Seize the GM
Seize the GM
Episode 62: World Building 202- Campaign Design

Main Topic

Once you have the broad strokes of your world set out, how do you translate that into an active campaign in this world? A Campaign is a specific set of adventures or length of time that you spend in a world and can be just one Campaign over many years or can be the only time this world and these characters are used.  This episode explores how to make the most out of Campaign Design.


What is the overall idea you are wanting to do? All campaigns have a central theme of some kind.  These can be “internal” or “external” as it relates to the characters. Internal themed campaigns center around a particular kind of choice or challenge that characters will face internally – the slide to a seductive evil power like The Dark Side, hard choices to save the City, whether Love can conquer all.  External themed campaigns are focused on resolving an obstacle in the Campaign World – Stopping the marauding empire’s dreams of conquest, protecting the Galactic Republic from conspiracies, or slaying the dragon that is terrorizing the town. This choice of idea or theme will help you focus your storytelling efforts towards those ends.


When you have a campaign theme or idea you have a starting point for every session you are planning or running – you know that you have an idea that you want to thread into the heads of your players.  This is a major strength of formal planning for your campaigns – betrayal, love, trust, Cold War espionage, or Horrors from beyond mean always having something in the back pocket to pull out.


What is the strength of the system you are using? Let’s face it – some systems have better crunch for certain themes than others. Generally, you will want to lean into the strength of the system in your campaign design so your Starfinder campaign will be much more Flash Gordon pulp than a murder mystery style game while Blades in the Dark is going to potentially provide a stronger social dynamic setting than out and out combat.  In the Advanced Campaign Design Episode in the future, we’ll talk about playing against type for a campaign.


Knowing how to make best use of the underlying crunch can really help you design the Campaign


How long are you wanting the campaign to run? Another consideration is how long you want this campaign to take.  It could be a brief interstitial campaign, set between other campaigns, or this could be a long running primary campaign you intend to milk for years of sessions.  These require different considerations –


Should you have a player handout? Yes.


Players like toys and handouts.  Give them something to keep them busy.  Hide clues to the campaign resolution in these handouts. Make them mean …. Something.  Or just give them a pretty picture or a map you made after listening to Episode 60! Zen talks about GM Advice: How to Design a Campaign Primer from Creighton Broadhurst.


Stat Blocks

Zendead-  Sandalia


Before time, in the dark, he was spawned with his many brothers and sisters in the pools. There was nothing to help them or tell them what was right or wrong. As time spun forward thirst was born to them, Which they quenched in the birthing pools. Then came the harder one, hunger. The only thing to eat was the siblings. They all started as that sensation grew stronger. As they consumed their siblings they grew in size and power and intellect. When the last of them were consumed by Sandalia, as he was calling himself now, A new sensation grew and he began to tire.

The being that spawned this pool watched her progeny do what they do best kill and eat. At last there was only one left she knew she had to hide this from the others like her for they would kill it. Warriors where not to have children it was part of how this caste came to be. She shouldn’t have been able to but she did. She picked up the writhing mass of tendrils and torso and found a quiet dark pool in this part of the Outer Realms and placed it there to grow and become one with this realm.

Time passed millenia without count Sandalia grew in the dark absorbing knowledge and understanding from the chaos of the realm. Things came to the pool and he consumed them. Always hungry this one. Till one day something came into his cave and he awoke to his full glory. A demonlord of the Abyss Sandalia or The Hungry One.


Guard-a-Manger – Batavian Dreams


It is almost a cliche when you hear about.  A neutral ground, a space for all to come, in the midst of a bar.  How many bad Cold War novels start with this hackneyed concept and spin it into something that can barely hold its own weight – the dark corners and shadowed boothes with suspicious looking patrons and an old bartender just watching you?

That’s why it was a surprise to find yourself in Batavian Dreams.  It’s a strikingly clean location. High ceilings and bright lights, just artfully off white leave little to the imagination and the minimalist decor provides almost no distinguishing features other than its indistinctness.  The bar menu itself is full of quietly and competently prepared classic American cocktails, German Beer, and Chilean Wines. It’s a small plates include a convoluted assortment of tapas, dumplings, and more multicultural fusion foods.  It’s almost like the choice was made to not make choices.

That is the genius of Batavian Dreams, whether you think the owner is a Roman history buff or referencing Jakarta, it’s ubiquity in the restaurant and bar sphere means the meetings here look like bad first dates arranged by an app and the online reviews stay strangely positive.  The bigger question in your head now is who set this meeting up and what they have to offer….


Cozen   verb
coz·en | \ ˈkə-zən


Definition of cozen
transitive verb

1 : to deceive, win over, or induce to do something by artful coaxing and wheedling or shrewd trickery


First Known Use of cozen
1573, in the meaning defined at sense 1

History and Etymology for cozen
perhaps from obsolete Italian cozzonare, from Italian cozzone horse trader, from Latin cocion-, cocio trader


Bottom 40% of words


Closing remarks

Zendead- Luke Cage season 2


Guard-a-Manger- Evil Hat Production Games – It’s a hard business.  Evil Hat had to cut back on some product lines and let some people go recently.  They’ve put their heart and soul into games like FATE – go buy a book.


Music is courtesy of The Enigma TNG you can find his music on YouTube or on Bandcamp


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Show- Email, Twitter, Facebook

Zendead- Email, Twitter, Facebook

Joules- Email, Twitter, Facebook

Nulloperations-Email, Twitter, Facebook

Guard-a-manger- Email, Twitter


And Thanks to Merriam-Webster for our Lexicon segment

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