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Super Squirrel

Aging Campaigns

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Both in game and out of game, my campaign has been running for almost a year now. The players are starting to get some heavy XP. I need general gaming advice on two fronts for maintaining this campaign.

 

First, I'd like my campaign to develop a better sense of history. While there is some player history in the game, there isn't much. Voltage struggled his way through college while also being a superhero. MJ is currently on the out with her dad. The Greek began to adapt to modern life and earned her citizenship. Reptile managed to get the rating for the restaraunt he cooks for up half a star. Thought... well Thought didn't do anything development wise. ;) Tank (Voltage's replacement character) is too new for anything like this yet.

 

These are nice, but they aren't what I'm looking for. I want to see the mundane and the notes of flare of background developed over the course of the game. Characters could develop long last relationships with NPCs or develop themselves with their everyday interests. Reptile is a short-order cook. It is just a subnote to the game. I don't want a subnote. I mean, it would be absolutely awesome for one of my characters to be getting married to an NPC and have the game session to be about both the wedding and the fact that, Grond decided then to show up for a rematch with Tank. How do I get the deeper development in my game?

 

On a side note, I don't think I really need to do much with The Greek. She has been doing a good job of that FOR me. This is one of the reasons I really like Alice as a role-players. She is the kind of role-player that makes you love the characters.

 

Second, I'm also reaching the point where XP is getting pretty crazy. I've managed it one way by restricting players to 75 Active Points on all powers. I also recommend players pick up Skills, Contacts, and Perks as much as possible. Power Frameworks are both a saving grace and an annoyance at the same time. But in the long run, Power Frameworks are awesome for long running campaigns. The Greek, for one example, has a Multipower for her Bow of Athena. She traditionally could use a Standard Arrow or an Arrow of Golden Light. While it only costs 4-5 points, she can easily add new types of arrows. Last game she added a very weak DC, Area of Effect (Cone) attack to represent an barrage of arrows. The power is weak meaning it can't take out a plethra of Villains at once, but at same time makes cool for dealing with a wave of hired goons.

 

So adding extra effects is relatively cheap. It can be covered in one or two games. Where as raising the power level on a Framework and the powers inside it takes longer. So while a player might get to 75 Active Points on his framework and all powers, it is going to take a lot of sessions to reach it.

 

Another good example of what I like is that Voltage added a VPP to give him an assortment of electricity manipulation abilities.

 

Does anyone have any guideline ideas or suggestions for dealing with XP on long campaigns?

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Re: Aging Campaigns

 

Some possibilities:

 

1. Give assigned experience points to buy wealth, reputation, and contacts - or give bonuses to contact relationships - for people who role play it well. In other words, all those "background perks" develop with roleplaying, not just expenditures. Players will generally jump on board if they think they can get a freebie. And remember that those contacts are two way streets. Anyone the player has a contact probably has the player as a contact - so let the contact call up and ask for help. For example, I'm running in a comined Marvel/DC world. One of the characters had Spidey as a contact. As a plot hook recently, I had Spidey call up and ask for help with Carnage. Since the PC group came running right away, I gave the player +1 to his relationship with Spidey when the night was over. Reputation perk is another good place to give freebies. If they roleplay it well, maybe give them +1 to their wealth.

Perks can be very useful, but also very easy to control.

 

2. Suggest putting points into a group base or vehicle(or improving the current one). For 8 or 10 points each, the group can have a vehicle which is much faster than any of the chracters and can get them all there at the same time. You can buy a VERY basic base for 18 or 20 points total, but X-Men style danger rooms and Avengers level security can get very expensive, very quickly.

 

3. Don't forget that villains get experience too. Everytime you use a villain, give them a few points at the end of the night to buy a couple more DEF, another MP slot, or an extra die on their EB. Just make sure to keep it balanced. And you can always give them a tougher class of villains. After all, you've got stats for Dr. Destroyer, Firewing, and the like. So maybe it's time to use them.

