Arcane Game Lore

Never split the party!

The Auld Ionic That Is Glee



I recently purchased Netflix to have some choices for the kids to watch. My wife got into watching the show Glee for its off-beat renditions of popular songs. While I did enjoy the mash-ups, what really made this show enjoyable were the comments of Sue Sylvester (played by Jane Lynch). Her acidic tongue and clever comments had me laughing through many of the episodes and I would suggest watching it on ‘s performance alone. But that’s not the reason for this post.

As my Glee journey took me through the first 3 Seasons of Glee (admittedly I only saw maybe every 4th episode), I noticed that they built the show the way I wish most GMs would run their games. Many GMs (and TV shows for that matter) try to introduce their nemesis way to early in a campaign. Far too quickly , the characters are embroiled in an epic struggle against an unrelenting foe. Before the game becomes overly frustrating, the characters face off in a climatic battle and defeat their antagonist (this is usually by the end of the first season in a TV show).

The problem with this is the need to top this in the next set of adventures (the disappointing second season), or start a new campaign. For me, both end up unsatisfying. Starting a new campaign generally thwarts any plans I have started developing for my character; continue on the epic quest ends up becoming hokey and cliche. You can only perform so many epic adventures before they all become mundane.

Buffy: “This is how many apocalypses for us now?”

Giles: “Oh, well… uh… six at least. Feels like a hundred.”

Buffy saves the world... again.

Buffy saves the world… again.

 Glee performed their 3 year stint with the grace probably unappreciated by the masses. In the first season the glee club won sectionals only to be defeated at regionals at the end of the season. The second season is witness to their vainglorious triumph at regionals balanced with the lead character’s hamartia worthy of a Greek tragedy; this also costs them Nationals. The third season, the senior year for many of the characters, ends with the glee club’s victory at nationals, and justification the character’s struggle through high school.

When designing your campaign, simply dividing your key battles up in this manner will make your campaign feel more grand. Players should discover sectional, regional, and national level adversaries to defeat in a slow released manner. I know many of us want to introduce our epic nemesis that we have cleverly crafted. But if you can slowly build the story to that final battle, your adventure will transcend the epic and become Auld Ionic.

Categorised as: World Building

One Comment

  1. jedion357 says:

    I helped Larry Moore with an article in the Star Frontiersman 16 “The Villainous NPC Master Plan” – His idea was a master plan for the rise of a villainous NPC over the course of the campaign or campaigns, though most of the early encounter he is not necessarily pitted against them as an opponent.

    I suggested using the Malthar as an example and charting his rise to power- starting as a lowly independent shuttle pilot that ferries the PCs somewhere when they are beginning characters. They next deal with him when he’s an up an coming crime boss. The next encounter with him he’s established a base of operations- (he’s taken control of Dark World station orbiting Outer Reach)perhaps he leans on the PCs some at this point -making them an offer they cant refuse. Eventually the campaign culminates in the Dramune Run Module where he is the foil and the PCs play a hand in his take down.

    Its not the same idea as regionals and nationals victories as you discussed but I liked the long term set up of a major NPC bad guy who’s demise comes at a time when the PCs have reached very highlevels of development. it ties up the campaign it a nice cap stone IMO.

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