RPG – Tips for Planning & Running the First Session of a Campaign

When planning a new campaign I think in terms of overall campaign feel. Then I think in terms of getting the campaign moving. How am I going to gather my PCs together? What is the hook that will put the PCs on the adventurous path? What will keep the group glued together? Now if you are starting a campaign hopefully you have floating in the back of your head ideas for major story arcs in the campaign. Use these arcs and themes as inspiration for your campaign start-up. I also feel you need to introduce the players to the campaign villain.

Starting a campaign can often be more difficult than continuing an already established one. This much is obvious since once a campaign is started and characters are formed it is easier to create adventures based on previous events. To help, here are some of the methods I use based on my Weird Wars: Blood on the Rhine campaign set late in World War II.


  1. Find an Event

Whether your campaign is fantasy, historical, sci-fi, or horror, there is always some event in that world’s history that you can get your characters involved with. My own campaign started June 6th, 1944 with the characters arriving on the beaches of Normandy. Setting your first adventure around major events gives the opportunity for high energy and exciting intros. Picture your characters helping to shut down the energy shields on Endor or assaulting Isengard and you immediately have setting and motivation.


  1. Make It Different

While everyone knows what happens at D-Day, Endor, and Isengard, the events may be different from an individual aspect or because of a different set of circumstances. With my beach landing, the characters experienced the terror of approach, the shock of artillery, and the beaching of their craft. All happened during the true events. However, upon reaching the beach, the PCs found less resistance than the players and the PCs expected. As anyone who’s seen Saving Private Ryan can attest to, a quiet beach with few guards on D-Day is unusual to say the least.


  1. Leave a Mystery

So you have your players expecting one set of events based on their knowledge of the history or storyline and you have just thrown them a curveball. They may have passed the initial trial by fire but you can’t give them the entire ball of wax. For example, my soldiers storm the beaches, take out a machine gun nest and begin investigating the strangely quiet trenches along the area. Behind the scenes, an SS Blood Mage has already vaporized the information and evidence in the German command centre as well as witnesses who were too low ranking to know as much as they saw. When

the players reach the scene all they find are scorch marks, burned corpses, and strange runic marks. This gives them a little scare, some information about the villain, and hopefully sparks enough curiosity that they come back next week for the second adventure.


Be creative and exciting in what you do. Your first adventure can set the tone for your entire campaign and establish most of your initial adventures as well. I hope this helps!


FPS – 3 Strategies for Online Multiplayer Games

This is intended for progressing intermediate gamers who seeks means to enhance their performance when playing FPS games online. This may also be of interest to the novice gamer.

Playing a board game with your kids is casual gaming. The purpose is only to have fun and socialize. When it comes to online FPS gaming however, entertainment is still important but the primary objective when playing apic6.jpg game seriously is WINNING. Anything else comes second. If you think of yourself as a serious FPS gamer you must have this priority. Do something else if you don’t (i.e. stay offline). If you think your stats are more important than winning and hence don’t bother sacrificing yourself and take a bullet for the team in a critical situation: Stay offline. If the ONLY thing you like is shooting others in the head with sniper rifles: Stay offline and shoot bots. If you only bother about shooting others whatever the winning conditions are: Stay offline and shoot bots. But if you like to play co-operatively and smart and are ready to do anything to win the game: You will be an appreciated team member in online games and you will have FUN!


When entering a game you must understand the winning conditions. The conditions may or may not be the same for both/all teams in the game. Once you understand what is required from your team to win, you should think about what is required from YOU. Some game types (e.g. being on the attacking team in a Battlefield 3 Rush match) are complex and the winning requirements for the team cannot be simply transferred to a specific player. An easily understood example is a team death match in Halo 3 (called Team slayer). 5 vs. 5 players are pitched against each other and the first team to score 50 kills wins. In this match setup, each player should require from himself to score AT LEAST 10 kills (50/5=10). However, the maximum price tag for such a result is the number of kills a player gets minus 1. Hence if you get 12 kills in such a match it is ok to be killed 11 times or less. The minimum requirement for each player is therefore 10 kills while dying maximum 9 times. So: Always think TEAM first and YOU second.


You will sometimes hear people bragging about the number of kills they got in a match when waiting for the next match in the lobby. Good players seldom brag, and when you look at the scoreboard after the match you may see that the bragging player had a k/d (kill/death ratio) of 25/26. That sucks as the player was beneficial to the OPPOSING team. Another player maybe had a k/d of 10/6. That is a much better score! This seems to be difficult to grasp for many players. But it is actually more complex than that. Let’s assume two players both score a k/d of 10/8, seemingly equally beneficial to the team. However, one of the players was a lone wolf that roamed the outskirts of the map and mostly fought in point blank encounters and backstab snipers like some kind of ninja. The other player earned his score while in the meantime also scoring several assists by staying close to his team mates and employed an aggressive play style with lots of grenade throwing, tactical flanking, etc. His behaviour boosted the score of his team mates and helped the team win. He was the better player out of these two. Battlefield 3 introduced experience points not only for kill assist but also for suppression assist. This means a reward for shooting at (but not hitting) an enemy player that is killed by a team mate in the meantime. There you see, collaboration is everything. Not k/d!


Try to do these strategies and your gaming experience will definitely improve!

