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aramis
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Re: Campaign Mode Examples

Tue 07 Jan 2020, 07:58

Asserting that a fundamental plot is essential is a lie, Bengt. Fundamental plots are not essential as a generality. Just look at the number of people flocking to drop-in/drop-out gaming at stores. Many aren't even playing linked adventures. Each player's character is its own continuity... which sometimes overlaps with others' continuities. Plots are great when everyone has buy-in on them... but a GM with a plot the players care nothing about is just about the single worst  thing I've experienced in 39 years of GMing and playing... because it often leads to frustration of players, GM, or both. And GM frustration all too often leads to railroading and/or punitive encounters for picking the wrong path.

Humans are pattern finding machines.  So much so, that there are words for when we assert pattern to random noise, or associat two genuine patterns that are unrelated (or distantly cadet on the same source, such as total Power use in the US and thefts of cars in the US... neither is causal to the other, nor even directly correlated... but both are functions of increasing . (pareidolia, apophenia, spurious correlation). When confronted with semirandom mission data, unless they see the rolls, players are likely to ascribe patterns that are simply due to the framework and the dice. And that's a very useful tool for GMing. Especially for newer GM's... if you can hide the rolls in between session play, they may never even suspect they're random. And in a well crafted random tableset, patterns are inevitable by design.

I'm not saying natural consequences of their actions shouldn't be added, either... adding upm the natural consequences makes the difference between strictly episodic and continuity-maintaining campaigns... but that need not be part of the initial framework, at least, nothing past the initial hooks the players give. And even then, those are merely two points on the spectrum.  If they blow a mission, next time that supplier is rolled, maybe roll an extra die on the random component, and drop the highest die. If they've done a bunch of work for one employer, maybe roll an extra and drop the low one. This develops natural antipathies to and from various employers entirely without direct GM driven antipathies.
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Smith & Wesson: the original point and click interface...
 
Bengt Petter
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Joined: Sat 09 Apr 2011, 11:27

Re: Campaign Mode Examples

Tue 07 Jan 2020, 09:12

What do you mean by ”fundamental plot”? I’m saying that Alien is a franchise with obvious genre conventions. Is that a lie? This is getting silly.
 
dogsonofawolf
Posts: 6
Joined: Sun 05 Jan 2020, 09:20

Re: Campaign Mode Examples

Wed 08 Jan 2020, 04:00

While my preference is definitely towards thought-out, thoroughly prepared narrative arcs over free-form, I imagine both can work given the particular players and GM? Whatever results in people having fun, is I think the conventional metric of success.

Unfortunately my aforementioned preference means I won't have anything to share as a campaign example (per OP) until I've pondered everything for months and drawn lots of unnecessary charts. There is something to be said for just jumping into things and seeing how it goes.
 
YellowSign
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Joined: Thu 12 Dec 2019, 15:38

Re: Campaign Mode Examples

Wed 08 Jan 2020, 20:54

Alright, so if I may interrupt...

There's two choices, which will depend on what suits you, your players and your vision of a campaign better.

Either start with a secret or locale that's going to be the heart of your campaign, as Bengt suggests, and build out from there, making your other missions link towards that and pull them to the final goal.

Or, give them multiple threats and dangers, and give them the rope to hang themselves. Let them decide which direction they want to push, and introduce more dangerous threats the more they become affiliated with one side or another.

Honestly I think one of the best things about the game is the open nature of the campaign world. I'm hoping later books will give more fluff details (what does a TWE or UPP soldier look like?) but otherwise I'm happy that it's got material for pretty much anything.

The campaign is only limited by your imagination. There's a ridiculous number of story hooks throughout the book. If anything I'm having trouble deciding which ones to work in.
 
Bengt Petter
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Joined: Sat 09 Apr 2011, 11:27

Re: Campaign Mode Examples

Thu 09 Jan 2020, 08:33

Alright, so if I may interrupt...

There's two choices, which will depend on what suits you, your players and your vision of a campaign better.

Either start with a secret or locale that's going to be the heart of your campaign, as Bengt suggests, and build out from there, making your other missions link towards that and pull them to the final goal.

Or, give them multiple threats and dangers, and give them the rope to hang themselves. Let them decide which direction they want to push, and introduce more dangerous threats the more they become affiliated with one side or another.

Honestly I think one of the best things about the game is the open nature of the campaign world. I'm hoping later books will give more fluff details (what does a TWE or UPP soldier look like?) but otherwise I'm happy that it's got material for pretty much anything.