 

4. Another thing I try to do in my campaigns is use a "paper trail" which is twofold. First, we have a "newspaper" of sorts which details not just the PC's latest adventure(if it was public enough and noteworthy enough) but also details what other heroes/villains were doing(handy excuse for a contact not being around even if the character makes the roll) and can be used to introduce plot hooks for adventures(a spate of robberies, etc). The other is what we initially called "bluebooks"(because we used college exam "bluebooks" until they became too expensive, now we use cheap folders with notebook paper). At the end of each night, or between adventures, the players write down what their characters are doing "between sessions" this gives the player a chance to develop a contact, improve their business, etc without it taking time away from the main session with the other players...and can be a good place to start adventures involving the character's personal life(their store gets robbed, someone infilitrates their company, a hunted kidnaps a DNPC, you've got all kinds of possibilities here).

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Re: Aging Campaigns

 

Regarding XP:

 

1) Points are very effective at lower levels, and get marginally less useful as a character advances. 10xp can help a 200pt character out a great deal, but doesn't help a 500pt character out nearly as much. And as mentioned, the villains advance too.

 

2) Focus XP, as suggested. If you would normally give out 3xp, let the players get one to play with, dump one into the team's base/vehicles, and dump the other one into individual or team contacts/favors, improved reputation, etc.

 

3) Restrict the xp you give out. Do more multi-session adventures, and only give out xp at the end. Instead of 3 2-xp adventures, do one 3-part 4xp adventure.

 

4) Any disadvantages that have outlived their usefulness? Have folks buy them off.

 

5) Any limitations that can be reduced/removed?

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Re: Aging Campaigns

 

Super Squirrel, I'm going to give you some of the ways my campaign's survived for so long and still is interesting. Hopefully, some of it might help you.

 

1) Don't give out too much experience and allow the freedom to spend it. Yes, heroes may do lots of wonderful things but giving out 3 - 4 xp each episode will hurt the heroes rather than help them if you're looking for a long campaign with those heroes. They'll reach a saturation point and then you have to prevent powergaming. (i.e. Hey, I've got no where else to spent my XP. Can I go beyond the 75 pt limit?) Experience pts can be spent on alot of things players may not think of. Does a particular hero like to play Chess in her spare time? Buy a KS: Chess. Does a hero like to spend his time putting monster cars together? Buy a PS: Monster Car builder with KS: Cars, Monster Cars with Mechanic skill. Does your light-based-hero understand his powers? Make him buy KS: Light. These may seem like skills just to throw points at but a good GM will use them. Have your heroes bought a base yet? That is a wonderful place to spend points by making the heroes buy it. Need a supersonic jet to travel to other countries? You better start spending those points heros.

 

Example:

I have one hero who spent a pt and bought PS: Plumbing 8 or less. Why? He has a part-time job of plumbing and is terrible at it, but that's the fun part - because he's so bad we spent 20 minutes of the episode just discussing his plumbing accident when he tried to fix a fellow heroes plumbing. He also has KS: Robotics on 11 or less. Yeah, he can create robots but the results are less than perfect.

 

2) Develop NPC's that the player characters may consult on a semi or regular basis. Let's face it: despite all the narrowing adventures and interesting skills, no one know everything and when heroes are stuck what to do, a normal person will certain skills can help. Don't underestimate how much influence a good NPC can help your campaign. Eventually, friendships occur between NPC and heroes. For a long time, NPC's were treated as 1-shot occurances until we finally realized just how much fun they add.

 

Examples in ours:

* Dr. Abigail Sinian (sound familiar anyone?) - a curator of the Santa Barbara Natural History Museum. She never dreamed she'd be helping out our local heroes on so many weird cases but manages to help out the heroes alot. If she doesn't know the answer, she can always consult her colleague(s). She is now, THE person the heroes seek out when something unusual happens.

 

* Deputy-Mayor of the city - the Deputy-Mayor has set up a secret communicator between herself and the heroes. She believes in the heroes whereas the local police don't quite. She is starting to have feelings for the leader of the herogroup but doesn't know who he is, complicating matters even though he's saved her life a few times.

