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Running a Theatrical Campaign - Part Three

   Posted by: Wolfgod   in Fantasy, RPG

THE ANCIENT WIZARD has made his best pitch to the surly band of heroes - the noble King’s lovely daughter has been abducted by the villanous villain, and taken back to his lair in the Lavastone Mountains.  Will this brave and noble band accept the quest to rescue the fair maiden?

The heroes answer ‘Why should we?”

The Gamemaster is thinking ‘because if you don’t, you’ll just sit here in the tavern all night?’ … but that won’t get the heroes motivated to take up your quest.  Don’t worry, you didn’t do anything wrong, they’re just being proper heroes.

Whether your realize it or not, most heroes in Western epic stories say ‘no’ when they’re first given the Quest, whatever it is.  Did Frodo jump at the chance to walk to Mordor with the Ring?  Did Luke forget all about his family and leap at the chance to run off with Ben Kenobi?    (Concidentally, this is why the boastful Beowulf feels wrong to a modern audience - back then, you had to brag about your reputation to people who didn’t know you.  Western storytelling has changed in 1,200 years)  Your players are just trying to play heroes the way they’ve seen them played on the big screen or in various splendid books.

So - you have to be ready for this.  All your players are really asking for is a REASON why they should care.  You could plan these things in advance - the Paladin, for example, could be engaged to the damsel in distress.  Now not only is he going, he’ll work to talk the other players into the adventure.  Or the Rogue could be in debt to the local crime lord, and desperate for both money and a way out of town.  If you haven’t planned these things in advance, you could spring them on the heroes after they’ve refused the quest.  Remember that every player is going to want his character to be hooked as an individual - everyone always sees themselves as the hero of their own story.  Play to that if you can.

Sometimes you won’t have prepared backstory for every character, or you’ll have players who don’t do that level of roleplaying development, or you’ll just want to shove the campaign along so you can get to slaughtering orcs for silver coins before midnight.  That’s when you bring in the Mentor - which I’ll address in Part Four.

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This entry was posted on Monday, October 6th, 2008 at 3:22 pm and is filed under Fantasy, RPG. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can leave a response, or trackback from your own site.

2 comments so far


Good ideas, I like them.

Also, tying experience to gold earned (like the original D&D) or even to gold spent (might be an even better twist) might work too - suddenly the mere prospect of earning some extra money becomes a hell of an incentive for the player.

October 19th, 2008 at 2:33 am

Excellent point - XP’s are probably the single most valuable thing in the D20 system. ;)

October 19th, 2008 at 6:56 am

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