It has been a long while since the last time I made any entry in DeviantArt. For the sake of practicing my English writing skills once again, I have to write something.
Previously, I have been practicing writing in English by running and playing an open campaign called 'Nuevo Mundo'. It has been more than one year now, and I am planning to close the campaign. There were many stories from Nuevo Mundo, and I hope we all learned a lot from the campaign.
In Nuevo Mundo, my friends and I were playing pen and paper role-playing game (using Pathfinder d20 system). We made journalist characters (front-line journalist, aka Mercenary in disguise) so we also have to submit articles. These article writings activity is one of the 'learning' that I wanted to introduce. None of the players have English as their primary language, so I think by enforcing to write articles in English, we could improve our English language skill. So we played, have fun (and conflicts), and learn some English.
So, what is actually Nuevo Mundo, or more importantly, what is 'Open Campaign' ? Actually it is a term that I use (I do not know the proper term), but usually it is called as Living Campaign by other big companies. Basically, there are a common shared setting and world, with multiple PC (Player Character) and GM (Game Masters). As there are many GMs, the story would be fluid; with a risk of contradictory between one GM and another.
Fluid and Contradictory? Well let just say that, in a single GM (some of my friends use the term 'Dedicated Campaign' so I will use it too) the law of the universe is set by the single GM. So the 'reality' is also determined by a single GM. The GM will determine what is right, what is not happening, and final arbiter of things. And there is also a single story too. Now imagine, in a shared world without a single centralized 'adventures'. One GM can make a story, which might influence the shared world. Another GM might make a story, influenced by another GM. In case of good harmony based on respect and common goal of having fun together, we will got a good, fluid, unpredictable story. In case of self-ego of GMs and disrespect to others, we will got a conflicting, contradictory, unpredictable story.
Living Campaign made by big companies usually centralized their 'adventures' and 'scenarios', to make sure that the campaign runs in a very predictable and manageable environment. However, I personally dislike 'premade adventures', due to the predictable and fixed destiny of characters. I prefer a fluid movements of fate, with each character can influence something, where actions might lead to reactions, etc. Therefore I choose to let GMs to run their stories and adventures.
Problems so far
But alas, GMs are sometimes just too creative. They tend to forgot that this is a shared world, and make sessions as if they are the 'single owner' of this world. Sometimes they throw out too powerful NPCs (the shared world is about a small town, and someone might throw 'Lo, I am the King and thou shalt bow to me!'), or put the scale too high and too soon (the shared setting is about city life, and suddenly the PCs have to deal with conflicting demon princes of the abyss). Sometimes it is difficult to 'draw a line'.
I have seen some ways to deal with these kinds of problems, usually the options are to put early warnings and guidelines (which some GMs would just ignore or deliberately trespass), retcons and rollbacks (which actually only give penalty to the PC not the GM), and personal approaches like discussing with the GM (which really depends on the 'central gm' ability and availability). So far, nothing is perfect, but tends to work quite okay-ish.
Still, the biggest problem is actually two things: Player's Ego and Player Knowledge. About Ego, well in any social encounters, egoistic people will always bring problems (I think), so we can simply put it down due to the massive scale of discussion (we need psychological experts here). I would rather focusing on the second aspect: Player Knowledge.
Player's Influence to Game (Bad Ones)
Let us consider this event. GM Akon (not real name) run a session, with player Bieber (not real name) in his game. GM Akon then give many rewards to player Bieber, so that when Bieber become the GM, she will give Akon's PC many rewards too. This is the first case.
Second case. GM Akon run a session, and somehow offended player Bieber (maybe because GM Akon killed or hurted Bieber's PC). Then when Bieber become the GM, she will take revenge on Akon's PC.
Another case. GM Bieber run a session, and accidentally opened a secret previously unknown by anyone about Akon's PC (maybe story, maybe weakness, etc). And suddenly, when Bieber's PC meet Akon's PC (during another GM's session), Bieber's PC knows about the secret (despite the fact that there is no way Bieber's PC know about it).
These kinds of player's influence is not good to the campaign IMO, since it will disrupt common sense and usually it is not fair to most people. Basically, it means that the player is not 'professional' enough, and fell to 'corruption'; similar to giving/accepting bribes, using insider information, and abusing power he held temporarily.
But those are just my opinions.
There are many problems with Open Campaign, but I think I will keep on doing 'research' and 'experiments' in finding a 'good enough' campaign. Most problems (if not all) are caused by human problems (ego, self-centerism, corruptions). Some would advise that playing on single, dedicated group would give better gaming experience.
I can not disagree with 'dedicated, small, close-related group will give better gaming'. However, sometimes I prefer an 'out-of-comfort-zone' and looking for multiple players from multiple sphere, so we can learn to know one another. Playing in a peaceful and comforting group is always good for 'releasing stress' and 'escapism', which is the dominant reason from older players (unlike 'exploring new things' reason from younger fellas; based on recent small survey I made, on around tens of people), but sometimes I prefer to meet new people (or simply create a place where people can meet new friends) despite the risk of conflicts; but hey, we can only grow if we can manage conflicts, right?
Listening to: Myself