Problems of an Epic Campaign

To be honest, I have a draft waiting and could not get myself to finish it. The whole epic-campaign blog entry was meant to get my own thoughts sorted and there is this discussion I had with Tom on friday that made me realize that I have forgotten one of those key elements that reappear every now and then. And of course in campaigns of higher level these may become serious gamebreakers.

So before I waste more of your precious preparation time I might as well go on with a special sidenote this monday.
What problems are you to expect when you are starting an epic campaign?

First of all, you have to know your players, you have to know their characters and you have to make sure they know each other (in both instances), too. Secondly and this will be a key issue here, you have to increase their perception in the game. While it might not be overly important to recognize the town-guardsman standing over there, it is a clear advantage for everyone who’s been a dungeon master over a period of time that you know an average guard in a small village will probably stand no longer than a few seconds to an average-midlevel hero. It might be interesting to break with “normals” every now and then but still the dungeon masters know more about worlds, they tend to have an idea on powerful undead as well as on dragons and so many other creatures that it is hard for them to start unthoughtful actions as easy as some other players. That will be one of your key issues, we have found a description that matches it pretty well –

A difference in perception and lack of information.

So one hand you will try to keep a certain pace, you might not go over special descriptions of the skeletons once again that you’ve just introduced into the game as a short combat starter. You might as well describe them as good as you can to give them a good impression of what they are up to. Once again this will be the problem. Imagine an old lich king, you have the evil aura that is hardly matched – you have hordes and legions at his command, he might even be himself just a mere servant… With the right description you can give the characters a great impression of what they are up to, but you might as well have a not very experienced player playing his favorite paladin and launching a blind attack on this evil. I wouldn’t blame the paladin or his player, not by judgment of my heart – when it comes to paladins they tend to overreact (insert smirk here). But you might as well have a newer player being on the edge to play the one wizard to rule them all… Whatever the concept it will be very hard for a new player to judge by mere names or short descriptions.

So that will be the challenge I will be confronted when I think about it in detail, give enough details and words on everything going on, and I will try to think about the consequences of every player’s action more when I’m next time in the position of a dungeon master. So let’s find out… (And I promise to finish the upcoming drafts of the epic campaign preparation soon, honestly).

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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