Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Questions Regarding Sequel Campaigns

One of the possibilities for the summer campaign is a sequel to an Arcana Evolved game I ran two years ago. (Others top contenders include high level 4th Edition D&D and Vampire: the Requiem. I'm not running the megadungeon, mostly for player compatibility reasons, but I plan on running it on an ad hoc basis both before then and during that time.) We've been talking about it for a while; two of the players have desperately wanted to play it again pretty much since the thing ended. I decided against running it last summer because one of those two players was out of town, and because I was too psyched about 4e to want to run something d20-derived.

This year, both of those problems have been have been (more or less) resolved. Both players will be here for the whole summer -- and this might be the last summer that this is true. And while I'm not as off of 4th Edition as I was six months ago (and my interests of late have been turned towards the old ways) I'd be more than happy to spend a few months back in the d20 world. Especially with Arcana Evolved, one of my favorite books from that era.

But I'm wary. That game was good, yeah, but it was also a product of a very specific set of influences. We'll have at least two players who weren't in the original game, and we'll be missing one or two who were. I won't have the same over-riding desire to "fix" the Oblivion ending that gave me a very strong but flexible structure to hang the plot of the game on. We might have the same characters (I'm considering a couple of different approaches to that) but we'll also all be two years older, with different concerns than produced that particular party.

The setting won't even be the same. One of the things we've established, in our post-game discussions, is that the end of that campaign produced some serious changes to the status quo of the setting. And I've never been completely happy with a lot of the details, both geographical and historical, that I established for that game, so I'd probably go back and clean some of that up, if I was going to spend another four months with it.

My players must know this. I've mentioned it to them, they agree, and it's all fairly obvious anyway. Which leaves me wondering why it is that they want to play this sequel game so badly. There wasn't anything magical about that campaign; the only substantial difference, in my perspective, between a sequel and wholely new endeavor would be that the sequel would invite a lot of comparisons with the old game, most of them unfavorable.

But I have to admit, I'm intrigued. It'd need to be shaken up a little bit, but the new status quo is certainly interesting -- they're in charge of the ancient, recently un-sunken city that housed the nexus of its fallen empire's magical power. I could do something with that set-up.

Hence, the post. Has anyone else out there run a sequel like this? Or considered it? How'd it go? Any overwhelming arguments against such an endeavor that I'm missing? Or are there any benefits that I haven't considered? And those players of mine who read the blog, why does the idea attract you so powerfully?


  1. I'm going to say mostly it was the characters. Captain Blank is excellent fun to play, and his interactions with the other characters (mostly Sigrid) were cause for quality comedy as well.

    The NPC interaction too... Monala, Mischa, even the Butler and Yaltef.

    Mostly, I know that with me as Cap'n Blank (even if I'm playing a differnet character, and only controlling Blank a bit for RPing), Rae as Sigrid, and you running it, it'll be fun. Plus I've always wanted to play high level Blank.

  2. I recommend considering a prequel campaign.

    Think about watching Star Wars parts 1, 2, and 3. These are entirely knew stories, but you know generally how it's all going to end, because you know how part 4 begins. The fun is wondering how it gets there.

    I once ran an arc where players collected pieces of an artifact that would play a major part in political struggles.

    More recently with a new batch of players, instead of repeating the same thing I set the story 200 years earlier. This time, the team found the artifact and went on a series of quests to break it apart.

  3. Maybe people will enjoy seeing the results of their efforts. I'd actually recommend not reuising the characters, but have them be powerful NPCs in the world. Then players don't have to worry about the missing years. The DM gets to decide that. Also, a gap of twenty years will explain a lot of the changes and introduce new mysteries and challenges into the world.

  4. Qwertyuiopasd: High level Blank makes sense, that I get. But by what mystical alchemy will the game be better than if you and Rae have new characters, and I've got a bunch of new NPCs? It's all coming from the same place.

    mr-moose: That's an idea I've considered. There's a fair amount I could do in the pre-sinking-of-the-island-city era, maybe right up until the Dramojh war.

    Alex Schroeder: Yeah, on the days where I'm sympathetic to the idea, I've always planned on having the old characters in place for occasional cameos, but the main bulk of the game center on new characters. Probably ones who were connected to those old characters in some way, but that's just because I don't want to have the players playing "Joe Rat-catcher," and anyone political will be somehow be connected to those old characters. ("Joe Rat-catcher" is another game.)

  5. I haven't run a sequel, but I have ran a replay, though with different players. The thing that made it work was to change enough of everything to keep it fresh (and, frankly, to make it better), but still retain enough of the old material that improing and playing on the fly generally were easy.