Tuesday, April 26, 2022

Psychotronic Gaming: Status Quo is the Enemy

   A key element of Psychotronic Gaming is that change must occur

  There is a tendency for campaign settings to remain static, especially mass-produced settings - the same king is King of Kingdom X; the same Cleric is Theocrat of Y; the same dragon menaces trade along the coast of Z; etc.

  This seems very close to how comic book continuity morphed from a tool to allow better storytelling into a straight-jacket that suffocates innovation. In Marvel Comics the Fantastic Four always got their powers about 17 years ago and in DC Superman made his debut as Superman about 10 years ago - forever.

  If you want your TTRPG campaign to last you CANNOT do this! Change is as critical as keeping strict time records!

  Here is an example from Seaward.

  Every one to three years I review all my encounter charts and such for, well, essentially everything. In 2017 I slightly modified the Briars encounter charts to reflect the fact that no players had been there in so long. Many of the powerful monsters and NPCs in the region had grown even more powerful and even the minor monsters were flourishing. The main chart (I use cascading encoutner charts) looked like this:

  Not a fun chart to be on the receiving end of, but it reflected how the Briars were at the time.

  In the period of 2017 - 2020 the players went through 4 years of game time, including a massive 16 month of game time mapping expedition on the Briars that drastically changed the entire area. The PCs wiped out a massive goblin tribe, two tribes of kobolds, and all three nests of trolls, not to mention the named monsters Ol' Knobby and Ol' One Fang! Shortly after that they killed the thrid, and last, named monster of the Briars, the Red Maiden. So in 2020 I had to re-write the enounter charts to reflect these radical changes. For the last two years the main chart for the Low Briars has looked like this:

Because of these changes the Briars are dangerous in a very different way. Now that the kobolds aren't around to steal their webs and burn out their nests the giant spiders are flourishing. Trolls no longer raid the nests of giant ants for their eggs, so giant ant hills are spreading. And so on. 

  Then some players decided to really throw in a wrench and brought NPC druids not just into the Briars (they had been there) but into Skull Mountain! This is also changing the dynamic and erasing the status quo. Why am I sharing these encounter charts where my players can see them?

  Because this weekend they change again to reflect the new realities of the campaign world.

Is change a lot more work than maintaining the status quo? Of course! But the results are a rich, engaging campain that lasts longer.

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