Thursday, January 25, 2007

Brainwriting a Campaign

Today I was in a training all morning. One of the things we covered were some team-based brainstorming techniques. I'd been familiar with the idea of brainwriting before, but this morning I thought of using it for group campaign design.

Here's the basic (slightly edited for my purpose) idea. You begin with a grid/table (a spreadsheet works).

Across the top of the page, you note the basic concept for the campaign. Let's say it is "Cowboys and Chimeras, a D&D game with Wild West tropes."

In the first row of cells, you put in some basic ideas. For instance, "Six-Shooters: cheap wands that only hold 6 charges" and "Magic Railroad" and "Airborne Cowboys."

In the second and subsequent rows, you expand on each of the things above. Under "Magic Railroad" we might have things like "John-Henry-like legend of man vs. magic" and "Train Robbery!" and "Kobold conductors" and "Trapped trains - robbing a train is like a moving dungeon!"

Check here for an example.

So, the DM might add a few things to the first row or so, and then pass the grid around (or use a Google spreadsheet and add players as collaborators). A player might add a new basic idea (or five) and/or expand on one or more of the ones that are already there. This can go on for awhile, until the DM has enough ideas to pick and choose from.

Variants on this idea:

  • Using the Google spreadsheet option, you can enlist people from around the world to help you brainstorm on your campaign.

  • Use this for things on a smaller scale than an entire campaign: A culture (the main idea at the top of the page could be Goblin Eugenicists), an organization (Evil Overlords Anonymous), or an adventure (Return to Swamp Castle).

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