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D&D 3E
Contemplating campaigns. 
7th-Sep-2006 06:19 pm
Campaign settings are often designed on stereotypical concepts, like:

1. Finding or completing an artifact.
2. Killing the bad guy / bad race.
3. Saving the world.
4. Treasure hunters just looking to make a living.
5. Wars / human conflict.
6. Enmeshing character backstories that PCs create.
7. Following the story of an NPC, with the PCs as friends / secondary characters in the story.

What stereotypes do you like to typically run? What do you believe are the strengths and weaknesses of each? Do you find these stereotypes as often as I do? Do you run campaigns with long, intertwined stories, or is each session different and whimsical without any kind of pattern, like running PCs through modules from different publishers?
8th-Sep-2006 03:35 am (UTC)
Umm, most of these aren't "stereotypical concepts." I mean "war/human conflict" is pretty damn broad. I'd suggest that 90% of all stories/narratives/whatever involved "war/human conflict." And "enmeshing character backstories" isn't necessarily stereotypical. Actually it isn't even a concept, as much as a method of executing such a concept. Same with "following the story of an NPC." "Killing the bad guy" is also pretty damn broad--really any story with a villain of any sort (again, most stories) involves defeating the "bad guy."

Only "finding an artifact" and "treasure hunters just looking to make a living" would be considered stereotypical concepts. I use the artifact stuff a lot, as it provide a built-in quest which makes for nice adventures. I've never used the other one, as it kind of dismisses any character backstory, and most my gamers like having some kind of history.

I do use the "start in a tavern" cliche in every game, on purpose. I'm also into the "evil wizard" stereotypes, though that's been kind of hit or miss with me.
11th-Sep-2006 08:31 am (UTC)
I got corrected below, it was 'archetype' I was speaking of, not a stereotype. Used the wrong word. :)

It always seems like large scaled campaigns spout from a seed of some kind... and those seeds can be similar. Like, 'the evil wizard' is definately one of them. I was more interested in hearing about those kinds of things because I've always enjoyed building campaigns that are rather cliche, with a twist. Wasn't sure what kinds of cliche were present in other people's campaigns.

I've always been partial to stories about artifacts myself, especially the ones that are broken into pieces and need to be put back together again.
11th-Sep-2006 01:02 pm (UTC)
Well, the first major story-arc I ran was a "retrieve the artifact" type. It then moved onto a "kill the evil wizard" (who had been introduced as part of one of the PCs backstories).

My current game is also going the "retrieve the artifact" route, but the PCs don't know it yet (they think they're "looking for buried treasure"). Once they find the artifact, it'll turn into a bit of a revenge tale (I hope), where full-scale war breaks out.

Like I said, I tend to use cliches more in individual encounters rather than full-scale campaigns. I like starting off encounters in taverns. I'm planning on having the PCs attacked by bandits pretty soon. Actually, now that I think about it, I'm not sure how much I DO use cliches. I like surprising the PCs, and always try and figure out how to make an encounter interesting and different--not a repeat of whatever the last encounter was. I think I usually start with a cliche, and then mold it and mold it until it isn't really that bad anymore.
8th-Sep-2006 05:32 pm (UTC)
I use the "heroes on a quest" stereotype, like, ALL THE TIME.
11th-Sep-2006 08:27 am (UTC)
I was looking for some inspiration, not smart ass comments. Thank you though for making me reconsider my participation in this community.
10th-Sep-2006 03:30 am (UTC)
I like to base an entire campaign around some cool monster or prestige class that I read about... One of my cooler ones is about Vasharan Ur-Priests, banished from the plane before humankind, that finally return and start killing off the pantheon (by genociding the deities' power base- faithful followers)... It's quite obviously a high level campaign... Sucks to be a cleric with no Deity...

I also like to use evil wizards, necromancers mostly, but I did have some fun with a nasty kobold specializing in conjuring demons and the like... "Oh, a Kobold... Where's the big bad evil guy...?" (enter summoned Balor) "...I hate you..."
11th-Sep-2006 01:35 am (UTC)
OMG. That kobold idea is hilarious. Wow. Awesome.
11th-Sep-2006 08:29 am (UTC)
That's an interesting idea! I've enjoyed detailing character concepts before around certain prestiges, but never entire campaigns. I like the idea of using a prestige class as a basis though for further development.

The Fatemaker prestige class from Planar Handbook (not that grand of a class, really) was one I made important and tweaked in my last campaign, but I think importance is the closest I've ever gotten to using a prestige... never used one as the actual fuel for a storyline.
11th-Sep-2006 01:34 am (UTC)
I think the word you're really looking for is "archetype." : )

And lots of fantastic stories are based on archetypes- the ancient greeks used archetypal characters to tell stories, Star Wars is the Archetypal "hero's journey" etc.

I usually use a major war or the impending onset of a major war in my archetypal tales, or the rise of some very powerful villain, usually evil.
11th-Sep-2006 08:26 am (UTC)
Yeah, you're right, the word I definately was looking for was 'archetype.'

Normally this community has been rather friendly. It seems like the mixup in the words have earned my a couple of sarcastic comments (not including yours). It's been awhile since I posted though and it seems like sharing imaginative ideas / concepts like that isn't as easy as it used to be here. :(
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