Into the Expanse

Published Settings: Wading Through the Muck

Of late I have been delving into the city of Marienburg, and as such have been reading lots of Marienburg: Sold Down the River. Reading through this material has kicked up my old thoughts on playing in an established setting, and I thought I would give my new musings a go...

Published Settings: Wading Through the Muck

Marienburg isn't the first published setting I've ever played in - but it is by far the most detailed. Usually, like with Praag or Into the Expanse, I find some way to bypass the majority of the information whilst still holding onto the mainstay themes - but something is different about Marienburg.

M:SDtR is such a comprehensive look at the otherwise unique city that I am finding myself both mystified by the wealth of knowledge and somewhat annoyed. I love that there are hundreds of ready made hooks for me, and I am adapting many of them, and shaping new ones from the information given, but I find something off about the process.

Whilst I am enjoying it, no doubt, I find the amount that is written is hard to wrap my head around. Unlike Praag, the setting isn't evolving naturally in my mind - it isn't built with broad strokes and then little bits are being added in. It is laid out in terms of districts, and then it goes through, important building by important building, with an important NPC accompanying each one. This is cool, because it gives me heaps of detail, but it is terrible because it references aspects that I can't find, or can't accurately remember because they were 3 chapters ago.

I'm finding that the whole thing should be written in a more concise manner, but then that asks the question, "How could it be done better?"

Principals of World Building

There are generally considered 2 methods of World Building, which are not mutually exclusive (in fact, almost every World Builder I've ever met has used both for the same world at different times). These are Top-Down and Bottom-Up

Top-Down

Top-Down World Building assumes that the World Builder is starting with the broadest strokes possible. They may create a planet, with its climate features, tectonic plates, etc, and will leave massive gaps. They will name a few countries, maybe, or even just continents.

In terms of Marienburg, this would be drawing the map, naming the districts (or Wards), and perhaps loosely outlining what each is: Tempelwijk is where the temples are, Suiddock is the main dock, Elftown is where the Elf Enclave is. Simple, and broad.

Once this first step has been done, the World Builder will go onto create the major trade centres, or cities, etc, in each country. They will probably name the government, and outline some basics about it. For Marienburg, they will talk about the Ten, and the Directorate, and the Guild We Haven't Heard Of.

They will keep going down a step when they have finished the previous level, filling in the gaps of people once they have outlined the roles and the whys.

This system is great, because it gives everything context, but is difficult because it presents to much work from the get-go. A World Builder working at this level has to think of a lot of things at the same time. So, many turn to Bottom-Up...

Bottom-Up

Bottom-Up is the inverse of Top-Down. The World Builder doesn't care about the world as a whole, but the individual. They will begin with a concept, like a guild, or a character, or even a system of magic. Suggest it begins with a Crime Lord. They will work him out, fill in his details, and then build his gang members, and then the Guild itself, then the location it is based in, then the city, country, continent, world from there.

In Marienburg terms, you'd start with the secret that St. Olovald isn't actually a saint, but a god in his own right. Then you'd make Sister Hilli to tend his shrine, then his history, etc.

This system is great because it allows more thorough creativity and individual cool ideas, as well as a much more manageable work load. It falls down, however, in that the World Builder often ends up with many small islands, barely connected to one another. Doesn't that Crime Lord need to interact with other organisations? Now you have to go back and edit!

What Does This Have To Do With Published Settings?

Everything. The way a published setting is written determines how it is read, and therefore, learnt. I suggest, like good World Builders, to create and write about a setting in a mixed way. Obviously one can't do both in book form without copying all the text twice and presenting it first by broad strokes, and then by individuals... But they could do that with a wiki...

Using a wiki program, or a wiki-capable program (like MyInfo, which I have now been using for a year) allows the World Builder/GM to slowly add to his work and manage it, whilst linking to other threads, and organising the entire thing into manageable chunks/folders/tags.

My Advice on Published Settings?

If I could say one thing about published settings it is that they will never be as good as your setting. You will always present your own setting better than a book ever can. This doesn't mean you should throw out your source books, but it means you have to make them your own.

