In the Campaign System, all high level characters have to attach themselves to an NPC faction. Factions would be cities, nations, nobles, guilds and churches in the game world. Characters could still belong to player guilds, but the guildmasters would pledge their guild and all of its members to a single NPC faction.
Every faction in the game would have one or more active campaigns at any given time. A campaign is a multi-part scenario available to all players in the faction. Campaigns consist of missions, gathering and crafting contracts, instances, raids and events designed to last anywhere from a couple of days to a few weeks. Campaigns brought to a successful conclusion give a faction-wide bonus and various awards (gear, titles, money) to those guilds and individuals with the highest levels of contribution.
The first important part of a campaign is the faction's campaign NPC. Each faction has a couple NPCs scattered throughout their territory. Aside from just talking to other players, these NPCs are the main way players keep track of their faction's campaigns. Interacting with a campaign NPC gives the player a list of the faction's active campaigns. Choosing a campaign takes the player to a information screen that gives the backstory, a list of active instances, raids, events, and resource contracts for that campaign. In addition, the faction's progress through the various objectives is shown, with tallies for percent complete (for resource contracts), or tallies of successes and failures (for missions and raids). Also, each individual and guild score is shown.
Example Campaign Description Screen: In the campaign Goblin Uprising, a powerful goblin shaman is uniting local goblin tribes against the players' faction. When players visit their faction campaign NPC and choose this campaign, they will see the following:
It has been years since our powerful Lord Vedis crushed the local goblin kingdoms and sent them scattering into the nearby hills. The defeated goblins were reduced to squabbling tribes unable to mount a credible threat to our lands.
In recent weeks disturbing news has reached my ears. A powerful goblin shaman has come to power and he is uniting the tribes under his banner. An uprising has begun that threatens the peace of this province. We must put down the goblins
once and for all.
The goblins have built crude fortifications in the hills to protect their supplies. We will need siege engines to crack these forts .To build our war machines, we will require 50,000 more wood and 50,000 more iron ingots.
Our fighters are not properly equipped for a war on this scale. We require 200 more suits of fine chain mail and 200 more masterwork swords to field our army.
Currently, all is quiet in the province.
Instances and Raids
We have found no goblin leaders, monstrosities or dungeons yet.
Would you like to take a mission in defense of my Lord’s lands?
Players talking to campaign NPCs would have the option to take a mission in pursuit of the faction's objectives. Missions would be chosen randomly (and possibly generated) from a list specific to the campaign, but many missions would be tailored to the player or team taking them.
All campaign missions would have clear success and failure conditions. Successful missions generate a campaign score for the team and the faction. Failed missions generate a negative score and might have some consequences. For instance, if our team wipes in a goblin instance, not only do we get a negative score for our faction, bringing the campaign closer to failure and us off the leaderboard, but high level goblin spawns might pour out of the instance, making travel in the area difficult.
Example Campaign Missions: Choosing to accept a mission gives me a choice of two or three generated missions created with the makeup and level of my team in mind. Here are some missions that might appear in our Goblin Uprising campaign.
Spying – A goblin spawn is created nearby. The player is given a temporary ability called “Observe”. He has to use his stealth abilities to get close to the camp and use his Observe ability on the camp’s boss, or on the tent in the center of the camp. The player fails if they engage a goblin too close to the camp. (This mission would be appropriate for lone thief players.)
Single Combat – A nearby goblin spawn is turned passive and the boss of the camp is given a simple dialog. The player is tasked with traveling to the camp, talking to the boss and defeating him in single combat. If he can do so, the camp will disperse. If he is defeated, or forced to flee the area, he fails and the goblin camp is made hostile and given a larger agro radius. (This mission would be appropriate for lone warriors.)
Destroy the Goblin Camp – A large and powerful goblin camp is created nearby. The players have to enter the goblin camp and destroy it. If the players fail, the camp is sent wandering on nearby roads, making travel difficult. (This mission is appropriate for small groups of players.)
Raze the Goblin Lair – A goblin instance is created and the players have to enter it and destroy the supplies inside. Failure leads to several goblin spawns being created on the nearby roads. (This mission is appropriate for groups of players.)