 

* Cindy Bradley - wife of hero. Helped design the heroes suit and occasionally comes up with new designs or prototypes to throw at the hero. Some work, most don't. Knows who all the heroes are in Secret Id's and meets them in their civilian id's.

 

3) Allow more than one hero group in the same campaign. The heroes currently in your campaign don't have to be the only ones nor do they have to retire. Instead, pick a different city and have a new group of heroes pop-up. The campaign I'm in now has five different hero groups in it, all in different areas and all are active. Ok, Mechassassin walked over Team 1, let's see him go up against Team 2 a week later. (The players will enjoy getting back at the villain.) Some of the most fun episodes we've had involved pitting our own heroes against another group of our own heroes. You don't have the GM running an entire group against the collective minds of the players; you have each thinking player against another thinking player - each trying to win.

 

Another team means the campaign has continuity; what one hero group did to help a Senator is noticed by the unknown hero group. Hero Group 2 reads in the paper that Group 1 busted some crime deal and wonders if it's related to an ongoing crime problem in their city.

 

Better yet, the star reporter of Chicago (job of hero from Group 1) travels to report on a theft at the lnternational Science Show where a scientist (job of hero from Group 2) is to speak to said reporter. There is so much you can do!

 

4) Allow relationships to happen. Heroes are people. They meet people, talk to people and yes, even fall in love. It requires good players to handle it without them acting ridiculous, though. I've had two of my heroes get married in years past. Both are still active heroes but they now have to be considerate of their family as well. It helped that they married superheroines, of course. Bora of Eurostar is still alive in my campaign; for a long time, a hero was interested in her and she in him but the hero/villain thing made for many stressful meetings. Years later, Bora still wonders if she should leave Eurostar for him. NPC's can meet the heros in their civies and go to parties, dances, the local gala event or whatever and get to know each other.

 

5) Let the heroes see a villain or two turn from their ways. Don't be stuck on keeping all your villains around forever. Some of the villains are confused and have made bad choices; with some talking to, they might turn away from crime or even become part of the hero team or a least, a friend. Is a particular villain or three becoming stale to you? Create an adventure where you kill off the villain and the heroes see it happen. This shows that the campaign is indeed changing and not static. Heroes begin, villains begin, heroes retire/die, so do villains.

 

6) Allow changes to the characters. Is a player stuck on buying anything new for a character? Allow the 'radiation accident' that lets a hero add a new power or even completely redo his powers. The player keeps his skills and levels but allow the player to write up a new sheet of powers for you to approve.

 

A couple examples:

* My older brother's character had telekinetic abilites (not mental) but ran out of ideas. After an accident, his powers changed to light powers and he had to relearn how much power he could use without hurting people.

* I had one character who essentially changed completely three times but the powers were more or less the same. He was a cyborg but was almost killed when his cyborg parts were destroyed. He was healed and essentially became a normal person though skilled. He created a powered suit to mimic his abilites but eventually, that got destroyed. Finally, he contacted someone to give him abilities that couldn't be destroyed ala superbionics (ala The Bionic Six cartoon.)

 

7) Allow input from the players. Doing a campaign no one likes, finds dull or otherwise don't care for will kill a campaign in no time flat. Ask players for input on your GM'ing or what they'd like to see happen in the campaign. Ask them for ideas they'd like to see happen with their heroes. Let them write down all their ideas and give it to you. You basically then have an almost limitless supply of new adventures you can do that the players want to do because they suggested it.

 

I don't have time to mention all the possibilites. You, as the GM, can invigorate your campaign to new levels and still keep it alive. You can make it have a history where the players where say 'Remember the time we did..' and someone else will say, 'Yeah, but don't forget..'

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Re: Aging Campaigns

 

SS, sounds you like you already have a really good game, but want more. Cool!

