3 – Campaign Issues

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Campaign Issues

With Step 1 (Genre) and Step 2 (Scale) completed you know the genre and about how much of the setting you will be playing with (and possibly even have an idea about the general shape of the antagonist or issue for the first campaign arc if you worked through the previous section with the extended questions). For this next part, we will assume that you have not finally decided on the antagonist force or issue yet because that is what this section will concentrate on.

Your group will now discuss your thoughts on the campaign’s current antagonistic force, an impending future threat, and a past threat whose vestiges linger in the world. This process is very important to get right with something you will all agree upon and will enjoy, especially the Current Issue, for this is the goal and plot you will be working on for quite a while. =) See my Storytelling and Storytelling and Campaign Planning Guide for more information on this.

Legacy IssueWhat threat has Influenced your campaign’s history? How long ago was it? How has the world suffered and what effect has this had on the people, the geography, social and political institutions? How has this affected the characters and their personal experiences? What events lead up to that moment and who were involved? How were sides chosen? Who won? Who lost? Who wrote or reported the history of that issue? Biases? How did this issue bring about the current issue or help usher it in? This will be used more as a Thematic Campaign Aspect, than a primary plot driver.
Current IssueWhat force is currently causing issues for your game world? Who is the antagonist? Take a good look at who and what their Sphere of Influence encompasses and discuss who or what might be endangering them, and why would the characters possibly care enough to want to act against it with conviction, even possibly unto their deaths. Drama and conviction are powerful motivators for action, so think on a grand scale if it is appropriate. As your group is discussing the Current Issue you can be a little more specific if you like because this is the threat that you will encounter in short order after starting to play.
Impending IssueHowever, on the flip side, it is better to be a little more general with your Impending Issue that way it can be gradually decided upon and revealed by how the campaign unfolds and from inspiration from your GM. As your campaign progresses your Sphere of influence or your Interaction Area may change, and so might the possible available forces possibly ready to array themselves against you. This also provides a bit of mystery and wonder as to who or what is going to be causing problems next and how. Perhaps it may even rear its head in your primary story arc just to make sure you have not forgotten about it.

Examples

  • Legacy
    • Five Nations War fought for 8 years by humanoid races and was ended by draconic invasion 2 years ago
    • Dark Lord slew the entire royal family the entire royal court, animated them, and then enveloped the kingdom in darkness 20 years ago
    • Lizard Man Moors destroyed by plague 5 years ago, pod zombies rise to slaughter the living; 1 year ago a method of keeping them at bay was found, pockets of civilization are starting to form
  • Current
    • Save the Vale from the dragon and its minions
      • Racists, draconic beings privileged
    • Defeat the Dark Lord and end its reign
    • Stop the Cultists and their world-ending ritual
  • Impending
    • Convocation of Dragons
      • 10,000-year-old myth that dragons meet to determine the fate of the world
    • Power Struggle
    • War of the Cults

Recording Campaign Issues as Aspects

Once your group has decided on the three campaign issues write them down on index cards so all can see them and record them on a game creation worksheet. Be sure to label them the individual issues as appropriate: legacy, current, or impending. For the Current and Legacy Issues you may also want to write down a few specifics about them, so you all have something to work with and to inspire you.

These Campaign Issues are now Campaign Aspects too which can be invoked just like any other aspect. You may also want to record a sample positive and negative invocation of those aspects to get everyone to start thinking about how to use them. This an be a hard thing to do.

See my 2 guides for more information on working with aspects: Character Creation Primer and Appendix III – Fate Point and Aspect Economy.

Record Remaining Potential Issues

For the other potential campaign issues, you did not use write them down for you to consider later. Perhaps it may work as a new Impending Issue when the current one is done? Maybe one may pop up as a subplot? You may find a use for it somewhere.

Fatesville Gaming Group

Because their normal D&D games do not have enough dragons in them, dragons, dragons, dragons everywhere was the topic that dominated the group discussion about their potential campaign’s issues. They thought that freeing their quiet town from the throes of a tyrannical draconic despot sounded like fun for their Current Issue, and because there were not enough dragons already even with that, they decided that their Impending Issue was the myth of the Convocation of Dragons. Jeff, who had a penchant for the Eberron setting, recommended for the Legacy Issue that the world was recovering in some way from a long term war.

  • Legacy Issue: Scars from the Dragon Siege
  • Current Issue: Free the vale from the dragon and its minions
  • Impending Issue: Convocation of Dragons

Once the campaign issues had been decided on, Tess asked if she could use Sarah’s copy of the Fate System Toolkit so she could prepare for a Extras section. Sarah just shrugged her shoulders and thought to herself matter-of-factly “I guess I will be order all of the books tomorrow.“. Tess chuckled realizing that she and Sarah had the only 2 Fate books and expected Sarah to already have a copy, since she is their group’s book collector. Jeff smiled and said “Guess what I am going to play?“. Everyone groaned at the question, because they knew he was going to play a wizard… again.