Party went bananas. How do I keep the campaign going from here?

Started by Warrior Monk, June 27, 2011, 09:51:48 PM

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Warrior Monk

Last session of the, let's say, generic heartbreaker my group is currently playing, went spinning in a different way than expected. Not that I complain, I kinda like the result, but it turns out that a generic dungeon crawler RPG has turned into... well, it can be part diplomatic, part big scale battles, part conspiration scheme RPG. Game system isn't mean to be strong at this so I'll have to improvise some mechanics and I'm taking suggestions. However, mostly I would like to share our experience since it may help people here prepare their systems or make games around this situation.

Campaing started with the usual plot "characters have gone amnesiac, don't know what they did the last three years, now they are wanted for kidnapping a princess" Just to find the head of the princess among their belongings. They start to look for clues, meet old enemies they don't know a single thing about on the road, end up in a dungeon... where one of the players decides to kill his character to create a new one. This triggered the sudden change. I asked him to roleplay the situation and explain why his character becomes suicidal. Using the background and explaining the aspects the character was created with, we agreed that the character had family issues, that he couldn't stand seeing his family argue and fall apart, and since the party was his family now and they have been fighting a lot among themselves in the last session, he was feeling like his family was falling apart again, so he threats them with his suicide. His fellows come to reason and try to stop him, but they fail miserably and the final words of his companion became their new aspect: "it's your fault!"

We all laughed at the scene, since it was all because the player was kinda bored with his character and I finally agree for him to create a new one. So going with such a boom was kind of appropiate. But that was just the start: Their fellows started to argue again (and yes, this was happening still in the middle of the dungeon), but this time not among themselves but against all society. They blamed it on the forces of good and evil that pushed them this far, and vowed to get revenge, So they formed a Gray Army, to fight everyone on their way and protect the innocents whe struggle in the same battle and line with no sides. They all got a bunch of story points and new aspects for their roleplaying, and I allowed them to get out of the dungeon and jump directly to an scene in fast motion, where their started to talk townspeople into their belief.

Thanks to heavens, I decided not to write much plot in advance or I'll be dumping a lot of work to the trash. I designed the factions in the game to react to the new situations based in their respective agenda so, though this doesn't actually modify anything I prepared, this new situation will certainly will call the attention of the powers in the dark and perhaps precipitate a lot of things.

Now players will have to work into some resource management (right after they get rid of the defenders of the town in the next session) and prepare against the assault of all the factions in the game in a sort of tower defense game. Of course, these factions not only will make massive incursions, some will infiltrate and some will negotiate instead of facing them directly. As I wrote, the system isn't exactly prepared for this, though as a GM I must (and can) adapt to keep the game flowing. The change of pace is actually interesting for me, and as a GM I'm starting to enjoy not knowing how the campaing is going to end. Wish me luck.

Frank Tarcikowski

Good luck! :-) Are you familiar with the company rules from Greg Stolze's RPG "Reign"? They are designed for this very thing, so you might find some inspiration there.

- Frank
BARBAREN! - The Ultimate Macho Role Playing Game - finally available in English


Good luck from me too! It sounds like you handled the situation brilliantly, so I don't really know what it is you're asking from us...

What system do you play? It sounds like a Fate hack.

I'll second Franks suggestion. But if for some reason you don't want to use Reign to handle organizations, you might want to use Fate-style Fractals.
The basic idea of this is: Generate Organisations just like characters. Give them Aspects, choose skills and stress bars, use the rest of the system as written. I've heard there are some ready-made rules in this vein in Legends of Anglerre.

OTOH, you don't really need mechanical rules for organizations. You could just keep the experience really personal for the characters.

But well, other than that... It sounds like you've got one hell of a campaign going!


Warrior Monk

Thanks a lot for the good wishes and suggestions! We're usind a pretty generical heartbeaker system, only with the addition of 3 to 6 aspects, chosen by the players from a list. However, those aspects can change in the course of play, as in FATE. I'll try both books, hope they will help me trace an idea of the future of this campaign, or just give me better ideas to react to player's input. Let's see how far this can take us :D

Ron Edwards


Am I understanding correctly that you're playtesting a home-grown system? Or is this a published game? Let me know.

I'm interested in your account of play, but I'm having trouble understanding the issue at hand. I guess I'm not relating your thread title to the account. It sounds as if the system was used exactly for its obvious purpose, to allow the players to set up Aspects and plot-oriented priorities as they see fit. It also looks as though you're enthusiastic about the prospect, and about stepping a little out of your previous comfort zone. Am I missing something?

Best, Ron

Warrior Monk

I wouldn't call it a playtesting, since we are using a hack of Anima, with aspects which aren't exactly plot-oriented priorities... and we aren't evolving the game anymore for the moment, though it still shows flaws here and there. By the way we are using the system it could be still D&D GM'ed by a irresponsible storyteller (ok, just kidding but you can get the idea)

However I posted this to adress the fact that players indeed took me out of my comfort zone for a moment, but then I tried to look at it as a challenge to see if a system designed for a dungeon crawler game could work into a political complot... and still feature some combat. Gladly I can do this without adding more rules, but I still was lacking then enough ideas about how to direct a political complot campaign.


I don't know how Anima works, but if I was in this situation as a GM, I would keep things really simple, but you guys will find out I am a fan of relatively simple stuff.

This actually reminds me of one of my influences, Suikoden. In Suikoden you gain a castle after a while, and from a 6-party standard RPG it suddenly throws in things like army-size warfare and searching for allies. The army warfare was really simple. It was basically a rock paper scissors deal, and keeping in that simplicity, you could just dice off for any given situation. Give people bonuses on their rolls if they have an Aspect that matches the situation, and just dice off with the enemies.

You don't even have to show them that you do it this way. Just dice off behind your GM screen. They wouldn't know if your roll a D6 or D100. But that's just me.

It does sound like the campaign took a really fun turn! I would love GMing that!