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[UF] Designing a campaign


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So, in a few months I'll be starting up an Urban Fantasy campaign. This is the thread where I'll work up all the GM stuff and pan-handle for ideas and refinement.

 

If you are a player in my game STOP READING NOW. This thread will spoil the game.

 

I'd like to take this game to a whole level beyond what I normally do when I run. Fairly hefty challenge. It means that I will need to operate outside of my comfort zone as a GM and use tools that are unfamiliar or awkward for me. A quick brainstorm of those ideas include:

 

  • Songs - either to set the mood or reveal a bit of foreshadowing.
  • Webpages - find or design sites that will see direct use in the game.
  • Pictures of real locations.
  • Mood setting items [low light, voice, unusual snacks that appear in the game]
  • DM dirty tricks to set the mood and/or increase the creep factor.

 

Each of these will need to be planned and timed well and not overused to achieve the proper effect.

 

I'm open for ideas here on things to use so offer them at any point in this conversation. Please.

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Re: [uF] Designing a campaign

 

Campaign Concept

 

Players Information:

Current date is 2021

In 2012 the world nearly came to an end. At least that is the view held in the United States after the detonation of the Zero Point Warhead in New York or Washington D.C. [the origin is still debated]. Even after years of speculation, the Zero Point Event is poorly understood and no one voice of credibility has risen to dispel the many rumors. Most citizens of the United States believe that the Zero Point Event was the detonation of an experimental weapon developed by North Korea or Iran with the aid of China. However, such a theory leaves many unexplained questions such as how it could have been developed in total secrecy and how was it deployed without any advanced warning. Another major theory is a meteor-strike on the Eastern seaboard. Historic impacts have incinerated hundreds of square miles and gouged massive craters into the Earth. A meteor laced with radioactive minerals or unknown items of stellar origin could explain many of the hazards and weird events since the Zero Point Event.Regardless of what caused the Zero Point Event, America was dealt a crippling blow that would bleed her strength for generations.

 

Nine years later the world is a different place. America is different. It isn’t just the unprecedented loss of life, the world is truly different. The cable channels won’t run the stories but occasionally a story leaks into smaller – private – news channels about men and women who are more than human. Anyone who cares to peer deeply into the darkest alleys understands that things – predators – stalk the unwary. Some believe the predators are unfortunate victims of the Zero Point Warhead. Men and women warped and mutated by the unnatural energies released by the bomb but dozens of obsessive websites offer proof that something much worse lurks in the shadows. Conspiracy theories offer aliens, demons, vampires, even intelligent insects as the cause of the suffering during the last decade. No one believes their deluded tales but no one walks down the darkened allies of America without good reason and a large firearm.

 

America is a dark and dangerous place. The shining beacon on the hill wavers and threatens to falter in the long, dark night.

 

Key Concepts:

• More than 40 million US Citizens are dead or missing.

• The Eastern Seaboard is a wasteland. The following cities are assumed to have been completely destroyed; Washington D.C., Boston, Albany, New York, New Jersey, Baltimore, Richmond, and Annapolis.

• Civil Liberties are not as civil as they once were.

• The Military Police exist to control the population not provide justice.

• Corporate powers employ their own security.

• Private Security Contractors and mercenary groups have grown even more.

• Violent crime has escalated beyond anything ever seen in the US.

• Disappearances aren’t unusual, they are common.

• History is close but not exactly like the real world.

• Magic was once difficult to master but real. Now it has become far more common spawning covens and traditions as well as energizing older traditions.

• Supernatural encounters have surged since the Zero Point Event but the general population still does not believe. The US government works through state run media and news outlets to keep it that way.

• Tech level is slightly more advanced that the "now" but not as pervasive. Fewer people own computers, public internet access is filtered but a second freer internet has thrived. GPS and satellite technology has faltered and stagnated. The space program is dead. That kind of stuff.

 

Player Character Keys:

• Monster Hunters Campaign

• Western Theme to the game [players are on their own]

• Magic is Encouraged [Full Wizard, Magic Weapon, Arcane Background]

• The Spirit world will be a moderate part of the game [ghosts, spirit world]

• There will be numerous bad guys [spirits, demons, vampires, wizards, criminals, corporations].

