Campaign (role-playing games)
In role-playing games, a campaign is a continuing storyline or set of adventures, typically involving the same characters. The purpose of the continuing storyline is to introduce a further aspect into the game: that of development, improvement, and growth (or degeneration) of the characters. In a campaign, a single session becomes a scene or an act within an overall story arc. At its inception, a campaign may or may not have a defined conclusion. A campaign by definition spans more than one session of play. Certain aspects of the game are nearly always constant throughout a campaign: the campaign setting, the players, and the gamemaster. The gamemaster for a campaign is said to run the campaign.
Aspects of a campaign
A campaign is characterized by the following aspects:
- The rules – What underlying game system is used? What changes, additions, or subtractions has the game master made to the rules? How will the game master interpret those rules?
- The game world or setting – Where do the adventures take place? What makes this world or place unique?
- Realism – Will the game attempt to closely simulate the real world? Or will unlikely or fantastic happenings be commonplace?
- Humor – Will the game be silly or comical? Or will it be serious and dark?
- An underlying storyline – Are the players a part of larger events occurring in the game world? Not all campaigns have such a storyline, but most at least have recurring characters.
Differing amounts of emphasis on any of these factors help set the flavor of the campaign. A campaign, including its characters, settings, and history is created collaboratively by players and the game master.
Types of campaigns
- A hack and slash, kick in the door, or dungeon crawl campaign focuses on slaying monsters and finding treasure. This type of campaign is often very episodic. Many players of Dungeons & Dragons favor this type of campaign.
- A wargame campaign has a focus on military and political activities, generally involving the affairs of entire fictional states. Miniature wargaming overlaps and dovetails into role playing at this level. Games Workshop started life as a roleplay company, but through an analogous process have transformed themselves into a miniatures manufacturing company with support material for entire fictional worlds – all to support their own role/miniature campaign concepts.
- A four color or superheroic campaign is similar in flavor to comic books. The players are often given tasks, such as supervillains to stop, by their superiors.
- A detective campaign focuses on mysteries that must be solved by the players or that unfold as the game goes along. These may be ordinary crimes, or mysteries of the paranormal. Certain games, such as Call of Cthulhu, are designed specifically with this type of campaign in mind.
- Numerous variants of the above campaigns are created by the players. The exact nature of these variations are usually exposed by providing a descriptive prefix to the word campaign. For example: a villain campaign where the players are the bad guys or a kiddie campaign where the players' characters are still children.
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