Smoot
 member, 111 posts
Wed 12 Sep 2018
at 05:11
Had a campaign idea, just wanted to see if anyone's tried it
Here's the idea:

The only part of the campaign world defined when the game starts is the area of the PCs home village. Which is both dull and unprofitable to stay around. [This might come back around later, as the place burns down or provides comfort from 'never changing', but when we start, it's either grindingly poor or just not very good.]

The PCs have just sworn a pact: Each one has a dream/goal/aspiration, they all know eachother already, and so they all (no more than four or five) have sworn to do a kind of round robin: Everyone vows to get everyone else where they wanna go.

This sort of ends up with several quests. And everyone has one where they're the main character, and everyone has ones where they're sort of the backup supporters of the main character.

Say we get "I want to marry a rich, powerful noble", "I want to work magic with the Emperor's Own", "I want to establish my own prosperous outpost on the Frontier" and "I want to be a master Craftsman".

(By their choices, we now know there are rich powerful nobles, a group of magic workers called the Emperor's Own (and so an Emperor), a Frontier, and a guild-structure of Craftsmen of some kind. The necessary bits of campaign background form around those things rather than designing a massive campaign background.)

You decide who goes first (probably by random roll), and the campaign starts to coalesce around trying to find the solution to the first wish. Everyone pitches their resources (few) and talents (growing) into helping the first one get what they want.

(say it's the Master Craftsman guy. His quest involves travelling around as a Journeyman until he can find and impress the Grandmasters of his trade with how much he learned. The PCs all pitch in getting them that far and have hijinks along the way.)

The trick is that the person who 'won' first doesn't then just retire. (Say the first one to get what they want marries a rich, powerful noble. That comes with resources that could help the other three.)

Campaign is successful when everyone gets where they wanted to go, leaves the campaign in some way, or agrees to "hang it up" (ie, give their goal up for some reason).

Does that sound at all appealing? Has anyone tried something like this?

This message was last edited by the user at 05:22, Wed 12 Sept.

Ameena
 member, 192 posts
Wed 12 Sep 2018
at 14:19
Had a campaign idea, just wanted to see if anyone's tried it
Sounds interesting...also, surely you could potentially have multiple people's ideas all achieved at the same time? To use your example, maybe they manage to set up an outpost on the Frontier in which one of the members helps provide income through being a major craftsman and kicking off trade and stuff by selling whatever it is they're making as well as using it to boost the town directly (like if they become a carpenter or a smith or something, it's obvious where those trades will help out a growing settlement). Maybe the marriage to the rich noble helps to provide some income - maybe they strike a deal with the noble's family that the new town will be founded in their name or something, in exchange for resources to make that happen. As for the person who wants to learn magic...well, maybe that one's a bit "further out" since it sonuds like they'd be learning it in a different location, but maybe once they've picked up some skill at that they can come and join their friends in their new town and help protect it from whatever gribbly monsters will likely be causing issues (since a "frontier" implies a location on the edge of the known lands).

Then it would feel more like one big campaign with chapters, rather than several mini-campaigns which are unconnected. I mean, I suppose you can't make the players come up with this way to make their goals work together and depend on what those goals are, that might not be feasible anyway, but presumably they would want some reason to be helping the others achieve their goals beyond "hopefully they'll help me with mine when they're done" :D.
GreyGriffin
 member, 231 posts
 Portal Expat
 Game System Polyglot
Wed 12 Sep 2018
at 21:05
Had a campaign idea, just wanted to see if anyone's tried it
You mean... Burning Wheel?
Smoot
 member, 112 posts
Thu 13 Sep 2018
at 01:49
Had a campaign idea, just wanted to see if anyone's tried it
It could be. I haven't played Burning Wheel- the brief look I took at the rulebook did nothing for me.

Ameena: Yes, absolutely. That was pretty much a feature I had in mind.

I was also thinking this shares the job of making sure everyone's having fun. If everyone's good to continue long enough to be help others out without it being a direct benefit to their character, all went well.
GreyGriffin
 member, 232 posts
 Portal Expat
 Game System Polyglot
Thu 13 Sep 2018
at 03:37
Had a campaign idea, just wanted to see if anyone's tried it
Burning Wheel's core gameplay is looped around Beliefs, core facets of characters that reflect their attachments, philosophies, and ambitions.  In Burning Wheel, you pursue and act on your Beliefs, until those beliefs change, are achieved, or are exhausted.  When you can't evolve your character's beliefs any further, it's time to retire that character.

