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Old 08-14-2011, 09:53 PM   #1
DwarvenHeart
 
Join Date: Apr 2011
Default The importance of an over all goal/climax to a campaign?...

Will a campaign lose playability without an overall goal/climax? Loofy had the One Piece, Sam & Dean (Supernatural) had the demon, and even GURPS for dummies mentions how a mastermind behind 90% of the bad happenings is more interesting than a bunch of random things.

I'm a novice GM and have done some homework on learning what type of players I have and what motivates them. The themes to be in my fantasy campaign include: Blue collar/working stiff, a ride they can build on (ship), the badass crew, and PC item creation. I've also decided to start the party off at a low CP build. My hope is play the chracters from the beginning of their tale where most of their advantages/disadvantages have been made in game. So they've lived the PC's life. They loved the idea and are very excited to start playing.

I'm afraid it might end up like Shadowrun where every adventure is a run for some Johnson and once it's over, it's time for another one.

Since I've rambled, I'll repeat the question:
Can a campaign stay interesting enough to play without the overall goal at the end of the story?
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Old 08-14-2011, 10:13 PM   #2
Mailanka
 
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Default Re: The importance of an over all goal/climax to a campaign?...

You're a beginner, right?

Sure, don't sweat the climax. Look, a climax is a great thing. Moving your story forward, with a direction in mind, culminating in some awesome reveals, then winding up loose ends and giving your campaign a satisfying ending will leave your players satiated and pleased. I certainly have a very good experience with that sort of thing.

That said, play's the thing. I've seen people, especially novices, ruin their games because of "climaxes." They have a premise ("There was a murder!"), a climax/resolution ("the butler did it!") and an arbitrary length of time that they think the campaign should last ("this should go for 12 sessions at least! Maybe years!") and you end up with session after session of no movement as the GM hedges his meager inspiration for the "Grand finale" that never comes because the players give up. Or worse, the players go in a direction the GM doesn't expect and so they derail his plot and he either has to abandon his climax (and go back to square one) or drag them kicking and screaming back to his plot, which is known as "railroading."

So as a beginner, I think you're better off avoiding thinking too far ahead. Instead, operate from the principle of "Awesome now, not later." Introduce totally cool elements, study the art of making this session awesome, and worry about campaign structure later. Yes, your stories will eventually wander and then crash, but you can't expect perfection your first time out. As you master the art of a good session, you'll start to see how structure works, how you can segue one session into the next, and how you can keep the story on track while acknowledging the contributions of the players, and then you can start to worry about overarching structure. But for now, think smaller and deal with more immediate, important GM skills. If every session is fun, your players will keep coming back, even if the grander picture isn't that great. Building a long-term plot is more of an advanced skill (and some GMs don't even bother to cultivate it, preferring to let the pieces fall where they may, then look them over and see a way to thread them all together to retroactively create a plot and give the game a rousing finale).
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Last edited by Mailanka; 08-14-2011 at 10:27 PM.
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Old 08-14-2011, 10:18 PM   #3
doulos05
 
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Default Re: The importance of an over all goal/climax to a campaign?...

I'll second the "Awesome now, not later" mentality. Especially since with the kind of campaign it sounds like you're doing from what you described, several player-driven plot climaxes will likely present themselves. It's far easier, in my experience, to let the pieces fall where they may and the pull a plot out of that than it is to herd cats^H^H^H^Hplayers along the path to your pre-planned climax. Some people can do it, I'm not one of them.
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Old 08-14-2011, 10:25 PM   #4
Dunadin777
 
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Default Re: The importance of an over all goal/climax to a campaign?...

I think you're missing the perfect option for your game: let the players stumble into something epic. You don't have to start out with a grand scheme in place. Instead, let the players start out with random, freeform adventures. As the first few sessions go along, watch their interactions with key NPCs. Don't just blithely follow their impressions--in fact, I'd recommend running counter to their knee-jerk reactions. If they immediately have an unfounded distaste for a fellow crewman, make him become an integral part of the crew, the one who is dependable when all else fails. And that NPC the characters either ignore or pleasantly dismiss? Have him develop into something twisted over the course of their adventures. When the NPCs develop into epic characters in response to player action, it will help them to feel engaged by the story and it will help you get some great ideas over time for where to go with the developing plot.

