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Tuesday, December 25, 2012

The Games We Play: Mortal Campaign

Over the years, my group of friends and I have gone through several variations of plot for our campaigns. I'm going to illustrate these various campaigns so that it may help to inspire you to try and think outside-the-box when coming-up with your next campaign idea.

Our first variation began around 1999 when our games began to get a little stagnant and one of the storyteller types in our group decided to do something out-of-the-ordinary. This became one of my favorite concepts for future games.

In the original mortals campaign, each of us created mortal characters in the original World of Darkness setting based on our real life. Yes, our characters turned-out to be us. We voted as a group to determine how many dots each character received for their abilities and attributes. We also used the group to determine things like willpower, merits and flaws for the characters as well.

The storyteller had setup a system to determine the possibilities for what our characters would become while traversing in the World of Darkness. (i.e. Vampire clan, Werewolf tribe/auspice, etc.) This information was kept quasi-secret from the players... but we each had our suspicions for each player. For example, because of my interest and skill with a computer, it was assumed that my character would likely become a Virtual Adept Mage. The first campaign I recall actually being embraced as a Brujah by one of the other PC's.

Another interesting aspect of this game was that our knowledge of the various games in the World of Darkness transferred into the corresponding lore. (i.e. Vampire Lore, Mage Lore, Werewolf Lore, etc.) This made for some cumbersome but fun interactions for our characters as we had foreknowledge of events through meta-plot. For instance, the aforementioned PC that embraced my character sought out a Methuselah Brujah in Chicago by the name of Menele... who just happens to be of the 4th generation. Also, in the hopes of awakening as a Virtual Adept, I remember actively trying to contact the archmage Virtual Adept known as Dante. Good times.

One variation that I ran utilizing the Dungeons & Dragons 3.5 rules was very interesting. I had the players make standard characters, but when the game began I stated that each of us were about to get ready for a game of D&D in character... breaking what could be called the fourth wall of role playing. As the "characters" were ready to begin the story, my "character" left for the bathroom... and it was at that time I employed the time honored DM tool of "there's a bright flash, and you wake-up somewhere else." When they each woke-up, they were in their character's bodies... yet they still retained their player knowledge. I guess you can say I enjoy using the meta-game to my advantage.

After being a storyteller and player for so many years, I've developed a great many PC's and NPC's that I appreciate using in my games. In my D&D version of the mortals campaign, I decided to use characters each player could somehow relate to by utilizing characters that each of us had played in our LARPing days. This added another level of interest for the players, and a good time was had by all.

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