Campaign Cookbook

Since I apparently don’t have enough to do, I’ve been considering another project, possibly to be packaged for sale on OBS or Lulu or something.

No, I haven’t forgotten the interest people have expressed in my doing this for the megadungeon, and in fact they are related.

I’ve been asked about presenting a ‘node-based sandbox’, and the more I think about it the more the idea interests me.

I’ve never really liked ‘Adventure Paths’ because they tend to expect a certain progression.  From what I can see they expect not only that the PCs travel in certain directions (between modules in the path) but achieve certain levels of power.  I hope they don’t expect certain outcomes for each module (such as “this boss was defeated”), but I can imagine this being the case.

I imagine creating a number of related locations and scenarios, with links between them.  The general outline can be represented (for design and discussion purposes) as a graph similar to the ones I did for the megadungeon.  Over time it can be extended and additional locations and scenarios added, or a second one created that may or may not interact with the first.

The locations and scenarios in the general outline could then be expanded on.  Each could become a module (probably fairly short, I envision 16 pages or so, but can imagine larger ones where appropriate).  The primary document for each module is focused on the scenario and relationships of the things within it, and is largely system-neutral.  It is probably sufficient to know that a ‘big fiery dragon covets a (specific) magic item held by a powerful person in the area’ and the cunning plan the dragon has to acquire it (possibly starting with extortion: “hand the macguffin over or I’ll burn down your village”), plus the supporting cast (who can have their own stories; I see no reason to limit each location to a single scenario).

Major elements tend to have connections elsewhere.  The dragon, the powerful person, and the item itself may have full entity definitions in a removable format so they can be easily kept in a central location.  The majority of the information for each element is again at a fairly high, system-neutral level.  However, the entity definition does have a section for mechanics, so at this point it would be reasonable to have system-specific information start to show up — perhaps OSR and Pathfinder or something, there’s no real reason to limit it to only one system.

The ‘cookbook’ idea originally came from the idea of the entity definitions being prepared on 5″x8″ index cards and stored in a central location.  I was thinking of my dad’s recipe box.  The box would be full of elements that can be combined by modules into a campaign.  On reconsideration the idea is sound, but the expected layout, while kind of nifty, is probably inconvenient.  I think I’ll go back to laying the elements out on letter paper, there is room for more information (though the constrained space encourages me to write more concisely, something regular readers will likely agree is a skill I could improve on).

However, I think I may try to prepare the modules in several formats.  PDF is straightforward, but much the same workflow can be used for Word (DOCX) and LibreOffice (ODF) files, so I might produce those as well to make it easy for GMs to adjust the material to suit their own campaigns.  I outline the campaign and provide descriptions for the various locations scenarios, possibly with mechanics to implement them… but make it easy for GMs to change what they want and make it their own.

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