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Tedology

Campaign from scratch - how does one do it? :)

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Hello all,

 

I was just curious how you best come up with a campaign idea?

 

I'm currently using Evernote (so I can have access to my notes from anywhere) and I thought I would ask here what's a good way to start.

 

Is there a certain template that you follow (or have created on your own)?

 

Do you just break it down by the bare basics? For example, just the locale, star players (NPCs, etc.), and the main goal/plot/storyline? Or do you go into more details (e.g. describing the interior of the Chinese restaurant?)

 

If you have (or know of) a template, I would be most appreciative to look at it? I wouldn't dream of asking for your existing campaign notes (I know that may be taboo :) ), but even getting a general idea would be helpful.

 

Thanks very much!

Ted

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The two basic ways I have seen things done Ted is setting first, or players first.

 

Setting first is like the campaign threads Steve posts on the board where he sets down what caused the powers, basic enemies in the setting, what background things he might need, and how the players should fit in.

 

Players first is what did the players come up with and designing a campaign based on their backgrounds and what they used to build their characters.

CES 

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I'd start with a simple setting (a campaign city based on a real one), and quick notes on a few NPC heroes, villains, and organizations. Then do character creation with your players. If they want a certain something in the setting? Add it. If they don't seem interested in something? Drop it now. Once they players have told you what they want to see, you can go into more detail on it.

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Campaign Description: This is a Standard Superhero campaign. The Player Character's are superheroes in a modern day world populated by superhumans. They will fight against supervillains, villainous agencies, criminals, terrorists, etc… All the Characters should be "Good Guys" who can work as part of a superhero team.

Importance of the Player Characters: The Player Character's are Superheroes and the only Superhero Team in the Pacific Northwest. They are independents, but should be able to work with UNTIL and the local Law Enforcement Agencies (RCMP SERT).

The Campaign World is identical to our own except for the presence of superpowers. It is both a brighter and darker world than the one you know. Advanced technologies have made old power sources obsolete and the environment is recovering from decades of abuse, but super powered megalomaniacs, terrorists, and armies have made the world a more dangerous place.

The PCs are the most important heroes in the campaign. Supers are people with powers, not the other way around. Normals are just as interesting as supers. There are more heroes and villains around than just the ones with superpowers. Every PC, NPC, and Agency should stand out as a unique entity. Diverse ethnic, natural, and religious backgrounds make for memorable realistic NPCs. In any conflict between realism and fun, Fun wins. The best campaigns tell a story.

World Description: The Champions Universe is a four-color comic book world, full of larger than life characters. Technology is more advanced than the real world, and magic is real. Aliens and creatures of legend roam the earth.

This is not your Vancouver. The changes include. Super Powered Beings and Technology. 

The City lights are brighter, the environment cleaner, and future full of hope. But the glaring lights blind you to the corruption, the rising percentage of poor and disadvantaged. 

The longer and darker shadows barely contain the street vilonence of an ongoing gang war the no threatens everyone with the supertechnology falling into the hands of street criminals, underworld enforcers, and mercenaries. 

Supervillain organizations in Vancouver are struggling to recover from the after effects of the Champions of Vancouver's last incarnation. In the power vaccume their rivals have moved in. The rise of VOICE, Terror Inc., and the Force of Nature have taken overany of their operations.

The collapse of the Champions of Vancouver, the disbanding of the RCMP's Steelhead Division, and the efforts of Project Genocide eliminating rising Superhumans is creating a crisis. 

A Dark Age threatens the brightest star on the Pacific Rim, hope still exists. The semi-retired superhero Thundrax created the Carson Foundation. Dedicated to improving peoples lives through philanthropic endeavors. Their latest initiative was the founding of a local Superhero Team. 

Will you rise up and meet the challenge of bringing your city back from the edge of the abyss?

Local Relations: ???



CAMPAIGN TONE

Morality:
 The Champions of Vancouver is mostly a four-color campaign, and for the most part the morality of the campaign will be four-color as well. However, there will be some crossover between good and evil, and thing will not always be black and white. Characters will find themselves making difficult decisions, but should always try to be good guys.

