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Old 08-22-2008, 06:40 AM   #1
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Join Date: May 2008
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Default Campaign Creation and IN's Nature

I want to ask a question for all the IN fans out here, and it's something of a meta issue. Currently I am working on making one and something is becoming increasingly clear: Making a campaign for IN is hard!

Part of the problem I seem to be having is that in a "proper" IN campaign, so many of the choices seem to lie in the actions of NPC's. "Fall of the Malakim" seems to fit the bill, as does the whole "save the community center" meme. The players push in a specific direction, but ultimately, it comes down to the humans who are ususally NPC's.

Could you give some one or two paragraph synopsis of campaigns you've made as well as some tips?
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Old 08-22-2008, 08:08 AM   #2
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Default Re: Campaign Creation and IN's Nature

I don't usually plot out a whole campaign. I set up a dramatic initial situation: either NPCs are trying to do something of which the players or their Superiors don't approve, or the players' bosses assign them a mission to which NPCs object. For example, an opportunity is arising that only one party can take advantage of. I work out the motivations and abilities of the major players, the circumstances on the ground, and point the PCs at the scenario with a mystery to explore or a sudden announcement to take on. From there, I don't even try to push it in a finalized direction. The PCs will cheerfully write you a plot, in my experience. Of course, I had very good players.

Example initial scenario for long-ish campaign: The players are staffing a Domain in the Marches which floats near the Volcano. Human dreamscapes start showing up with unusually destructive and creative influence. Gabriel shows up and goes off on some fae (who have been naughty, under the players' radar). She claims the Domain has fallen under her responsibility to protect, tells the players that Kundalini is coming, and wanders off.

The scenario is that a powerful Tether, the Supernova Tether, is on its way. It's an intermittent natural Tether that neither side can stabilize or disrupt, which connects Earth (the spot where the Tether was seen), the Marches (for ideas), and either Divine or Infernal Fire, depending on who sees it. In this case, it's the Black Order that is aware of the coming Tether, and they want their people in position, in the Marches and on Earth, to influence the Tether when it arrives. The players must disrupt their plans, and have humans in position themselves who will hopefully be more Heavenly-aligned at the right moment.

Example short scenario: An airship crewed by dreamscape pirates shows up at the Domain, chased by Tsayadim. Neither party is welcome in formal Heaven-controlled space. They have objectives (survival and war, respectively) that conflict. Deal with them.

Example game for human characters: Indications are that this might be an actual Sorcerous ritual. Investigate and, if necessary, disrupt. (Is indeed such a ritual; a small cabal of frat boys is seeking to get rich quick by generating a substantial amount of Essence and summoning an ethereal spirit of Wealth. Why, what's the harm?)
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Old 08-22-2008, 08:37 AM   #3
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Default Re: Campaign Creation and IN's Nature

I've done two styles: play-by-post and live-action, and the pacing of those is very different. Still I'll agree with one fundamental thing William says: the plot will often fall into place as long as you've set up a good catalyst. I've also found this to be the case when writing a longer format story--get a dramatic scene in mind and figure out the causes and effects that led up to it and follow from it.

With LARP I have a complete package built and had to do so going in. In that case I had to write a scenario that could play in a couple of hours 'real time' i.e. no "one week later" built in. I also had to 'bottle' the scenario i.e. create a setting where the players' characters could not wander away from the main location. This required a ship (for the bottle) and pregenerated characters (the LARP is written for conventions) who are interconnected with alliances, associations, and antagonisms.

I've taken the latter concept and applied it to the player-generated PC's in "Mile Higher Club". One player provided me with a backstory antagonist, and while it took awhile to fit him in he is now part of the plot...almost a year later. I've retooled the sketchy backplot to play to the PCs' Superiors and histories, and even found a logical explanation for why an actually random group of PC's got together. PbP gives me the luxury/frustration of a lot of time in between to weave the webs of alliances/antagonisms. If you're running tabletop you might use the downtime between games. Just ask yourself--"He did that...why?" and let your imagination run wild. Once or twice I've been painted into a corner on that but asked advice here and got out.

