Cut Away The Dross For Better Campaign Craft

Roleplaying Tips Newsletter #0851

How is your game going?

I ask because many campaign problems seem complex, but you can often drill down to simplicity. Doing so cuts away the overwhelm and lets you get on with your planning.

For example, RPT Game Master Haukur asked me this question:

I’ve been reading your tips for a couple of months now, and it has helped me lot. I am currently making a futuristic post-apocalyptic style world for D&D 5E, similar to the world of Borderlands or Mad Max, so I’m developing my own rules and stats.

Since I’m making stats for modern firearms (not futuristic) I have a bit of a problem drawing the line between realism, dying instantly from a buckshot for example, and fantasy-getting-shot-and-recover-overnight type of unrealism.

Can you perhaps provide me with some tips on how to make the world realistic without obliterating my players?

If we first try to simplify what seems to be a difficult and entangling problem, we might gain the clarity we need to make a decision and move on.

Here’s how I answered Haukur:

Hi Haukur.

You can improve defence or you can decrease offence.

Defence could be armour, magic, racial physiology, etc.

Offence could be unreliable weapons, low impact bullets, etc.

Consider other factors, but they always come down to offence or defence.

For example, magic, weather, ingredients/supply/crafting.

In Warhammer, guns are deadly but inaccurate. In Pathfinder, guns are accurate but don’t do much damage.

By drilling down to two core aspects of combat, Haukur was then able to focus his ideas on things like gun deadliness but ammunition rarity for balance.

Next time you confront a sticky gaming issue, see if you can simply it and then work outward from there.