Seize the GM
Seize the GM
Episode 90: Long Form Storytelling and Campaign Design
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Main Topic

So long form storytelling and campaign design are similar but have a few key differences. The big ones are campaign design is about creating obstacles that the players use character abilities and the randomness of dice rolls to overcome. And long form Storytelling is more of creating a narrative that the characters can interact with. One is about the things in the journey and the other is more about the overall journey itself. 

These do not have to be in opposition, however.  Long Form storytelling can enhance your campaign design when you use the players and characters as the key pieces of the story, rather than an intrusion in the story.  The biggest mistake a GM who prefers to plan can make it to try to tell a Longform story without regard for the characters. How do you integrate these things for a better gaming experience?

When telling Long Form Stories, start with looking to a good theme.  We’ve talked about those on other shows before so think about what kind of story you want to see told and what overarching beats you would want to play out – It could be a question of power corrupting, it could be about overcoming or resolving trauma, you could build around the theme of an unknown. Next, you have to ask how to meld that theme into the game and the players’ agency.  

If the players agree, building long form stories around the background and growth of the characters is an obvious choice. Player backgrounds are an amazing place to find personal issues or points and also ways to hook the characters into a larger conflict if your theme is occuring outside the players’ own heads.

 If the players are not immediately part of it, build your themes into the stories you do have control over.  Don’t railroad your players, but there is nothing to stop you from having a theme repeat and recur in the background of your work. If you want to show how people can burn themselves out, and how that will burn out a country, company, or group you can build that into the story and slowly show more to players

When moving the stories into the forefront, don’t be afraid to give the characters the entry into the larger world, have their call to adventure, by invoking what that theme is when you set up an adventure for them.  

Stat Blocks

Zendead- Terrilix 

Being born on a world with a sun that is 85% as bright as the one in the Sol system means we are adapted to darker worlds. When the Solarians first arrived they thought they had found a planet with no sentient species. They were very mistaken, we had been on this world for the better part of ten thousand cycles. We had been a group of political refugees from our home world. While we had needed to recode portions of our genetic code we were able to make this planet work for our needs. 

The first contact with the solarians was far from peaceful like we had hoped. They thought we were an underdeveloped race. Just because we had found a way to live in balance with our local habitats. Once we had recoded the few sections that would help us thrive here we stopped. No need to overdo things like that. The Solarians came in as conquerors but once we put up a bit of resistance they figured we needed to be crushed under their boots. The difference is we had made ourselves to be best suited for this planet. They learned to regret trying to come in like that, and we did it by never being where they thought we should be. 

We can lower our core temp to be invisible to thermal vision which many apex predators use here. Our eyes where modded so that they could pull the most from the less bright sun. Those same eyes also could constrict in an instant to keep from being blinded. We were like spirits to those who first arrived. After a year of conflict we had whittled away their numbers and we still had almost all of ours. We then called them to the peace mat to stop all the aggression. Surprisingly it seems to be working but we still keep a close eye on them and we don’t dare tell them what we are truly capable of. 

Guard-a-Manger

Kryluns Remarkable Mapcase

A simple mapcase can hold the keys to adventure and the future.  A mapcase can also hold a moldy invoice when grain deliveries have gone unpaid.  Krylun’s mapcase is a masterpiece of holding both possibilities of the future and the past at once.  You see, the mapcase can be opened from either end and in that single deft choice, you may find a difference between the past and present, riches and rags, destiny and fate. 

Krylun made her name for herself exploring all sorts of uncharted lands … or more aptly lands that were uncharted today.  It was her intrepid work that let the empires of today reclaim the trade routes of the past. The secret that this charming minotaur never quite shared was that the mapcase did most of the work.  It was her skills as a linguist and an archaeologist, allowing her to decipher the ever changing script, that kept her safe. 

The edges of each end of the mapcase are embossed and protected with a magical strap of leather and the script on it changes every time the case is closed from being open.  It tells you brazenly what lies within each way of opening the case, if you can read the script, though it is at times more a fanciful description than a truthful location. 

How about it? Are you ready to open the case and see where “Pastoral” is when you follow the map?  Or how about “Riches”? Are you sure? 

Lexicon

Bucolic  adjective bu·​col·​ic | \ byü-ˈkä-lik  \

Definition of bucolic

1: of or relating to shepherds or herdsmen : PASTORAL

2a: relating to or typical of rural life

b: IDYLLIC

First Known Use of bucolic

circa 1609, in the meaning defined at sense 1

History and Etymology for bucolic

Latin bucolicus, from Greek boukolikos, from boukolos cowherd, from bous head of cattle + -kolos (akin to Latin colere to cultivate) 

Look-up Popularity

Top 30% of words

Closing remarks 

Zendead- Zelda Breath of the Wild– While I have just gotten into playing it the game has been fun and it is very pretty. The game play is very questy at this point though I do know it opens up once you leave the starting location. 

Guard-a-Manger- Young Justice: Sins of Youth TPB.  When Klarion(dum-dum-DUM) The Witch Boy mixes the ages of all the DC Supers heroes up, Young Justice has to learn to be the heroes they will eventually become to try to save the day.  

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

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And Thanks to Merriam-Webster  and Online Etymology Dictionary for our Lexicon segment

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