Some Ideas For Starting That New Campaign
What to do when you want to run that really nifty game. With ideas for both the old and new table-top gamer. The first thing a prospective GM needs to decide, is what system to use. My personal favorites are Cyberpunk 2020, Castle Falkenstein, and good old Dungeons and Dragons. It hardly pays to plan out a spine-tingling scenario, if you are going to have a hard time finding anyone to play.
Well, the first thing a prospective GM needs to decide, is what system to use. My personal favorites are Cyberpunk 2020, Castle Falkenstein, and good old Dungeons and Dragons. One further point of consideration that needs to be thrown into this decision is; who will be playing in this game? It hardly pays to plan out a spine-tingling scenario, if you are going to have a hard time finding anyone to play. I always try to figure out ahead of time how many people are going to want to sit in on a game that I will be running. I do this in one of two ways. One is that I can always count on gamers X, Y, and Z to show if I am running a game. The other is to chat up my game and see what kind of interest there is for it. I always find it a little easier to write an adventure when I know there is going to be an interested audience for it.
Once you have decided on your likely players and which system you are going to run, it's time to start with preparing the actual adventure. Now you have some entirely new problems. Do you want to cheat and use something already published or are you going to do all the hard work yourself? Writing your own stuff is always fun and rewarding. But I have to admit that I feel the need to drag out a particularly good published module and run it for time to time. Even this isn't meant to be a discussion about favorite modules, I want to throw out my favorites for all to know. I love the original I6 Ravenloft adventure, along with the Desert of Desolation series, which were also a part of the "I" series from TSR. Assault on the Slavelords is another good adventure. For 1st level characters, I always recommend the Secrets of Saltmarsh modules U1 - 3.
All of that aside, as a GM you need to decide how long you intend to run this game. Is this the beginning of a grand, awe-inspiring campaign? Or are you intending for this to be a one or two nite game to allow everyone the chance to relax? If it is a one shot adventure, are you planning on the possibility that you and your group might want to play further with these characters?
Unless you know for sure that you and your players can take the time to run that world spanning, government - toppling campaign, your best bet is with an open ended one shot. With this, I mean an adventure that should only take your group one or two nites to finish, but with enough hooks for future sessions. That way, if you and your players decide that your game is really cool and worth a regular time commitment, you still might be able to topple those governments. I prefer this method. That way I don't spend all of my free time making tons of plans, only to find out that no one thinks is interesting.
The next step after writing the adventure is to decide on the characters for the adventure. As GM you can always just hand characters to the players as they walk in the door, but most players just don't like that. They want to be able to spend the two to three hours poring over the rulebooks and pumping every last point into their new creation. However, this can easily turn a one shot game into a week or two-week long event. If, as GM, you are also the only person in your group who owns the books, the character creation time can get stretched even longer as players have to wait for the rule book to be free for them to look up what skills they can take. I have found a way around this little problem.
I currently live about 65 miles away from my regular gaming group. This means that we don't game all that regularly anymore. When we do get together to play a game, I don't want half the nite wasted while everyone is making their character. What I have done instead, is make the players create their character before they get to my house. I'll admit that it takes a lot of work on my part, but I have put the character creation process on the web. I really like running Cyberpunk, but I happen to be the only one who has spent any money on the books. So I have put the character rules that I need for a game on the web. I just go to Geocities and create a new webpage for the game. I currently have two pages like this up and running. One is for Cybergeneration; the other is still under construction, but is for Cyberpunk 2020.
Since they are similar games, I of course took the lazy way out and have used the same artwork and templates for both sites. However, even though my players have to write everything down, and then email it to me afterwards, they are able to make their characters ahead of time. This also cuts down on some of the normal min/maxing the gamers always love to do as well. I only give the information they need in order to make their character. I don't really have to worry about players asking for stuff I'm uncomfortable with. If it's on the website, I approve of it. The web pages aren't real fancy, but they work. The information on the sites have been taken directly out of the rulebooks. I am not challenging the copyrights of the authors, (I idolize Mike Pondsmith anyway) and I'm not even including everything from every page. If anyone else has come up with other ways to facilitate character generation, I would love to hear about it.
Once you have the game chosen, the adventure written, and the characters made, you're ready to go. Just remember to pick up lots of soda and snacks, and beat anyone who doesn't chip in their fair share for the pizza.