Rules and Advice
Game Mastering
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ID: 6398


July 24, 2011, 3:44 pm

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Cheka Man

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History Can be Fun


An alternate way to present your campaigns history, (or a weapon/piece of equipments legacy) to your players.

Almost every published setting comes with pages of world history, sometimes entire chapters on the history of various factions and worlds players are expected to read through and (hopefully) remember well enough to grasp the setting.

An alternative is for the Gm to play through the highlights of the history (Wars or other exciting segments) in mini one-shot adventures, making it more memorable and captivating then reading about it from the book.

For example the Rogue Trader/Dark Heresy/Death Watch settings have a deep history of the Imperium’s rise to power, the corruption of chaos, first encounters with xenos’ and even a sense of  historic legacy behind each space marine clan.  Trying to convey all this to the player/s usually comes down to passing them a source book to read or trying to relate what you remember of the history that their character would know. (Neither is much fun really)

The same holds true in other settings as well in regards to a famous weapons historic legacy, and how it was wielded in a great battle. (Unless you happen to be a real life bard trying to recount the epic struggle that made the weapon famous will probably bore your players after ten minutes.)

The alternative I prefer is to give them a choice of several pre-gen characters, (or let them use their current character as a long dead relative.) and make the epic battle featuring the ancient weapon, or famous clan the focus of a single nights game session.

By playing through the drama and the battle the players (and Gm) not only have fun, but walk away with a vivid memory of this chapter of the worlds history that will stay with them long after the campaign has ended.

This technique can be applied in the middle of a campaign as well, when a character comes across a weapon with a legacy, and later is in a position to learn this legacy (from a bard, ancient text in a library, etc..) Rather then present them with a page of story, actually experiencing the events will make it more fun for everyone at the table, and give them a more personal connection to the weapon or artifact. (TV shows such as Highlander, and movies do this all the time with cut scenes re-showing pieces of historical importance.

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Comments ( 13 )
Commenters gain extra XP from Author votes.

Voted Cheka Man
July 24, 2011, 22:12

Great fun and a very good idea.

Voted Kassy
July 25, 2011, 9:21

First allow me to welcome you to the Citadel. I´m sure that you´ll know enough about it through Silveressa´s ramblings.

A good first submission, well presented and thought out.


July 26, 2011, 1:22
lol she seems to live on this site, and she uses stuff from here in her games all the time.
Voted PoisonAlchemist
July 25, 2011, 13:10

I think this idea is fantastic and goes in the category of "Why haven't more people thought of this?" It's a great way to switch up the pacing of a normal game. 

Voted Strolen
July 25, 2011, 14:42

I absolutely agree!!  Maybe I should write this one up and link it to this! 

July 26, 2011, 1:18
That is a great idea! I would love to see it as a full sub someday. :)
July 30, 2011, 10:57
Ditto, an idea worthy of sub treatment!
Voted Mourngrymn
July 25, 2011, 22:20

I find this to be a wonderful idea and while not sure it would work with every group, I feel this is a wonderful way to begin a new campaign and set things in motion. Some groups like mine would balk at running parts of a story that regardless of their actions the end result is nearly set but over all this is a grand idea. Welcome and kudos.

July 26, 2011, 1:21
It depends on the historical piece, if it is covering the history of a weapon then the wielder may survive the battle (or die) with the weapon still winding up either inherited or recovered from the battlefield into he hands of others.

Keeping the history vague and letting the players actions during the session determine how that piece of history played out can help let the players actually shape the world making it more personal and exciting for them to play in it.
Voted Zailtais
July 28, 2011, 11:42

This is a great idea. In addition to the benefits covered above, I think these historical vignettes could serve as an effective way for the players to blow off steam. They could be used if a session is moving particularly slowly, to lighten the mood during particularly intense events, or even to build suspense by delaying main plot development. I think most importantly, while they offer change from the central storyline, they still keep the players focused on the game.

Voted valadaar
July 29, 2011, 19:05

  This is a great idea - it kind of was what I was doing with my Respite PBP game - its set in the prehistory of my campaign setting World of Neyathis.

In that case, I was hoping to get the campaign to the point where it actually would shape the future, but I ran out of steam...



Voted Murometz
September 9, 2015, 21:47
I have done this as a GM with my crew and it was fun! Good idea!
Voted Longspeak
February 3, 2017, 0:08
Only voted

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