Odyssey: The Guide to Campaign Management, written by Walt Ciechanowski and Phil Vecchione and published by Engine Publishing, was featured at the Bundle of Holding as a bonus title in the Worldbuilder’s Toolkit +2. Though you’ll find many blog posts and GM guides out there to help you run sessions (that is, handle what comes up at the table), there isn’t as much advice about how to manage a campaign: planning the arc, preparing for sessions, and everything else you need to do when you’re not actually playing the game. For any GM who wants to run a long campaign — not just a few sessions, but months or years — Odyssey is a must-read. You can buy Odyssey on Amazon or download it from DriveThruRPG.
Campaign Management 101
Many would-be campaigns fizzle in the first adventure. The players lose interest or were never that interested to begin with, real life interferes, or poor planning dead-ends the plot. Successful campaigns can seem like hit-or-miss affairs. Odyssey shows you how to craft campaigns that consistently hook players and avoid common (and not-so-common) pitfalls, so you and your characters can play and grow together session after session.
Odyssey doesn’t concern itself with details at the table, like when to call for a die roll or whether to reward players for roleplaying. Rather, Odyssey explains, in simple terms with engaging examples, the larger issues of campaign management:
- Find out what your players are interested in, so you’ll craft a campaign they’ll love with a system everyone can agree upon
- Oversee character creation and growth so it jibes with your setting
- Take advantage of classic movie and TV plot structures to plan compelling adventures, and link those adventures in an overarching plot
- Manage players, not just their characters
- Bring your campaign to a satisfying conclusion (or satisfyingly kill a campaign that just isn’t working)
Along the way, you’ll learn the difference between solid linear structure and railroading, why published campaigns might be harder to manage than homebrews, what to do when the characters aren’t biting your story hooks, how to build “stealth” redundancies so a failed dice roll won’t derail your whole campaign, and more of the techniques that keep a campaign alive. Along with positive examples, there are also examples of mistakes, so you’ll know what to avoid.
The two authors bring together a diverse array of experiences and GM styles. Walt loves to plan and prepare; Phil likes to improvise as much as he can get away with. When they work together, Odyssey really does offer something for everyone.