View Full Version : Flow of a campaign

cherry al
6 November 2002, 09:38 AM
This thread has been started by myself (d'oh!) to get a discussion going on the flow of a campaign. The rate of advancement, the flow of overall plot.

How long a game you intend to campaign. The development of characters etc.....

Here is my start, the campaign I run at the moment is set on rebel blockade runner (not quite a darkstryder campaign). After Hoth ahs been taken and before Jedi.

The players are crew aboard the ship. I have detailed every single crew emmebr on the ship. The intention of this was to make every death a moment to regret, or a moment ot feel.

The crew are a family. Like all families they do disagree etc. But in the end the are there for each other. So it isn't just red shirt 1 that died. You get the picture right??

So I am trying to flwo the campaign. We have had about 6-7 sessions. And now the players have been assigned as the ships commando crew, away mission stuff etc. I am having some fun with this, gave them a budget to use and paper work to fill in etc!

The ship acts quite independantly from the rest of the fleet, much like a terrorist cell. Now how do I develop them a main plot thread? What flow and pace to adopt.

Each session I run is about 2-3 hours long, so they are short and episodic. I run apprx once a week though. I have 5 players now, with about 2-3 characters each, meaning if it isn't appropriate I can use other characters. Or if one gets killed, we can still play without interuption for a new character etc......

Lets get the thread running guys. Cheers,


Talon Razor 'GM'
6 November 2002, 09:45 AM
Well, I for one let my players have freedom. The first couple of sessions I give them a couple of oppertunitys to get involved in groups. For example WARNING TO MY PLAYERS, SPOILER DEAD AHEAD.

I had a rebel run into a cantian to shoot an Imperial officer. They had a choice, help th rebel or blow his liver out. They elected the latter. I let them choose if they want sign on with pirates, work with the main crime ring on the planet they are on, be freelancers with the Imperails. Although it makes it hard to plan a campaign, after several sessions I have a rough idea where they are going.

cherry al
6 November 2002, 10:06 AM
That is my usual style, but this time round I wanted to try something more focused. They were going to play rebels and be a part of the crew. Of course they still have freedom of how they approach things. The bonus of being commando teams.

That was just a quick post, reply more later as I need to get some sleep!
Damn work.

6 November 2002, 05:17 PM
Well, I'd need a little bit more info before I could get more specific on ideas, but here's some general guidelines:

Figure what you want the overall mission of the ship and crew to be. Once you get an idea for what you want them to do, it will give you ideas to work on for providing "flow". Say you want them to perform mainly hit and run operations on Imperial supply convoys in a particular sector of space. That's a general mission. You could then get a general idea of what a "finalization" of the campaign would be....Imperials leave the area due to extensive losses caused by the ship. Planets in sector see that Imperials are vulnerable and therefore join the rebellion against the empire. Whatever. You can keep this fluid, not set in stone, so if things don't particularly go the way you wanted with one conclusion, you can alter it to another conclusion.

Once you have that done, you can begin to figure out ways to get the player characters involved in certain key events leading towards the final objective. Is one of the PCs the ship captain? Are any of the PCs high up commanders aboard the ship, or are they mostly low ranking members of the crew? Their rank and position will play into how you want to handle the main plot thread.

If they are low rankers, you can easily make it that the ship goes to wherever you want, and the PCs are assigned to missions that work with other members of the crew (NPCs). If your PCs are higher ranking, or are in outright command of the ship, you'll have to have orders given to them to do "x" and then you will have to provide not only game information on how they can do "x", but you should also provide a couple of side plots that can do various things ranging from helping the ship and crew, to providing troubles to the ship.

Since you play for a shortened amount of time, I'd suggest that you try to make your sessions "to the point" for pacing purposes. If you get too much into the nitpicky bookwork and record keeping, your players will spend most of a whole session just doing paperwork and could become bored (unless they like that sort of thing). So you'll want to generally stick to an outline of:

Intro = build-up of the current problem or mission that session
Action = some sort of action involved in the game, be it the actual mission, or a small side problem that pops up prior to performing the mission
The Problem = this is the time when there should be some sort of antagonist that will endeavor to stop the PCs from accomplishing what they want to do this session.
Climax = this is where whatever it is either gets completed or doesn't (and causes future problems for the players). Will most likely involved some sort of action, but not always
After effect = this is where the PCs and ship make their escape, leave the area, or finish up what they were doing. Most times you can include little hints as to what the next session might be, or (if you are running the ship's command) you can move to the next area and provide a glimpse of what is to come. This is usually the end point to the game.