Get a wiki together, and build it as you will use it. Don't include everything, otherwise you'll just be copying the book, but include enough that it makes sense, and allows you to access everything you'll need to, session to session. Keep it updated, and you'll manage that setting, and wade through that muck.

The GM Spectrum

Forgive any mistakes in this one, folks... I've fallen down with Nurgle's Rot recently and am a little off, so my powers of proof reading are sloppy at best. Maybe I can do another pass over it in a few days once I am feeling the light of Sigmar in me once again.

There are many different GMing styles out there, and attempting to catalogue them all would be pointless. Also, knowing how one GM goes about playing isn't all that helpful to others, in my opinion. No two GMs are the same, so what works for one style-wise simply wont work as well for another. Nor should it. I wouldn't expect Monet and Van Gough to be able to sit down and swap style guides, nor should anyone expect two GMs to do the same...

But what can be examined to great effect is the attitude with which we GM. These are moving targets, and can each be used by the same GM during the same campaign at different times to great effect. So now I present to you the GM Spectrum.

The GM Spectrum

The GM Spectrum is a five-portioned scale, including: Guardian, Guide, Referee, Challenger, and Antagonist. Each has their pros and cons, and certainly has situations where they should and should not be used. Lets take a closer look...


The Guardian GM

The Guardian GM is the GM who protects their players. This GM looks for ways to make the player's dreams come true through their characters and to prevent harm from befalling them along the way - this could take the guise of fudging dice rolls in the player's favour or planning out encounters so that they have quick and easy escape routes (or no challenge at all in truth).

All this isn't to say that this GM makes a railroad or a campaign that isn't fun - they will present the game as if it has the illusion of difficulty, but they will in fact be protecting their players along the way.


Pros

The pros of a Guardian GM are that everyone at the table is more likely to have a fun and relaxed time. Even though there may be the illusion of challenge, everyone under a Guardian GM should feel like their characters are the heroes and that they will almost certainly survive to fight another day.

This means that a Guardian GM makes their players feel safe and rewarded, and this opens up for a breezy and generally laid back, more heroic campaign.


Cons

On the other hand, players can often feel lead along and unchallenged. As with any game design, a lack of challenge will lead to a state of boredom instead of flow. This is problematic and may result in the rewards the player's get being meaningless.


When To Adopt

This attitude is best suited for cinematic moments during a campaign - moments where a lack of payoff would be anti-climactic and silly, such as the end of a massive story arch, or at the climax of a well thought out plan devised by the players.


When To Avoid

This attitude is best avoided when the players are entering a location they know to be dangerous, or are attempting something you've described as impossible or the stuff of legends. If it is so easy to climb to the top of Hero Mountain and slay the Legendary Dragon King, then why hasn't it been done before?!


The Guide GM

The Guide GM is the GM who wants the players to win, but wants them to earn it. This is the GM which will present a problem to the PCs and then will aid the players in solving it - they will make the solutions easy to find with a bit of digging and will always have an exit strategy up their sleeve in the event things are getting a little to dicey in game.

But the Guide has to come with something to guide the players through... They establish plenty of problems with often hidden solutions. The players till have to work, but the GM is on their side in the whole endeavour.


Pros

The pros of the Guide GM are mainly that it has some of the safety of the Guardian, but also has the risk. The PC could be harmed or even die, but only if the players make a grave mistake. This will make a more convincing illusion of risk (as there technically is a risk, however minimal) without making the situation seem overwhelming.


Cons

The cons are that this attitude is the closest to railroading - this attitude assumes that the GM is inherently biased in the players' favour, but is giving them situations where it seems like they aren't. If this illusion is shattered, there is no going back and the players will lose a lot of what makes this attitude worthwhile.


When To Adopt

This attitude is best suited for situations where the players should feel the stress, but should still succeed. This means the ultimate battles at the end of the campaign, or the moments when they are reaching for that legendary sword which has been long foretold to be in their hands. They can't really fail, otherwise the prophecy is wrong... But they should have to go through gruelling ordeals to get there, otherwise this GM is a Guardian.


