Campaign Design: Episodes

Power Rangers RPG mixes two and a half genres that I absolutely love. You’ve got some superhero elements along with some Saturday morning cartoon drama, and a little bit of anime action sprinkled in. I think it’s a perfect storm. I plan to treat every session like one or two episodes of the TV show.

Today I am back to planning campaigns.

I’m excited because I haven’t really sat down to jam on a campaign plan in a while. For many years I used a somewhat closed episodic format to plan my campaigns. It’s sort of like I imagine planning a TV or Anime series would carry out.

It looks a little like railroading the players, but it’s not. A lot of it is genre dependent. In other words, different campaigns have different styles. I tend to not run a fantasy rpg such as D&D the same way I would run a superhero RPG or a space exploration game.

Some adventures are far more open ended than others.

Luckily, the campaigns I’m choosing to focus on in the near future are GI Joe and Power Rangers RPG. I’ve got a FATE space game in the works, too but we’ll save that one for later.

If it were a fantasy game, like the Dungeon Crawl Classics campaign I’m tentatively building, all I have to do is set it up and plan an an adventure or two to get through the first few sessions. After that, I’m listening to the players and planning mostly location based encounters and NPCs. (Places to go and people to meet.) I might slip in a BBEG and a few dungeons for them to encounter down the road, but DCC plus Hexcrawl is pretty low maintenance so far. It’s a sandbox. I literally need 7 hexes figured out to begin with.

Superhero games are a slightly different animal. Since most of the game is going to take place in the same city, I plan major locations and NPCs before the players even create their characters. I also put together a rogue’s gallery for the team and possibly have some villains in mind to potentially plague certain character types. After the first couple of issues, I leave my plans open and insert new villains as we go. Sometimes I’ll plan a specific villain and accompanying adventure. Supers games tend to lend themselves well to NPC interactions with the group.

Then we come to Power Rangers RPG.

(Evil GM grin.) I absolutely adore any RPG based off of a TV series. I had so much fun working on campaigns for a game called Cartoon Action Hour from Spectrum Games. This type of genre emulation format is simply a dream come true to work with. I’ve built entire seasons (Play Sets) in that system and it was fantastic to work with. Is it any wonder I’m stoked for GI Joe?

Power Rangers RPG mixes two and a half genres that I absolutely love. You’ve got some superhero elements along with some Saturday morning cartoon drama, and a little bit of anime action sprinkled in. I think it’s a perfect storm. I plan to treat every session like one or two episodes of the TV show.

My plan is pretty simple on the surface. Episodes 1 and 2 are pretty much pre-planned: The team is formed. Here’s Zordon and Alpha Four (because I can’t do the cheesy Alpha 5.) Here are the Zords. Here’s the BBEGs called the Triumvirate. They have a ship in Earth Orbit. They’re here in search of the crystal buried deep underneath Ranger HQ.

After the first couple of episodes, we’re going to do some random villain/monster of the week stuff. The team gets to play around with new gear, Zords, etc while the Triumvirate tries to mess with the Rangers and locate the crystal. This also gives the players some time to explore their characters and monkey around with some subplot stuff.

Then sometime around Episode Six or Nine, I have specific villains planned. The Triumvirate are going to get slightly more serious. Suddenly random threats start appearing that they didn’t send. My intent here is to bring the players’ focus back to the main plot. It’s time to think about beating the Triumvirate and send them packing.

Around Episode 12, the plot deepens slightly as the Rangers are going to be visited by a mysterious person calling himself “Lokeen.” He’s not a villain, exactly. At least not yet. He is going to let the group know that there’s a little more going on than what Zordon told them. They’re not alone in the multiverse and there are some much larger threats out there.

Then we’ll probably do a little more Monster/Villain of the Week type things to take a bit of the pressure off. At Episode 18, the Triumvirate are going to escalate their attacks considerably. The kid gloves are off. No more goofy, silly villains. It’s going to start looking a bit more grim. The last six episodes are all planned to a certain extent.

We’re only going 24 episodes in Season One. The generals send down their toughest fighters and trusted lieutenants. By this time the characters should be pretty sufficient level to take on anything. Sometime during the last two episodes, we will probably see Ranger HQ get trashed; the military subplot end; some Zords are possibly going to crash and burn; plus anyone wanting to trade out characters before the next season will have a good opportunity to do so.

This brings us to Season 1 Part 2 aka Power Rangers Super Lightning Force.

More to come as I build it. This is just the rough draft. I’ll have some specific adventures up as they are created. Have a good one. I appreciate you!

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