Monday, February 27, 2012

One Setting to Rule Them All

There is something special about starting a new campaign, the opening of possibilities, the nearly limitless directions it can go, and the chance to try something new. Unfortunately, I have had far too many campaign starts in recent years. Part of this is because of GM ADD, part just the way things play out. I am a tough GM who doesn't shirk from killing a PC, or a whole party if that's how it falls out. Still, I have seen lots of campaigns come crashing down, and its time to have at least one keep going.
One way to break this chain is to learn to focus, not just in what campaigns I run, but what I purchase. Partially it’s a problem with being in the RPG industry, I get exposed to so many new games, and I want to play them all. There are games I have to buy and read for work, there are ones I am sent for review, and there are ones I hear about because I need to keep my ear to the ground and look for trends in the industry. This is a lot of exposure, and it should be no wonder that I dream up at least the seed of a new campaign about every two to three days. On top of this, when I have spare cash, or it’s a gift receiving event (like my upcoming birthday), those who are close to me know I want games.
I have tried a variety of techniques to push myself to focus, ranging from trying to stick to one system to choosing campaigns that can branch across multiple genres (usually through world hopping). In the end, none of them have worked. The next game book shows up and I'm off on a new campaign. Really, it's just a matter of willpower, of telling myself to keep on task. The real hard part is I feel like I have disappointed my players by pulling the rug out form under them. It should be no wonder that many of those who regularly play with me have stopped putting a lot of effort into creating well-rounded PCs with back-stories and plot hooks. Why should they when the campaign will only last a few sessions?
To aid in keeping things on the straight and narrow, and building a long-term campaign, I am focusing this year on one setting, the Forgotten Realms. It is a huge setting, one of the largest in the hobby, with plenty of room to run several campaigns in. Plus, it spans several editions of Dungeons and Dragons, and between that and my general disregard for system, there is plenty of options available. I could use BRP, Barbarians of Lemuria, Labyrinth Lord, OSRIC, Swords and Wizardry, or even XDM.
Weekly Pathfinder is now going to be set in the Realms a few years after the Time of Troubles. We are going to be joining a caravan running from the Dales to Waterdeep, and passing through Sembia, Cormyr, the Western Heartlands, and up the Sword Coast. Lots of adventure there, and the PCs may drop out of the caravan at anytime (though this may cause some problems with the caravan master). My monthly game is already in the Realms, and the PCs are oWoD splats trapped in the Literary Realm of the Umbra. All they have to do to get out is finish the story, which considering they are in the AD&D 2e version of the Realms means they need to do the whole adventurer to ruler path. Encounters this season is also based in the Realms, though it’s the 4e iteration, which I know little about (I may pick up the books, but I doubt it, 2e is the Realms for me and frankly, I have a hard time with settings changing).
In addition to the various FR game books, I have two other outlets for my year of the Realms. First, there are a ton of FR novels, some at the library, some on my bookshelf, and more that I can cheaply purchase at used bookstores. I don’t often read fiction, but when I get the urge I can go Realms, which is good because fiction tends to strongly color my gaming choices. Finally, FR ties in with Spelljammer, so there is always that to add in. Unless I want them to wander into Ravenloft.

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