Thursday, November 20, 2008

Work on the Winkie Country document proceeds as time and life allow.

One thing that I've been having difficulties with is how to make people want to play the game. Raising the bar on the setting material is something that I hope will help. What I'm thinking of doing right now is coming up with a number of campaign frames.

For those readers who are not gamers, a campaign frame is much like the premise of a TV show. It tells the viewer (or player, in this case) what the game is about. This can help a player create a character that will be appropriate and also give them an idea of what kind of adventures to expect. Especially with a setting as expansive as Oz, it can be daunting for a Game Master to use even half of what is out there. Here are a few examples that I've thought of so far:

Princess Ozma's Exploratory Mission: After the troubles with the Skeezers and the Flatheads, Ozma decides that she cannot afford to have so much of her land unexplored and uncivilized. She has commissioned a band of explorers to make diplomatic contact with every community they find.

Notes: This is probably an optimum campaign frame for most games. It gives the characters a very good excuse to explore Oz and stick their noses into all sorts of things.

Over the Rainbow: The characters are from the outside world and find themselves in Oz or it's neighboring fairylands. At least early on, the quest will be to find a way home, though the players may decide to keep exploring the strange places they encounter, or settle down in the Emerald City, in which case it becomes a rather different campaign.

Notes: This is the kind of thing people typically expect of Oz, so it certainly has it's uses. Character types are somewhat limited, as a Crafted Person or Large Animal will typically not make sense as part of the initial party (Hank the Mule is something of an exception), but they could certainly be added to the group shortly after arrival. This campaign is generally of finite length. Either the heroes will return home and the story will end, or they will decide to stay, in which case it becomes a different sort of game.

Any other ideas?

I am actually somewhat leery of the use of the word "campaign" in this context. It comes from the war-gaming roots of RPGs, where a campaign was a series of battles. While it makes sense for a game like Dungeons & Dragons, where the game is built around battles, it makes less sense for a game like "Adventures in Oz". White Wolf's World of Darkness games tried to propogate the term "chronicle" for an extended story or connected series of stories, but that just seems a bit pretentious. So is the World of Darkness, so I suppose it works. I find myself preferring the term "series" or "game", but for some long time gamers, I'm sure old habits die hard.


Nathan said...

Maybe a search for a missing person or a particular magic item would also make a good campaign? Then there's the typical Thompsonian plot of trying to save one of the small kingdoms of Oz.

Oz RPG said...

Certainly. The epic quest has long been a tradition both in Oz and fantasy gaming. The challenge is: each quest is for a different thing for a different purpose. Writing a broad-based "frame" like in the main post is a challenge for that sort of thing. I might tackle it at some point, but the geographic overview is taking most of my design time right now.

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