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Published by Laura Rajsic-Lanier
Game Master Workshop 04:
The Macro-Adventure, Part 1

Document created from the workshop I took at GenCon in 1993 on game mastering. It is in eight parts.
Game Master Workshop 04:
The Macro-Adventure, Part 1

Document created from the workshop I took at GenCon in 1993 on game mastering. It is in eight parts.

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Published by: Laura Rajsic-Lanier on May 27, 2009
Copyright:Attribution Non-commercial


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Game Master Workshop Series
The Macro-Adventure: Part 1
Workshop 4
 A String of Adventures Versusa Campaign
Campaign Characteristics
1 . Consistent tone2. Complete se
ing3. Continuing characters (non-player charactersand player characters)4. Campaign theme5. Repeated concepts6. Sense of historyYou must look at all of these before a campaign starts.Target the game toward what the players want.Produce an emotional response in your players. If youare playing with new players, run a few adventures tofeel them out.
Consistent Tone
Any game can be played with just about any tone— lighthearted, dark, or even silly. The tone alsore
ects on the se
ings, descriptions, and encounters.Everything is a
ected by the tone. Don’t keep usingthe same stimuli for the same emotional responses.You can shi
for an adventure to let the player’s geta break. Always being the same can becomeB-O-R-I-N-G! The emotional response you evokefrom your players will give “feeling” to your game.Spectrums the game may cover may go from messygames which involve loose ends, bodies everywhere,and incomplete scenarios to clean games which alwaystie up loose ends, the player characters don’t dieneedlessly, non-player characters die if they deserveto or for dramatic importance.Don’t run a black and white game — like good and evil— there are no muddy areas and it will become dull.Humor vs. Horror. Realism vs. Swashbucklers. Youmust be able to describe tone in three or four words.Death and how permanent it is or the ease ofachievement of a goal will make a di
erence to tone.
Complete Setting
More than just the room — it’s the world. It starts witha set of natural laws. If you decide something worksin a certain way, you’d be
er have good reasons forchanging it at a later date. Once you set a precedent,your players will use it against you. Magic and science
ction are especially true on this point. 
Historical Background
The characters need to feel like things, major things,have happened before. Legends, lore, and other itemsyou can plant. Now, how have your natural lawsin
uenced your world? Create a calendar. How longare your months, weeks, days?
Pick out holidays based on important events. Thesecan be used as hooks. The se
ing needs to be BIG.No ma
er what we create, it is a re
ection of our ownworld. Everything we learn about our world helps uscreate a new world.
Dream Mechanics
— when you dream, sometimesyou stop because you realize something isn’t rightaccording to our natural laws. The same thing happenswhen you’re roleplaying. If you
nd somethingis “wrong”, the players will recognize it instantlyand become uncomfortable with it.
Physical Se
Worlds need to be big enough to let the playercharacters breathe. If your players are sti
ed, theywon’t like it. Also, if your players want to gosomewhere, you’re in trouble. You may not completelydetail everything, but you need to know what’swhere. Start with the area you are playing in. Thenset up concepts for a slightly larger area outside theplaying area. Your se
ings will grow as your campaigngrows. You have to stay one step ahead of your players.Make yourself expand your world as their view ofthe universe expands. Your boundaries need to beexpandable. A good example of this is the
en Realms
.Your players / characters will generate some of yourspeci
cs. The faster your characters travel, the biggertheir “playing area” and the more area you needto detail.One in
exible rule of players: If you spend timeworking on the le
side of the map, then they’llgo right.
Continuing Characters
Continuing characters have to be build with acampaign in mind. The se
ing and tone should be done
rst. Take the character details and plug them backinto the se
ing to make it more “real”. Your characters’ backgrounds can overlap — it will make it easier to tiethe characters together. Keep track of player character /non-player character goals, desires, ambitions, etc.You can use them later . . . sometimes against them.
Campaign Theme
The campaign theme gives the campaign a direction.Long term goals and directions. For example, the themeof
Star Wars
is the revolution. It colors everything elsein the campaign. The campaign theme is o
en the mostle
out element in a macro adventure. Game companiesare lousy at giving you a theme. It’s up to the GameMaster. If you make the theme too narrow, you limit thescope of your campaign. Choose carefully.You will also have many sub-themes. You can usesetbacks for con
icts. No path is linear.
Fantasy campaigns are notorious for not having themes?
This is false. Your theme may be a millennia of change— magic lessening and technology taking over orpower-hungry lords ruling the poor. The theme is the“major
ow” of your campaign. It will lead to thesub-themes, concepts, ideas, and other elements thatcolor how things happen as you work to completethem. The Jedi knights near demise, for example, is asub-theme of the revolution.Make it feel like everything won’t be the same if youleave and come back. You should have four or
vegood solid concepts (sub-themes) for the charactersto become involved in while working toward the majortheme. Concepts should build slowly. It will take thema while to hear about and then a while to accomplish it.
People. Legends. Heroes. It is more interesting to tellstories that are bad. People
ll in stories where there isno information. Put items in that are old, i.e., all housesin a town shouldn’t look like they were built yesterday.It should look and feel like life was going on before theplayer characters got there . . . and may exist a
er theyleave. Legends are very important in a fantasycampaign.
Campaign planning sheet or (name o game / campaign world) _________________________________Game system __________________________________________________________________________
Describe in emotional terms such as “light and humorous”, “dark and brooding”, or “epic and heroic”._________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________
Describe in terms o the overall set o goals and situations or the main thrust o the gaming action._________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________
List major locations and their relevance to the campaign theme. Examples: “Cestus City — the PCs HomeBase”, “Tower Black Hold — Home o the Major Villain”, etc._________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________
List existing conflicts, organizations, ideas and developments that will shape the overall campaign.Examples: “Escalating conflicts between Elves and Orcs”, “The Collapse o the Wizards’ Guild”, etc._________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________

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