On the other hand "bad guys" will vary between being good guys working at cross goals to being extremely evil. Some times the character will be faced with scenes of extreme violence. 

Realism: Strong, but the heroes will be expected to make ridiculous efforts and take huge risks to accomplish their goals Character death is a reality. If that is not enough to keep a player character alive, then they had best hope the rest of the team likes them.

Outlook: While the outlook will be mostly positive, there will be many dark moments and many challenges outside of combat. 

Seriousness: While the overall tone of the campaign will be very serious, there will be time for a certain amount of light hearted banter, or comic relief. The heroes will be Canada's best defense against the direst of situations. This does not mean that there is no room for humor. Witty repartee, creative use of powers, and the way you play should provide plenty of humor in the midst of even the direst situation.

Continuity: The game will be entirely serial. Player actions in one scenario will have effects on later scenarios and continuity will be enforced. Adventures will move linearly through time. Bad guys will remember who you are and what you did to them, and the press will print your exploits for the world to see.


CHARACTER BUILDING GUIDELINES
• Starting Points: 200
• Maximum Disadvantages: 150
• Maximum Points From One Category of Disadvantage: 50
• Normal Characteristic Maxima: Not Required
• Combat Hit Location Rules: Not Required
• Knockdown Rules: Not Required
• Long-Term Endurance Rules: NO
• Limited Push: YES


CHARACTER ABILITY BUILDING GUIDELINES

Power Levels Beginning Range Maximum Minimum

Characteristics: 10 – 40 60 10
Speed: 3 – 6 8 4
Combat Values: 6 – 9 12 6
Damage Classes: 6 – 12 16 8
Active Points: 30 – 60 80 --
Skill Points: 20 – 60 80 --
Skill Roll: 11- /15- 18- 8-
DEF/rDEF: 20/10 30 6/6


HOUSE RULES: (Special Restrictions, Requirements and Exceptions)
• It is advised that the player make use of all 150 points of Disadvantages.
• All player characters should have a Psychological Limitation concerning Killing.
• House Rule: Luck Rules (see Handout)
• The character must have some special mode of transportation.
• The character must have Social Limitation: Secret Identity.

House Rules : Luck Chits

At the beginning of each session the Players draw randomly one Luck Chit from the Bag. Player Characters with the Luck Power randomly draw an additional Luck Chit for every d6 of Luck. 

At the End of each session all Players return any unspent Luck Chits to the Bag. Sometimes you want Quantity, sometimes Quality. The Luck Chits go away at the end of the game, no carry over. Use 'em or lose 'em... which encourages interactive use and not hoarding. 

White Luck Chits: x 30 [1W = 1W] Allows a Reroll of any one roll you control. Or allows an Abort Manuever (to Dodge, Block, Dive for Cover, etc …) without using an Action. It also allows a single Recovery, without using an Action. It also allows Players to modify the Hit Location Chart (Defensively) and move the hit location by One (up or down).

Green Luck Chits: x 30 [1G = 2W] Same as White, plus you can spend a green to take away a single die in a "to hit" or "skill" roll, to gain a success. Rolled a 15... Spend a Green, take away that 6, now you have a 9! Success! (The GM randomly draws a chit for the villains, if you spend a Green) It also allows Players to modify the Hit Location Chart (Defensively) and move the hit location by Two (up or down). 

Blue Luck Chits: x 30 [1B = 3W or 1G & 1W] same as Green, without any benefit to GM. Blue is also a way to "flex" powers in a supers game. It allows a power to be used in a way that fits the SFX, but they haven't paid points for. [Ex: Flame character... wants to reduce the fire in a room to save a child... but doesn't have this power. Spends a Blue for this one action, his EB (or whatever) becomes Suppress normal fires, and he can do it.] 

Blue also allows for "dramatic editing" so that the character can simply say, "I grab the broom handle and snap it off, so I have a stake to fight the vampire!" rather than asking, "Is there anything wooded around?" In the case I highlighted in the last Secret Worlds adventure... on PC was way out of the combat, and spent the Blue to come up with a creative way to get his character there "right now!". It also allows Players to modify the

Hit Location Chart (Defensively and Offensively) and move the hit location by Three (up or down).

