September 5, 2013
Same Places, New Faces
When designing an adventure, there are a lot of different things to consider. What sorts of players you will be running the game for, what sorts of characters those players will be running, the sort of campaign you want to run, the antagonists you will use, and more. Usually, Gamemasters tailor their campaigns to fit their players. This offers the potential for very in depth, very character driven narratives that encourage player investment and participation. These are usually more free-roaming than railroaded. Some Gamemasters prefer to use pre-generated campaign sessions, and while I, for the longest time, had a strict dislike of them, I have since found that there are some I find very well written and offer a great amount of personalization for the characters. Yet there is another trick in the Gamemaster’s varied arsenal, one that I find myself drawn to the more I game with new players; reusing old adventures.
Talking with a friend and fellow Gamemaster on the drive home for a game tonight, we spoke about the possibility of him running a new Anima: Beyond Fantasy game for a group of five players, of which only myself and one other have played the game previously – Gamemaster aside. Some ideas were tossed around, but one that we both ended up feeling very strongly about was him reusing the previous Anima campaign he ran. It was a very well thought out campaign with many strong elements that could connect with various characters and allowed for a very in depth exploration of many facets of the game from political scheming and manipulation to supernatural conflicts, mystery, adventure, survival, and others. As this will be the first experience some of these players will have with the game, once our current run of The Dresden Files comes to a close.
I have done the same before. I have an adventure I call “the Siege of Stormhelm” that I designed for third edition Dungeons & Dragons that also works incredibly well for Pathfinder. In it, the characters start off saving a young girl in a dark alley from strange, hooded figures and by the end of the campaign they are fighting not only for the sake of the survival of the city, but also trying to stop an ancient, forgotten god from regaining a foothold in the Prime Material. I designed the game several years ago in order to showcase the range of scope within D&D, from small scale skirmishes to world-shaking divine conflicts. The first few plays of it went very well, and so I have kept it around.
Admittedly, there can be issues with reusing previous campaigns. The biggest of which is having players who have played through it before. Personally, I have no problem with replaying a campaign I have already been a part of, as I find that trying to distinguish between player and character knowledge poses an interesting challenge and encourages more in-character thinking. I can also trust that most Gamemasters I know would change it up just enough to keep me guessing. Maybe this NPC I met last time who was a good friend to my character is a villain this time? Maybe the magical artifact is hidden in a secret room beneath the home of one of the villagers rather than in the old church? Just because players have played through it once, they cannot trust it to be the exact same game a second time through.
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