Skip to main content

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.


Popular posts from this blog

Knaves, fancypants

I've prepared a new layout document of Ben Milton's Knaves . Knaves is a great, light rules set that has an extremely elegant core mechanic while retaining total compatibility with OSR material. It's pretty much the rpg of my dreams. This document contains the complete rules, plus a bunch of useful hacks from the community, plus a few of my invention, plus some useful resources from Ben Milton's previous effort, Maze Rats . EDIT: I've updated the layout to fix errata and make a few tweaks. Further, I've made 3 variations: KNAVES TABLET LAYOUT The Tablet Layout is meant for scrolling on screens, and contains hyperlinks. KNAVES SPREAD LAYOUT The Spread Layout is set up to print on Letter-sized paper. KNAVES A4 LAYOUT The A4 Layout is set up to print on A4 paper, and is probably the most elegant of the three versions. This is presented with generous permission from Ben Milton, and should in no way be an excuse for not purchasing a copy of Knav

Reviewing Rules for Play-by-Post Optimization

I’ve played a lot of PbP games: all your favorite flavors of OD&D, AD&D, and their retroclones, Call of Cthulhu, Marvel Superheroes, Traveller, Dungeon World, etc. ad nauseam. In almost every instance, I forgot what ruleset we were using at some point. Which is a good thing. Once chargen is over, you spend a lot more time describing your characters actions and poring over the GM’s descriptions than you spend interacting with rules. When you do roll, it’s usually a combat to-hit roll, which you’ve probably programmed into the online dice-roller as a macro. Pretty much any game will work for PbP. But that doesn’t mean there aren’t points of possible optimization. Point 1: Resolution. Anything that can keep the action moving is a boon to PbP. A game that requires a back-and-forth exchange of information to resolve an action is going to progress very slowly. A good rule of thumb is that it’ll take 2 or 3 days to get a response from any given player. At that pace, an exch

Maze Rats by Post

In my previous post , I reviewed a bunch of my favorite rulesets for optimization for Play-by-Post. It occurred to me almost immediately that I hadn't really thought about Maze Rats enough. In fact, I'd mis-remembered and mischaracterized it. Upon reflection, one of the mechanics I took issue with is actually a big strength. Re-reading the rules, it seems like just a few very simple hacks could make it a highly-optimized PbP game. As follows: Danger Rolls are rolled by the GM. Danger rolls usually fail, so it is in the player’s interest to describe their actions plausibly and mitigate as many risks as they can, in the hopes that they don’t trigger a danger roll. 2d6 + ability bonus ≥ 10 If you have taken enough precautions to have a distinct advantage in an action, but not enough to have eliminated the distinct possibility of danger, the GM will give you a roll with advantage. 3d6 keep 2 + ability bonus ≥ 10 Because each character only has 3 ability scores (S