 

Take the bluebook idea, and expand on it. I'm a notorious diary writer. Almost every character I play keeps a diary.

I distribute it by email, usually. Now one of the other players keeps one too, and we all have a good laugh comparing what happened (in one of our campaigns) from the 2 characters' differing points of view.

 

Our GM depends on my diaries; he re-reads them for dangling plot lines, which eventually come back to bite us.

 

When I run, I encourage my players to keep diaries by rewarding them, either with XP (which you already note as a potential problem) or with money, contacts, etc. I also like to give "Fate Points" which are essentially 1-use Luck Rolls. Everybody LOVES getting to re-roll that one lousy roll that messed up the story.

 

If you have the time and the opportunity, role-play with your players outside the game. Our group often communicates by IM or email, and role-plays through scenes between our weekly games.

 

In the short-term Champions game we're starting tonight, I wrote a short story of how my character meets his DNPC girlfriend. The GM and I wrote it a sentence or two at a time, exchanging the doc over email until we finished the scene. It was MUCH better when we finished than the version I had written alone.

 

As for the problem of too much XP, I can only commiserate. In my PA Hero game, we were afraid of just that, so we're using an experimental XP award system based on what you use. I give 1 or 2 points a week, and it gets apportioned among the skills abilities the player used. I keep a spreadsheet of what each player used, and it calculates when they've accumulated a full point.

Not sure that would work well in a Super game, but it works great at the Heroic level.

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Re: Aging Campaigns

 

Tancred,

 

The idea of "spending points where you use them" makes sense somewhat, but what do you do for someone that wants to learn something new, Especially if they have an unusual power set and can't find a handy "tutor"?

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Re: Aging Campaigns

 

Mike,

 

Keep in mind this is strictly a Heroic-level game; there are no Powers in use at the moment (not even NPCs, yet).

 

We let them try to do whatever it is they are wanting to learn. Whether they succeed or fail, it counts as a "use" toward learning the ability.

 

So the character tries to "use" a Skill he doesn't have (usually with a 5- Roll to reflect complete lack of skill). When the spreadsheet totals up a full character point in the new Skill, he gains a Familiarity with it.

 

Hope that makes sense.

 

Edit: Oh, and the idea isn't original. It came from our playing the computer game Wizardry 8, where your skills improve as you use them. The more you use a skill in that game, the better you get at it (and the quicker you get better at it). We thought it would be fun to simulate that and it is so far.

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Re: Aging Campaigns

 

In regards to just my character, I can say that there are a number of romantic opportunities you've simply ignored.

 

For one, she's being hunted by arguably the most attractive god in the Greek pantheon. Most people might be intimidated by The Greek, but not him. You have yet to play with that.

 

Also, her internet contact, the one she meets in her Secret ID. I realize it's the player's faults that no one is curious about why she's spending so much time with this person, but she does describe their meetings as a "date." You could play with that concept. I mean, you haven't even physically described this person to me, and I don't know how deep his infatuation with her Hero ID goes. Also, I think it would be neat if you could incorporate him into the regular game, not just after-session blurbs.

 

I also won't deny the possibility that The Greek isn't interested in men at all, but shares Voltage's crush on Sapphire. If you decide to go with that angle, though, warn me before she's hit on by any females. Yeah, I'm flexible, but I like to be warned about the decisions made for me.

 

I'm really very amused that someone recommended a KS: Chess.

 

I think I like the idea of rewarding us for fleshing out our characters. Give us a point or 2 for good roleplay interactions without OOC tangents. Give us bonus points to add to skills you like (and I'll be fair and not ask that you make it retroactive). Put us in situations where we need skills, relationships and interactions to work.

 

Unfortunately, I can't think of any examples of such. But I can tell you what isn't working: letting us run our characters 'til we're bored, then throwing a conflict at us.

 

I think it might help if, instead of having something we need to react to and sending us off, make us gather someplace, then ask, "Okay, what do you do?" Like the robbery at the warehouse episode, only you'd have to invent a premise so we all stayed in one place.