The campaign is only limited by your imagination. There's a ridiculous number of story hooks throughout the book. If anything I'm having trouble deciding which ones to work in.
Exactly! I’m NOT saying that you shouldn’t play with multiple threats and dangers. That’s up to each playing group. But in any case, you will need some kind of support from the game itself. In this case I would have liked too see more support for working with concepts that are specific for Alien. It could, for example, be a tool, or maybe a number of examples, for creating dark corporate secrets. To me that is what Alien is about. I would say that all Alien movies confirms that.

In many posts I have been trying to grasp what the Alien universe is really about. On one level it’s obvious: a shady megacorporation finds alien life and wants to make use of it, even though it may get very dangerous. But there are many other aspects of Alien too. It’a not just a simple story about aliens and spaceships. It’s also about advanced AI, corporate politics, and biomechinacal alien technology. Even though it’s for sure an open campaign world, concepts will be needed. How they should be structured is a matter of game design. The basic rule set is still quite vague about many things. Of course, you can create things on your own, but the game should give you some kind of tools to work with. I think it only partly does that. My most general point is that I think that the game should be more Alien specific in it’s concepts.
 
YellowSign
Posts: 10
Joined: Thu 12 Dec 2019, 15:38

Re: Campaign Mode Examples

Thu 09 Jan 2020, 19:16

Alright, so if I may interrupt...

There's two choices, which will depend on what suits you, your players and your vision of a campaign better.

Either start with a secret or locale that's going to be the heart of your campaign, as Bengt suggests, and build out from there, making your other missions link towards that and pull them to the final goal.

Or, give them multiple threats and dangers, and give them the rope to hang themselves. Let them decide which direction they want to push, and introduce more dangerous threats the more they become affiliated with one side or another.

Honestly I think one of the best things about the game is the open nature of the campaign world. I'm hoping later books will give more fluff details (what does a TWE or UPP soldier look like?) but otherwise I'm happy that it's got material for pretty much anything.

The campaign is only limited by your imagination. There's a ridiculous number of story hooks throughout the book. If anything I'm having trouble deciding which ones to work in.
Exactly! I’m NOT saying that you shouldn’t play with multiple threats and dangers. That’s up to each playing group. But in any case, you will need some kind of support from the game itself. In this case I would have liked too see more support for working with concepts that are specific for Alien. It could, for example, be a tool, or maybe a number of examples, for creating dark corporate secrets. To me that is what Alien is about. I would say that all Alien movies confirms that.

In many posts I have been trying to grasp what the Alien universe is really about. On one level it’s obvious: a shady megacorporation finds alien life and wants to make use of it, even though it may get very dangerous. But there are many other aspects of Alien too. It’a not just a simple story about aliens and spaceships. It’s also about advanced AI, corporate politics, and biomechinacal alien technology. Even though it’s for sure an open campaign world, concepts will be needed. How they should be structured is a matter of game design. The basic rule set is still quite vague about many things. Of course, you can create things on your own, but the game should give you some kind of tools to work with. I think it only partly does that. My most general point is that I think that the game should be more Alien specific in it’s concepts.
Yeah not really sure how much I agree with that. The fluff section has plenty of hooks and ideas to get people started. There's various worlds with corporate secrets outlined or hinted at.

I don't really know if a table of weyland yutani secrets is a good idea, or how you'd make a tool for something like that. Aliens fans tend to be picky and in different camps about what stuff they like, and if it's in the rulebook it's not really a secret. If you want to create some go for it.

The concepts are the same as the Aliens films. Use the ones that appeal to you. Also I'm sure a lot of this is in the opening chapters and the fluff.

The book is already 400 pages dude. I'm not sure what they could have cut out to have made way for any of this. I'd certainly have liked more info on some of the factions but there's always going to be space considerations.

Maybe I'm biased because I've ran Call of Cthulhu for years and I'm a massive Aliens fan so structuring a horror game comes easily to me.

My advice would be don't think too much about a long term campaign (their characters might not survive that long anyway). Make each adventure/chapter its own movie, and give each its own theme or main focus.

So if you want to look at corporate secrets, make the first one about corporate espionage.

Then if you want to look at AI, use a killer robot or something.

Cold War arms race? Dealing with UPP and Weyland Yutani commandos trying to get the Alien and fighting over the eggs.

Exploring the different themes and the depth to them is what will keep the game fresh long after your players have stopped being scared of the Alien.
 
Jonesy64
Posts: 17
Joined: Wed 11 Dec 2019, 19:31

Re: Campaign Mode Examples

Thu 09 Jan 2020, 19:28

If you're having problems for ideas for adventures check out Dark Horse comics https://www.darkhorse.com/Search/aliens and check out some of the synopsis'.
 
