Gaming My Way

02 Sep

How to Create a Game With Intrigue if You’re an Epic Man Like Me

Among my friends, it’s no secret I like my roleplaying games supercharged with epic, end of the world plotlines that cast the players as superpowerful heroes who need to save it… or among my more evil inclined players, help bring it along to it’s destruction. Everyone knows level 30 in BESM was a bad plan now, though to be fair, everyone told me it would fall apart before 20, and I did hold the game together until just after the major 20th level battle.

That said, sometimes it’s time to try something new. So, I’ve decided to run a game with intrigue. Now, since this is definitely not my strength, I’ve decided I need a little bit of help. The question becomes, “Where could I find plot for a game filled with intrigue?” Then, the internet showed me the way.

Conspiracy Theories!

I’m going to build my new world around a conspiracy theory. This will provide the backbone of basic plot, then I can flesh it out to make it my own before the campaign starts. In addition, the theory can provide me with skeletons for numerous villains and the organization that funds or controls them. By dropping a couple plot hooks near the beginning, I can hopefully draw the players into the theory, though players are notorious for sometimes doing their own thing. If they do so, that’s fine, the world will still move on, and I have some side things I intend to add in to help make the world more than just the conspiracy.

Not only does having a conspiracy as the main and underlying plot provide me with lots of intrigue, but it also has that epic scale I enjoy most about gaming.

I still have a lot of work to do to make this work though. I’ll probably base the campaign in a modern fantasy version of my hometown, since working with familiarity helps me make things more realistic and descriptive. Obviously many liberties will be taken to make the game interesting, but once again, it’s all about having a good foundation and building from there.

I also need to draw up all the important npcs, and a couple of not so important npcs, because if I don’t do it ahead of time, I’ll fall into the trap of the unnamed npc more times than I want to. Also, since this game is all about intrigue, it’s much more important to know most of the npcs and their motivations ahead of time, instead of trying to do them on the fly like I do in my epic action-oriented games. Things need to be a bit more set in stone ahead of time… which isn’t to say I can’t adapt plot as needed, but I certainly need my general ideas of where things could go if certain events happen to be more solid than they usually are.

Finally, I need to make sure once I’m running the game, I keep it in control, and don’t let it spiral slowly out of control. With epic, slowly moving out of control is ok as long as it doesn’t get completely out of control until the very end… preferably after the final battle of the campaign. With intrigue, letting things get out of control will turn it into an action game again, which I don’t mind running, but I’d like to try to keep it on the level of fight when necessary, figure out other solutions when possible this time around. If it turns into fights solving everything, then I’ll know I didn’t do this one right.  Which isn’t to say it won’t be fun, but it will be different from what I’m hoping will happen in that case.

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