Journey Campaigns - Introduction

Journeys in RPGs are often glossed over, a 500 mile journey in-game taking a couple of sentences from the Games Master to resolve.

But what if your campaign was about the whole journey, such as a quest to drop a ring into a volcano, the return home through dangerous seas or the exploration of the trail that leads to the eastern spice kingdoms.

This is the Journey Campaign....

Elements of a Journey Campaign

Many classic RPG adventures and campaign are location-based, such as dungeons or cities, with others a series of locations in a close area, or perhaps a few locations with the journey between them glossed over. Others are event-driven, with the protagonists racing to stop the agenda of the villain, or tackling the various threats to the kingdom.

Journey based campaigns have a distinct start and end, you are going from one place to another, possibly with stop-off points in between. They have a clear objective of getting to the end of the journey. If you are following the Old Dwarf Road to Cathay, you won´t need constant reminders about what you are doing. 

Locations in classic campaigns are the focus of one or more adventures, but when you´re on a journey you know it´s just a stop-off point. You probably aren´t worried about the long term of the necromancer threatening the county you´re passing through as you won´t be there long enough to find out. The location or events set-up of traditional campaigns often have to be reconsidered.

Who cares? I can just teleport there!

Many RPGs have ways of travelling long distances via teleportation, magic portal or interstellar jump ship. But the journey may not be possible in just one step.

The important thing be the map they make on their journey, undergoing the spiritual pilgrimage, tracking someone on the same journey or recreating the steps of others on the same journey long ago.

Writing a journey-based campaign requires some more care about travelling companions and plots, and the second part we´ll look at pacing the journey, travel companions, challenges on the road and making mobile villains. In another post we´ll also cover a journey-based campaign, the Pilgrimage of the Dead Gods, where you undertake a journey to visit the regions seeped in magic from fallen powers and discover their secrets.

Journey Onwards

So have a think about what interests you about a journey campaign and what examples you can find from your own or in fiction.