Seamus and I both came of age at a time where the long-running campaign was considered the platonic ideal of the role-playing game. There’s a lot of historical justification for this; the ‘campaign’ as an innovation in the wargaming space was one of the things that led to interest in the character-driven gaming that eventually became Dungeons and Dragons. The campaign as a procedure within a game, though, has been somewhat of a stagnant thing. Even as games continue to push on notions of advancement and other structures which define how events progress across multiple gaming sessions, it’s still assumed that a long-running game would be played in a series of continuous sessions by a consistent group of players. 15 years ago, a known luminary in the RPG design space ran a campaign that worked quite differently, creating ripples across the hobby. I’m of course talking about Ben Robbins’ West Marches.Continue reading Meet the Campaign: Intro to West Marches
Listen, I don’t care if you don’t want to sign up with the Alliance. We’re not exactly the conscription types, you should know that. But you’ve got to admit, if you can touch the Force? The Empire is going to be hunting you. If you signed up we’d protect you, yes, but if you’re going to keep ‘listening to the Force and following your Destiny’, we still don’t want you caught. Moral considerations aside, we don’t need more redblades getting added to the roster. Alliance Special Operations has put together some dossiers on Inquisitorius agents. If you have nothing else to do with us I still want you to read these and be careful – we lost people getting this information, make it worth it.
The Galactic Empire brings safety, security, prosperity, and progress to every planet that welcomes its care . . . or so the story goes, anyways. On one Outer Rim world, at first that all seemed true: oppressive nobles were overthrown, social mobility increased, and industry flourished. However, in the mines and the ‘reeducation’ camps the truth of Imperial rule can be found for those brave and/or unfortunate enough to uncover it. The Rebellion fights here despite the Empire’s good publicity, but what path will the different cells take to freedom? How will new additions to the base upset the balance? Check your power packs and calibrate your blaster’s sights, we’re joining up with the rebels of Jumar Base!
Tired of traveling the same old hyperlanes? Had your fill of fighting off stormtroopers? Sick of owing credits to the Hutts? Outer Rim not far enough out for you? Well, it’s not without risks of its own, but have you ever considered Wild Space? Find a planet of your very own, start from scratch, no Empire, no Rebels, no syndicates? It’ll be an entirely new way of life for you out there, so before you start making the astrogation calculations, let me tell you a little about what you might be getting yourself into…
Spiderman in the Marvel Comics has had a lot of memorable foes. From the more comical such as Shocker and Rhino. To the deathly serious in Green Goblin and Kingpin. Peter Parker and his many fellow Spider-Folks have no shortage of villains who left a mark on the minds of fans. But for me, it was always one villain that was memorized in this ol’ skull the most. Or rather, as I soon came to discover, a group. More like a plague when you think about it.
The Symbiotes. These alien menaces would bind to the most heroic of crusaders, granting them a boon of immense power. At the cost of what made them so heroic. They would prey upon the impulses that, in moderation, make us human. Anger. Hate. Jealousy. Pain. Only, they weren’t content with those impulses remaining moderate. They would take the knob and wind it all the way up to the max. These symbiotes would turn heroes into villains.
And as a kid, that both fascinated and scared the ever living hell out of me. These beings were like the zombie virus storylines on adrenaline. They don’t just turn you into a monster. They do it slowly. They whittle away at who you are, amplifying the parts you’d rather forget and minimizing the aspects you hold dear, bit by bit. They turn your love to obsession. They turn your courage to fanaticism. They turn you into…..well, NOT-you.
And when I think of the idea of horror stories in Marvel, I can’t get closer than the idea of a well done symbiote story. Barring Immortal Hulk, cos that’s friggin’ amazing.
So, let’s discuss how to do a symbiote story in Masks. Let’s discuss horror in Masks: A New Generation.
Maybe it’s because I’m in dire need of a fix before Episode IX is released, but I find myself drifting back to the end of The Last Jedi. I know that it’s a polarizing topic for a lot of fans, but I keep thinking of the possibilities and implications left by the ending. The interesting part is, going at the question of “How Do I Build a Campaign?”, previous Star Wars Meet the Campaigns have created a location and then built up hooks around it. This method doesn’t work as well for something as broad as the entire galaxy. It might be simpler to have a GM pick a planet and say “this is what is happening here”, but unless we are talking about a popular setting like Nar Shaddaa, a write up for places of interest is less useful because there is little to keep players there without railroading them.
So, after some thought, I’ve decided to try coming at this from the other direction: rather than picking a location and populating it with plot hooks, this Meet the Campaign is setting up themes and using bits and pieces from throughout the system in order to build a framework that spurs a wide background of characters into the action. Unlike the previous entries, this installment is system specific for Fantasy Flight’s Star Wars RPG, but the themes are universal (or galactic) enough to be transferred over. And just to be sure, as this takes place after the events of The Last Jedi, spoilers will abound, so consider yourself warned.
Nar Shaddaa is a popular stop for Star Wars campaigns due to the gritty, cyberpunk feel. It has all the elements of a seedy underbelly, with equal chances for players to be heroes and crooks. In my mind, it has the plot density to not only be a stopping point, but a place to house an entire urban campaign. This is a setup for players and GMs who might wish to use Nar Shaddaa as the primary focus of a campaign, or simply the place that players frequent to repair, turn their haul into credits, or to unwind a bit. I am generally a fan of incorporating the players’ stories, drives, and foibles into how the story unfolds, which makes writing a plot at the outset difficult. Instead, we are going to populate the urban sprawl of Nar Shaddaa with factions, and places of interest for our players to run into. The factions have primary drives, which is to say, what they will be trying to accomplish according to the status quo. From there, the players’ choices will be what moves (or doesn’t move) the paths of those around them.
Every campaign needs a place for weary adventurers to sit down for a while, enjoy a drink, and maybe find some new work, and that’s no different a long time ago in a galaxy far, far away. Looking for a cantina for your spacers to visit that’s not on that dust-ball called Tatooine? Need some staff and patrons to interact with? Hooks to kick off your next adventure? Then fire up your hyperdrive and make the jump: we’re heading to the Smuggler’s Moon of Nar Shaddaa to grab a drink and some work at the curiously-themed cantina known as The Astrogation Glitch! Continue reading Meet the Campaign: Star Wars: The Astrogation Glitch Cantina
Paranoia, West End Games’s RPG of comic dystopia, has become a meme in gaming circles, one of the few games with as strong a play identity as D&D itself. Shouts of ‘treason’ and ludicrous extensions of the color-based ranking system help evoke the feel of a Paranoia session, which tends to consist of different uses of the Alpha Complex backdrop as excuses for players to find more and more inventive ways to accuse each other of treason and/or being a communist or mutant, and then kill each other. Neither West End Games nor Mongoose Publishing, the publishers of the most recent edition of Paranoia, ever did anything to dissuade this. That said, the game has been designed to allow for something a tad more sophisticated.
It should go without saying that all text from this point hence is of ULTRAVIOLET clearance! Do not read, under pain of disintegration (or if you want hidden parts of the game to stay a surprise)!
A Cannibal Halfling mainstay since well back into the Mad Adventurers days has been Meet the Party: a collection of ready-made adventurers to get your creative juices flowing for a number of game systems. Today, we’re introducing something different. Nipping at the heels of System Hack but less mechanical, looking for detail like Meet the Party but more broad, we have Meet the Campaign! Cannibal Halfling examples and Level One Wonk playstyle editorials come together in a mashup that might even be useful.