 

Zero Point Event

The most popular theories according to web traffic:

• The event was a terrorist attack [North Korea, Iran, China, Islamic Extremists, Fundamentalists].

• The event was caused by a scientific experiment that accelerated out of control.

• The event was caused by aliens [insectoids hibernating in brains, Hyper-intelligent spirit invaders, and classical greys].

• The event was caused by “god” and is the beginning of the “end times.” [or Shiva’s Rebirth]

• The event is a hoax [uS government, Corporate Interests].

 

The theories have points that make them appealing to those with certain mind-sets, but they obviously have problems as well. Even the most reputable explainations fall short.

 

Also, the rise of other phenomena poses a problem for the more rationale explanations. Far more people are willing to believe in supernatural powers and events than they were prior to 2012 but the true believers are still considered odd-fellows by much of the general public. Some believe that the Zero Point Event and the rise in supernatural encounters are connected at some fundamental level that has yet to be explained but just as many who claim to “believe” view the increased supernatural activity and the Zero Point Event as two separate events.

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Re: [uF] Designing a campaign

 

The first two hurdles...

 

The campaign name

1. Crimson - vague but evocative.

2. Advent - religious connotations, means "coming"

3. Wayward Sons - includes the nifty lyrics to the song "Carry on My Wayward Son" which fits perfect for an arcane type of game.

 

The campaign city

1. Hudson City - It probably should have been destroyed but I got the cool sourcebook and taking out the costumed weirdos is easy.

2. San Fransisco - oddest city in the USA with a metric ton of websites dedicated to the weirdness. I've been there.

3. Chicago - an odd city with a bloody history. There are more RPG books on Chicago than any other town which would allow me to poach off other settings.

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Re: [uF] Designing a campaign

 

The campaign city

1. Hudson City - It probably should have been destroyed but I got the cool sourcebook and taking out the costumed weirdos is easy.

2. San Fransisco - oddest city in the USA with a metric ton of websites dedicated to the weirdness. I've been there.

3. Chicago - an odd city with a bloody history. There are more RPG books on Chicago than any other town which would allow me to poach off other settings.

As I'm currently reading The City and The City by China Mieville book that's very UF and it's about 2 cities that occur on the same space - I recommend combining cities.

Bezel and Ul Qoma share the same space and there are areas of "crosshatching" where they intrude on each other. There is a central nexus point where the government of both meet to work things out. But the populace of both cities practice "unseeing" of the things from other cities, otherwise they cause a breach and may end up in the other city (which is illegal).

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Re: [uF] Designing a campaign

 

Magic Contemplations

 

I am going for a Dresden-ish feel to magic. My ideas so far have boiled down to the following.

 

All wizards have a 30 point VPP... that is what makes them a wizard. There won't be many restrictions on this "core" pool.

 

Each PC will be entitled to 2-3 additional pools that can stack with the base pool. Take Bill the Fire Wizard, he might take Mastery: Fire Magic as his second spell pool. He'd get another 10 point pool but this pool would be limited to fire effects only [40 points total in fire magic].

 

He could go nuts and elect to spend his third magic pool on fire as well and purchase High Mastery: Fire Magic to net himself another 10 point VPP for fire effects only [40 point VPP total for fire magic]

 

Or he might have selected Domination - a 10 point VPP for mental effects. If he did this Bill the Wizards power would break down as follows...

30 points Cosmic Mage VPP

40 points Fire Magic VPP

40 points Mental Magic VPP

 

Does that make any sense?

 

Part II

Spells will be fairly basic in nature without many advantages. Foci will provide advantages and players will pay a set amount of points for each foci based on the total naked advantage that it offers. Most foci will be attuned to a specific magical element as well.

 

For example, Bill the Fire Mage has a Brimstone Rod which adds Penetrating and 1/2 END to all Fire Spells cast with it.

 

He also carries a blasting staff with AE: Explosion, NND [self contained breathing/immunity to fire].

 

The Wizarding World

There will be a number of set effects that are simply part of the game world rather than things that must be purchased such as a promise from a supernatural being must be kept to the letter else it diminishes your power.