Yellow Luck Chit: x 1 [1Y = 2B or 3G or 6W] There is only one in the bag, but if drawn, the player can become GM for a scene. They get to create and event or subplot or something along those lines, that fits with their character concept and long term goals. I've had one person spend it so his character finally got his Thesis on Paranormal Gestation Theory published, and to wide acclaim, so he became famous in those circles as THE expert on metahuman bio-genesis. 

Another spent it, so that during a mission, he accidentally stumbled across some critical information about villain financing... this changed the entire SHAPE of the campaign, as the villains funding was exposed, and they had to come out of the shadows, rather than manipulate from behind the scenes.

The Yellow Luck Chit is usually just one "scene" or "event" They don't tend to really run the game in terms of controlling NPCs... They just say, "Ok... here's this cool thing that I want to have happen, with this or that character..." They often don't force a certain outcome, they just want to have something that really shows off their character, or allows their character to have a really big impact on the plot. (I guess it could be abused, but I've got great players. They tend to enhance the story and the world... not control it.) 

Luck Power: [ each d6 Luck = 1 Luck Chit ] Drawn randomly and still allows the Player Characters to use the Luck Power as written in HERO System 5th Edition .

It's a great system ... players seem to really love it ... and it gives flexibility within limits. I've been doing it for probably 6 years or more at this point. I'd never go back. .

I'd created a generic "luck roll" to help determine random events. Roll 3d6... sixes good, ones bad. So if a player asks something like, "I need a rock to throw at the wild dogs making off with the baby!" I'd say, "Roll a luck roll," to determine if there just happened to be a rock around. Good luck, there is a perfect throwing rock, right at your feet. Bad luck... no rock to be found. Neither/nor... there is a rock, but its’ 20 feet away, and will take a turn to get it.

Luck (the Talent back then, now a Power) allowed characters to roll an extra die for each luck die they had... and that die could only be good for them (ones didn't count.)

RDU Neil’s Dark Champions: Secret Worlds Thread 

This worked pretty well, but for years there was a need to open up Champs/HERO System, to allow some flexibility with powers and give players a little more control over their characters destiny and story.

Then I played Deadlands. (Original Deadlands, when it first came out.) They had chips (poker chips) that you could spend to soak wounds, or make rolls better, or whatever. It was a great mechanic. After only one session, I realized that this was a way to make Luck in Hero very viable.

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I'd start with a simple setting (a campaign city based on a real one), and quick notes on a few NPC heroes, villains, and organizations. Then do character creation with your players. If they want a certain something in the setting? Add it. If they don't seem interested in something? Drop it now. Once they players have told you what they want to see, you can go into more detail on it.

 

Thanks, Indiana Joe. :) I'm planning on basing the city on our actual city, using familiar streets, restaurants, sites, etc. I figure this may make it more "intimate" for the players. No, we're not NYC or SF, but we're a growing city and close to SF, so all should be fine. (I hope!) :)

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Question Man: Wow! This is more than I could have hoped for! Exactly what I was seeking. :) With your permission, I'd like to use it as a basic template to at least create and hand out to my players.

 

I REALLY like the idea of your luck chits and, again with your permission, use a version (or modified version) in my sessions. Did you use poker chips as the "chits"? Or were they things like index cards, or such? And if I may ask, did you find a good source to purchase the poker chips?

 

Thanks again for your detailed explanation..it's greatly appreciated!

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Thanks, Indiana Joe. :) I'm planning on basing the city on our actual city, using familiar streets, restaurants, sites, etc. I figure this may make it more "intimate" for the players. No, we're not NYC or SF, but we're a growing city and close to SF, so all should be fine. (I hope!) :)

 

That is exactly what I have done my last two Champions campaign settings.  It does mean I need to read the paper to be up to date on what is going on because that can help spawn ideas for adventures.

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Google Maps - Satilite and Street views.

 

Wkikpedia - Everyone reading from the same page.

