Game Master's Re-Introduction

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The original introduction to this campaign was written in July of 1998, about two and a half years ago. A lot of things have happened since then, and I thought it was about time to write another. A reintroduction if you will, so I can present to you some of my goals, ideas, visions and dreams for this campaign.

So what's changed since the initial campaign design was begun? Well the official PHB or GMG hadn't been released when I started putting this thing together. There was no StarDrive book, only a set of description sheets of the various Stellar Nations I'd managed to get from David Eckelberry at GenCon in August of 97. If you look back on the original introduction you'll see that at that time I wasn't even sure what the name of the campaign would be. Twilight sector was just a working title, but one I eventually settled on. Not all my working titles survived though. The original name for Terra-Sol, was the Wyandotte system. I think I made a major name upgrade there. If you're ever interested, I can give you quite a few little tidbits about changes in the campaign blueprint, some of which are even mildly amusing.

I took almost a year designing this campaign; far longer than I'd ever spent preparing one before. I believe it was time well spent, because when I started the campaign it was with one overarching goal. That was, to make this my last campaign! I still believe in that goal, but like everything about this campaign, my goals have evolved over the last two seasons and 18 episodes.

That last reference may seem a little odd, so I'll explain it. Early on when deciding how this campaign should be structured, I decided that it should be like a television show. Every episode (adventure) should have a beginning, middle and end. Each a self-contained unit, hopefully telling a story. Many episodes would be related to a central theme, much like is done in the television show X-Files. However some would be "off-topic", basically being just for fun, so as to occasionally lighten the mood. This concept has worked well I believe. I've eliminated the open-ended sessions that I'd unfortunately become famous for and for the most part players seem to be getting the story. Even if it is still being told a little to slowly.

But enough of rehashing history. What challenges does the campaign face? What new directions will we pursue? What the hell do those little gray bastards want with you guys anyway? These and many more questions will hopefully be answered in the next few paragraphs of this reintroduction. Well almost all, you didn't think I was going to make the answer to the grays question that easy did you?

Some of the challenges I see on the horizon are, keeping the campaign fresh, increasing the speed with which stories are told, and establishing campaign atmosphere. One of the things I've learned from watching Mark run his campaigns, is the advantage of change in a campaign. Don't get too bogged down with any one thing. Players are always looking for something new, whether they want to admit it or not. So how do I propose to address these concerns? Well, if we just do the second one, tell the story faster, we'll go a long way towards taking care of the first one, keeping the campaign fresh. Some of my other ideas for keeping the campaign fresh are pretty mundane and have to do with things only a GM could be interested in. So Mark and Scott maybe you'll find some of this of interest. I want to relate the campaign stories more to each individual character. Have things that are unique to a character help drive the overall campaign story. I also want to tell some shorter stories. I like to have broad campaign themes but within these it would be interesting to tell short stories much like is done within shared world literary efforts like Robert Asprin's, "Thieves World" or Larry Niven's, "Man-Kzin Wars". I also have an idea that I think will interest everyone (OK you players can start reading again, the boring GM stuff is over). As you know I've always told anyone who asked and quite a few that didn't that my old fantasy campaign worlds were buried within this campaign. Well now that the campaign has advanced to the point that you will be going out into space the possibility exists you might actually stumble on one of these. It's something I'm very much looking forward to. I was looking at these worlds the other day, and I was amazed at how similar some of the story lines in all the campaigns have been. I can envision the day somewhere down the road where Corwin (Steve's Druid character in my Forgotten Realms campaign), is arguing with Elsworth (Mark's Physician character in my Twilight Sector campaign) over the best way to treat Ragnar (Craig's Viking character in my Endless World campaign) in the outback on Dorlass. It's a dream I know, but I think it'd be fun to get there. Finally in the area of challenges I want to talk about the campaign atmosphere. I'm looking for gritty realism in this campaign setting. By this I mean kind of an X-Files or Shadowrun feel. There are a couple of things that go into setting the atmosphere for this campaign. One is a fear of death. I know I've talked to several of you on this subject recently, and I think I need to clarify it a little. By fear of death I don't mean that I'm out gunning for your characters. In fact I'd be just as pleased if we never have a character death (except from old age of course). I think that every player in this campaign is of such high quality that there need never be any casualties. But in the back of your minds I want you to know that you're only one slip-up, one mistake away from dying. This fear will bread good game play in my opinion. The second aspect of atmosphere is the look of the campaign. By look I mean the tabletop. Most of you know I'm positively anal about having figures and scenery to represent the action that is going on in the game. I absolutely love this aspect of the game. I guess I've never got over playing with my GI-Joes (by the way you should see the neat one Kate got me for Christmas). This aspect was lacking early in the campaign. I've always had an extensive fantasy collection, but my science fiction collection was severely lacking. After a couple of years I've managed to make significant upgrades and hope to keep on making them.

So to sum up. We've come a long way together. The volume of information and material developed so far for this campaign by both myself, and you the players is astounding. Hopefully you'll get a real feel for that as more and more of it goes up on the website mark has so graciously set up for the campaign. I'm extremely hopeful that with refinements we can keep the campaign fresh and tell interesting stories for years to come. But this isn't my campaign alone. I'm just the director and you the players are the actors. Remember that you are the ultimate driving force behind what happens within the campaign. Feel free to grab the wheel and drive when the urge takes you. Talk to you again in another couple of years!

Mike Cross

January 27, 2001

GM: Michael Cross (e-mail)

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