 

Threshold magic, etc...

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Re: [uF] Designing a campaign

 

The first two hurdles...

 

The campaign name

1. Crimson - vague but evocative.

2. Advent - religious connotations, means "coming"

3. Wayward Sons - includes the nifty lyrics to the song "Carry on My Wayward Son" which fits perfect for an arcane type of game.

 

The campaign city

1. Hudson City - It probably should have been destroyed but I got the cool sourcebook and taking out the costumed weirdos is easy.

2. San Fransisco - oddest city in the USA with a metric ton of websites dedicated to the weirdness. I've been there.

3. Chicago - an odd city with a bloody history. There are more RPG books on Chicago than any other town which would allow me to poach off other settings.

i'd say wayward suns and san francisco

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Re: [uF] Designing a campaign

 

More magic notes:

 

Combat Spells will be purchased as above in the VPP but there is far more to wizarding than the ability to sling fire.

 

RITUAL MAGIC

Warding

Summoning

Alchemy

Astral Magic

Grand Rites

 

These Power Skills will represent things that will not happen immediately in game but with an hour or so they can be worked out with some items, a magic circle, and an obscure enchantment.

 

I'll probably make a list of "ritual spells" from each of these categories and assign them a strait modifier to the roll.

 

Examples: Sanctum Wards (-5 to Warding) by etching, painting, or drawing arcane wards within your sanctum the wizard erects a steady defense against any supernatural creatures that might seek to trespass.

 

Game effect: Hardened Force Wall that intrudes into the astral preventing desolid/teleportation coupled with a Suppression field versus supernatural abilities that affects creatures who bypass the Force Wall.

 

Casting time: 1 day, cost $50

 

A wizard could easily add +6 to +10 to the roll by taking a few weeks to work the enchantment and lacing the exotic paints with silver and holy water. Additionally, he could purify the area before hand and extend the traditional wards with other words of power.

 

By taking her time adding rare and powerful components and using extra preparations she has turned a difficult roll into an easy roll.

 

I'll assign the modifier to each spell based on how hard I want the effect to be rather than active point costs. For example, it should be difficult to summon a creature but easy to enter the astral realm.

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Re: [uF] Designing a campaign

 

OK, I've thought this through a bit and want to propose a variation.

 

Starting Wizardry:

Arcanum Wizard: Variable Power Pool, 30 base + 7 control cost, (45 Active Points); all slots Spell (-1/2), Variable Limitations (requires -1 worth of Limitations; Increased END, Focus, Extra Time, Concentration; -1/2), Incantations (-1/4), Only two spells active at any time

 

Prepared Spell: Variable Power Pool, 45 base + 8 control cost; all slots Spell (-1/2), Variable Limitations (requires -1 worth of Limitations; Increased END, Focus, Extra Time, Concentration; -1/2), VPP takes 6 hours to change (-1/2), Incantations (-1/4),

 

The wizard must reallocate the slot after each use.

 

That covers spellcasting on the fly.

____________________________________________

 

Each player would also pick a magic specialty that equates to a MPP of very specific attacks.

 

Types of MPPs for Wizards

Telekenetic

Mind Control

Fire

Hellfire

Biomancy

Planetary Powers

Etc...

 

_____________________

 

Finally, there would be the catch all of Power Skills as I mentioned above.

 

RITUAL MAGIC

Warding

Summoning

Alchemy

Astral Magic

Grand Rites

 

These Power Skills will represent things that will not happen immediately in game but with an hour or so they can be worked out with some items, a magic circle, and an obscure enchantment.

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Re: [uF] Designing a campaign

 

Ritual Magic and Power Skills

 

It's important to note that Ritual Magic does not require that one be a wizard to use the Power Skill. History is full of stories involving men and women who found tomes with instructions for dark spells in them that required foul practices.

 

A ritual to Summon Azathoth can be performed by anyone if they have the Book of Agravannon. Careful study (1 month) provides a +5 to the Power Skill Summon (azathoth only) and 1 XP to be spent on the Power Skill itself. Now one need only build a circle, say the enchantment, and provide the blood necessary to entice the greater demon and he should arrive for the commanding.

 

Want to buy some beach front property?