 

Maybe someone pretends to kidnap another person, and states as their conditions for releasing the hostage the Millenium Force show up at a certain location at a certain time? And all they wanted to do was meet us?

 

Lame, I know. That's why you're running, and I'm just playing.

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Re: Aging Campaigns

 

How many points do you pay for your characters to have the Perk: Invulnerable; PCs player sleeps with GM? :winkgrin:

 

I couldn't care less about invulnerability. I want my character impervious to boredom and frustration. :D

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Re: Aging Campaigns

 

Alice, if he's ignoring your hints, start keeping a diary.

Improvise, embellish, and improve on the story (we all do in our diaries).

 

Tell HIM what you're doing between scenes, if you can think of something clever.

Trust me, as a player, you're one of his most valuable resources.

 

Some of the best games I've ever run or played in have happened because a player made up something, and the GM was inspired to run with it.

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Re: Aging Campaigns

 

In regards to just my character, I can say that there are a number of romantic opportunities you've simply ignored.

 

For one, she's being hunted by arguably the most attractive god in the Greek pantheon. Most people might be intimidated by The Greek, but not him. You have yet to play with that.

 

Also, her internet contact, the one she meets in her Secret ID. I realize it's the player's faults that no one is curious about why she's spending so much time with this person, but she does describe their meetings as a "date." You could play with that concept. I mean, you haven't even physically described this person to me, and I don't know how deep his infatuation with her Hero ID goes. Also, I think it would be neat if you could incorporate him into the regular game, not just after-session blurbs.

 

I also won't deny the possibility that The Greek isn't interested in men at all, but shares Voltage's crush on Sapphire. If you decide to go with that angle, though, warn me before she's hit on by any females. Yeah, I'm flexible, but I like to be warned about the decisions made for me.

 

I'm really very amused that someone recommended a KS: Chess.

 

I think I like the idea of rewarding us for fleshing out our characters. Give us a point or 2 for good roleplay interactions without OOC tangents. Give us bonus points to add to skills you like (and I'll be fair and not ask that you make it retroactive). Put us in situations where we need skills, relationships and interactions to work.

 

Unfortunately, I can't think of any examples of such. But I can tell you what isn't working: letting us run our characters 'til we're bored, then throwing a conflict at us.

 

I think it might help if, instead of having something we need to react to and sending us off, make us gather someplace, then ask, "Okay, what do you do?" Like the robbery at the warehouse episode, only you'd have to invent a premise so we all stayed in one place.

 

Maybe someone pretends to kidnap another person, and states as their conditions for releasing the hostage the Millenium Force show up at a certain location at a certain time? And all they wanted to do was meet us?

 

Lame, I know. That's why you're running, and I'm just playing.

You know what, we didn't roll last game to see if you beat Dr. Destroyer in that game of Internet Chess. :D

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Re: Aging Campaigns

 

Alice, if he's ignoring your hints, start keeping a diary.

Improvise, embellish, and improve on the story (we all do in our diaries).

 

Tell HIM what you're doing between scenes, if you can think of something clever.

Trust me, as a player, you're one of his most valuable resources.

 

Some of the best games I've ever run or played in have happened because a player made up something, and the GM was inspired to run with it.

 

Actually, that's what a lot of my e-mails are. I average about 5 paragraphs a week on "What The Greek was doing while the camera wasn't on her."

 

She's actually a lot of fun to play. I like being in her head and wondering what she's doing and thinking.

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Re: Aging Campaigns

 

You know what' date=' we didn't roll last game to see if you beat Dr. Destroyer in that game of Internet Chess. :D[/quote']

 

I'll let you roll it for me. I trust you.

 

Regarding the romance tangent. I was actually keeping that internet contact in mind when I made my post. It was part of the reason why I felt you were making it easy for me.

 

I figured you were referring to something like that.

 

I know you wanted my input here. I know what I can do, but I don't want to make it look like your game is revolving around me (again). And I don't know how to make the other players play the way I do.

