This post originally appeared on the now-defunct Arcane Game Lore blog. I did another post on this here on Expanding Frontier that gave more details.
Today’s post was inspired by yesterday’s Roleplaying Tips Newsletter #577. I thought I’d share a couple of the great resources I’ve found recently.
The Roleplaying Tips Newsletter is put out by Johnn Four. You get 2-3 emails a week with various ideas and links to resources primarily aimed at GMs and designers. I’ve only been subscribed for a few months but the wealth of information received in that time has been amazing. If you run or design games and you’re not already subscribed to his newsletter, stop reading this, jump over to the Roleplaying Tips website and subscribe. There is also a blog you can follow.
Go. I’ll wait.
Seriously, get over there and sign up.
All done? Okay, let’s continue. The topic of the specific newsletter that prompted this post was written by Perry W. Rogers and deals with building adventures by using the villain’s perspective. I’m not going to rehash the entire article here, but the main points were:
- Create the villain and flesh him/her/it out in great detail
- Create the Master Plan
- Put the plan in motion
- Have the situation come to light
- Escalate and up the ante
- The pursuit of the villain by the characters
- The last gambit by the villain to try to get the Master Plan to work
- The villain’s escape plan (if any exists)
I think the style of campaign design was best summed up by the writers own words: “I design the villain, and his plan. Then I stick the players in the middle, and see how it plays out.”
This style of game design resonated with with me quite strongly. I think it is how, on a subconscious level, I’ve always approached the game design that I’ve done. I typically set up a villain and what they are doing and write various contingencies (i.e. the master plan) for how things will play out based on possible player actions. This article was great in that it provided a codified way to approach my style of game design.
The Campaign Mastery website is another great resource for GM’s and game designers. This site is actually where I learned about the Roleplaying Tips newsletter as Johnn Four is one of the authors there. The entries here are often very long, many over 10000 words. That said, the content is amazing in both it breadth and depth and I look forward to every entry. The authors cover just about any topic related to designing campaigns and adventures and bringing your world to life.
One of the great things I like about this site is that you see the creation process “live” as it is going on in the authors’ campaigns. They discuss things that they are currently working on and dive into their thought processes as they do the design. Like the Roleplaying Tips newsletter, the amount of great material I’ve read just in the few short months I’ve been following the site is simply amazing. And I haven’t even had a chance to dive into the archives of either site (which stretch back to 2008 and beyond).