 

Local Tourism Office for Special Events, Stat Holidays, and more.

 

Battle Maps - Depends on Players for First 3 Sessions. The just keep notes.

 

Journals - GM notes and Players will always conflict.

 

Cheat Sheet - PC's SPD, DEX, and Perception Rolls. Players should not make Passive PER Rolls. Active ones only.

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That is exactly what I have done my last two Champions campaign settings.  It does mean I need to read the paper to be up to date on what is going on because that can help spawn ideas for adventures.

 

Thanks, David. :) I like the idea of searching my local paper...and, if nothing else, have some NPCs mentioning what's going on...to add realism. :)

 

Google Maps - Satilite and Street views.

 

Wkikpedia - Everyone reading from the same page.

 

Local Tourism Office for Special Events, Stat Holidays, and more.

 

Battle Maps - Depends on Players for First 3 Sessions. The just keep notes.

 

Journals - GM notes and Players will always conflict.

 

Cheat Sheet - PC's SPD, DEX, and Perception Rolls. Players should not make Passive PER Rolls. Active ones only.

 

I REALLY like the idea of giving each player a journal...so they could use it for whatever reason...to take notes, list clues, dialogue, etc. That may be the schoolteacher in me! :) Thank you for these ideas, Question Man!

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Awarding Experience Points.

Never less than 3 to 5 points.

Never more than 10 points.

 

Award Bonus Points

Character Art/Image

Character Journal

GM Support - Running NPCs while character is not in the scene.

Player Support - Assisting Noobie

Concensus Award - MVP

 

Super Team

Package Deals/Templates

Base

Vehicle

Communications

Etc...

 

Secretly deduct/shave off 1pt per session.

 

More later

 

QM

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Do not expect them to be detailed, but give them a few examples to follow and format.

 

Aaron Allston called it "Blue Booking" Review some of the GM's posted Journals for examples.

 

Thanks, QM. Where might I find more info. about Blue Booking and/or journal examples?

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Thanks, David! I had not heard of Obsidian Portal until now... looks interesting. :) Do you find that your players are enthused enough to keep it updated? Or would that be solely the GM's job?

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Strike Force by Aaron Allston

 

Blue-Booking  

 

An interesting role-plaing technique we've developed for Strike Force campaign is called Blue-Booking.  

 

Most campaigns what are called Paranoia Notes. If you want to know to say something  to the GM without all the other players listening you scribble it down on a piece of scrap paper and hand it over. This keeps some converstions private and keeps other players guessing.  

 

For connivence we got rid of the pads of note-paper and substituted examnination books - blue covered 8"x10" note-books used by the colleges for examinations and themes.  

 

They were neater and more convienent than note-pads, and they did soothing interesting to the campaign. Soon after the introduction, players were using them to conduct conversations between their characters - off screen private conversations.  

 

When blue-booking, one player sets the stage - writes down where his character encounters or approaches the other character, and writes his character's opening lines of conversation, and hands to over to the other player for a response. Back and forth they go, conducting a conversation, developing their character's personalities., histories, and relationships with other characters (PCs and NPCs both). Soon , blue-booking was no longer confined to conversations between characters ; players also wanted to do behind-the-scenes role-playing in them as wells. The Detective characters who once would just have described how he conducted his investigation and then made a skill roll could then do his investigating  in the pages of the blue-book writing to and recieving his answers from the GM.  

 

Eventually, whole game-sessions were occasionally given over to blue-booking. In these sessions, the players put their characters through solo activities. or conversations with one another, which pertain to their ongoing stories. One player will write with the GM concerning his investigations; one will be conducting a romance with an NPC; one will be vacationing in Greece; another may actually be conducting a whole solo adventure with the GM. (In the latter case , the GM has the player roll up a whole series - 20 or 30 - of tools to hit and for damage and write them down in back of the book; when the character gets into combat, the GM uses those rolls, checking them off one by one, when narrating the course of combat.) 