The central conflicts of the game are built around the GM challenging those beliefs.  Not only putting obstacles in the way of achieving goals, but challenging the basis of those beliefs, changing the scenario to make your character ask themselves if that is how they really feel, or asking them how far they are really willing to go to live up to their beliefs, or asking them to question what their beliefs really mean.

It's all wrapped around a (relatively) simple dice pool system.  Although there are advanced systems built in (Fight!, Range and Cover, and Battle of Wits), they're not for everyday resolution, but a way to expand critical moments into back-and-forth scenes and give some room in that space to play.  The rulebook even advises you not to use them every session.

It gets a lot of guff for being a bit high falutin', but the laser focus on being character driven is what made me think of it when I read your concept.
OceanLake
 member, 1051 posts
Thu 13 Sep 2018
at 17:09
Had a campaign idea, just wanted to see if anyone's tried it
Since the characters' abilities etc. grow, the group would have to go from humblest to most grandiose aspiration.
locojedi
 member, 163 posts
Thu 13 Sep 2018
at 18:53
Had a campaign idea, just wanted to see if anyone's tried it
This reminds me of Beyond the Wall rpg...

I've done a little of this kind of thing, jotting down notes from comments players make both in-character and out, and bringing them into the game where those things might never have crossed my mind before. Seems the players get some satisfaction from this confirmation. They seem to like it without ever knowing I'm doing it!
jaws78
 member, 21 posts
 To err Is human ...
 ... to role play divine.
Sat 15 Sep 2018
at 06:19
Had a campaign idea, just wanted to see if anyone's tried it
Fan of burning wheel.  You just need to play most combats out at the basic levels.  The most complex level is way to complicated and slow.


But there is a burning Empires version that might fit what you seek.

It is an RPG where you play big picture as well as zoom in to specific missions and objectives for each character.  I highly suggest looking at it as a model for what you are trying to achieve.
Cyberspark
 member, 1 post
Tue 18 Sep 2018
at 16:01
Had a campaign idea, just wanted to see if anyone's tried it
I'm going to join the chorus of Burning Wheel fans, though I'm not sure I'd go so far as to include myself in that description.

The Burning Wheel book rules seem to me to be pretty poor at explaining how to play the game or as a reference material for looking up rules later.

The others here have it right though, the main source of XP and progression for characters in BW is having their beliefs challenged, striving for their goals, having change of hearts, risking themselves and putting it all on the line for someone else. Characters change based on what the group thinks of them and their actions rather than what the player necessarily envisions for them.

It definitely plays to the heart of what you're looking at here, characters with simple beginnings striving for greatness.

It's a very low-prep system, there is no long drawn-out NPC generation/creation process, great for if you want the world to be discovered on the fly like this.

Though the system is rather uninspiring I encourage you to go watch people playing it. It's definitely a unique system.
Utsukushi
 member, 1457 posts
 I should really stay out
 of this, I know...but...
Wed 19 Sep 2018
at 14:05
Had a campaign idea, just wanted to see if anyone's tried it
I can see what you guys mean, but speaking as someone who thought Burning Wheel had some neat ideas but I just didn't like it...

The OP's concept really isn't system dependent - like, at all.  It's more a campaign concept than anything.  He's just talking about having the characters set lofty goals, and building both the campaign and significant elements of the world around those goals.  There are systems that encourage that more than others - especially the idea of building the world around player statements - but you can do it anywhere.

To answer your actual question - I've at least seen games that started off with similar kinds of ideas, but not often.  I have a feeling it's one of the differences between more `old' and `new' school games... us old folk expect goals to be presented to us, and if our characters have their own, we hope for them to be subplots but don't plan for them to be the central theme to the game.  More of the newer games seem to start with character creation, and then the world gets built around them - often even collaboratively, rather than expecting the GM to do all of that.  But again, while it's not built in to say, D&D... there are really very few games where it's somehow against the rules.  It's just a matter of what order you do things.

It sounds like a definitely long-term game, but it is a cool idea.
GreyGriffin
 member, 233 posts
 Portal Expat
 Game System Polyglot
Wed 19 Sep 2018
at 16:52
Re: Had a campaign idea, just wanted to see if anyone's tried it
Utsukushi:
The OP's concept really isn't system dependent - like, at all.  It's more a campaign concept than anything.  He's just talking about having the characters set lofty goals, and building both the campaign and significant elements of the world around those goals.  There are systems that encourage that more than others - especially the idea of building the world around player statements - but you can do it anywhere.

