Friday, January 3, 2014

Making Success Interesting, Part III

The last two posts touched on making success interesting. The first one did the obligatory introduction and advised you to take a break and think, rather than panic, when faced with a character's sudden, dramatic success.

The second post advised you to approach the issue of the sudden, campaign-altering event on the campaign level. Don't screw up your campaign by trying to fix an event in a single session or adventure.

Now we're going to talk about a dark and treacherous path. You've decided to panic. You're going to start doing stuff right now, in the heat of the moment.

Here's what to do.

Don't just delete what happened, especially in a hamfisted way. That's terrible GMing regardless of your style.

Accept that your campaign is going off the rails.

Push it further off the rails.

If you've been GMing for more than a day or two, you probably already have more campaign ideas than you can possibly run. If what just happened is going to completely mess up all your plans, congratulations, your old campaign is dead. Long live the new campaign.

The hitch is that you're not really starting a new campaign, but your plans have been so blasted to pieces that you might as well adopt that mindset.

Wrap that story arc or campaign up, throw the players a little parade, and launch right into your next campaign. If this was the final battle or event of the campaign, well then who cares? You were going to end it anyway.

Otherwise, launch that campaign you've been thinking of right now.

Is it a different genre? Don't be concerned about that. Any story can fit into almost any genre. Kurowsawa's Seven Samurai has been retold as a western, a medieval epic, and a space opera. Seven Samurai actually relies on its time and place to make sense of its set up, and yet it's still easy to shift into almost any genre imaginable.

The point is this: The random crap that completely derails campaigns is only a problem if you insist that your campaign has to have rails. We all want to run more campaigns than we'll ever possibly cram into cram into our tabletop RPG time budget. This is an opportunity, not a tragedy.

At this stage, if the players have pushed things so far off course and into the realm of solving all the problems you threw in front of them, your old campaign is over. Start a new one inside this one.

Next time, we'll talk about prep and planning for flexibililty.

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