Wrath & Glory Designer Diary – June 2018
The Campaign Model
When I was offered the opportunity to craft the Wrath & Glory game line, I jumped at the chance. One of the reasons I was so excited about the prospect was that I could approach Wrath & Glory in a brand-new way. This idea started with the concept of a single, comprehensive core rulebook that would give players the basic rules they would need to play a wide variety of experiences in Warhammer 40,000. From there, I wanted to branch out using a specific, targeted model for the game line that I called “campaigns.”
The idea of a campaign was to provide Wrath & Glory players with a focused, in-depth experience that encompassed different aspects of the Warhammer 40,000 universe. Unlike a game line such as, say, Rogue Trader, we would not present dozens of books about a singular place, time, and core activity in the 41st Millennium. Instead, we would use about four books to cover one such experience, covering roughly 4-6 months worth of regular sessions. A discrete, finite campaign that would have a linked set of adventures, detailed setting material, and additional rules and player character options—all of which would be tightly themed to the material. And then we would do that again. And more, and more, allowing us to present several widely different roleplaying experiences in the grim darkness of the far future!
Here’s some of my reasons why I believed in this approach:
Commitment: I’ve found that many gamers find it easier to commit to a campaign if there is a set timeframe. Starting up a new campaign can be easier if you say “This is what we’ll play for the next four-six months,” as opposed to “This is what we’ll play for the next two years.” A clear expectation of how many sessions are going to happen helps people decide whether—and if!—they can join in.
Freshness: Even a genre as broad as “space fantasy” can grow stale if the experiences are too similar to one another. Changing up the themes, tropes, and context of the campaign you play every so often (as my good friend Aaron Allston was very fond of doing!) can keep the game feeling fresh and new.
A Planned Climax: Many campaigns can die out thanks to lack of direction or loss of momentum and interest. If you plan your campaign with an end point in mind, you can include several engaging and memorable story arcs—with the overall arc coming to a satisfying conclusion in the end.
Building a Community: Several gaming groups include GMs and players that participate in events held at gaming stores, conventions, and other gamer gatherings (including websites like Meetup). Using a finite campaign can be a great way to reach out to these groups of players and be appealing to new folks entering the hobby.
Shared Experiences: One thing I love about roleplaying is that players always enjoy sharing stories about their adventures. Often, something that is timeless to the hobby we all love is the idea that you can ask your friends this: “How did you deal with the challenge of X, Y, or Z?” This is usually followed by a reply of: “Well, we did it THIS way!” Detailed campaigns promote shared experiences, and although it is a relatively small thing, I find enjoyment in the idea that we can build on our great gaming memories by discussing them with others who understand just what we mean when we say things like: “Did you jump in the daemon’s mouth?”
-Ross Watson, Product Line Manager