Behind the Screen: Politics, Part Two!

2007 December 17
by Dante

As promised yesterday, I’m going to continue on the thread of political campaigns for one more go-around here. I got some excellent further inspiration from reading our friendly neighborhood ChattyDM’s DM log.

For those of you that maintain that there is a stigma around blogging about your own campaign I challenge you to read that blog and NOT walk away with a few new ideas of your own. There’s a good mix of DM advice and player advocacy going on there, its a quality read.

On to the Good Stuff: Do better with your plot

I’m going to revert back to one of my commonly held precepts: for characters, inclusion is your friend. Many (if not all) of the political campaigns that I’ve been involved in have been steeped in the plot device of a single player being a lost ruler or someone of unknown merit to the rest of the story.

Even non-political campaigns can take this approach, but I think that political campaigns suffer more heavily from the pain that is caused by cultivating a star within your party. If the party is pushed out of the spotlight artificially, they will get bored if you don’t give them something significant to contribute.

I suggest taking your plot to the group as a whole. Try to cultivate plots that would affect the group together, and diminish (or use sparingly) plots that would require a single player to “take point” and speak or act for the larger group. Our last session was a bit politically charged and the main scene of the night affected the group as a whole.

There were great moments of roleplay and real fireworks, and it seemed that everyone was very enthralled in what was going on. To me, that defines a successful session.

A few more words on making your political campaign relevant

I came across a decent article on by Matthew Ryan discussing some possible applications of politics in an epic level campaign. This happens to be the situation that we are currently operating in, and it has been going rather well however it presents its own unique challenges.

As I mentioned yesterday, it is important when working within the confines of political turmoil to engage your players. As Matthew mentions in his article, characters at moderate to high level have many belongings that can be leveraged in your political campaign. They have land, strong friendships, professional ties, and renown in the lands that can all be used to help or hinder them along the way.

This gives you many options, and by borrowing a bit from the previous actions (or backstories) of your characters you can ensure without much effort that they will be interested in what happens next. And as we all know, a little engagement goes a long way!

What is going to happen the rest of this week.

StupidRanger is taking this week off in order to finish a few holiday gifts for our family and Vanir remains busy at his day job, so you’re going to get more than your average dose of me this week. I sure hope that’s ok with everybody!!

One Response leave one →
  1. ChattyDM permalink
    December 18, 2007

    Damn Dante… How much do you want for all these nice words? Thanks!

    The DM logs are one of the core reasons why I started Blogging.

    Now for your post, I agree that making politics a Party wide affair makes for a more interesting involvement of players.

    However, by making each player aligned with different political entities (governments, Militant or mercantile organizations, etc) makes for very interesting dynamics withn a group.

    Plus when they agree to a quest, you can insert political-driven objectives to each… played subtly, it makes for a richer game… played otherwise runs the risk of creating a paranoia game! (in all senses of the word).

    As Yax said today, you are on a roll! Don’t stop.

    Do drop by the forum (, a lot of nice discussions are going around those themes.

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