Posted by: markfender | September 16, 2014

Changeling: the Lost Campaign Planning

As mentioned last week, I’m running an angsty game full of arty pretentiousness.

___Broken_II____by_RomyasAs is true for most of my games, I’m always trying to do something new within the space of that game. Running the same game the same way time and time again is boring and I don’t understand how people do it. (This might also explain why I don’t get on with video games very much.)

After my last game, which was a combat-heavy Eberron game, I came to the conclusion that I don’t run combat-heavy games very well. I think the combat scenarios I came up with were decent, but they didn’t always work well in the rules framework. I also think I have a bit of an issue switching between mechanics-brain and story-brain, so my combat-heavy games tend to be a little light on story. So, I came to this game saying that I was going to concentrate on story (Which doesn’t explain why I picked the most mechanically complex of WW games to do it in, but whatever).

Another thing I decided to do was to leave the setting up to the players. I tend to do a certain type of story-based game and I specifically wanted the challenge of matching my player’s expectations rather than the other way around. I don’t know if I’ll be able to pull off what they came up with, but I’m gonna try. Along with this goal is another one: minimal prep. I tend to do a lot of front-loaded prep. All the NPCs need to have pictures, names, and motivations before the game begins. And the type of game I tend to run involves upwards in the 50+ range of NPCs, which tends to be a lot of prep. I’m reversing that trend deliberately. I planned nothing before my players made the setting. I then spent a couple hours sketching out the NPCS they came up with, and that was it. Each session has some prep time behind it, primarily consisting of reading sections of various Changeling books so I can remember how things work, but it’s much less than I typically do. Does this provide a more improvisational air to the proceedings? I don’t really know.

A side effect of all these “out of comfort zone” steps is that the game in question is out of my comfort zone. I already wrote about how I dislike fairies, and yet I’m running a game of fairies. I’m not going to say that this campaign is my attempt to show how they should really be done. More like, this is how I would make them palatable to myself. There’s a couple of things like that I’m going to attempt to introduce into the game – things that I don’t generally enjoy – in order to see if I can pull them off. This may mean it crashes and burns. I hope not. At this point, I’m leaving those other things sort of nebulous so that I can A) back away from them if I start to hate them; B) introduce them slowly; C) keep an “out” if my players go off in a different direction.

The last big thing I’m doing for this game is getting goddamned pretentious. I want to annoy myself with how arty the game is (and I’m not necessarily annoyed at art). I think it fits the game and the particular feel I want to go for. The first step of that was find ridiculous pictures of NPCs. As the one above demonstrates, I spent a lot of time on deviantart and modelmayhem, finding pictures of strange make-up and other “high fashion” images. There are no actors cast in this particular game, only pretty people in weird clothes and makeup. (You could say that’s a lot of prep, but I honestly did all this a couple years ago – my games tend to take a lot of time to coalesce into full-fledged actually runnable ideas). Lastly, I’m basing all the scenarios and sessions on song lyrics. In fact, the original idea for the game came from a song lyric, so it only seemed appropriate to continue that trend. I was also going for a certain “sound” with the songs I picked, which made it a little more difficult. So, every session has a song associated with it that plays on some of the themes and lyrical content of the song in question.

The first song, and the one that the campaign was based on, is Blues Foundation’s “Eyes on Fire.” Yes, I know this was in Twilight. But I think the lyrics match the thoughts and feelings of a True Fae. This song inspired the name of the chronicle as well. So, I leave you with that.

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