My approach is to start with one or two main NPC's, no more. Make them flawed, the better to build complications onto later. Keep careful notes of what that character does and says in the first session, and then back-engineer between games. Pepito went from a harmless comic-relief Impudite to the unwitting center of an infernal/ethereal conspiracy who nearly brought down an angel, an angel who himself has grown a massive and complicated backstory...and the offhand decision to have Corat blow him off in that very first scene has developed huge unforeseen consequences that the PC's have to contend with.

Have fun. IN is a wonderful sandbox.
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Old 08-22-2008, 09:20 AM   #4
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Default Re: Campaign Creation and IN's Nature

Well the first campaign I ran was more of a player vrs player type thing. The simple premise was there was this Lilim that wanted to redeme- but couldn't. She was self geased- which the way I run games even a superior can't strip- to serve Andrealphus. The good part though- her time is up in just 6 months. The bad part: the angelic PCs need to both keep her alive and keep her from doing too much damage following his orders. The demonic PCs need to find a way to make her resign with him or if all else fails kill her, but he will not be pleased if she is killed before all other options are tried. Thus the PCs created most of the plot with mechinations around her and I threw other things that they would have to deal with at them from time to time. There were a lot of threats that both demons and angels could agree were bad and thus they got to work together at the same time they were fighting each other.

My current campaign is an all angels campaign and it's more conspiracy, more figuring out what is going on and stopping or at least minimizing the damage. It has more short things with out a real overarching plot. One of the longer running things they're trying to deal with is a Balseraph has managed to get a custom vessel made to make him look like Father Divine and has been using the song of form to return his followers to youth. The PCs have to figure out what to do with the added complication of- he's came back from the dead once so just killing the vessel may not be enough.
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Old 08-22-2008, 05:26 PM   #5
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Default Re: Campaign Creation and IN's Nature

The first campaign I was in the GM basically set us all up against each other and then played referee. And it wasn't just Angel PC vs. Demon PC. I was a Malakite of Fire working for Flowers and was set against a PC angel of Judgement. Since Fire and Judgement didn't like each other much we had tons of fun. So "referee" is one style.

My campaign I set the stage, said there was a new Flower's tether in town. The Demon PCs had differing goals, depending on their Words. The Game PC was told that of all the possible tether's Flowers was the best for Hell. If the Flowers one died another more medlesome one might replace it. Plus Flowers was a good place to watch for possible redemptions. The Infernal Fire PC was told to burn the place down, angels are BAD. But the two PCs also had orders to play nice, so they had to watch the tether but subtly keep each other at bay.

Best to put PCs against each other, as long as the players can keep it all in game, IMO.
"[Solomon] spoke three thousand proverbs and his songs numbered a thousand and five."

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Old 09-05-2008, 03:48 PM   #6
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Default Re: Campaign Creation and IN's Nature

While humanity is certainly an important factor in the In Nomine setting, my campaigns have tended to focus more on celestials dealing with celestials or other less-than-mundane beings, with only ancillary adventures in the campaign dealing with trying to shape the emotions of the humanity that surrounds them.

For a brief example, my last campaign placed the PCs as hunters against renegades and investigators of Ethereal infractions. The climax of the campaign dealt with the examination of a teen who turned out to be a child of the gods, but who also had a world-shaping Destiny (and Fate). In this boy's life there was also a sorcerous uncle, outcast angel, and mummy football coach. So, while the PCs certainly had to interact with human NPCs, the campaign wasn't played as "get humanity to think this way" game. In the end, the PCs were left with the decision (and in-party arguments) over whether it'd be better to report the boy to their respective superiors or try to hide all evidence of the god-child's existence and shape his Destiny (or Fate, for the diabolicals involved).

Overall, I've found In Nomine to be a nicely mutable game which can accommodate for a number of different play-styles. If you don't want the game to focus on the minds of humanity as a whole (or regionally), there's still plenty of things to do in the setting.
Attercap.Net - A ttrpg blog covering In Nomine, Call of Cthulhu, and more
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