Trying Out a Plot Point Campaign
I’ve been running Necessary Evil with a group of Wittenberg students this semester. It’s been an interesting experience to say the least. One of the reasons I was drawn to it was that Necessary Evil is what Pinnacle calls a “plot point campaign.” In a plot point campaign, adventure hooks are generally presented in a non-linear fashion and are often triggered simply by the players deciding that they want to go to a certain location. For instance, the players have been trying to get into the Star City Aquarium where there is rumored to be dangerous experiments going on. As a GM, I simply flipped to the page telling about that location and ran a session based on that. Sometimes the players are given a mission to go to a specific place, but theoretically they could enter the mission just by stumbling upon it.
This has been a good thing because it makes the world a more interesting place and players can go and do things according to their own interests. Sometimes the GM can manipulate those interests (such as making someone they care about kidnapped to a certain location), but generally the players can go wherever they want.
Another benefit to this is that because the missions are non-linear, they can call on contacts that they’ve gained from previous missions. One of the first ones they did allied them with the “Cult of the Red Moon,” an Atlantean warrior cult. This has been invaluable as they’ve provided them water-based transport for later missions and even come to save the day a few times.
I’ve discovered that a plot point campaign requires a bit of improvisation to pull off properly. By giving the players the opportunity to go wherever they want to, it means that you may not have read the section beforehand. By manipulating their interests, you can better predict where they will go, but it’s not a sure-fire thing.
The other issue is that you may have players deciding to do different things. I’ve instituted a “stick together” rule requiring them to move as a unit because it became a little messy in situations where groups wanted to go to do different missions.
All in all though it’s been a fun campaign and I look forward to seeing how it turns out. I hope that at some point I’ll get a chance to try out some of Pinnacle’s other plot campaigns such as the reprinted 50 Fathoms and the upcoming Deadlands plot-point campaign Last Sons as well.