 

Maybe if you pointed out that the focus is so often on my character because of my eagerness to flesh her out? As a before-game blurb? Just say, "Okay, guys, I want this game to have a sense of history. How can I get your characters to cooperate with me on this?"

 

They're a pretty cooperative bunch, generally. Communication's a very important tool here.

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Re: Aging Campaigns

 

I have a couple of things I'm going to do for the game as a start. I liked a lot of the suggestions provided thus far.

 

I simply can't do the blue book thing. Mostly because I couldn't find blue books at Walmart and I had a better idea while I was there. I also want to do more keeping track of the game history and as much as I hate to admit it, I'm terrible of keeping track of certain things.

 

I picked up some folder dividers at Walmart. I got an 8 tab divider as opposed to a 5 tab. It will allow me to break it down into the following categories:

 

  1. Game History
  2. Base / Vehicle Write-Ups
  3. The Greek
  4. Tank
  5. Reptile
  6. Kaleidoscope
  7. Thought
  8. Inactive Characters & Notable NPCs

I'll start each game by handing out sheet paper for people to write what their characters have been doing for the past two weeks. It will also allow some players such as the player for Kaleidoscope who like to write, to get information on their character down on paper. I'll emphasise that these are for things they did that are not game actions. Such as researching a crime that took place.

 

I'll get someone to keep track of the major events and brief summary of the game to go into the history. If only one person is willing to do it, I'll give them a free 8- Contact of either their or my design.

 

To deal with experience, the next game is a solo so I will start up the XP to the Base routine. But this time it will be for a new base computer. I think it is time they started getting some high quality equipment anyway.

 

Last but not least, I will now only award good roleplaying XP to players who are roleplaying the use their skills and contacts effectively in combat. This point can go towards skills, contacts, perks and equipment only.

 

 

This should make a good start.

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Re: Aging Campaigns

 

I'll let you roll it for me. I trust you.

 

 

 

I figured you were referring to something like that.

 

I know you wanted my input here. I know what I can do, but I don't want to make it look like your game is revolving around me (again). And I don't know how to make the other players play the way I do.

 

Maybe if you pointed out that the focus is so often on my character because of my eagerness to flesh her out? As a before-game blurb? Just say, "Okay, guys, I want this game to have a sense of history. How can I get your characters to cooperate with me on this?"

 

They're a pretty cooperative bunch, generally. Communication's a very important tool here.

What is your skill at?

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Re: Aging Campaigns

 

Dr. Destroyer made PS: Chess by 4. Complementary skill of Tactics gave +6 (he rolled a 7)

 

The Greek made KS: Chess by 5 (assume it is 14-). :ugly: She beat Tactics by 10. This makes her complementary bonus a +6. Dr. Destroyer was losing opening and mid-game. Now for end game. Dr. Destroyer is at -1 on all rolls. He failed his PS: Chess when taking Complementary skill rolls into effect. The Greek's end game needs work but she made her roll.

 

Dr. Destroyer lost his chess game to The Greek.

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Re: Aging Campaigns

 

Dr. Destroyer made PS: Chess by 4. Complementary skill of Tactics gave +6 (he rolled a 7)

 

The Greek made KS: Chess by 5 (assume it is 14-). :ugly: She beat Tactics by 10. This makes her complementary bonus a +6. Dr. Destroyer was losing opening and mid-game. Now for end game. Dr. Destroyer is at -1 on all rolls. He failed his PS: Chess when taking Complementary skill rolls into effect. The Greek's end game needs work but she made her roll.

 

Dr. Destroyer lost his chess game to The Greek.

 

Woohoo!

 

She has a 19-.

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Re: Aging Campaigns

 

Squirrel,

It sounds almost like an issue with your players not your game, or at least not just your game. You can make more of an effort to draw them in, but, in the end, they have to want to step into the spotlight, as opposed to just having combat after combat. Sounds like a cool game, BTW... :)

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