Saturday, February 5, 2011

Shadowrun Campaign Wiki

In the past I’ve really enjoyed keeping a campaign journal for D&D and Shadowrun. I find it’s a nice way to recap, keep track and sort of analyze our game sessions. With our new Shadowrun game starting up I wanted to do something again, but not quite the same old. Truthfully, keeping a journal can be rather time consuming. On top of planning for the next week and trying to maintain a game blog it often felt like a chore to make sure that I posted each week. After talking it over with the group we decided to create a campaign wiki to document what is occurring in the alternate world of our fantasy lives. I just got it set up and I must admit that I am sort of stoked on it. It’s located here.

One aspect that I really like about the wiki is that everyone in the group can contribute to it, rather than it just being a GM dictatorship. We sit at a round table so we should all be equal. I think that is the best practice for all, it’s all of our game. It’s cool to get the point of view of everyone involved rather than just a narration of events. I imagine there being conflicting accounts of certain things, which I think is great. Shadowrun is such a morally grey universe that nothing has an absolute truth to it. It does raise the question, though, of what it is that the players should be contributing. For now I have asked them to create character bios and some background info on their contacts. I did ask them to keep everything reasonable as far as their contacts are concerned. No megacorps presidents, dragons, or super generous wealthy benefactors. In the past I have always created their contacts (after they selected them) and I sort of see this as a challenge to me because I have to use and develop these NPC’s in ways that I need, but their origins are coming from someone else. I’m into it.

I am still struggling with exactly how game events will appear in the wiki. They can certainly pop up in an entry for a character and summarize their role in a certain situation, but that doesn’t really provide the big picture. I was thinking maybe anonymous Shadowland style posts about something that went down, or perhaps a media account from a third party. I was in a Shadowrun campaign years ago with a different group of players and one of the players would routinely write these newspaper style accounts of our runs and send them around. It was actually pretty cool. And I’ve already told everyone that I will be giving out karma for contributions, so that should give an incentive to put some work into it.

So what is the point of this whole thing? Well, it can keep track of NPC’s, give an additional platform for the players to flesh out their characters and is another method to include all sorts of superfluous info (or maybe it’s actually really useful info). I imagine that if it’s successful the players will be able to find pertinent information in there that can aid them in game. In a way it is some sort of ultra metagaming, but it is also realistic for the world that the party is in. Why wouldn’t they turn up some info if they snoop around about their latest Johnson? They could certainly just make a skill check and get the info, but this could be a little incentive to do a little more. In this case it’s my job to drop some “Easter Egg” style info into the game and see if it turns up when we meet at the table. One example so far involves the party shaman. In her backstory is some sort of corp character that she fell in love with. That’s all that had been decided. So I created an entry for this guy, gave him a name and a story and dropped it into the wiki. Now he exists and he has never really come up in game so far. It gives the player some info if she wants to pursue that storyline and it’s something to maker her ears perk up at the table if a certain name should come up. This is also opening the door for Shadowrun to occupy even more of our time, but we can cross that bridge when we come to it.

Another aspect that I like is that it gives some permanence to the game. Now I am not the most sentimental of people and I think that RPG campaigns are rather disposable in the grand scheme of things, but I actually really like the idea that this campaign can live on in the cloud of the internet. Anyone can read it, we can also reminisce about it and check in and laugh (or cry?) over these characters for years to come. Perhaps some other folks will even get some inspiration or ideas from something that they read there. Which is neat.

The most surprising part of it for me is how fun it is to include pictures in the entries. I didn’t really think about that and then one of the players added a picture entry to all of the PC’s. Totally awesome to see some imagining of who these people are that we pretend to be. They are just images taken from Google and plugged in, but they are completely our characters now. We never use miniatures in our game, rarely maps as well. So this is the most visual we have ever really been with characters.

I used Google Sites to set the wiki up, employing their wiki template to get started. I’m not the most tech savvy but I found it very easy to use. The appearance of the page still leaves a lot to be desired, as does the layout but these are both aspects that can be improved over time.

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