Now sometimes you may find that your playing in a particular area runs a little longer than you thought. If you have to end earlier, don't end any earlier than the Climax. One thing that I've found is that if you stop in the middle of a highly anticipated fight scene, it leaves your players on the edge of their seat until the next game session. Works wonders. :) Just don't use it often, or it loses it's effect.

That's all I can think of for now. If I can come up with something else, I'll post more. Hope this helps.

6 November 2002, 09:37 PM
The campaigns I run are fairly eclectic in style and pacing. I like to change the flow so it stays fresh and allows for a long campaign.

Most of the games I run are open-ended, with no particular end in sight. There are story arcs within them but the game continues until a logical conclusion hits.

The first Star Wars campaign I ran was based somewhat on adventures I had written. Each would last several sessions of 4-6 hours each. This was a NR campaign I ran a few years ago. It took place 25 years after ROTJ (This was long before any NJO books came out...) It added detail to the academy on Yavin IV, there was a War of Genocide (where all the aliens decided to kill of the human race, started by Borsk Fey'lya - very nasty!), and some conflict with some Imperial Warlords...

The second game I ran was an all pilot game (Phoenix Squadron) which took place 2 years before ANH. It was centered around the introduction of the new X-Wing to the Rebellion and this squadron was the first combat unit to receive it. This campaign was episodic and each adventure lasted one evening's play.

In both campaigns I would change up with the adventures. Some were heavy in action and heroic effort. Others were strong in roleplaying. Some were a mixture. There were cerebral stories and straight entertainmetn that required little thought. There was comedy and horror and just a little Twilight Zone to really shake them up occasionally. But it was always fun. I think. ;)

7 November 2002, 10:33 AM
The first adventure, I usually make so they can progress through the first level pretty quickly. It gives a sense of accomplishment. It is usually pretty combat heavy and starts to set up the story. A little bit on intrigue, and not too many decisions.

The next adventures really setup the major antagonists, and the major story line. Lots of decisions, research, thinking, and a fair mix of combat mixed in. Players should go up about 2 levels in this part.

The middle of the campaign I like to make things a little harder on the PC's. They aren't going to win as easily or as often, and there is usually a very major set back. The PC's by the end of this time should be around 6-8th level.

The PC's should be recovering from the setback by this point, and should be making strides to resolve the major conflict. This should take up the rest of the campaign with the heroes finishing some where around 13-16th level depending on the length of the campaign.

I also tend to allow the PC's a lot of leeway too. It seems more like they are the ones making their own decisions. I try to plan for as many contingencies as I can, and usually leave most encounters some what open to work with this approach.

cherry al
7 November 2002, 10:58 AM
This has been a good thread so far. Just to clarify, I do appreciate the input, but I use the old D6 system. I think it is so much better and flows a lot more like star wars should. Not that I pay too much attention to the system.

I have been GMing for so long now, I have almost lost track of how long.

One of the PCs is the Leiutenant of the commando team, the rest are low rankers.

The leiutenant has the privelage of rank, better wages, better bunk, more clout etc. But the draw back of occasional paper work and balancing accounts! Don't worry I don't waste much time on that. Just like to hammer home the point every once in a while.


Don't think any of them read this stuff, but better safe than sorry.

The campaign is intended to flow like a war ould. The ship will receive casualties, will get thrown in to the front line. WIll run hit and fade attacks. WIll deploy commandos to take out objectives designated by command etc.

The campaign is a long term one, as players leave the game moer will come in. Eventually the commando team, if not the entire ship may have an entirely different crew.8o

The game will eventually make it through Jedi and into New Republic territory, sustainig a lot of casualties along the way. When they 'beat' the Empire I want them to sit abck and realsie just what it cost them as people, what friends they lost.

Anotehr funny point, we have one force sensitive PC and 2 failed jedi who just discovered each other last session! If this attracts the attention of the Emperor or Lord Vader, then life will become hell for the ship as it is huted down by Imperials specificaly to get a hold of those 'Jedi'.

I will post a bti mroe about the plot later, there is some cool stuff about the shipe they run in. But it will have to wait as I need dinner, then need bed. As Vice City comes out tomorrow and I need to get to work early so I can leave early!

