Actual Play: Gathering My Thoughts

I think most people would generally agree that it is a poor GM who fails to follow his own advice. Therefore, in the spirit of putting my money where my mouth is I will be taking the opportunity of my gaming group’s current campaign ending to launch a new campaign using the advice from my book  as a guideline.

The game itself will begin in January. Which gives me plenty of time to devise a Campaign Outline and Group Contract, and plenty of time for the players to make characters.

Going into designing a campaign, I always start from the position of thinking about what sorts of stories I’m interested in. TV shows that I’m watching, movies I like at the moment, and whatever sorts of ideas happen to be bouncing around in my brain. I’ve been watching a lot of True Blood recently, and I’ve found myself in a ‘modern supernatural’ sort of mood lately. I often find that I prefer running games set in the modern day anyway, and given that the current game is Pathfinder, something not-fantasy seems in order.

It also helps that one of my group members is a fiend for Delta Green. If I mention those two two words together he will almost certainly be on board. However, after a bit of thought I decided that I didn’t want to run a straight up Delta Green game, for a few reasons. I’m not a huge fan of Call of C’thulhu per se, and I’ve never been a fan of Basic Roleplaying System’s high PC mortality rate. I wanted to run something kinda similar, but not exactly.

So I have a rough idea of what broad genre of game I want to run. My next step is to narrow down towards a more specific genre and tone. The way that I like to do this is by listing all of the works of fiction I can think of that are related to the sort of game I want to run, or contain some element that I want to steal, or that I just think are neat right now. Then I start crossing off things which I think are less relevant until I have about 6-12 titles.

My final list was: True Blood, Nightwatch/Daywatch, The Invisibles, Eternal Darkness, Hellblazer, Hellboy/BRPD, House of Leaves, Planetary, The X-Files, Assassin’s Creed, Dollhouse, Supernatural, Call of Cthulhu, Men in Black, and Predator.

Now, I don’t intend to exactly mash all of these titles together into one big setting and call it a day. Rather, I see each of these stories as inspirational of the type of game that I want to run. Essentially if you were to look at my campaign as a fictional universe, the goal would be for any one of these titles to fit roughly within it without feeling terribly out of place.

These titles will give me a starting point which I can use to triangulate more exactly the genre and tone of my campaign, and from there select a game system and setting. I’ll pick up there next time.

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