When To Avoid

This attitude is best avoided when the players have done something decidedly uncharacteristic or un-heroic. Why Guide them when they are going shopping, or stealing from old ladies? If the cops catch them, so be it. Throw them in jail, lock away the key. Then start planning for a jail break session!


The Referee GM

The Referee GM is in the middle of the spectrum for a reason. This GM is impartial. They establish situations with problems and then present them to the players. The players either succeed or fail, and then the GM presents the resultant situation. Every success is met with another problem, and every failure is met with a chance of redemption.

But the key is that the GM has no say in which one prevails. That is all up to the mettle of the players.


Pros

The pros for this attitude are great - the players feel higher amounts of fiero when they succeed, as it was all on them, as well as feeling like the game world is truly being shaped by their efforts. These are strong emotions, but they come with some pretty big cons...


Cons

...which are that the players can often feel overwhelmed by a lack of a windfall for their characters - nothing ever seems to go 'right'. They succeed because they work damn hard for it, not because they are heroes. This can create a tiring and stressful game which can often feel more like work than play.

Furthermore, and this might just be me, but this attitude is less fun for the GM. They are passively creating situations and presenting them. By becoming engaged, they are working against the strengths of this section of the spectrum, and as such are some other form of GM. So for the great boons of this attitude, the GM needs to take a back seat.


When To Adopt

This attitude is best to implement mid-campaign; when it can go either way. This is the best attitude to use when deciding how the entire campaign will pan out afterwards - the PCs are all in their elements, and they are comfortable playing by this point, but even they can't see the light at the end of the tunnel yet.


When To Avoid

This attitude should be strictly avoided for two portions of the game - the beginning and the end. The beginning is often difficult for players, as they are unsure of their characters and will likely freeze up when presented with situations without any guidance or indication of what needs doing. Further, at the end they will have expectations and so will the GM, and going with this system will frustrate everyone, as it never turns out how anyone is hoping (as that is strictly the point).


The Challenger GM

The Challenger GM is one who views the game as a struggle between the PCs and their world. They establish lots of problems that need solving and keep lots of secrets hidden up their sleeves. When one problem is solved, it usually means another two have come to the fore.

This doesn't mean being a jerk, inventing new ways to screw over your players just when they think they've won, but more building up the tension so that when they finally break over the crest of success there is much fist pumping and cheers of accomplishment!


Pros

The pros are that this attitude creates perhaps the most fiero possible. It is a hard slog to the finish line, but the oranges set aside on the table beyond that white finish-line ribbon are divine... The players will feel great accomplishment, and the GM will feel great pride in seeing them win through.


Cons

That is, if the PCs get that far... The Challenger GM is in danger of making it to difficult. If it isn't difficult enough, then the players will feel like the whole thing was a push over. If it is to difficult, they will likely stop caring, as the game is more work than play at this point. This is a balance that must be found carefully.


When To Adopt

This attitude works best for situations when the PCs have embarked on something big, or have just begun a new story arc. Pile on the problems so they can work through them all and grow into the heroes they need to be for the climax.


When To Avoid

This attitude should be avoided nearing the end of an arc, however, for the players need a win. They will begin to get tired of the stress eventually and will want to play something else which is more rewarding. It is before they get to this tipping point that you should switch from Challenger to Guide or even Guardian (but make it seem like nothing has happened :P).


The Antagonist GM

The Antagonist GM is the final step on the spectrum and my personal pet peeve. It is the GM who sees the game as PCs vs GM. This may not seem different to the Challenger at first, but note that the Challenger is PCs vs The World and the Antagonist is PC vs GM.

In this attitude, the GM attempts to defeat the PCs by throwing everything that contextually makes sense to throw at them. Note though that this doesn't mean be a dick head and rocks-fall-everybody-dies, or set up situations where the PCs have no hope. (One billion dragons arrive. Roll for Initiative.) This means pulling all the stops and using the rules of the game as if you were another player but with an army of NPCs.

