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I've GM'd a few campaigns in other systems, and I like to have my ducks in a row as much as possible.  I'm wondering how some of you might have planned out your campaign on paper.  Since there is no real "end game" goal other than to survive (for a 1 shot or short campaign) do you try to "breadcrumb" PC's to specific encounters?  I know that would be difficult based on the open world idea of the game itself, but im curious as to how control freak GMs like myself get along with it.

 

Thanks!

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Yeah, what RG said. Write encounters such that they are location agnostic, that way you can drop them wherever the players decide they want to go. The NPCs, notable items, and general events are static, just the details of the locale are nebulous until game time.

One of the great things about post-apocalypse settings is that the standard expectations for what you're going to find in a given building are basically out the window. You want to write an encounter where the PCs find a small team of military or SWAT operatives holed up and fighting off zombies? No problem. You can map out the general layout of the makeshift fort they've built ahead of time, and then substitute school desks, bed frames, aisle shelving units, or whatever else as the "walls" after its decided where they actually are.

Assuming you're playing in a big city (fairly typical zombie apocalypse setting) you can also "herd" the players in certain directions by simply dropping a pack of zombies on any road you don't want them going down. Just make it clear there are too many zombies to fight their way through.

As for ultimate goals or destinations, I would be inclined to let the players decide that themselves in a game like this. You could jot down a list of suggestions in case they have trouble deciding though - recognizable landmarks, airports, embassies, and so on.

Edited by Steve-O

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I tend to creat a fair number of mini-encounters on index cards. Some are tied to locations others to people. This way I have a "convenience store" or a "pharmacy" all ready to go when the players decide to visit one. The survivor is mapped out as a little girl who who was hiding in her tree house and came down because she needed food, or is a fireman in turnout gear trying to get home to his family.  I try to keep them generic enough that I can drop them in whenever needed.

 

For a sandbox campaign this works better than spending hours detailing a location the players may never visit. When I set up major plots I try to write a timeline of what will happen if the players do nothing, then I advance the plot in the background. I try not to have more than one or two major plots running in a given setting, plus whatever the players are up to. Just enough to give a sense of a world that goes on around them.

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I'm about to have my first attempt at running a one shot tomorrow, I've prepared as much as possible and have created ten encounters for my pcs with varying alternatives depending on what they decide to do but I'm stuck for an ending. I'm really not sure how best to end it, I'm thinking about a final showdown with a large swarm or would it be better to let them make it to their intended destinations and then have a starting point if they do wish to continue into a full campaign? I'd appreciate any suggestions guys. 

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One of the best things to come out of our last session was a dog (Staffordshire terrier) dragging along a dead body that was still clinging to its leash, stupid rigor mortis... One of the players actually had a dogtreat in his pocket so I allowed him an extra die to roll on his charisma to call the dog over. He passed and took hold of the dog's leash only to have the dead owner come to live right there and then. The rest of the party attacked the zombie only for the dog to turn on them... The player holding onto the leash was rollign dex checks over the next rounds trying to keep the dog from attacking his friends. The loud barking attracted another group of walkers nearby...

 

This encounter ,though meticulously planned, was, as Steve-O calls it, location agnostic. This encounter could have cropped up anywhere along the way. In this case it happened right where I usually go to walk my dogs so i could really describe the location in detail.

Edited by DanteRotterdam

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I'm about to have my first attempt at running a one shot tomorrow, I've prepared as much as possible and have created ten encounters for my pcs with varying alternatives depending on what they decide to do but I'm stuck for an ending. I'm really not sure how best to end it, I'm thinking about a final showdown with a large swarm or would it be better to let them make it to their intended destinations and then have a starting point if they do wish to continue into a full campaign? I'd appreciate any suggestions guys. 

 

I had "my guys" first get their hands on a big bag of guns at the end of our first game.

I played it honestly (all rolls out in the open etc.) and they could have been killed easily but survived reaching the local gunclub on mopeds that they took from a Turkish shopowner who couldn't be bothered to stop them since, in his words: "Allah is coming to take me and my family to heaven, you can have all the mopeds you want..."

I had them drive of unto the freeway at the end of the game leaving pretty much everything open for them.

 

They mailed me the next day to ask when our next session would be. Very fulfilling!

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I'm about to have my first attempt at running a one shot tomorrow, I've prepared as much as possible and have created ten encounters for my pcs with varying alternatives depending on what they decide to do but I'm stuck for an ending. I'm really not sure how best to end it, I'm thinking about a final showdown with a large swarm or would it be better to let them make it to their intended destinations and then have a starting point if they do wish to continue into a full campaign? I'd appreciate any suggestions guys. 

 

I would definitely recommend leaving it open in case they want to continue.  However, if you wanted to, you could do something cheeky like trap them somewhere, fending off an impossible hoard of zombies and then you fade to black just as they're getting overrun.  Most of the party is bleeding and near death, the odds are overwhelmingly against them.  You make a roll that would kill the first player.  End scene.

 

Refuse to answer any questions about what happens next.  That's all.

 

If they express an interest in continuing, you can start the next session "some time later" with no zombies in sight.  Whoever's still playing is there, and you can explain/role play how they escaped the horde in "flashbacks," piece by piece over the session.  Also allows a convenient out for any players who don't want to continue - they died messily.

 

I wouldn't use dice for the flashbacks, btw.  Let them describe their actions, then you describe how it works out for them.  But you want to make sure the ones who have decidedly survived do survive, so don't rely on random chance there.

Edited by Steve-O

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Thanks for the suggestions guys, of course what I'm hoping is that they will enjoy it so much that they'll ask to go again and the fade to black finale is a great as it gives the pcs the option to continue at a later date. I'm kind of leaning towards a final showdown but didn't realise that I could just end it with a cliffhanger.

Edited by Thunderchild

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