Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Campaign design in Tianxia

By now you have probably picked up on what's my favourite Fate setting, the wuxia game Tianxia from Vigilance Press. I have ran a few sessions, and decided to wrote some words on how setting development and campaign design have worked for me.

First off I might say I consider a campaign to be a GM and his or her ongoing game, not a storyline. That being said, I have not really thought much about where this game will be heading. My main focus was to have a set up that would enable people to come and go, and always have a reason so slot in the game for a night.

The gathering point, I decided, would be one of the security and escort companies that litter the setting of Jiangzhou. Having a central repository of "missions" and clients would help tie the characters to existing conflicts and also to powerful individuals that could make life interesting for them.

If you have ever played Call of Cthulhu, you are probably well familiar with the question of not only "why are we doing this again?", but also "why am I hanging out with these nut cases again?". For me that is a very relevant question, not only in CoC. By having the escort company, I get to offer some kind of fall back to those questions for the PCs. For those tired nights when everyone feel less than inspired, that can be a great help. This is what I wrote for the central organization for my campaign.
The Iron Monkey Security Company
It Will Be Delivered On Time
Discretion Above All
It's like a family
Great Contacts +4
Good Resources +3
Fair Lore +3
I really like the way you stat things up like this. I gives you some game mechanics to hang on to. If I'm out of ideas I can always use those traits as a problem and off we go.

For me it has often been a source of problem to tie the PCs to the actions in the setting. I've been a CoC fan for ages, and the idea of Delta Green as a solution to that age old problem for CoC is not exactly new to me. Maybe I had to read it in a book to feel I got the blessing of the game designer to use it somewhere else, I don't know.

I decided the company is run by "Old Monkey Li" one of the disciples of The Flashing Sword Song. Another of Song's disciples, Madame Wu, is running The Golden Flower Company which will be a possible source of conflicts.

I think the next time I start up a "D&D game", broadly interpreted, I will also start with an centring organization like this. It strikes me as I write this that The Harpers in the Realms probably started out with a similar function. Well, it would not be the first time I was a late guest to the party...

This is what I had when I started the first session. Every night would be another mission, or some intermezzo created by the last one. Regardless who showed up, the company would have representatives present as everyone was a brother or sister in the company. I decided to start the off on their way home from a mission, and naturally there was an ambush in the woods. Original, yeah right. But, it has worked before, have it not? At least it were no kobolds involved. Let's just say it's a classic.

From this start we put things in motion, and I'll write more about the highs and lows of what happened later. 


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