This can actually be used well, as in the instance of removing Plot Immunity (which I may write a post on) or to create tension.


Pros

If a player manages to survive an encounter such as this, then they will feel truly proud of themselves and it will forge a much tighter bond between the party.


Cons

On the other hand, this tighter bond within the party will also result in a lessening of the bond between players and GM. The GM will have their work cut out for them to return trust if it is broken, and some players can feel cheated if things go badly and their GM is usually further left on the spectrum.


When To Adopt

There are only two instances when I think this attitude is actually a good idea: the climax of a personal plot line (I.e. a PC is about to become a God and the other Gods all gang up to kill them), or at the end of a campaign (The PCs have just stormed the Evil King's fortress and it is on...)

My advice would be to tell your players that you are removing Plot Immunity or adopting the Antagonist GM attitude before you do it (preferably at the end of the session before you do) to give them some time to prepare. Explain to them why you want to do it as well (for tension reasons, not the plot line) and get them on board. If they sincerely don't want you to do it, or are shaky on the subject, best not to risk it.


When To Avoid

All other times. Seriously, this attitude is only fun for the players if it is used very sparingly and only when they've been warned. Nothing sours a gaming relationship more than this attitude used badly.


Conclusion

Each of these attitudes is useful to the GM, and each should be used at some point or another. I myself swing between Guide and Challenger most often, and am planning to pepper the end of Shadows Within Shadows with a bit of Antagonist, and the beginning of Into the Expanse with some Guardian.

Hopefully this outline will help you all prevent a GMing catastrophe!

New House, 7500+ Posts, and Much More!


Greetings everyone!

I do honestly apologise for the lack of posts lately, but I have suffered the worst of any malady possible - yes, that's right, I've been without internet.

You see, the move went ahead as expected, but the internet was only just connected last night, and then a whole host of problems stood in the way of its use. Let's just say that the Omnissiah took pity on our plight and those problems have gone, because, I am clearly now online...
Unless it is all just a dream...
Onto the matters at hand, though, as I am proud to announce that sometime in my absence we tipped 7500 posts! Something must be going right, because the time between this milestone and the last was significantly shorter than the time before 5000... Lets just hope this continues, eh?
7500+ and counting!
My Qantm studies have begun again after 2 weeks of (not really) holidays (during which we did more work than in the last week of actual Qantm for no reason at all) and I am getting back into their full swing. My IEP group, after some initial bloodboiling, have stumbled onto something amazing and will be presenting it tomorrow for a green-light. I am oh-so-excited to start posting about it, but I don't want to until I have talked it through with them all after our green-light.

I've made some progress on Into the Expanse which I will share in a later post, and my players in my Warhammer Fantasy Roleplay campaign continue to get themselves into increasingly hotter water... Also, a KickStarter project I backed a while ago now, Pad of Geomorphic Intent was completed and shipped, and I have been having fun drawing up lots of geomorphs which I will begin posting to versamus as soon as I have everything set up for that. In the mean time, though, check out the man's webstore (Squarehex) set up after the success of the campaign!

Thanks for reading, now and before, and I will be back to you as soon as I can!


Even More On: Into the Expanse!

Ok, so I lied. From Monday onwards. I felt like a bit of a break after Qantm, but that break has now been had, so I will go back to posting.

Even More On: Into the Expanse!

That's right, we're back with more information on my new campaign, Into the ExpanseLast time I spoke about how the general game will work, but this time I am here to talk about how it will feel and various design choices I have made to bolster that and to increase the effect of the game.

Time is Thrones Gelt...

In Into the Expanse, I will be using an egg timer to plot our rounds of combat. At the beginning of each player's turn, they have until the end of the egg timer to tell me what they want to do. This will encourage players to think ahead and constantly be strategising, but it will also increase tension.

