What makes a good example campaign?

When starting or creating a new system, I’m always fascinated by what different systems do for examples of play. What do you think makes a good example? What aspects of a campaign “teach” the players and GM how to work to the advantages of the system?

Depends on your parameters of the campaign

Scope

  • lord of the rings - one big quest, the two side quests are heavily tied to the main quest.
  • elder scrolls (morrowind/oblivion/skyrim) 10+ minor quests for 10+ factions at any given time.
  • something in between.

Length
How long is the campaign? the presumed dnd arc from the 70s was 20-50 session, 1st to whatever level. But few people have that much time any more. 4-8 sessions is alot of play for indy games, dnd streams still to 12+ episodes often.

Threats

  • one recurring enemy
  • five alternating recurring factions
  • random enemy/threat every session (star trek next generation)

as for Aspects-i’d say variety in encounters - physical tests (lifting, chasing), social tests (negotiation, interviewing), mental tests (puzzles, clue sorting), combat (quick, long, multiple quick in a row)

I always give multiple options if they seem stuck, and none of the options are combat. Your options can remind them of the stakes and the setting (eg you can recruit the mage guild against the goblin armada or persuade the nobles to fund guard for the refugees fleeing the area)

examples in books should always involve a player decision with options, not just a string of encounters without reference to the story-the why they are doing this.

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A great sample adventure, IMO, is one which showcases precisely the play experience the designers intend for the system.

For a generic / universal system, you’d want an adventure which highlights what the system does well–combat, skill challenges, social encounters, etc. Try to get in a little of everything so players get a feel for the entire range of options during the course of a single campaign.

On the other hand, if your game is about reality TV chefs, you’d want an example adventure which highlights drama, cooking skills, and screen appeal. The narrower your game’s focus, the more specific you need to be.

As an example, I’m working on a game about people with disabilities during the 14th Century black plague. It’s survival horror, low-power, and full of zombies.

The sample adventure highlights the game’s Senses system, which illustrates how people with disabilities have (or don’t have) a whole spectrum of ability levels in regards to the 5 human senses. There are challenges which can be overcome using touch and taste, not just seeing and hearing.

The game also has a system which highlights a character’s Anxieties and Assurances–the things that stress you out or help you regain your composure. There are a lot of events and challenges which test these, and advice for the GM about how to incorporate them and when to test them.

There’s a lot more to it, but the gist is that if your game does something you feel is unique, then make 100% certain your sample adventure hits on it frequently.

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