Thursday, 26 June 2014

Thoughts on how to run my sci-fi campaign

Thoughts on how to run my sci-fi campaign

I have been thinking about running a sci-fi campaign down the club for a while now.  I have run campaigns before but they tended to take up a lot of time and energy. I did however run a skirmish (almost) role play campaign that was very successful that managed to take up very little time and energy.  So I have been revisiting some thoughts from back then.  

So how can I do this without too much paper work and time? The first thing I needed to think about was the level the campaign would be aimed at. Are we talking armies taking over worlds and struggles across star systems, with all the economic factors and resources management?  I did not want to have to worry about the output of a colony or how many men a colony had in its army.  And then it came to me: Space pirates and mercenaries.  If the player was a commander of a group of pirates or mercenaries then such concerns would be way above his pay grade. I realised I could take out nearly all the record keeping by simply saying each player was a combat commander.  He need not worry about logistics and neither had I.  All he had to concentrate on was fighting the battle and making requests to a higher authority when he wanted something outside his level of authority.  In this campaign I could fight battles with my 15mm forces with around a platoon to a company per side.   Each player would have a limited number or troops and vehicles at his disposal but would know roughly what extra he might be able to call on.  But that would be down to his superiors ( in other words me as GM).

Now as a rules writer I realised I have a tendency to get carried away with righting lots of rules.  It struck me that this was totally unnecessary.  I had considered writing a complex system for the time it would take and the cost of repairing mecha and vehicles. But this I can do away with. As the GM I can decide what the answer is to any question like “how long until my mecha is repaired?” or “How many anti-tank missiles do we have?”  I would take a leaf out of my style of very freeform role playing I GM from time to time.  I would just make it up on the spot and note down any decision I made.  Suddenly I felt free of the many constraints imposed by rules systems.   Now I could simply supply my players with the info they needed without reference charts and logistics.  A player does not need to know how the answer to his question is generated. Just like in real life.  A platoon commander simply askes his superiors when his casualties will be replaced.  He has no interest the cost or how they will be arriving.  All he needs is a when and how many. 

This method I think would work for many historical campaigns too.  The players need not even know you are making it all up.  If they ask a question just tell them to hang on a sec whilst you find out.  Then go off roll a dice, make up the answer and simply note down your decision.  It’s the end result the players have that matters not how you got there.  As long as it all seems fair and reasonable.


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