Don’t Tell Me Your Plans, Tell Me Your Campaign.

The new year has rolled around again and I expect a fair share of folks are reinvigorated to tackle a bunch of gaming projects. One experience I’ve had over the years is constantly running into that ‘ideas’ guy over at the local game store. The guy that just has a ton of cool ideas for a game. The one that has this grand plot idea of an epic campaign. The one that will talk your ear off about all these neat plans they have. I get this sometimes online also. I especially love a particular post, which I’ll paraphrase here, ‘I’d talk more about what I have planned but I don’t want anyone to steal my ideas.’

I have some news for these people. They might want to sit down a moment. Your fantastic ideas, the coolest thing ever that is so unique and guaranteed to blow people’s socks off, well I hate to break it to you… but someone has all ready thought of it. Sorry, but you are simply not that clever and imaginative. Someone else has all ready beaten you to the punch for coming up with that great idea of yours.

See I always chafe at hearing someone tell me they are an ideas guy. They just come up with these wonderful, fantastic ideas. They pat themselves on the back for their unbounded creativity and call it a day. Give me a break. Someone else out there has done the very same thing. To coin a Tyler Durden quote, ‘You are not special. You are not a beautiful or unique snowflake. You’re the same decaying organic matter as everything else.’

Now onto the second part. This is the important bit. The part most that most folks never get around to. See that great idea you have? Other people likely have it too, but not everyone does something about it. Yup, most of the time that fantastic idea people have just lies there. Collecting dust. Never to be used.

Typically that wonderful idea never gets to the game table, or even typed out on paper. Most folks have their grand idea, and that is just what it stays as, a thought. Not everyone makes that second big step and implements that idea into a plan of action. Those that complete tasks to make that creative thought a reality are the people that are innovators. It’s not the guy that had a great idea. It is the guy that thought it up, compiled those thoughts into a communicable manner, and shared that idea with other people.

Let’s step back and look at this with gaming. We all have limited free time. I’m certain I fall in with most people that see a ton of games they’d like to play, but have limited time or resources to do so. These constraints on time bleeds over into making plans for campaigns and ideas for adventures too.

I’ve run Champions and played in a DC heroes game, but I’d love to run a Mutants and Masterminds campaign someday. I picked up M&M, loved the system, and thought of some ideas for running a game. But I just don’t see how I can get a game up and running. I had to settle with mulling over some ideas for a few adventures. However, I just didn’t leave it there. I took it a step further committed those thoughts to making plans for a game.

I sat down and compiled a campaign primer. I laid out a brief history of superheroes in my game and what role they played in this fictitious modern society. I penned the role of aliens, mutants, and magic. I fleshed out secret and public organizations (both good and bad). While I didn’t create any supervillains, I did whip up a thumbnail sketch of individual villains, their goals, and potential plots. Now if my players suddenly come to the table, tell me they are sick of D&D and they want to try something different, well I’m prepared for a M&M campaign. I can say with confidence, in a week I’ll have an adventure and can circulate a brief campaign blurb to help the players get a handle on the game world. I had some ideas and put those ideas into a form that I can access easily, and most importantly, be able to share them with others quickly.

So with the new year, I implore people to commit all those great ideas to action. Get a game running and if you cannot, then commit those creative thoughts to paper. Get those ideas rolling around in your head up on the internet. Share them with people. Make those ideas cemented into play experience or circulated in the public eye. Once you get something down on paper, you can look at it critically. You can get feedback from others. You take that next step from it simply being a great idea to being a great game.


Part idiot. Part old man. All geek. Geek Ken likes games. Sometimes he likes to blog about them too.


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About Geek Ken

Geek Ken likes games. Sometimes he likes to blog about them too.
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