I kind of disagree with the thrust of this sentiment.  I really feel like system influences behavior in pretty profound ways.  For instance, in D&D (any edition), almost all of your statistics are attached to combat in some way.  Becoming the greatest blacksmith or diplomat in the land just means leveling up in traditional adventures until you have max ranks in Craft or Diplomacy.  The systems surrounding these skills (and their related ambitions) are almost nonexistent.  The only really supported way to dramatize becoming the greatest blacksmith in the land is to go out on a D&D style adventure to find some kind of rare ore or something.  Smithing, as an ambition, doesn't interact with the system in any meaningful way.

In Burning Wheel, the FoRK system, the Resource system, the Circles system, the default Fail-Forward mechanics, and the systems of Artha and Beliefs all build around and reinforce chasing your goals, whatever those goals may be.  The system is about wanting things, whatever those things may be, and then trying to achieve those things.

For instance, a Blacksmith can try to exercise his skills, and in the very act of exercising those skills, he becomes better.  A Blacksmith can pursue his Belief that He Must Become The Best, and in doing so, earn Artha that he can spend to make those critical rolls to prove he is the best, or eventually even become a supernaturally good blacksmith if he commits enough Artha to being the best.  He can try to find teachers, patrons, and suppliers and accidentally find rivals, tax collectors and thieves, creating interpersonal drama that's centered around his pursuit of excellence.  He can even find insight and success taking a breather and helping someone else with their goals, building up new and valuable FoRK skills and acquiring Resources.

All of that comes built-in with Burning Wheel.  That constant churn of goal -> pursuit -> complication -> transformation forms the game's core engine.  The GM's planning even has ever-changing, transformative plot hooks built into every character's sheet via Beliefs and Instincts.  Burning Wheel's core task resolution is very light, but the systems that surround it (FoRK's, Circles, Resources, Artha, Fail-Forward, Wises) allow the players and the GM to inflect those relatively simple rolls with meaningful consequences and results.

Other games simply don't have that.  Characters are typically built around a character's current or past identity and capabilities, rather than their ambitions and hopes for the future.  Most systems that focus on lightweight universal task resolution don't have enough "junk in the trunk" to make those tasks you just resolved feel weighty and meaningful.  (Nothing quite like taxing that last Resources die.)

Absent those types of systems, you're cutting against the grain.  A system implicitly encourages behavior by how it treats the players and their characters, and different systems provide different incentives.  FATE encourages you to play up your aspects at every opportunity to get more Fate points.  D&D encourages you to go out and fight monsters to get more XP to advance.  World of Darkness encourages you to pander to your GM's sense of dramatics for roleplaying awards.

The reason that people keep bringing up Burning Wheel as it relates to the OP is that Burning Wheel's incentive structure is perfectly aligned with the campaign's goals.  It encourages you to use the skills you want to improve at every opportunity, even if you might fail, because that's the only way that those skills grow and change.  It encourages you to endure setbacks like injuries and complications, because stronger opposition means a chance to improve skills that struggle to find challenges and continue to improve.

But most of all, it encourages you to not only chase your goals, but to explore those goals' meanings, their effects on others around you, and even their effects on yourself.  At its root and core, Burning Wheel encourages you to play a character who wants something, and who works and struggles to achieve that something.  It even (perhaps especially) encourages you to question your character's goals, and change them if the character changes.  I don't think there's any other game that is as focused and concentrated on character goals (rather than campaign goals or just genre simulation) as Burning Wheel.

This message was last edited by the user at 17:00, Wed 19 Sept.

facemaker329
 member, 7047 posts
 Gaming for over 30
 years, and counting!
Wed 19 Sep 2018
at 18:35
Re: Had a campaign idea, just wanted to see if anyone's tried it
Sounds good on paper, but I see some potential wrinkles in your examples which may or may not carry over into actual gameplay.  Becoming a master craftsman, for instance...that is a years-long, if not decades-long endeavor.  How are other characters supposed to help with that?  If they're doing the work, guild masters would question the worthiness of the journeyman.  Marrying a rich noble?  What if that noble decides he's jealous of his new bride's old associations?  Or he resents her spending his resources to help a bunch of vagabonds?

I like the notion of cooperative gameplay...but I think the scope of what you're describing is too broad.  Some of these goals that you suggest are lifelong projects, and by the time the group has fulfilled them, everyone could very well be too old to try and fulfill the others.  There are workarounds, of course (make everyone elves, then age doesn't matter so much, for instance)...but with the scale of goals that you imply, the last guy in the rotation gets a raw deal, because everyone either is too old to help, or they have to abandon the goal that they've invested so much time in to help out...which would in essence require them to pursue it all over again.