Just my two cents. Of course, my current campaign is a little bit the opposite of this: I have my players freely running around with only a vague hint of what's really going on, while the villain is on a track to take over the world in about ten years' time.
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Old 08-14-2011, 10:35 PM   #5
DwarvenHeart
 
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Default Re: The importance of an over all goal/climax to a campaign?...

I like what most everyone is saying about just letting the game progress naturally. Mailanka, I am a beginner. Out of my group I'm the most driven = GM. I also have the least amount of time. I'm not giving up on this though. My friends can work around almost any schedule I make up for game night.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Dunadin777 View Post
...my current campaign is a little bit the opposite of this: I have my players freely running around with only a vague hint of what's really going on, while the villain is on a track to take over the world in about ten years' time.
This is what I was wondering if I should inspire to: Having some kind of overall villian or mastermind. But after reading your responses and and knowing my players, I'm hopeful that they will be enjoying the Pokemon effect of developing characters and building on to their badass ship that they won't care if there isn't a end game kind of mentality.

Also, it seems that over time and end game climax might present itself through game play much the same way I hope to see my player's enjoy the newly gained strengths and weaknesses (adv/dis) through playing.
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Old 08-14-2011, 10:39 PM   #6
DwarvenHeart
 
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Default Re: The importance of an over all goal/climax to a campaign?...

Thought all of you would get a kick out of how this all came about.

My girlfriend has been introduced to table top gaming and enjoyed her first session. The group I'm creating this game for is what I call my 2nd strings. They're 80% enthusiasm and 20% skilled gamers. Makes for a great drawing board to try new ideas.

So all 4 of them have 3rd level characters (I made the one for my girlfriend) in Pathfinder. Every skill point they could get their hands on, they did and put it mostly into dump skills: Perform, craft, etc. Things that the d20 system don't really revolve around. I realized that they would enjoy being let lose from the box and enjoy GURPS.
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Old 08-14-2011, 10:52 PM   #7
doulos05
 
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Default Re: The importance of an over all goal/climax to a campaign?...

You'll be surprised how far you can get on the Pokemon effect. Besides, if they like "dump skills", just giving them a few opportunities to use those will keep them engaged. I ran a GURPS:Travellers game in which less than half the adventures actively advanced plots that I had created. The rest were all either the players getting into trouble on their own or me taking plot hooks my players had (inadvertently) given me and developing them into adventures. "Oh, your player is a druggie? Here, let's have an adventure where he gets high and gets kidnapped by someone."

That little "Where's Vinny" adventure, when combined with a few small implants installed without his knowledge while he was taken, eventually evolved into the meta-plot of the campaign.
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Old 08-14-2011, 10:56 PM   #8
sir_pudding
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Default Re: The importance of an over all goal/climax to a campaign?...

I like for my campaigns to have definable beginnings middles and ends, but I also like for them to emerge organically.
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Old 08-14-2011, 10:59 PM   #9
Kalzazz
 
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Default Re: The importance of an over all goal/climax to a campaign?...

My campaigns tend to be 'this will go on as long as were interested', but I periodically want story arcs and future adventures often build off previous ones

For instance
Quest 1 - There are evil dragons in Hawaii, slaughter them!
Quest 2 - Oh no, someone killed all the dragons in Hawaii, go convince the dragons in Stalingrad to move to Hawaii!

With likely other quests in between
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Old 08-14-2011, 11:31 PM   #10
whswhs
 
Join Date: Jun 2005
Default Re: The importance of an over all goal/climax to a campaign?...

Quote:
Originally Posted by DwarvenHeart View Post
Will a campaign lose playability without an overall goal/climax?
I almost always run campaigns with a preplanned and limited duration. But I know there are people whose campaigns are open ended, just going on year after year until everyone gets tired of them. That form doesn't seem to require a climactic storyline.

Looking at my own recent campaigns, out of fourteen (with lengths from six months to three years), half had/have planned climactic storylines and half didn't/don't. The first group include the Middle-Earth campaign where Sauron got the One Ring back from Frodo, which naturally tended to a clear resolutionóbut with two options, Sauron crushing the Resistance or the Resistance gained a desperate victory. Some of the others had alternative possible outcomes.

I wouldn't say that the ones without climactic storylines were "worse" than the others. In fact, some of them were among my better campaigns, retaining lasting good reputations with the players.

Bill Stoddard
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