Tuesday, September 3, 2013

Campaign Preparation

I was originally going to make a blog carnival post on campaign creation but instead got sidetracked by campaign preparation (and ran out of, well, August).

I've been slowly working on preparing a Fate of Vimary campaign for some time now. I've known I was going to run the metaplot campaigns, which means starting with Children of Lilith. Having run it several times in the past, I had a good idea of how I needed to tweak it out, but Fate brings some different considerations into the mix so I didn't want to do it cold turkey.

Over the years I've tried using various digital tools for campaign planning, from word processors to spreadsheets to mind maps. A lot of times I fall victim to having too many choices. It's kind of an opposite of the "when all you have is a hammer..." syndrome. I spend a lot of time fiddling with the tools and a lot less time actually planning anything out. Combine that with not having run a complex, interlocking campaign exactly like Children of Lilith in quite some time, and I was getting stuck in the pre-planning stage.

Since I had to take a trip last week (to Indianapolis no doubt, a week after GenCon - worst gamer ever), I figured it would be a good time to start. I just needed to figure out what tools I would use. I decided to do it old school. I picked up a Tops Focus Notes notepad, a pad of graph paper, and grabbed my physical copy of the Children of Lilith cycle book. I chose the specialized pad because it already had specified zones for writing things (Notes, Cues, etc). That sort of thing helps me feel more organized. I was kind of bummed because I used to have a great notepad that had similar sections printed on the front and a graph grid on the back, but I couldn't find one.

I was able to hit the ground running with reading and taking notes the moment I got in my seat on the plane. Even in the airport and at my hotel room, I stuck to handwriting everything out. The exercise gave me a clear picture of where I was going and what kinds of resources I would need to put the campaign together. The next step will be to get some things translated into digital formats - relationship maps, Google Docs, scan and clean up/prettify the maps I want to create. Even then, a whole lot of this information is going to get transferred to index cards. I've actually found some great ones that are graph ruled.

Overall, I think I'm going to start doing a lot more analog campaign planning. There's a nice non-chain coffee house practically across the street from my work where I can sit and decompress, read, write and generally feel hipster-like. It'll be just like sitting at Rose's Caffe Luna back in the day. Plus notepads are a lot lighter than laptops are.