This fourth post will cover how the campaign is structured, and that covers how the missions are build and tied together, how the sessions flows, and how the grand back story fits into it all. Well this and the next post for this is going to be long, as I will try to cover a lot of aspects on how I do things. That is not easy.
Earlier I dealt with the premise of investigation and which basic and specialized rules, we would use in the game. This all ties in with how we play and how we want to play, and this shapes the structure of the campaign, and that is where things become difficult to describe – for describing how you play is not at all that easy.
We begin on top of things taking the large view and then start scaling down to the components.
Structuring the Campaign
How much to prepare? What grand plots will take place? Which mysterious villains will pull the strings? Any mapping?
Luckily there is a lot of campaign material in the Delta Green books, and that includes som potential major plots and villanous organizations from secret governmental organizations, MJ12 to necromantic nazi-sorcerers to the sinister and corrupting influence of the Shans, the Mi-go, and The King in Yellow etc. So it is just picking and choosing, and then tying them into the missions – and each mission is an episode. I strive to prep as little as possible, and I’ll gladly borrow ideas, where ever I find them
Think of it as a tv-show. Each episode contains a certain flow of events, and a few single episodes are exceptions such as the musical episode of Buffy The Vampire Slayer or Fringe. Musical episodes, however, I rarely do, though it does happen: Twice I have played an opera-session (no, my players can’t sing).
Each episode lasts one to three sessions. They cover relation-scenes, mission briefings, solving the case and post-mission elements. This generally covers the A-plot in comparison with the tv-shows, and then there is the B-plot, or side-plot as I call it. Side-plots are special, as they are about the characters, and they are initiated by the players in an informal way – e.g. noone declares that he wants to do a “side plot” – but more about them later.
Basically an episode matches a regular mission or adventure in any Cthulhu-game, but certain scenes and elements are different. In a tv-show an episode contains its own individual dramatic arc, but since an episode is tied to a one to three sessions, I discovered during the first episode, that an episode needs to divided into several dramatic arcs, one for each session, and since each episode’s number of sessions in general are unknown, I adjust the episodes between the sessions, so each session possesses its own dramatic arc.
- Episode Guide for First Season
- Episode Guide for Second Season
- Episode Guide for Third Season (Forthcoming)
The Story Arc
Certain elements are re-occurring – NPC’s, Monsters, Mysteries, Organizations etc. – and the agents confront these again and again digging deeper into the mystery.
For the campaign I have chosen to use elements from the MJ-12 and The Grey-conspiracy (and I will not cover these elements in detail here, as not to spoil the setting. They are detailed in the main Delta Green-book and expanded upon in both Count Down and Eyes Only). I have developed some of the plot further, and the conspiracy becomes the cause of the missions.
The conspiracy works as the cause of missions, but I have not developed a series of events or missions. I do not plan any episodes ahead, and though I do have a catalogue of ideas, each episode is designed briefly before play – this in part to emphasize, that the players can buy missions adding an unpredictable element to the flow of the episodes. Furthermore I do not present new episodes, that follow-up on all clues – some are left hanging for the players to choose to follow-up on, if they want to know more about it (which is done by using the Buy Missions-rule).
The Conspiracy as the cause of missions is done by looking at the last episode, which contained a part of the story arc, and then ask, where do we go from here? How will the conspiracy react (if it reacts)? Where will the agents encounter the tendrils of the conspiracy next? What secret would be obvious to reveal and would a mission be shaped around it?
Next I will cover Cosmology, and How to read books.