Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Part 3: Story Themes

I've started mapping, and am starting to think about themes that will run through the campaign.

The base theme (not necessarily the primary theme) has already bludgeoned its way into the writing and mapping: Isolation.  The dwarves are isolated from their homes.  Even the map making has compartmentalized a lot of things to themselves.  I haven't even started the "adventurers' story" yet, but the first "module" has pretty much written itself without me touching the paper.  It is too prevalent not to use isolation as a motivation early.

The problem is, one theme is not enough to hold a campaign together.  Its just one thread in a blanket. . .

Any ideas on other themes to layer onto Isolation?  I have some ideas but most of them tend to run parallel to isolation.  I thought about having a major ally of the dwarves abandon them, but I don't think I want to be that overt. (Isolation and Abandonment are too parallel).

Other themes that have been running through my head in the development so far:

Greed - always easy to put this into a fantasy world. . . well any world with people, really
Hope//Hopelessness -
Primal Urges - I think I really like some ideas that Tweedler gave me on the phone the other day, and could make this really interesting
Nature's Power - could be hard to pull off in a dungeon setting, but very rewarding
Slavery could tie in nicely with isolation, without being too hand-in-hand.
Betrayal - this theme would be mostly in the background.  A Judas Dwarf, an apprentice who killed his master for power, a Demon promising something for one of the Gold Dragon's Truename are a few possibilities.  Is this theme worth using?
Survival of the Fittest - keeps popping up in design this time around.  Orcish Arena, the Dwarves holding a part of their home, allies of the dwarves sending aid, an adventurer's guild designed to guerrilla tactic in the depths of the earth are a few examples in the first 10 days of writing. I could gloss over most of that though, and not use the theme.
Clans/Family -  Another theme that may show up as history/background.  I always find this hard to implement into a game on any other level.

Some themes I am hoping to stay away from this time around.  Most I have used too many times.  They are powerful, but I want a different style of play for this campaign.

Good versus Evil - Star Wars and Willow and Legend have always colored my DMing.  I'm really hoping to avoid this theme this time around.
Power Corrupts -  I've used this a bit much.  The "Volge" campaign had way more than I intended, so I'm going to try to stay away from it this time.
Dark Gods - I'm not Dave.  Sometimes this can be a great theme, but I think cosmic power is going to take a back seat in this game.
Lost Loves - just not a fun role-playing experience.  I've tried it, and it does not work.
Brains versus Brawn - I don't want a PvP theme.  The campaign will be hard enough without inner strife, and this theme always brings out the Magic vs Steel before its done.

Now that I have about a dozen themes on "paper," are there any that you guys like more than others?  What other themes would layer well with Isolation? How much correlation between an area theme and a story theme should there be?

Thanks for taking the time to read this everyone.  I'm sure the input I get will make this game so much better.

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