Now we’re almost at the end of our epic-campaign guide and towards the end we got a key to success back hidden here. Let’s hope you find it useful since unless you’re already doing it with an actionplan and timeline you might find the concept a little strange and uncommon.
The actionplanÂ should be yourÂ final planning tool and bring together events, npcs, factions and influences they have on your game.Â You will find a lot of different ways howto implement this into your game and visualize what you need to know. I chose an easy project diagram with a spreadsheet tool.
The colorcode easily gives you an approach to mark everything according to their importance, you can use traffic-light-colors or whatever you feel comfortable with. I suggest especially for the first use of an actionplan to get yourself a short legend (see picture bottom) to make sure you know how crucial an event is and when / why / what effects you expect.
Usually I just work with a colorcode without much more but I tried to figure out what could be useful when you’re either newer to dungeonmastering or prefer to plan more instead of improvising a lot of the whole plan. So I figured most important additional information will be to have a timing of events. My approach would be a general information “full day – morning – afternoon – evening”, not a lot more since you might want to change a few things on the fly to reward players for alternative thinking (you will encounter this more often than not and will hopefully be surprised several times by the creativity of your own players… I always am).
Once you’ve got that far you might want to feel like, a few small extras might be handy, a fully fledged actionplan can take up a lot of space and you will probably want to link events together, my personal approach would be like this:
I use the colored scheme to mark the actual duration of the action/event/person/encounter and draw a line (preferably with an arrow) to cover the duration of immediate and delayed effects. This is true for general effects like in our example the temple that tries to grab some (political?) power, without special followups and it is true for our fake assault on the watch captain which is only a preparation step of the real assault three days later.
And as a finaly step: Since you probably use encounters in your game, you might want to note that special events, when they occur have influence on reactions and probably heighten the danger of combat as well as they maybe improve the reaction of npcs in various regions. My approach again is this sheet for it, you always can trace back what really happened and what immediate influence this has. In our example we have a special event named “invasion from below” that will take three days with a crucial effect on the game. Since I now imagine this plotline is suitable for a adventure with a mostly city-based scenario I would focus preparing a few encounters in the city. If the characters walk into the sewers on day 8, 9 or 10, they are facing the direct threat of the city’s endangerment, they are even likely to combat the root of the invasion, for example a psychic brainpool which has controlled the city’s rats and ratmen for too long now and has been scheming for several months to take control of a wider area. The alertness of all creatures in the sewers will be maximized so that they will get a bonus of +5 to their checks on perception and any encounters down there will likely be swarmed by ratmen, rats and more disgusting sewer creatures, maybe I would add one or another powerful astral construct to accompany the forces…
So let’s have a look at our actionplan. My encounter-effect section is right below the main events. I say the three-days invasion from below has direct effect on the sewer encounter table and will provide a bonus to all actions of awareness and likely skills, the chance of an encounter is increased by ~25%. When the invasion really starts I plan a direct effect of the streetwatch and mercenary groups in the city, they will close-down every route and while there will be a lot of fighting, my city is strongly fortified and heavily armed, therefore the encounters on the streets will be easier to come by, because of the military presence. So this would be something like “more likely for an encounter but encounter-level reduced due to the immediate help available largely throughout the city”, maybe you want to refine this for several sections of the city – but in my example it will be enough to give you an idea of the general approach.
As immediate effect the sewers will be purged and cleaned on the next days, though the people will probably be a little harder to approach. Therefore I suggest the encounters to be reduced in the sewers (or modified for more npc-city encounters down there)… A second and easier example is the immediate reaction for the watch-captain assassination – from this event onwards everything will be closed down, everyone who is suspicious will be asked questions or taken in for questioning… The streets may be secure but the encounters is a lot harder to get information from somebody and a little threatening might result in a disastater..
Have fun using action-plans in your game, not only epic ones, it’s in general an open approach to get things happening on a constant base no matter what your players do, so the world does not stop to exist without your characters. It adds greatly to the experience if you keep an idea on what happened in the tavern over the last month, what city was burned down or who has been assaulted and will improve your game-play-experience and of course not only yours…
The whole series (links to the posts will be active after publishing of them).
Getting started on Preparing an Epic-Level Adventure – part one
Problems of an Epic-Level Campaign
Epic Character Generation Preparing an Epic-Level Adventure – part two
History and Geography Preparing an Epic-Level Adventure – part three
Background InterweavingÂ Preparing an Epic-Level Adventure – part four
Additional resources (links)
Specialities and Resources Preparing an Epic-Level Adventure – part five
NPC Definitions and Setup Preparing an Epic-Level Adventure – part six
Political Setup Preparing an Epic-Level Adventure – part seven
Actionplan Preparing an Epic-Level Adventure – part eight
Weaving it together Preparing an Epic-Level Adventure – part nine