epic preparation – p1 – Starting

Posted in english, Roleplaying Games on January 16, 2009 – 1:00 am
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Introduction

Ah, it’s been a while since I’ve had a good series, but I have the feeling this could be one, if I get the words right… As a matter of fact it happens that on irregular occasions my gaming group has a 2-4 days special event, coordinated by one dungeonmaster who is in charge of the event. This usually happens at pentecost or another extended weekend. With some players of my group it’s easy enough to read that they would like to play something more powerful – something more capable – something EPIC. While I have had the chance to play epic adventures as player and dungeon master before, it has been quite a while and my dungeon master experience was nothing spectacular back then – and this planning now will do hopefully some trick to improve this for the upcoming adventure(s).

In the first part of the preparation script I will outline the general requirements of an epic campaign and approach a project-plan for the general blog series of it.

Outline

  1. Defining the broader terms
    First step to an epic game will be a definition of terms. Characters and their Alignment, Planes/World, Motivations of my players and their role in the world
  2. Epic Character Generation
    The second and probably one of the most important steps will be the character generation itself. For one I have to decide whether everything will be played with dungeon-master made characters or how much of a player creation I can and want to accept in a game like this.
  3. Studying of History and Geography
    History and Geography of the involved areas will be written down, looked up and enhanced according to the needs of the plot and are meant to help improving the whole gameplay
  4. Background interweaving
    with characters and the surrounding defined the interweaving of character concepts will start
  5. Specialities and additional repertoire of resources
    part 5 will be about developing an additional fundus for all things needed. it will be on developing the influences of faith, local and larger criminal syndicates, guilds and all things that happen in social (e.g.) tavern plays, public events and private events that might be involved
  6. NPC definition and setup according to character backgrounds
    defining special npcs and their prepared role in the ongoing plots
    trying to fetch some special background characters from pc-backgrounds
  7. Political setup
    an outline of political powers with the driving forces behind them
    setting up personalities of political npcs
  8. Actionplan
    this is nothing else but a timeline of events with possible outcomes if the characters do not interfere
  9. Weaving all of this together, reviewing of plan and hopefully finding a date for all of it.

Definition of broader terms

To get everything started you need to gather with your gaming group and find out what they would like to play (and of course you should be aware of what your personal preferences are). I will lay out before you what I think is necessary to know:

  • Get an idea what mix of classes you will have, it’s hardly useful to force somebody onto a class, though restricting or limiting might be necessary if you got a concept already. Try to get as much information from your players as possible at this point. If they give you a direction in an epic campaign – do not forget to catch up on it. After all the more of your players really, really enjoy the game, the more rewarding it will be over the whole time.
  •  Speak through your possibilities and concepts you have in mind. When you learned about the characters and the rough background drafts your players might have provided you with, you probably have already a few shots on whether you would like a more political campaign of epic scopes, the specific kind of challenges you should keep to yourself, but when you give a good mix of 25% politics, 25% combat, 25% planes lore and travelling  and 25% of magical challenges (or whatever else your campaign fundamentals might be) it should be something that you are happy with and something (most of) your players will certainly enjoy. 
  •  Plane and World of Existence. Epic means – you’re really powerful. In Pathfinder RPG (D&D 3) terms that means you’re probably somewhere between Level 15 and 30. This means travelling by foot is hardly more than something you enjoy because you like to and not very often something you have to do. Be prepared to open other worlds and planes for your players, this is stuff where really tough challenges meet heroes, elemental planes, hells and heavens – all loaded with politics, rules and an alien concept to mere mortals. It’s either a good idea to surprise your players here or (once again) ask them what they would enjoy and drive your concept in that way.
  • Finally in this roughest of preparations try to find a motivation behind all this. A motivation for the evil that will spawn or has been here for eons, a motivation for your players to fight it, one for the betrayal at court and one for the murder of the mightiest of mages. Motivation will be your key to success – it will provide fun to your players and will create depths of virtual “realism” when it comes to unexpected events and be aware – high level campaigns are nothing you prepare for more than 25% of the whole game. Pick your terms, pick your time, pick anything you like as a DM, but your players will be  far more powerful and creative than you ever can imagine.

Finally – have a good start into your high level campaign. I will most certainly start planning mine soon.

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 Interweaving 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


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2 Comments

  1. Wavatar jonathan posted on January 16, 2009 at 5:33 am | Permalink

    definitely added this to my google netbook. Once my campaign reaches these levels, I’ll have to remember to check back and review. Thanks! nice post. honestly… not something that has been tackled by many (any?) of the other rpg blogs as yet.

    jonathans last blog post..Bullywugs & Battletoads – Reinventing Minutiae

  2. Wavatar TheLemming posted on January 16, 2009 at 9:28 am | Permalink

    That one made up for the lacking motivation I had whether I would write it all just for me :). I hope the series is really helpful and I will be the first to test it in preparing my new adventure with it. “Thanks for the flowers” 🙂
    Markus

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