Monday, January 11, 2010

A Fudge Campaign

I'm looking over my Fairy's Tale game, and it's very railroad-y. I might give it a shot as a one-off, and if the system turns out to be oodles of fun try a mini-campaign, but I'm starting to find my thoughts turning back to Fudge, aka the Freeform Universal Do-It-Yourself Gaming Engine. Go read the rules if you've never heard of it, I guarantee you'll be intrigued. I am. The DIY aspect in particular.

I've been hesitant about starting a Fudge campaign, though, for several reasons. First, the sheer amount of effort. I can be a perfectionist, so making a game from scratch invites disaster. My last attempt spun out of control and into nowhere. Second, I've got no experience with the system, so it's tempting to fall back on something I know how to use. Third, connected to the second, and perhaps the most important, Fudge could be any setting I want. It could be any game I want. The burden of coming up with a setting, and at the same time limiting myself to one, is a bit intense.

Still, I'd like to see if I could write something up by the time I get back from holidays, and run it by my local gang. I've got a week and some change, so let's see if I can commit to a reasonable project. I think I would like some sort of back-stabbing cloak-and-dagger game, with light magic and brutal violence, but with plenty of room for good characterisation. I'm leaning towards a Renaissance feel. This suggests the magic would be somewhat occult, curses and seances or something, more than fireworks. I'll figure that out later, though. The most difficult thing for me will be pacing: having enough long-term action to keep the story on track, as well as enough short-term action to keep players motivated before the story comes together. A friend of mine did a good job on one campaign in this regard, slowly revealing clues to build up a big picture. I'm bad at it, as the big picture is usually what I'm most excited to share with my players.

So, a few commitments:
1. I will map out a few main rivalries to happen at an "upper" level, that the players will begin to discover after 3-5 sessions, and have influence on in the late campaign.
2. All of the main actors will have minor bullies and thugs for the players to grapple with as they work out who's working for whom.
3. There will be a murder in the first session. It will remain unexplained for at least one adventure. That should set the tone, get the players on their toes, and keep them there.

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