Category Archives: Fluff/Inspiration

They don’t sparkle, period!

I know I am late to the party, the Vampire the Masquerade 20th anniversary celebration was last year. But I did not catch the anniversary bug until this year. My relation with Vampire is a complicated one. I was in college and gaming actively during the heyday of the World of Darkness. I played 1st edition, but never got the books, When 2nd edition came out I got them and played sporadically. These were also the heydays of Magic the Gathering and our sessions would always start late because someone wanted to play a hand of Magic.

Despite being primarily a Game Master during my years gaming, I was never a Storyteller for a Vampire game. One of the things I enjoy the most is playing my homebrewed world, and at this time we were playing AD&D 2nd edition. If this was the golden age for Vampire and the World of Darnkess, it was not for AD&D. I worked at a FLGS and whenever I talked about my AD&D game with some RPG fans I got this weird condescending look, as if I was still playing child’s games instead of engaging in immersive storytelling. I felt disdain for the game I played. I don’t know what your experience was but I felt a lot of World of Darkness gamers were snobs, their game was better than anyone else’s.

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The Compact: Post-apocalyptic Campaign

Michael’s recent post about his upcoming campaign has lit a fire under me to work on a couple of campaigns I’ve had on the backburner for a while. He always tells me I should post about my game sessions, campaigns and the prep I am doing but I always fear this will be of little interest for the majority of you. But I can’t stop thinking about this campaign and I guess a blog post is a good place as any to start organizing my ideas. Hope you like them and they may inspire you for your own games.

The Compact

The children played near the long wooden tables where the villagers had dinned not long ago. Sundown was coming and they ran down the field towards the crops. The celebration meant that harvest was drawing near and many of these children would soon have little time to play. Their cries of joy were suddenly silenced when they saw the old man. He stood a few feet from them, seeming to have come out of the corn, his beard wild and unkempt, and his frame thin and frail, tanned by the sun. But it was his eyes that scared the children. They seemed to dart to and fro, always looking at things unseen. His laughter crackled and one of the younger boys sobbed.

The older children had been taught to respect the elders and some of them picked up the younger scared ones and tried to leave but the old man would have nothing of this. “No, stay children, stay… Come sit here in a circle, now in a circle… Let me tell you a story, a story of the time before the valley, before the community, before the war.”

Despite the hesitation and the fear gossip might have installed on the children, none of them could pass up such a story. It was rare indeed for any of the adults to speak of this. Even the scared ones wiped away their tears and sat in a circle around the old man. The sun was setting beyond the corn fields, beyond the mountains ringing the valley, and it painted the sky red as the old man began his tale…

“I remember the time, the time before the war. We lived in villages of glass and steel, much larger than the eighty odd houses huddled around the town hall and the great house, and there were many more of us. Well not all were like us. Some looked different, spoke differently or believed in different things. Not only where there horseless wagons dancing around the houses of glass and steel, but great metal birds made by man flew across the sky and travelled beyond the clouds to the stars.

And then there was war, the skies were sundered and the seas burned. The great villages of men were torn down and the survivors killed each other for the scraps. And there were worse dangers, things we had forgotten about…”

The old man suddenly fell silent, night had come and the children were all mesmerized. Under the moon the old man’s eyes and hair seemed to glow. He mumbled something, sat down among the children and snapped out of his daze. “The cold came soon, and the darkness that would not lift. The founders all came together and decided to leave it all behind. To seek refuge in the wild, the forgotten lands, and came here to the valley. We all gathered and signed the compact, agreed to come together in the great house and select those amongst us best suited to lead. We plowed the fields mined the hills beyond the swamp and in the end reaped what we sowed…”

He rose with a jump, startling the children. Agitated he began to speak faster and faster, almost incoherently. “We tried to hide, to leave it behind but they would not stay away and then they were tempted and the compact, the compact was broken and remade, sad, and the light the blue light…” The distant night sky flared up, blue as if lightning was coming from beyond the mountains and the old man began to laugh. But the laugh was tainted with sadness and desperation, and a few of the children though they saw his tears as he ran back into the corn fields.

The idea behind this campaign is a little different; it’s less Mad Max and more The Village. The players are the younger members of a community of survivors that hid in a valley and created a sheltered community. They cultivate the fields; make ethanol fuel to run simple generators, make gunpowder for the weapons they manufacture and the leaders of the community enforce order under the authority given to them by the compact, a document signed by the community founders. All is not well, for reasons unknown to the players some families left the compact some time ago and took over the far side of the valley, taking control of the mines. But something has happened to them and they are spoken of only in hushed tones.

There are limited medical supplies and the community relies on a healer whose craft he or she passes down to their apprentice in secret; the sick are treated in the great house in the utmost secrecy. The great house is also the place where the elder members of the community gather around the book of the compact and make the decisions for the village.

This is my basic concept for the game, it still needs to be fleshed out, establish some specifics, but that’s what I‘ve got so far. What do you think? Have any suggestions? I hope to post more about it soon…

More details on my new campaign

On the weekend my girlfriend worked on the campaign world for our upcoming Shadow, Sword & Spell game. I am actually very happy with the result so far and aside from a proper map I have almost enough material for the next step.

The next step will of course be character creation. When I know what kind of characters my players want to play and more importantly what their goals are, I can put some more work in the world itself. But instead of fleshing out everything, I’ll focus on what I need to run an interesting game suited to my player’s characters and their goals.

I also decide that instead of running a pure sandbox game I will probably use what I call the “Elder Scrolls method”. The Elder Scrolls computer games are basically sandbox games at their heart with a main plotline tacked on. So while you can explore the world at your own pace and set your own goals there’s also a plot to follow. The Elder Scrolls also differs in another aspect from a pure sandbox game. Some events only happen when they are initiated by the player. I will probably use this approach, too, mainly because both my players and I are not too familiar with sandbox gaming and a more plot-based approach may make things easier for us until we are comfortable with this mode of play.

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