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D1 Series #3

Reaching for alternate ways of constructing an RPG gaming series is a necessary task if you have been an active GM for any length of time. Previously, we addressed some simple steps that all members of the gaming group can share. This very brief article will expand on that idea with more variety as well as a good bit of randomization.

A cooperative campaign build is a good way to knit a tighter relationship at the table but it also is a great way to create a unique and interesting setting. Everyone has their own preferences regarding game elements and teamwork in this stage helps to assure that the players and the GM all get a couple of things that they really like during playing time. An extended brainstorming session will produce a ton of ideas and countless ways to combine them but it is pretty chaotic. A better method requires a bit of structure with each participant given a particular game element to oversee but everyone granted the ability to weigh in on it.

If the GM desires the maintaining of control but still wants something different, the use of charts, lists and random die rolls are his friends. The early years of Dungeons & Dragons made ample use of random encounter tables for incidental scenes as well as the core of most adventure modules. They have been reduced in focus and utility over the years but they remain a great tool for game sessions. They also are a fantastic resource in campaign building. In a similar vein, old 1st Edition sourcebooks even had random terrain charts and random tunnel and chamber map sections. By finding those old tools and making complete use of them, a GM has the ability to craft wildly fresh adventures and setting frameworks that stretch beyond the typical models so often relied upon.

Other game systems actually thrive on this sort of randomized approach. GURPS 3rd Edition was regarded as a very modular system with scores of single-volume sourcebooks covering all manner of topics. From a huge range of historical eras, real world places, actual events, fictional elements and even licensed properties, plus a number of books covering different genres types and technologies, truly infinite campaign possibilities were available. An almost-truthful joke about GURPS was “take the Core Rule Book, maybe Compendium One, and then throw three darts at the pile of sourcebooks and boom — there’s you’re new campaign!” A bit of work was required to combine the various concepts and elements but, with a little effort and no fear, a gaming group could get incredible results this way.

We will look at more ways of taking your games to a new level soon.