Anatomy of a Campaign: Legacy of New Lago - Part 1

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Planning a campaign is a very long process. I took extensive design notes when creating my most recent campaign, Legacy of New Lago (LoNL), and I will go through them and talk about what decisions I made and why.


First, a brief word on the history of this game. LoNL is essentially the third campaign taking place in the same world. Each campaign was run by a different DM using the 3rd edition rules for D&D.

The first game (Now referred to as "Old Lago) detailed the adventures of Bruce Lago and his companions as he set upon a quest to recover an artifact known as The Eye. Bruce and his associates did eventually recover the eye and even used it to place himself on the throne. This was basically the end of the campaign and it was a very fulling one.

The second game (called, "New Lago") took place hundreds of years in the future. It was the story of Aken Lago, a descendant of Bruce's with no ligament claim to the throne. (His line was born of Bruce's first wife who he divorced for political reasons and was forced to flee) Aken's adventures focused again on the mysterious eye which the now King, Jasperius, used to disastrous effect. A pillar of darkness was spreading from the east and threatening to engulf the entire Kingdom. Aken and his companions set about to find some artifacts and dispel the pillar before it was too late. However, even when they were able to do this it turned out to be too late. The dark god who the eye was used to entrap had escaped and banished Aken and his compatriots to the outer planes. There the party recovered and eventually forged a new kingdom on an alternate prime material plane. They called this kingdom, New Lago, and planned to use it to find the resources needed to return to their own world and free it from the dark god's grip.

...Only that never happened. The game ran nearly two years, but it simply wasn't enough to finish. The DM was burnt out and wanted to play something new, so that is what we did. It is never a good idea to have a GM run anything he isn't excited about because chances are the game just won't be that fun. So we moved on from New Lago, but I always hoped that one day we would come back to it. Years passed and I would mention my desire to play the game again, but the group, particularly Christian who ran the game, never had much interest. The characters were too powerful for him to handle and there were many other games he was much more passionate about.

Beginning the Design Process

But I was passionate about it, and it seemed that I should turn that passion into creating a game, thus Legacy of New Lago was born. It started small at first, but by the time it was done I was forced to print and distribute booklets to the players to ensure they had all the information they would need.

But I'm getting ahead of myself. Let me begin with my decision to design the game. I knew that I couldn't pick the game up where we left off. Character sheets had been lost and the party's leader, Aken Lago was actually my character. He was so central to the plot that there was no way to have a party that didn't include him unless...

That is when I decided that a clean slate was the only way to go. All the PCs would be the children of the Old PCs who were busy working on their own goals and running the Kingdom. Having recently played in a Hackmaster 4th game that used the Legacy character generation system I decided I would let the players use that to generate their characters. Those of you unfamiliar with the Legacy method it basically uses the two parents' stats average and is randomly modified from there. It is an amazing way of creating characters and was perfect for this game because what made it so great was the history we already had invested in this world and these characters. Also the Legacy method is how I came up with the name Legacy of New Lago.

As for system there wasn't much in the running. Both previous games were run using 3rd Edition Dungeons and Dragons. It is the generally preferred system for my group (For now...), and to use anything else would require a lot of conversion of existing material. Not to mention that it would severely alter the feel of the game. It was an easy choice to go with D&D 3.5.

The story was much more difficult. What was the game going to be about? Sure we have these decedents of these powerful heroes, but what are they going to do? What obstacles lie in their way. Now for those of you who were not frequent readers of our prior to out move to blogger, I should tell you that I run plot driven games. There was a lot of debate on the old site over which type of game is better, Plot driven or character drive, and I do plan on resuming the debate, but that's another post. I run plot driven games, let's leave it at that for now. What that means is that I present a fairly complex plot to the players and guide them through it. I don't plot hammer them... much, but I do try to keep them on track.

Back to plot of LoNL. The Old Guard (That's what we called the old PCs from the previous campaign) had their own story, to defeat the dark god and reclaim their homeland. That was their story, their goal. I wanted them to be able to finish they goal and bring closure to their story, but at the same time the worst thing that I could do was to focus on the NPCs and have them overshadow the PCs. The PCs were to be the stars of the show, that was the first of my major goals.

So the plot of the game was that the young PCs were to aid the Old Guard in returning to Old Lago and destroying the dark god. Along the way the PCs would find their own nemesis they would have to defeat in order to make victory for the NPCs possible. I wanted an episodic feel to the game so I decided that the King, Aken Lago, and his friends were simply too busy to gather the materials, that were needed return and retake Old Lago. This mission based format would give me the opportunity I needed to incorporate several classic modules into the game.

Alright that is it for now. I realize that there is a lot of rambling, but that rambling is a necessary evil. Now that all the background information is out of the way I can get into specifics without confusing anyone.

Coming soon... Part 2: The Outline

This entry was posted on Thursday, July 30, 2009 at Thursday, July 30, 2009 and is filed under , , , , . You can follow any responses to this entry through the comments feed .


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