 

Blue-Booking can be very helpful to a campaign for these reasons: 

 

  1. Privacy. When players want to conduct lengthy activities, but don't want the other players to know what they entail, blue-booking is the idea medium. 
  2. Permanence: Since examination books are neat and store well, you have no need to throw them away; if you have need to know what happened in any encounter, you can look it up. 
  3.  Breakdown if Inhibition. It's hard to conduct some game activities during active play. For instance , a male GM player a female NPC who 's having a passionate affair with a male PC may have a tough time uttering the lines of high romance in a roomful of gamers. But while blue-booking dialogue, the GM can be detached enough to write the NPC's lines as he wishes her to say them, can take time ti maker sure the dialogue he's writing isn't clumsy or insane, and can give the player-character a more satisfying subplot. 
Blue-booking does have its dangers, though. It can be terribly addictive to some players - Romantics and Builders especially. Also, the GM doesn't want to Blue-book for just one player int he middle of an active game; either you're  running a game or conducting a blue-booking session - you can't do both at the same time and keep everything  moving to the satisfaction of everyone involved. 

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Character Questionaire (Thanks Nexus)

Super Hero Name:

(Optional)Secret Identity/Alternate Name:

Ethnic Group/Species:

Place of Birth:

Date of Birth:


Question 1. Why does your character a Superhero?


Question 2. How does your character investigate crime? (Monitors Police Radio, Watches TV, Listens to Radio, Sanction Superhero, Memeber of UNTIL SLP, or the Goodman Institute)


Question 3. How does your character get around? (Flight, Running, Swimming, Teleport, Public Transit, borrows parents car?)


Question 4. How does you character make a living? (Trust Fund, Independently Wealthy, etc...)


Question 5. Are you a supervillain, govt agent, law enforcement official, media person, or anyone else who is attempting to infiltrate the Team?


Question 6: Do you have some disability, ailment, or other situation? (Occasional Demonic possession, intense allergy to space rocks, etc) that our scientists, doctors, and mystics should take into account?


Question 7. What are your feelings on death and property damage? 


Question 8. How may we contact you should we be interested in having you join? (Phone, mystic mirror, large signal, etc)


Question 9. What are you superhuman abilities? 


Question 10. How did you acquire them? Are you a natural mutuat or gifted in some other fashion? 


Question 11. What are you interests outside of crime fighting? 


Question 12. Tell us about yourself: your likes, dislikes general personality and style.


Question 13. Do you have something you consider unique about yourself and your superhuman persona: a signature maneuver, catch phrase or battle cry? 



Question 14. What is your normal life like? What is your occupation, relationship status and day to day lifestyle? 



Question 15. Do you have any significant religious views? 


Question 16. What is your political stance? 


Question 17. What do you think is your best quality: physically, emotionally or spiritually?



Question 18. What is your worst quality in those areas? 


Question 19. What makes you a hero? What drives you? 



Question 20. Why do you want to be part of a Team?


Cheers


QM

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Adventure/Campaign Journals 


Cast of Characters: (PCs, Important NPCs, Names, Archetypes, Attendence , etc...)


Locations: (Name, Address, Map Link and Image Link)


The Story Continues... (Previously on CoV..., Report, Dialogue, or Journal Format?)


Loose Threads: (What they left undone?)


The Good: (Experience Points Awarded, Notable Events, Actions, etc...)


The Bad:


The Ugly:


More Later...

 

QM  

 

 

PS: The NEW Champions of Vancouver 

http://www.herogames.com/forums/topic/53812-campaign-the-new-champions-of-vancouver/?hl=%2Bchampions+%2Bvancouver

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Much appreciated, QM! I had never heard of Blue Booking before, but I see its uses; I especially like how players can have conversations between themselves (and/or the GM) without others necessarily knowing it.

 

And I think I can see a use for them to keep notes, (or, for example, if I choose to use something like Obsidian Portal).

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Yeah, for a certain kind of player, it is a major boost to enjoyment.(Blue booking) And it makes for an exelent resource for "what happened in Siberia again?"

 

I have usualy used the local town, then modify it per the lims taken...Hunted by Viper? Viper has a Nest here, etc...

 

Dang...still cannot "quote"...

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