Hello and welcome again to The Force Does Not Throw Dice! Yes, yes: you probably forgot that this website had a series devoted to the Star Wars roleplaying game, but we are still here. It’s been a long time, but you know what they say: better late than fired!
Our previous campaign-building article on how to create your first campaign was rather popular, so I decided to start working on a few follow-ups. In this second article I’m going to be talking about how to structure your campaign using a template we all know quite well: that of a TV series.
Giving shape to your campaign is a daunting task, to put it mildly. Odds are that you will more or less know where you want to go with your game, but you won’t have the slightest idea of how you’ll go about it. I was the same until famed RPG designer Robin D. Laws wrote a piece called T.V. Structure in the pages of Dragon Magazine #293, a really good article where he talked for several pages about some of the typical tricks that television showrunners use in their craft and about how to implement them in your RPG campaign. Mr. Laws has written some extraordinary books about the art of game design that I regard as part of my personal GMing canon, but this one short article was probably one of the most influential RPG pieces I’ve ever read: even though campaign-building was just a small part of the piece, it completely changed the way I designed campaigns. Sure, as I’ve become my own GM with my own distinctive style, I’ve ended up dropping many of that article’s suggestions and reworking many others, but “TV series-style” is certainly still one of the main pillars of my campaign design philosophy.
There are many reasons to structure your campaign as a TV series. It’s very easy to add, remove or move around episodes, making your life considerably easier. The human brain loves patterns, after all, and TV has taught it many patterns that it knows well. And, after all, RPG campaigns are by their own nature already very similar to serialized fiction: a longer storyline arranged in discrete adventures or, at the very least, sessions.
So let’s start working on Star Wars RPG: The Series!