What Does It Take To Be A Pro-Gamer?

So I’ll be honest, when pro gamer comes to mind I begin to think of an extravagant lazy lifestyle. Like, up at noon, tweet to a few people, play your favourite video game all day, eat some amazing food with all your money, go to sleep, and then repeat the next day. Sorry, that is until they can go to their next tournament, take a nice vacation around the country to wherever that tournament might win, and get a nice chance at winning thousands of dollars while playing that favourite video game of theirs. Right? Wrong…


Okay, so maybe it has its perks, and it’s a fun job, but that could be said about a lot of jobs out there if you really give it a good look! These gamers have schedules like anyone else does. They have a routine, and sometimes this routine can become dreadful and I’m sure their favourite games can sometimes become miserable.


Take TSM (Team Solo Mid, top League of Legends team) for a second. Reginald is the team owner and manager. The rest of the players are paid by Regi and the TSM franchise. This means they are on the schedule that is set for them. Now this schedule may be different than a professional COD player’s schedule, but it’s a schedule nonetheless. I’m sure Reginald requires each player to put guides up on SoloMid’s site in any given amount of time, and I also wouldn’t doubt it if he requires a certain amount of streaming/practice/scrims from each player. This is their job, and this is their schedule.


Below I will depict what a professional gamers schedule can look like:


A Typical Day for a Professional Gamer:


8:00-9:00am: Wake up and eat breakfast

9:00-10:00am: Discuss days schedule and plans with teammates and manager

10:00am-1:00pm: Play any scrims/stream or practice

1:00-2:00pm: Lunch

2:00-3:00pm: Go over video replays/discuss game play with teammates

3:00-5:00pm: Do any required blogs/guides or fan interaction

5:00-8:00pm: Stream/Practice

8:00-9:00pm: Dinner

9:00pm-Bedtime: Practice/Stream/Discuss with team


While this is just one professional gamers schedule, it does depict a lot. As you can see he does have a good amount of free time, but there also is a tremendous amount of SC2, which can also be labelled as “training” being that he named this document or schedule “training schedule”.


Some games, and some teams may prove to be less stressful then others, but the same thing can be said about jobs as well. Some are more stressful and hectic then others. That’s life. But, one conclusion we can take from this is the fact that professional gaming is definitely a job.


The life of a pro gamer requires uncommon discipline and perseverance, because the obstacles to success are as numerous outside the game as they are fearsome inside it. Parents won’t respect what you do, fans won’t understand when you fail, and most of the money goes to only the very best. As tough as that is, passion, team camaraderie, and a growing acceptance of e-sports as a legitimate career path are making competitive gaming bigger than ever.

Interacting with the Gaming Community


Online games remove our physical identity, and all the traumas and inhibitions that come with it; everybody starts equal, everyone is judged on their contribution. What you input is what you are. In the early 90s, MIT researcher Amy Bruckman referred to MUDs as “identity workshops” – they became places in which people could express different senses of themselves. It was possible to role-play with gender and sexuality within a safe, nurturing environment. People accepted each other. This has been the overriding case throughout the history of this genre, from Everquest to World of Warcraft and beyond.


We know the high-profile cases, the stories of Warcraft love affairs and marriages but the important thing is the millions of stories that go largely unreported of people forming guilds and making friends, and just getting along for years and years, enriching each other’s lives.


Nobody outside of the game industry really wants to process all of this. It doesn’t fit in with the accepted narratives of game history and culture. Let’s look at Doom, for example, the poster boy of the Daily Mail’s ‘ban this sick filth’ hysteria. Id’s violent first-person shooter is an orgy of carnage and shotgun-splattered lunacy, and its popularity scared the bejesus out of the tabloid press in the 90s, who saw in it the wreckage of society. What they didn’t see was the vast, creative community that grew up around the title. They didn’t see how the game’s lead programmer John Carmack had ensured that the code would be easily modifiable by fans. They didn’t see the thousands of kids getting together online to form modding groups, to build their own worlds. They didn’t see Half-Life developer Valve nurturing its own community in the same way, and employing talented amateur-level designers to work in-house on new projects. People are now hugely successful designers because they once fooled around with a bunch of Doom files with collaborators they’d never met.


Games are about shared experiences, rendered extraordinarily powerful by interaction and ownership. All successful games have communities. There are forums, meetings, conferences, blogs, YouTube channels … every year massive get-togethers like Quakecon and MineCon draw in thousands of enthusiasts and developers. And unlike in similar events for film or music, there is rarely much of a division between the ‘stars’ and the masses. Geeks flow. Fans write mods and become developers, developers become fans of what their communities achieve. The rise of indie gaming has created a seamless strata between industry and fanatic – now anyone can download Game Maker and write something amazing that a community can form around.


Certainly, game forums, like Twitter, can attract hateful, damaged people, but they can also introduce you to lifelong comrades. Online games provide a playful space, unmediated by the social rules that clutter bars and clubs; in this sense, online games are a venue, an excuse to get together.


I have met countless amazing, wonderful people through games – I don’t just mean the designers and developers I professionally admire, I mean the people who play and talk about them too. Because games are a form of communication, not a waste of time, not something silly or shameful. We are always communicating when we play, we are always together.