Actual Play: The Campaign Outline

After brainstorming some basic concepts and a list of references, and figuring out my system and setting, I’m ready to hash out a campaign outline. In it I’m going to lay out the premise of the game, identify the genre and tone of the campaign, and identify the major players. Some of this information I will share with the other players, while other bits I’ll keep to myself.

The important thing is that I’m creating a reference document that I can use to get a feeling for the campaign and guide my thoughts while writing adventures, not step-by-step list of where I think the campaign will go.

1. The Premise

The premise of the game is that the PCs are all people who have discovered the supernatural world that exists shrouded behind the mask of everyday reality. This is a darker world than our own, and the things which occupy it are brutal and prey on humanity on a daily basis. Rather than run and hide, you have chosen to step into this world with both feet, and hunt the monsters than would hunt mankind.

2. The PCs

You have proven to be very good at this work, and through the underground network of other humans who operate in the supernatural world were put into contact with and eventually recruited by an ancient conspiracy of humans who call themselves The Watchers. This organization is split into cells, each of which operates semi-independently of the others. Rumor has it that somewhere in the higher echelons of the organization there is a Watcher Council which oversees all of the disparate cell; but no one you have met knows–or will admit to knowing–whether this council truly exists.

By virtue of your skills–and continued survival–you have been placed in Zulu Cell. Zulu is a special operations cell, tasked with unusual or high risk missions. Because of this special status and the nature of the missions you are typically assigned, your cell is afforded some leniency in your operations, included being provided with some untested or experimental equipment and special license to use illegal or forbidden materials (such as magic, or vampire blood) in the name of completing your mission.

Zulu is often tasked with the highest risk missions, with sanction to use any means necessary to complete their objective.

3. The Antagonists

The primary antagonists of the game are going to be the various supernatural entities the PCs encounter. However, there will be several groups that are actively working against the PCs. Particularly a cabal of vampire lords who want to take more direct control of humanity, and a counter-conspiracy of humans who see the supernatural world as something to be tamed and exploited, rather than fought off. Semi-analogous to the Templars from Assassin’s Creed.

Tracing some of their encounters back to a common source and “discovering” the counter-conspiracy will form the bulk of the early meta-plot.

4. “Peak Moments” and/or plot points

[In this section I’m bullet pointing ideas that I want to develop over the course of the campaign, adventure ideas that I may want to foreshadow, or other events that will take shape as the game develops. As such, they are not fully developed ideas, and may only be a point of reference that will only make sense later.]

  • Ancient Vampire being awoken
  • Face Stealer
  • Rlyeh surfaces? — LOST
  • Zombies in the Bayou
  • Alien Abductions
  • A ghost / a rabbit hole / eternal darkness (the knocking won’t stop)
  • a wizard manipulating financial markets!
  • fey — a goblin market — kidnapped child
  • hong kong — caged evil spirit — daoist magic — jackie chan
  • ghost rider
  • Were-Hulks / the hills have eyes / atomic waste
  • Renegade counter-ops team — working for who?
  • Accident/breakout/robbery of hazardous materials storage
  • The Cask of Ancient Winters is opened.

My group will only be meeting bi-weekly, so there’s enough seed material there for at least 6 months of adventures, assuming they tackle one of those ideas each week, AND nothing else comes up—which it almost definitely will.

5. The End?

The end game scenario is more or less the objective of the game, or a set of criteria under which the game could meaningfully conclude. In the case of this campaign, I’m shooting for a more episodic “eternal battle” feeling. One possible end game could be an “end of the world scenario” in which the PCs must commit to a suicide mission in order to save the planet. However, as this would likely result in the deaths of most/all of the party, it’s something to only be entered into once it has been decided that the game is ending anyway.

Given the horror aspect of the genre, any victories attained by the party are necessarily fleeting.

6. Theme Song

 Chemical Burn – The Dust Brothers.

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