I want Into the Expanse to be tense. Basically.
Hehe, I couldn't resist.
I want players to be making snap decisions, and to see the effects of those decisions played out in front of them (usually resulting in further chaos). The purpose of this is to achieve the effect that, in a fire fight, or when controlling an empire, you really don't have time to sit back and think things through.

In Space, No One Can Hear You Scream...

(Though, they can hear awesome ambient music.)

For Into the Expanse, I plan to have background music set to several playlists - General, Battle, Scary, and Good.
  1. General will contain all music that relates to travel, general ambience, "in-town" music, and anything that could feasibly be played behind any scene that doesn't itself contain much stress.
  2. Battle will contain heavier/faster music that relates to combat, action and tense situations.
  3. Scary will contain softer/darker music that relates to tension, suspense, horror and the like, which will be used when forging through the Warp, or investigating hidden tunnels, etc.
  4. And Good will contain lighter/happier music that relates to brighter horizons and more grandiose themes, which will be used when in friendly locations, during a great victory, or within the grander symbols of the Imperium's power - such as a Cathedral.
The Emperor gave rock and roll to you...
This music will be set up on my laptop and played via a stereo that will sit behind me and face the players. It will be on low volume so as to not drown out the discussion of play, but loud enough to not fade completely into the background. This step will require a lot of testing before it is implemented.

Bring Your Bones and Your Models, Boyz!

I will be running almost all combats with miniatures for this campaign - be they stand-ins or legitimate representations (as it is Warhammer 40k, there are plenty of ready made models to purchase from Games Workshop, though these are very expensive!), but I will require all players to own a model of their character.
Most of the campaign will revolve around the logistics of Space Marine toilet requirements.
Furthermore, as I am testing this out with my current campaign, I will be making NPC cards for my players to keep. These will be small pieces of cardboard which have the NPC's name, description, and affiliations listed on them. Further, there is room for the players to input notes about the NPCs on the back.

The purpose of these two points is to foster player involvement - personally I feel when you're playing with your own miniature, you're much more invested in them doing well, for some reason (perhaps visually seeing "yourself" lose is a greater blow than merely hearing about it). Further, the cards will enable the players to grasp the NPCs and to ingrain them further in the players' minds.

Alternate Reward Systems

Finally, I am looking into new ways of rewarding, and encouraging player involvement within the game. Previously I have used things I call "Lucky Charms", which act as additional re-rolls, etc, but to little success.
Well done on that character journal. Here, have a tour through a chocolate factory of death!
As such, I will be attaching levels of intrinsic rewards and elements of my games design training to the campaign. I have no definitive ideas yet, but I definitely believe that some form of "Wishlist" is perhaps the best suited thus far.

But more on this later...

Conclusion: One Awesome Campaign!

I really want Into the Expanse to shine as a great campaign, and to stand as something I've not done before, or as a beacon for ideas I've had which haven't quite worked out previously but can be altered and made better.

Hopefully I can get this all up and flying properly.

Making Character Creation a Mini-Game

I want to preface this by saying that I have updated my Bucket List with a few items, and it is ever growing! If any of you remember me mentioning some game I want to make/run at some point which isn't on the list, can you please comment this so I can add it? Thank you!

Making Character Creation a Tutorial Mini-Game

As many of you may know, I have a massive gaming group, peaking at 9 players currently, so when a new game is started it can (literally) take days to create characters. The process is slow and often boring as players have to wait around whilst I run the process for each one, helping them out with their individual abilities and nuances.
Rarely does it go so smoothly.
Furthermore, I always feel that at the end of character generation, most players don't really know the ins-and-outs of their character. They are a mass of numbers and words which sort of make sense to them, but don't really add up to what they have in mind. This leaves them feeling stifled and often overwhelmed with the old RPG question of "But what can I actually do?".

This is a problem. And I'm not the only one who has it.

So what we need is a way of getting players to learn the rules of the setting whilst they make their character, which they can essentially all do simultaneously without having to have the GM look over their shoulder constantly.

It sounds like we need a Tutorial.

