This is all very useful stuff, as I start to dig into the nuts and bolts of getting a BW campaign off the ground. I’ve not run our first session yet – that’s tomorrow evening, with 4 hours allocated. My plan is as follows:
With the various character sheets pre-printed, I’ll give the introduction to The Sword as written, and then describe the characters and allow the players to choose their PC. We’ll run through the session, introducing mechanics and gameplay a bit, and also breaking the ice on the night. I expect this to take 30-45 minutes, an hour on the outside.
Next, I plan to give an overview of the game concept and some of the potential conflicts that the group will be interacting with. Per some of the advice in this thread and elsewhere on the forums, I’m going to open up a bit about what would, in my usual Pathfinder games, be secrets that get doled out slowly over time. Here’s what I’m thinking for the game setup:
The overall setting is our world, an indeterminate number of centuries after the human race was nearly wiped to extinction. Nuclear war, biological plague, and climate change all played a part; as the curtain rises on the campaign, the planet has largely returned to a natural state, with only husks of humanity’s cities and former predominance left.
The immediate situation finds the party (all drawing from the Men stock, with Elves/Dwarves/Orcs unavailable at the outset) as members of a small village (Littleton) that stands on the outskirts of what once, long ago, was Springfield, IL. The players are welcome to choose any setting-justifiable set of lifepaths they like, but their third and final path must be from the Villager line.
The village is run by an Endless One named Grimm; in this campaign, the Elf stock is recast as a Man who, for reasons that don’t really matter much and can be hand-waved as radiation-related, do not age or die naturally. They experience the Grief mechanic per the stock rules, and aside from the flavor, are Elves. Grimm has kept Littleton safe for many decades through magical means, wrought in secret. However, his life is coming to its close as Grief from the long centuries of struggle against the Ghouls, Bandit Hordes (Orcs), and Subterraneans (Dwarves) have taken their toll.
As his abilities wane, Bandits are drawing closer, and as the game begins, bandits are attacking a farm on the outskirts of town, under the leadership of a bandit named Krief. The group can engage martially, attempt to intimidate or negotiate with the bandits, or ignore the situation as they see fit, but it provides a starting point for an antagonist, a shifting dynamic (the village coming under attack is a change, and figuring out why and how to reverse it a major goal for the group), and an opportunity to start in media res. Regardless of what happens here, a young farmer names Jules, known about town because his wife just gave birth to a baby boy, is badly injured (off-scene) in the attack.
Following this opening, the broader village is introduced, roughly divided into three factions: (1) Grimm and the “regular” families and laborers who are generally loyal to him, (2) the farmers, led by an ornery but intelligent older man named Harold, and (3) a group of mostly younger men who consider themselves to be the village’s unofficial security force. The second major conflict comes from the political tensions between these groups: the farmers, who live furthest from the village center and have been the target of recent bandit attacks are getting frustrated with Grimm. Grimm is aware of the dangers, but takes a long view and seeks to avoid conflicts where possible. Finally, the “security force”, although historically little more than a glorified hunting group, is naively excited by the prospect of “tracking down those bandits and taking the fight to them for a change!”.
Harold wants Grimm to send a group to the ruins of Springfield, some days travel away, to seek and retrieve medical supplies for Jules. Grimm, aware that the last attempt to raid the ruins resulted in the mysterious disappearance of a group of skilled trackers, is arguing for a longer but ostensibly safer trip east to what was once a small town named Mt. Auburn, where the remains of a rural clinic are said to still house some scarce antibiotics and supplies. The missing men in Springfield are a sore topic in town, with the various factions arguing for and against risking supplies and men to effect a rescue. This forms the third and most immediate conflict, as the players are (naturally) the nominated group, and can attempt to influence the direction of their journey by getting involved with one or more of the factions in town.
My thinking is that there are a lot of ways to get involved here; the group could choose to align with one faction and burn characters supporting a particular view, or they could opt to take opposing positions and work through the conflicts in pursuit of a higher goal of saving the village. There are a number of directions that the campaign could take, with player choice being the determining factor here. I think (?) there are a sufficient number of built-in situations and hooks to seed some interesting character arcs, enable meaty BIT choices, and get us off the ground.
That said, I’m new to this, so feedback is quite welcome.