Riggswolfe
Posts: 144
Joined: Wed 07 Dec 2016, 17:27

Re: Campaign Mode Examples

Fri 10 Jan 2020, 07:21


No, it really doesn't matter who's behind it, per se. If one randomizes heavily, in the old-school sandbox way, sooner or later your players will decide who their real enemy is. 

It can be left in quantum uncertainty until that point, and then, the GM can either embrace, or negate with counter evidence, as suits their mood.

There's literally no need to overthink  it as a GM, and I think you are well past overthink into "give me a deep element on a silver platter" that is, really, just a macguffin to the real meat of the game: EVERYTHING IS OUT TO GET YOU ALL. Every corp will cheat you if they can. Every functionary is out for his own good first, and the client's a distant second (or worse)...

There's no need to have a consistent bad guy, when players will see one whether you write one or not, simply by the nature of the contracts.
This is how I plan to do things. I'm going to start with jobs pulled from the tables most likely and make some NPCs and maybe toss a plot hook or two out and see what my players take an interest in. I'm lucky in that my players tend to create their own bad guys over time. "That guy who screwed us on that last job? I think that cargo he had us ship was something else, maybe something dangerous. We should look into it." 

There's been times when all I had to do was take mental notes and my players more or less wrote the campaign for me.
 
Bengt Petter
Posts: 638
Joined: Sat 09 Apr 2011, 11:27

Re: Campaign Mode Examples

Fri 10 Jan 2020, 12:48

Have you read Mutant Year Zero or any of the other games in the Year Zero line? I have, so that’s where I’m coming from. As you know, the Alien RPG is also a part of the Year Zero line. The basic rule set is basically the same in all games in the line. But there are also some quite big differences.

In the other, previous games there are adventure sites (zone sectors in Mutant Year Zero) and larger sandboxes (zones in Mutant Year Zero). A sandbox is usually a city (or another area of limited size) and that’s where you find the adventure sites. The adventure sites are usually modular; it’s up to GM where to put them. It means that the PCs could get into an adventure site wherever they go. In this system, there are not really any adventures, at least not in the classical sense. Instead you get a metaplot or at least some kind of given timeline of events to work with. In Mutant Year Zero you also get tools to create your own metaplot (I wrote that part, and also a lot of other stuff in the game). The Year Zero concept is - and has been described as - a mix of old school and indie gaming.

Compared to this, the Alien RPG is somewhat different. There are no adventure sites presented in in the same manner, and no conseptual sandbox. Actually, I think the word sandbox is only mentioned on the back cover. So it’s never really explained what a sandbox in the Alien universe is. In the other games, that’s conceptualized in a quite detailed way. I get that the known parts of space is supposted to be the sandbox in the Alien RPG, but that’s something totaly different and much bigger than a city on a map.

This is the reason why I’m missing parts in the game. I expected more of a Year Zero game than it actually is. And Year Zero is not a matter of overthinking. It’s a published game concept and rule set.

Just to make an example from the first Alien movie. Imagine that as a campaign. With a more ”traditional” (or expected) Year Zero frame, the Derelict would have been an adventure site, the small planetoid and perhaps the area around it would have been the sandbox. And the metaplot could have evolved around why Weyland Yutani became interested in sending a crew to the area in the first place (there is obviously a bigger picture, probably involving larger corporate secrets and conflicts). In a larger campaign, there would probably also have been some other adventure sites (perhaps some Engineer ruin and a secret reasesrch facility) to visit, and maybe some more crews (perhaps from other companies) involved in the action. Could be quite interesting, I think. But it’s quite a different approach in how to build a campaign. I would call it conceptual thinking, not overthinking.

I get that we come from different gaming experiences and some probably also have expectations that are far from indie. But the somewhat indie flavoured Year Zero concept is still most relevant here, since we are talking about a game in the Year Zero line.

(A final sidenote : I haven’t read Coriolis, the other space based game in the line. So I don’t know how that game deals with for example sandboxes and metaplots.)
 
Riggswolfe
Posts: 144
Joined: Wed 07 Dec 2016, 17:27

Re: Campaign Mode Examples

Fri 10 Jan 2020, 16:26

I don't have my book in front of me but the first Alien movie can easily be set up with the sandbox rules we have.

The GM rolled a random job to transport an ore refinery from Thedus to Earth. They also rolled on the other tables and got a distress call and an encounter with a Xenomorph. They decided the distress call was an Engineer ship crashed on a planet and it had a hold full of Xenomorph eggs. They rolled up the planet and got a small planetoid with a toxic atmosphere and things fell into place more or less naturally from that.

That's the sandbox in action.
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