Supply Train Escort – A supply train is created in the player’s town and slowly starts across the countryside. Spawns of goblin raiders are created randomly and will charge the supply train trying to do as much damage as possible to it. Players have to protect the supply train and see it to its destination. (This mission is appropriate for groups of players.)
Another way players could interact with their faction's campaigns is by fulfilling resource or crafting contracts. These aren't missions taken by individuals, but overall goals that everyone can see and contribute to at any time. Contracts might be timed, or they might need to be fulfilled before another event occurs.
Example Resource Contract: “The goblins have built crude fortifications in the hills to protect their supplies. We will need siege engines to crack these forts .To build our war machines, we will require 50,000 more wood and 50,000 more iron ingots.
Our fighters are not properly equipped for a war on this scale. We require 200 more suits of fine chain mail and 200 more masterwork swords to field our army.”
The resource contract is timed and must be finished within a week’s time. If the faction completes the contract, they gain access to the temporary power “War Machine” that allows them to summon catapults and ballistae that make destroying certain
In most campaigns, instances and raids will open up as various conditions are met. These epic encounters will require full teams, or even multiple teams acting in concert. Instances and raids are province-wide goals, meaning that once they open, any group of players can try them at any time. Raids respawn and instances stay open (though individual players might have a timer before they can reenter an instance) so that multiple groups of players can attempt them. Raids and instances are only considered completed/failed once they have been defeated/failed several times.
Example Instance/Raid Encounters: Once the faction’s crafters create the requisite number of swords and suits of armor, an instance opens in the province.
The Forge – “Deep under the Teeth Mountains lies the Goblin Forge Uderbluk. When the goblins ruled this land, Uderbluk supplied their generals with war machines and armor that rivaled even the most skilled Dwarven craftsmen. In the last Goblin War, Lord Vedis and his cohort invaded the fiery pit and razed it.
It seems the goblins have found a way to relight the fires of Uderbluk. Unless we can stop them, the goblin weapon and armor smiths will create powerful weapons of war. We must find heroes to enter the goblin forge and extinguish Uderbluk once and for all.”
The Forge is a short instance filled with heavily armed goblin guards and powerful weapon and armor smith bosses. At the center of the dungeon lies the magical flame that powers the forges. Players have to defeat this flame while fighting off multiple spawns of goblins and ogres.
Once the faction defeats The Forge, players can buy temporary enchantments on their weapons that give a damage bonus against goblins. If the faction fails the instance, all goblin encounters will become “armored” getting a significant boost in defense and damage.
Blunder – Blunder is a powerful ogre that activates randomly during the campaign. Blunder has tons of hit points, a dangerous club attack, an area of effect foot stomp that can damage heroes, knock them down and stun them. Blunder commands an army of goblins that randomly spawn once he has engaged his foes.
Occasionally, when a player talks to his campaign NPC, the mission engine will spawn a province-wide event instead. Events will only spawn if the system detects enough faction players online to support it. Events are special scripted scenarios that require a quick response by a large number of players.
Example of an Event: Goblin Uprising includes several scripted events.
Bandits – 24 powerful goblin spawns appear in the province. The faction’s players must gather into teams and hunt them down. This event is timed and if the faction cannot react quickly enough, the event is failed.
Raiders – News of a goblin raiding party reaches the players’ ears. In ten minutes, a huge group of goblins will spawn near a random town in the province. The players must gather a force sufficient to repel the attack. If the goblins take the town, it is destroyed and a “Razed Town” instance will be created in its place.
Two points that are important, but might not have been obvious from my somewhat haphazard example, are scripting and randomness. I think it is important that the events of the campaign flow in an interesting fashion. Thus, completing a resource contract opens an instance; failing an event causes a raid to activate; attaining a certain campaign score starts an event.
On the other hand, we don’t want the path through a campaign to be too predictable. Thus, certain points in the campaign will be driven by random chance. For instance, if Blunder spawns late in the campaign, players will likely have access to temporary powers and bonuses from completing other goals. If he spawns early, these bonuses are unavailable and the raid will be much harder. The order of events in a campaign might be random and some events might spawn randomly if at all.
In any case, I hope that is enough to give you the general idea. If anyone is interested, post a comment and we can discuss various aspects of the system in more detail.