Tuesday, June 18, 2013

The Summer Campaign Begins

An average day in the Superstition Mountains
With my Monday night group down a player for the summer, we’ve put the Pathfinder Kingmaker campaign on hiatus until August and will be playtesting Shiverwhen as the summer campaign of 2013. I suspect that, unless the wheels all fall off, this will lead to a finalizing of the mechanics and the development of material to fill the holes in the rules. I’m very excited to see if the game works as a prolonged campaign instead of the single shot playtests I’ve been running.

Since it was a new game to everyone but yours truly, we spent last night generating characters and doing an overview of the setting to get everyone on the same page. The character generation process took some time, mostly because there’s only a single copy of the rules and the game has a skill point allotment process, but that is to be expected. I can whip up characters in fifteen minutes, but then again, I wrote the damn game. With familiarity and a spare rulebook to share, I expect this will be the usual time required for the generation process in the future. A short character generation is one of my many design goals for the game, after all.

Rather than lay a lot of groundwork at the start, I’ve decided that I’d customize the parameters of the campaign depending on what the players decided to run. One of the strengths of Shiverwhen is that, unlike D&D which is rooted firmly in its wargame roots, both experience and the all-import accumulation of social prestige can be acquired through a variety of methods and not just be killing monsters and acquiring loot. From the looks of things, the summer campaign is going to focus a lot on mystery-solving, experimentation and creation, and exploration rather than combat.

My three players eschewed the combat-oriented roles for more intellectual ones. This came about because everyone decided on doing a “palette-cleansing” campaign before diving back into the miniature-pushing battles of Kingmaker, and I whole-heartedly agreed. After giving them the premise for the campaign’s start, the players ended up creating the following three types of characters:

An Eclectician: As noted before, these folks are the mad tinkerers, mechanics, and gear-heads that can create strange gizmos and keep machines from Fading in Shiverwhen. His directing goal is to become a respected mechanic and weird-tech handyman that everyone comes to when they need things fixing. As the player has been itching to try out my Shiverwhen-based gladiator miniatures game, ‘Naut Fight!, I suspect there’s an additional underlying goal of building his own ghost-inhabited fighting machine to pit against the Lightning Lords.

An Uncanny: Another role that’s seen playtesting, our Uncanny is the group’s psychic who can read emotions and occasionally (10% of the time, anyway) use psychometry on objects and places. Given that it looks like we’ll be in gumshoe/Scooby-Doo mode for the campaign, this should come in handy. Having a psychic in the group should be a challenge for me as a game master, too, and I’m looking forward to meeting it.

An Archaic: This is a brand new role, one I’ve been meaning to introduce and literally banged the rules out for two hours before the session. The Archaic is an interesting role, combining aspects of the archeologist, detective, and scholar professions into a single career. The Archaic specializes in research and intellectual pursuits, and can perform preternatural actions to benefit his studies. The player is interested in the detective aspect of the role and looks like he has plans of becoming a law-enforcement agent of some sort. This gives me the perfect opportunity to introduce my version of the Pinkertons into Shiverwhen, as well as further flesh out the various repositories of information available to denizens of the autumnal lands.

The premise for the campaign is that the three players are all members of a “krew” out “on the prove,” the probationary period of fourth-class citizenship all residents of Shiverwhen undergo when they come of age. Having heard of opportunities to make a name for themselves in the town of Luster, situated high in the Superstition Mountains, the trio arrives in the community after riding a boxcar along the O & M Railroad line. They’ll literally hit the ground running, and provided they dodge the railroad yard’s “crushers,” will need to find lodgings and start sniffing around for opportunities to build a reputation.

My plan is to issue a weekly handout representing the town’s local newspaper and seed it with adventure ideas, then let the players decide what they’d like to investigate. There’ll be other adventure hooks along the way to nibble at, but until they finalize their short to mid-term goals, I’ll give them a lot to work with.

Next week begins the actual play portion of the campaign. Expect posts about that campaign, actual play reports, and new material, monsters, and other such ephemera after the PCs experience it for themselves.

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