I like the notion of fleshing out the world as you go, based on player input and interest, but there's a reason so many games revolve around having a group of characters with similar goals in mind.  If you can work out a way to not leave people swinging in the breeze when their goal is the last one, this could work...but I see a lot of potential places for it to get bogged down unless you as GM are contriving scenarios that facilitate rapid resolution of each goal (at the cost of realism in the game...)
Utsukushi
 member, 1458 posts
 I should really stay out
 of this, I know...but...
Fri 21 Sep 2018
at 04:23
Re: Had a campaign idea, just wanted to see if anyone's tried it
GreyGriffin:
Utsukushi:
The OP's concept really isn't system dependent - like, at all...

I kind of disagree with the thrust of this sentiment...

I don't actually disagree with you on any particular point, and I absolutely agree that different systems do different things better.  And Burning Wheel might do this really, really well.  But Smoot already said he's seen Burning Wheel and it didn't click for him.

I guess all I'm trying to say is that yes, there are systems that help focus on character goals, but it's something you can do with or without that.

quote:
If you can work out a way to not leave people swinging in the breeze when their goal is the last one, this could work...but I see a lot of potential places for it to get bogged down unless you as GM are contriving scenarios that facilitate rapid resolution of each goal (at the cost of realism in the game...)

That's a really good point, though.. honestly, it's not even the last player that's a concern.  The outline offered asks everyone to focus on just one PC for a really long time.  At least the last player has something to look forward to the whole time; the first player may start getting bored now that their character has achieved their dreams.  That's usually a good time to retire.

I suppose a lot of that depends on how the game is built otherwise.  Running it like a traditional D&D game, say, doesn't sound very feasible, because it would take forever to finish the first person's goal, and then that player would be overpowered compared to the rest.  So you'd need to run things at a higher level, where these kinds of life goals could be sorted out more quickly, in RL terms, to move on to the next one and keep things interesting for everyone.

Which, um, yeah, does kind of bring us back to Burning Wheel being good for it, doesn't it?  But I still say it's not the only way.  ...have a vague memory of an obscure system called Aria that, if what I'm remembering is right, would probably do it well, too.  But also just "keeping that in mind" and "planning accordingly" might work.

This message was last edited by the user at 17:15, Thu 04 Oct.

Ameena
 member, 193 posts
Fri 21 Sep 2018
at 16:18
Re: Had a campaign idea, just wanted to see if anyone's tried it
That was sort of what I was pointing out in my comments, actually, but in a different way - I sort of thought about how dealing with one person's goal at a time would be somewhat...inconvenient for the people whose goals weren't being met, but didn't actually say that. That was where I got "work on everyone's goal at the same time so you complete them all at once" from :D.
Smoot
 member, 117 posts
Thu 4 Oct 2018
at 11:52
Re: Had a campaign idea, just wanted to see if anyone's tried it
quote:
But Smoot already said he's seen Burning Wheel and it didn't click for him.


This is true. It's also why I'm staying clear of discussion of Burning Wheel- I already said everything I wanted to say regarding it. (Seriously, if someone wanted to sell me on Ryuutama being a must-fit for it, I'd be more open.)

This message was last edited by the user at 18:33, Thu 04 Oct.

facemaker329
 member, 7050 posts
 Gaming for over 30
 years, and counting!
Thu 4 Oct 2018
at 20:17
Re: Had a campaign idea, just wanted to see if anyone's tried it
I can buy that.  I've only tried BW once...and it's a good thing I REALLY liked the concept for the game, because we spent three times longer making characters than the game lasted.  It's got some fun concepts, but I can't say I was thrilled eith how they tried to movethose concepts into the actual game-play.

Still...there are some ideas there that could be potentially kit-bashed into another, more preferable system.
ricosuave
 member, 146 posts
 joined 6/27/2002
Fri 5 Oct 2018
at 19:10
Re: Had a campaign idea, just wanted to see if anyone's tried it
I might be in the minority here, but, isn't that how all non-published campaigns go?
Smoot
 member, 123 posts
Mon 8 Oct 2018
at 15:32
Re: Had a campaign idea, just wanted to see if anyone's tried it
Not in my experience. A lot of them don't have the overarching 'this is my goal' thing, for instance. More of an episodic "this is what we're doing right now" sort of thing without the sort of steering involved.

Also, the worldbuilding would (I guess?) center on the goals.

This message was last edited by the user at 00:04, Tue 09 Oct.

