On the Shoulders of Dwarves
Solidifying Your Campaign (episode 88)
Each game involved some basic elements such as:
- System (the game mechanics)
- Setting (the world, the location, the metaphysics etc)
- Themes (the subject matter)
- Plot structure (episodial, dungeon crawling, overarching plot, sandbox)
- Nature of the characters (young, inexperienced, hardened veteren, fish out of water, professionals etc.)
Each of these elements can usually be solidified during one of three phases: before the first session, in your session 0, or during the game play.
Determining each of these elements during these different phases have it’s advantages and disadvantages.
## Before the Game (04:42)
Setting all or most of these elements before the first session, usually in the invite to the game.
- Full compatibility - You as a GM only get players interested in the game you want to run and the players can opt into a game they wish
- No brainstorming - there isn’t any point where the party can suggest improvements or new directions.
We talked about some suggestions to handle this phase in [episode 29 - Matching the players to the game](https://dwarves.podiant.co/e/matching-the-players-to-the-game-episode-29-3655243df45c08/).
Eran usually “pitch” a few fully formed campaign ideas and let his players decide among those.
## During Session 0 (07:45)
Session 0, if you are unfamiliar with the term is a meetup of the gaming group to set expectations regarding upcoming game. It is the purpose of this meetup to set most of the elements we’re discussing here.
- Inspiration \- depending on how much of the elements are decided beforehand this can lead up to new ideas. Themes and characters that the GM or each players wouldn’t have thought of by themselves.
- Compromises \- sometimes during these discussions the end result may require some members to compromise. This isn’t a full disadvantage since it’s better to learn of these problems before investing more time and effort.
## During Game Play (10:32)
Sometimes we leave elements undiscussed and that is fine. Especially if the GM wants to keep some aspects secretive (how the PCs react to betrayal for instance). This is a tool that has its own advantages and disadvantages. And has some ramifications regarding the nature of the game, for examples sandbox games give the players more control over the subjects matter their characters will interact with.
- Organic development \- The players get to explore the world around them and decide on what topics to focus on when they choose.
- Surprise \- the players do not know what to expect.
- Possible disappointment \- the players may discover that they don't enjoy the game or dislike the themes in it.
We mentioned some aspects of this in [episode 19 - customising the campaign to the players](https://dwarves.podiant.co/e/customising-the-campaign-to-the-players-episode-19-36082ec3b14f62/).
## Further Considerations (15:15)
- Tasting Menu - trying many things, different GMs
- Framing \- Switching GMs? Switching characters?
- Fronts \- as we’ve discussed at [episode 86 - derailing the campaign](https://dwarves.podiant.co/e/derailing-the-campaign-back-on-track-episode-86-3812ca6c95b066/).
- Closed-ended vs open ending - heading toward an ending (all campaigns have a final session, not all have an ending) (check out [episode 69 - ending the campaign](https://dwarves.podiant.co/e/ending-the-campaign-episode-69-3799c4e82c99ec/)).
- Switching characters
- What keeps the PCs together
- Handling character death
# Summary (25:05)
[Odyssey: The Complete Game Master’s Guide to Campaign Management](https://www.drivethrurpg.com/product/116551/Odyssey-The-Complete-Game-Masters-Guide-to-Campaign-Management?affiliate_id=29668), by Engine Publishing
Setting each element in the right phase can really help both GMs and players to join and play the game they want.
# Taking the load off (26:10)
- Uri - Working on his adventure, revamping our patreon page.
- Eran - Working on my board game and adventure.
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Intro and outro based on On the Shoulders of Dwarves by the Cliches Duo. On the Shoulders of Dwarves is shared under [Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International](https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc/4.0/).
Brought to you by Eran Aviram of On the Shoulders of Dwarves