 

:idjit:

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Re: [uF] Designing a campaign

 

Sanctum... is the name of the campaign and provides me with a theme as well as a connection between the player characters.

 

I still need to decide on a city I've expanded the choices to Hudson City, Chicago, San Fransisco, and a modified Gotham. I can find or have maps for all of them so it is really more of a choice of which city works the best thematically.

 

I'd love to just jump into Chicago but it seems so over done.

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Re: [uF] Designing a campaign

 

I vote Hudson City for many reasons. The name Sanctum sort of evokes a feel of "what was it that saved Hudson City from the Zero Point Warhead anyway?" Being so close to the effects of the blast allows for plenty of "barrens" type areas around the city. Since it is the major urban center for that area, most relief centers will be headquartered somewhere in there. Lots of room for "transitional" NPCs.

 

Not to mention it is the best of the best when it comes to modern urban game supplements.

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Re: [uF] Designing a campaign

 

MAGIC: One of the players asked for a better explanation so I sent him this.

 

Wizard Spells – VPP: Small pool for general knick-knack spells.

Prepared Spells – VPP: medium sized pool that stacks with Wizardry Pool. This pool takes hours to allocate and can only have a single slot active at any given point. It takes study to prepare yourself for a specific encounter. It can be nearly anything that the DM determines is a “spell.”

Evocation Spells – MPP: A handful of spells [8-12] of a special effect for your wizardry. I have not decided the Max Active Points but I am toying with a number between 90-125… this is the brute force of your spell casting.

 

EXAMPLES:

Merlin uses his wizardry pool to cast “Listen to the Wind” a spell to enhance his hearing. Later in the day he believes that there may be ghostly activity in the area so he casts “spirit sight.” These spells are known to Merlin but they come from his “wizardry pool.”

 

After finding evidence of a spirit Merlin decides that the only way to deal with such a creature is if he in the “Twilight” of the spirit world. This is a fairly powerful spell and far beyond the ability of Merlin to simply conjure and unusual enough that he does not have any similar spell in his Evocation pool. However, The Ghostly Grimoire has a spell – Deathly Doorways – that allows a mage to physically enter into the Twilight. Merlin heads to his library to study and prepare himself for the casting. Several hours later he returns with the knowledge of how to cast Deathly Doorways along with all the props he will need to ensure the spell is successful. Merlin used his Prepared Spell Pool and his Wizardry Pool to cast Deathly Doorways.

 

Once in the realm of spirits Merlin finds himself confronted by an angry ghost. Since both are in the spirit realm Merlin may use any Evocation Spell without having to worry about the ghosts desolidification. Since Merlin specializes in Demonfire spells he casts Hellfire, a 3d6 Penetrating RKA with half END from his Evocation MPP. If Merlin had specialized in Mind Magic he could have cast Spiritshakle, a 4d6 Mental Entangle [with feed back & blocks “enhanced senses”]

 

Does that help?

 

Here is how I think of Harry Dresden

1. Average Wizardry Pool: 30 point VPP for on the cuff magics.

2. Strong Prepared Pool: 60 point VPP for prepared spells [up to 90 Active Points when combined with Wizardry Pool]

3. Legendary Evocation Pool: 125 Active Point MPP for attack spells.

 

Harry uses Foci to grant him a few additional perks to his spells.

1. Blasting Rod -- buys off “Side Effects,” increased END, and Extra Time on his Evocation Pool.

2. Staff buys off Increased END and Buys Half End on his Wizardry Pool.

3. Shield Bracelet enhances his Wizardry Pool only for the purpose of casting “Mage Shield” from his Wizardry Pool [Aid 6d6 Standard Effect, only applies to “Mage Shield.”]

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  • 3 months later...

Re: [uF] Designing a campaign

 

Is this game built with heroic rules or super heroic?

If it's built with heroic you could use resource points in a cool way. Make a new resource point group call Enchanted Items. Make it cost the same as vehicles.

 

This way the PCs can pick up enchanted items from enemies or the store. It also means you can break or steal the equipment if you feel like it because they can just use resource points to buy another enchanted item. Like how Harry Dresden keeps breaking and having to rebuild his blast rod.

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