May not post tomorrow or Saturday as I have a date :)

Chat later all, thanks for teh input this could be a good thread for GMs all over.


14 November 2002, 10:56 AM
This has been a good thread started here but if you want it to be d6 specific CherryAl you should throw it in that d6 discussion group otherwise you will get d20 stuff thrown at you as well.

cherry al
14 November 2002, 12:08 PM
Well, to clarify a point...

I don't mind D20 stuff to be honest. This thread was started by me, but I do hope others can get use from it too!

The flow of a campaign and character development (stats wise) is just one element of the thread.

There is also the emotional development and the scars of a campaign to consider.

Hmm, sorry tasty toast and cheese. I am eating my paltry dinner as I write.

So I ran another session on Tuesday, PLAYERS GO AWAY!!

It went very well. The players had previously been captured by Imperials and they had their crippled ship impounded. Needless to say they escaped and stole another ship, only losing 2 crew in the process.

They stole an Imperial corvette, used for supply escort. So now they have blockade runner with a rack of tie interceptors instead of x-wings. That pissed them off! But they do have a fully functional ship now. Before they were plagued by supply problems and bad systems.

But they have stolen a ship that was part of an imperial experiment..... The ship has a living core which is growing and developing. Merging with systems.

The developing force sensitive character has been plagued by dreams and strange feelings.... The ship has been showing signs of strange power fluctuations etc.

Droids have been acting strange and no longer follow orders. Only the droids can get to parts of the ship! They are needed to perform maintanence!

So the ship is a main plot thread and is developing as a worrying theme for the crew. Who are tasked with causing trouble in the sector of space around Tatooine. SO far they have caused themselves mroe trouble than the Empire. Who will be after them to recover their ship!

The ship thread I intend to develop over the course of teh next few months. Try to develop a sort of personality for the ship, in a very subtle way of course. And to start hounding them with Imperial activity that seems to be after them.

What do you all think?? The players have also upset Jaba quite a bit, stole a bunch of R2 droids then a freighter from him. So they are on his Sh** list too. How far do you think I should push the Jaba thread, have him maybe ally with some Imperial factions who might be looking for leads?? Imperial Intelligence perhaps...

Cheers all

14 November 2002, 12:44 PM
I tend to keep my campaigns fairly short, three to four adventures. I find this keeps my players from getting bored and going astray. We try to get together once a week, for about 3 hours a session. So I try to limit my adventures to 2 maybe 3 sessions max. Otherwise I find my players lose interest.
AS far as structure goes, I like to make a general outline of the adventure and let the players fill in the rest. I find if I make it too rigid my players totally f***k it up before long :P I find an outline is much easier to come up with that a complete story when you are short on time(which I always seem to be)
I try to keep descriptions short and combat frequent. I describe things enough to set the mood and leave the rest up to the players, otherwise things can really bog down in my experience. And a good firefight every half hour or so keeps 'em interested. Humour is a good way to keep the players in the game too. I'm sure my gang comes back every week just to see what dumb situation I will throw at them.:D

cherry al
14 November 2002, 01:22 PM
I have gone a few sessions without combat before, I don't find I have to use it every session. But sometimes you just can't beat a good firefight.

but I had a great thing from one of my players the other week, they had some 'downtime' to play around in and do stuff on the ship.

This guys is playing a failed jedi type, has no lightsaber etc and repairs droids as his job on the ship, as well as being part of the commando team.

He says he is going back to his room for some training, he finds a brook stick and starts swinging it around making lightsaber noises! I nearly killed myself laughing.

I find that there has to be a point to each of my sessions especially since I only run for 2-3 hours.

So In one scenario it was to obtain more droids from tatooine for the ship. In another it was to buy a freighter, they stole one from Jabba inteh end. As well as cutting back to the otehr half of the group stranded on the ship when freaky stuff started to happen. It was cool.

Next week, er I haven't thought yet. But it will prob be some investigation inside the ship and an imperial attack on the ship. That is about as much as I write for any given scenario.

I mean really all I write, but I am very good at improvising. i like ti when players can keep me on my toes, more fun for me.


Right, time for bed, got work in the morning, but then again it is Friday tomorrow. Weekend!!!!!!!! Time to go out and get a bit drunk, come home and regret it in the morning. :p