The Good, The Bad, and the Ugly Tutorials

Tutorial design is one of the most difficult aspects of games development. You need to teach your players something, and have that information stick in their minds. The process has to be fun enough, but still packed with information. You need to teach them snippets, then test them on it by forcing them to use what they learnt, then teach them something new, and so on until they know everything they need to.

However, it is often said that the best games are one long tutorial. Obviously, this is not a good idea for a long-running roleplaying game, but perhaps it is for the first session...

Walls of text and long expositions kill player involvement, so they must be avoided at all costs. As does bombarding with extra information, like long names and important story details. So we need something that will be short, to the point, and obvious. This is not the realm for grey morality. We need something with an obvious (and easy) combat scene, a quick social scene, and basically a short scene detailing all facets of a character's rules.
This is the Crusader Kings 2 tutorial. It is the worst tutorial. Ever.
But this only covers the rules portion.

Let's Take a Look at Morrowind

Morrowind contained within is a mini-game at start up which presented you with a string of moral choice questions. You lead through those questions and your answers spat out a character type. Now, whilst tabletop roleplaying characters are generally more in-depth and intimate than that, a similar approach can be taken.
No! You can't take me to that quiestiony guy, Juib! NO!
If we can pose a series of questions to the player which are fed through with little glimpses of the setting, we can guide them into the path of what kind of character they will be, and give them traits accordingly.

Always Back to You, Fighting Fantasy

From all of this, I am getting the message that a game book is in order. Not a very long one, but a Choose Your Own Adventure style story along the lines of the old Fighting Fantasy book series. It would need to be short enough that it could be gotten through in less than an hour, and needs to be detailed enough that most of the brunt work is done for the players and GM.
Literally the best thing.
The player could be given a character sheet at the beginning and as they progress, are told to add in different features along the way.

Now, I'm just coming to this as I am writing it, so I don't yet have an example to show. I will, however, work on one and post it as soon as I am done.

Hopefully this works!

More On: Into the Expanse


More On: Into the Expanse

The other day I introduced the concept of my Into the Expanse campaign – a West Marches-esque, sandbox campaign for the Warhammer 40k RPG line. Today, I am going to discuss it in more detail, giving a list of objectives and campaign features so that it is less a name/pipe dream, and more of a possibility.
The campaign will basically be this cool.
Except cooler.
Hopefully.

What Exactly Is Into the Expanse?

Into the Expanse is a campaign run using the Dark Heresy and Rogue Trader rules sets (with bits of Deathwatch and Black Crusade thrown in when I feel the need), set in a non-canon and “new” sector called “Sector X-736”.

It will be run for approximately 6 players who will take the roles of “middle management Adeptus” – by this I mean, individuals in charge of maybe a large city or small planet’s worth of Imperial jurisdiction, but certainly not a sector. These characters will be thrown into the deep end and sent to Sector X-736 with an ultimatum: “Bring back the light of the Emperor, or your corpse”. I.e. they have to convert the sector or die trying.

But, hey, these are players we’re talking about. They’ll do neither. They’ll set themselves up as pirate overlords and get killed in a barrage of lasbolts.
We're playing somewhere in there... At the furthest portion of space in the Segmentum Obscurus.

How is Into the Expanse Going to Work?

