Half baked wacky idea... Argument Conflict to set campaign theme

1st session:

Gwendolyn asks her trusted advisors (the players and some NPCs)…

Do we go to war? Negotiate? Or what? Decide now! [pan outside where everything is going to shit]

I turn to the players for an answer.

Whatever they say, an NPC says the opposite. If they don’t say anything, I have an NPC say whatever goes against most of their Beliefs. Either way I want to push for an…

Argument Conflict!

The NPC’s goal is to convince Gwendolyn to take a specific action, not the players, so win or lose they can do whatever they want. Unsure players can help either side.

What’s the point? Use an argument conflict to set the direction of the campaign. It’s a way to give players direct say over the mission in play and immediately test their beliefs. You want war! Fight for it. Negotiation? Tell us why! Compromise is likely… which will mean twists… unforeseen obstacles… and more drama! Either way the game will be thrown violently into second gear, no slow setup, just bam!

If that’s too media res, the first obstacle can be a fight to get to the meeting, possibly carrying vital information that can be used as evidence in the Argument Conflict that someone doesn’t want Gwendolyn to see.

I like this a lot (consider it stolen). Characters begin already on a mission headed to Lockhaven. First mission hazard is animals (weasels?)—resulting in either fight or chase—and the second mission hazard is the patrol busting in on Gwendolyn’s meeting with important information in hand (mice). Argument conflict likely to follow. Players’ Turn picks up from there.

Why isn’t this just the first obstacle in the GM’s turn? Why aren’t the players the focus of this? Gwendolyn hears out the arguments on both sides and then decides…

This is the first obstacle in the GM’s turn.

And the players are the focus.

GM Turn…

  • Hazard 1: Mice
  • Gwendolyn asks the PCs what to do
  • Whatever the PCs propose, an NPC takes an opposing stance
  • Hazard 1, Obstacle 1: Argument Conflict (players may suggest a different Conflict)

The NPCs don’t have an opinion till the player’s have an opinion. The conflict is effectively a way to see what the players want out of the next mission and have them fight for it. Gwendolyn asking the PCs what to do is the GM asking the players what they want the next Mission to be but in game and allowing for compromises to twist things.

Then I love it!

How could you not? This is John we’re talking about. He needs the forum title Master of Mouse Guarding.

Me like to. We’re starting a new campaign with Mouse Guard: SPQM in two weeks (or maybe just after New Year’s Day) and I’m definitely using this idea. There has been some well timed inspiration in the forum lately. Thanks!