GreyGriffin
 member, 236 posts
 Portal Expat
 Game System Polyglot
Thu 11 Oct 2018
at 04:09
Re: Had a campaign idea, just wanted to see if anyone's tried it
Creating BW characters from scratch and entering them in any kind of readable format in HTML/BBCode can be pretty infuriating, and the book is pretty badly formatted when it comes to, say, looking up specific skills from the list of like 40 you get on your average 3-5 lifepath jaunt.  It's much quicker on paper, IMO, but that's my experience.

However, it's ruled out.  Here's an exercise, though... what didn't you like about it?  What was it about it that didn't serve your purpose or your game, or caught you up?  Analyzing that negative space will definitely help you narrow down on a system that you do like or that will work for your purposes.

Ironically, Ryuutama is actually a decent fit, given the setting fiction...
Smoot
 member, 127 posts
Sun 14 Oct 2018
at 12:55
Re: Had a campaign idea, just wanted to see if anyone's tried it
I kinda didn't want to talk about BW, so it seems a tad counterproductive to talk about it in the process of not taking about it.

 I'll bite about Ryuutama, though. Haven't heard anyone stick up for it. Go on?
GreyGriffin
 member, 237 posts
 Portal Expat
 Game System Polyglot
Sun 14 Oct 2018
at 18:01
Re: Had a campaign idea, just wanted to see if anyone's tried it
You didn't want to use it, I didn't know it was verboten discussion.  Like I said, I just thought that seeing what you didn't like about the system would help you avoid those same land mines in other systems.  If you don't like lifepath character creation, for instance, Traveller is pretty much out.

Ryuutama's setting is a good fit.  In the world of Ryuutama, everyone, once in their lifetime, gets the insatiable urge to go out on a journey into the world, to travel somewhere, do something, and then return home.  These journeys are sort of divinely inspired - the GM actually plays the role of a hidden dragon that is recording the journey, and has powers that can tip the narrative in both direct and indirect ways - and people who are journeying all at the same time get together to help each other along the way.

It's not exactly what you're looking for, I think.  The game is very focused on travelling and journeying.  The game isn't exactly minimalist - there is a lot of dithering about supplies that you can do, and the combat system uses a sort of zone diagram that I intend to steal for another game.  However, the game is written with the expectation that when the GM says "you find yourself on a scenic beach on a warm summer day," the players will be excited to roleplay out a beach scene without much prompting or incentive.

But the core idea is there - the characters all have a journey, they understand that the other people around them have a journey to go on, and they get together to help walk each others' road, as long as their paths intersect.
facemaker329
 member, 7051 posts
 Gaming for over 30
 years, and counting!
Mon 15 Oct 2018
at 16:41
Re: Had a campaign idea, just wanted to see if anyone's tried it
That last line is why I think this campaign idea is problematic...once someone's 'life goal' (or whatever you want to call their impetus fir this grand quest) is met, how is their path supposed to continue to intersect with everyone else?

If it's an organic, "my character likes your character so much he's going to help, even though it's inconvenient and potentially deadly" relationship, it'll work.  If there's some kind of life-debt that leaves a character honor-bound (assuming it's an honorable character) to help, it'll work.  As a straight-up GM contrivance, however, I don't think it will...without some intrinsic character-driven motivating factor, this is no less contrived that the standard "you all find yourself in the same tavern" game intro that it seems intended to avoid.

If you've got the right group of players and the right combination of character backgrounds, this might work.  But if done as described, the first character's quest gets fulfilled...and suddenly, this character, who has his life's great ambition, essentially has toeither risk losing it all, or even just outright surrender it all, in order to help the others.  If that first quest was to become the Duke of a region, suddenly that character is stuck...does he stay at the castle to be a good ruler?  If yes, that player is essentially limited to nothing more than a peripheral role for the rest of the campaign.  If he leaves to keep adventuring, how does his title, which they've all presumably fought and sacrificed to achieve, remain securely his, especially if the next two or three quests are years-long endeavors?

The concept works if all these goals are intertwined...if, say, one character wants to be Duke, one wants to be a captain of the guard, someone else wants to run the trade caravans that supply the region, etc...but if they involve disparate ends that involve a lot of long-term effort to benefit one individual without doing anything to advance the goals of the rest of the group, I don't see where this is a particularly viable campaign strategy.
Smoot
 member, 128 posts
Sun 21 Oct 2018
at 02:42
Re: Had a campaign idea, just wanted to see if anyone's tried it
In reply to GreyGriffin (msg # 21):

Thanks! It, weirdly enough, sounds like it might be an interesting system for Skyrealms of Jorune, of all things.