Into the Expanse will work in a similar way to West Marches but with a few key differences. These are outlined below:
  • Whilst the session details will be left up to the players (I.e. where they go and who goes, etc), the session time will be pre-planned. As the campaign won’t be run for as large a group as West Marches, and as we all have pretty regular schedules, it makes sense to organise a specific time. However, if a session plan isn’t given at least two days before the session is to occur, no session will happen. Players will need to know where they are going and what they plan to do there in advance – even if this is simply “find out what is in [X] chunk of space, and steal it if it looks good”.
  • There will be other intelligent factions kicking around. The most interesting thing about roleplaying to me, and 40k as a whole, is the interactions between the various worldly factions – Xenos, lost human cultures, religions, the Adeptus, and so on. Forgoing these would leave 40k empty and pointless.
  • “Town” will be a space ship – the player’s space ship. It will only experience troubles rarely, and may essentially sit in a system for as long as it needs to. Once it is placed there, anywhere in the system is fair game, and the West Marches exploration kicks in. However, there must be total group consensus to move the ship to another system, and all players must be present for this move – even if it is just on a web cam for a few moments whilst it moves and we deliver information.
  • Finally, not a deviation from West Marches, but a deviation from my normal rules at a tabletop, but mobile phones are mandatory at the table. Every GM in existence just spat their drink. Sorry about that. The reason for this is that I will send players emails directly from my laptop (which will be in front of me) to their phones which will be dataslates. These emails will be in character and will be data readouts and private messages based on their actions, etc. I still won’t allow nonsense, and if I see a player use their phone when I haven’t sent anything, I’ll know something is up… So don’t *wink*.
And we're playing these chaps.
Not these chaps exactly.
But chaps very much like them.

What Makes Up an Into the Expanse Character?

So I’ve already said that they are “Middle Management”, but I want to be a little bit more specific here. All characters will be considered “Starting Rogue Trader ready”, which essentially means made with either the Rogue Trader rules, or the Dark Heresy rules (with +5000 XP).

There will be no Psykers, of any kind (not even Navigators) in the party and there will be no more than 2 members from the same organisations (so, no more than 2 Tech Priests, or Adepts, or Guardsmen, etc). Further, there will be no actual Rogue Traders in the group.

Other than those restrictions, it is fair game!

So, what do you think? Should these rules be altered? Amended? Added to? Write your response in the comments section!

My Sudden But Inevitable Return

Greetings all!

My, it has been a long time since I last posted, and unimaginably long since I started this whole blog. I feel somewhat down that I've neglected it so, but I feel in my absence I have grown as a games designer and as a Games Master... And I hope to return to the world of blogging about my exploits in these fields.

I can't much account for my absence. It began with things getting in the way, and continued with it being the furthest thought from my mind. But it ended as something else begins to draw to a close: my WFRP campaign.

I've been running my current Warhammer Fantasy Roleplay 2nd Edition campaign for well over a year now, and I have thoroughly enjoyed doing so. My players have experienced necromancers, cultists of all shape and size, vampires, skaven, goblins, knightly sieges, infiltration, deceit, lies and now a daemonic possession... They have lost members and gained some, and have grown along the way to be a mighty band of adventurers all.

But, their tale must end. I am looking over my notes for the future, and it would seem they have left to them less than 15 sessions to go (and as we play weekly, less than 3 months). Things are drawing to a close, and we just had the end of one of our major story arcs 2 sessions past. Another may be culminating very soon as well...

This has gotten me in the mood for thinking about new campaigns, and I have begun planning my next big one - as most of the planning for the current campaign is done with, only minor tweaks as the players change things needed. What I've been thinking is the inverse of my WFRP campaign, in more ways than one.

My WFRP campaign - Shadows Within Shadows - fits to the following descriptors:

  • It is contained within a single city, and very very location based.
  • It is GM driven, with plots, stories and missions being given to the players.
  • It is rather high fantasy (for WFRP, that is) and focuses on small folks dealing with massive problems.
  • And it is very regimented in its movement - sessions are planned, played out, and ended according to a flow I (attempt to) plan.
So. What is the opposite of this?
  • An open world, with no bounds, where the players can go anywhere they choose,
  • That is completely player driven and organised, with situations instead of plots,
  • Where in the players are powerful and influential individuals who deal with relatively mundane concerns - running an Empire, forging their fortunes, and directing the tides of war,
  • And finally, were sessions are left up to the whims of the players, with those wanting to do something gathering together their fellows and forging into the unknown.
You know what this sounds like? This sounds a little like West Marches... Pure sandbox exploration fun!

And what's more? What could be the inverse of Warhammer Fantasy? Why, Warhammer 40k, of coarse.

Into the Expanse is coming...

Never stop rolling those bones, and enjoying the gaming life,

Ben Scerri.