As I mentioned before, when starting off a campaign I think DM’s should freely loot what they can from other material. There are a lot of campaign primers you can pick up online, including from WoTC, that are free. There are two campaigns I want to bring up, mainly because they each include podcasts of players during actual game sessions.
The first is from Roleplaying Public Radio and their new world campaign setting. It is an intriguing setup as the players are part of a new group of colonists in a new land. Things are very fluid politically and there are a lot of moral quandaries and political factions for the players to get stuck in. The new world does have some indigenous tribes on its shores. How much effort should the players make to work with these groups?
One major obstacle is the need for massive labor. Labor is hard to come by so slavery might be an option for the colony. Should the players support such a thing? Also a goblin hulk is sitting off the waters of the colony. Goblins would be willing to do the bulk of labor on the cheap, but at what price in the future?
All of this has a backdrop of a larger story, where ruins of an ancient civilization are abound. Some players will be drawn towards these ruins through visions and dreams. Deep within those ruins lies the trigger for creating a new age, or will it bring the end of the world? Fun stuff abound here.
The podcasts are entertaining (if you are willing to put up with some NSFW junior high locker humor). While it is tailored to a particular group, just sitting through some of the player discussions regarding some of the sticker moral arguments is worthwhile. I think a DM could pick up a lot of ideas on what would work, and what would need some refining, when running their sessions.
Another minus for me in the podcast (aside from some of the coarse table-talk) is the painful recording of every fight. Playing out a combat is fun. Listening to people play is not. I typically find myself skipping much of the combats during the podcasts.
Still with its flaws, I think this is a great setting. Having the podcasts of actual sessions is also a huge plus as it serves as a reservoir for ideas. It can also highlight parts that can work (or need to be dropped/modified) for a session. Plus the setting is so open, I think a group would have a lot of fun tackling some of the political and moral elements of the campaign, all the while having the excitement of exploring a new land.
The other campaign podcast is Return to Northmoor which I’ve enjoyed a lot. The campaign is much more structured like a WoTC’s scales of war. It has info on encounters and thoroughly providing notes for running a game session.
One particularly interesting concept of the campaign is the relationships the players have with each other. Additionally, much of their background has a tremendous impact on the main story. The players begin at the periphery of a large kingdom making their final run on a cargo raft to a remote outpost. They stumble into an arcane mystery which leads them to an ancient civilization related to each of their pasts.
I really enjoy these podcasts. They are broken down into two types. One is a thorough discussion on tips and pointers for running the material provided. The second is actual recordings of the play sessions. What I particularly like is that the play sessions are edited. Some of the more exciting elements of combat are left in, but most of it is truncated or skipped over, with emphasis made on group roleplaying. I think it is a great format, and something to emulate more (are you listening WoTC?).
Those are two I’ve been following as of late. Anyone else found some fun 4E campaign podcasts?