Thursday, February 19, 2015

The Campaign Precís

Here's the deal: there is more fun and a better game if the GM doesn’t over-prep their campaign backstory, and lets the world grow out of discovery and interaction with the players.

But if you leave things too open, every campaign ends up in the same Tolkein-cum-Gygax fantasy world and people starts saying things like “dwarf cleric” and “elven assassin” and you could not be more bored.

Here’s a tool which will, I hope, help tread the line between special snowflake and rote boilerplate.

(Link to an Excel file)

The idea is that this contains all the information you prepare ahead of time. You can put as much juice and color into your answers as you want. Your answers can imply larger narratives. But you can’t go past the précis.

It’s focused on things your players will need to know in order to imagine their characters. These are the weapons they’re familiar with, the authority they need to contend with, and the monsters they’ve heard stories about. Your players can suggest things that aren’t on this sheet—can I play a Samurai centaur?—and you can discuss.

This is creativity via restriction, like haiku and twitter.

Don't worry about being complete—this is a point of departure.
Write up a couple. Make each one a super-dense diamond of evocative detail, and see what grabs your players.

Infinite University Precís
Kleywelt Precís

Neolithic Precís
Wasteland Precís

I dunno. I think this is helpful. Wanna try it out?

Write up some campaigns and link ‘em to me on G+. I’ll repost them here. And I send an original drawing based on my favorite submission to its creator.