaign?

    A big help is to play with a system that is actually interested in contributing to the flow of a game. Instead of a generic system that is only interested in task resolution and bare bones simulation consider picking up a system that has clear roles, rewards, progression and rhythm built into it. You'll find that you can have a decent session of gaming even if everyone is having an off-day because the system itself is driving the story as long as you're following the rules.

    The classic D&D model is a good example of this. You seek treasure, find trouble, get rich, build a castle and everyone knows what their role is. You can layer additional story and dynamics on top of that, but you don't have to. Some sytems get really heavy handed about this guidance, like Pendragon telling you to sit down and shut up while it plays your character for you, but others like Apocalypse World and its derivatives do a pretty good job of giving you a strong, opinionated set of options and letting you find your groove within that frame.
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  5. - Top - End - #5
    Orc in the Playground
     
    RedWizardGuy

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    Jun 2012
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    Georgia
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    Default Re: How do you keep the beat of a campaign?

    Quote Originally Posted by Gizmogidget View Post
    How do you make sure that your campaigns get a strong beat so that they don't collapse? What are your tips and tricks for novice GMs?
    Having a strong beat means something cool needs to happen every session, even if it isn't plot-relevant. This is easy for episodic games, where each session is self-contained, and has its own exciting climax. For long-term campaigns, it's trickier because you have to keep the momentum going even when the players are in between locations or plot points. In these situations, random encounters are actually your friends. An interesting NPC, an unusual combat scenario, or a spontaneous (short) side-quest can maintain the "beat" you're talking about, even if it ultimately has nothing to do with the rest of the campaign.
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