Traveling for two very good friend’s wedding I am reminded of one of my favorite pieces of the “metagame”: Connectivity. I do enjoy nothing quite so much as trying to figure out the ripples in the pond a campaign’s story might have on the greater world or even more than that a whole plane of existence or cosmology. Campaigns influences on other campaigns can be mindblowingly effective or incredibly nostalgic. Working this can be a little heavy handed if done poorly but the occasional referential can enrich some player’s experiences.
Let me say I recommend this approach only to the stable gaming group. Or the VERY casual one. Why? I have had some serious, high-investment players who just can’t play as often as the rest of us. These players tend to “be lost” or “feel like they missed out” when these references happen. But if you are a note keeper or have a good memory that pitfall can be minimized.
Some ways I and other GMs I play with like to do this:
* Recurring locales – Returning to the site of a battle or major event in a world can be a shortcut to establishing feel or scene, but more importantly can be a fast lane to showing how much things are different. If the kingdom that had returned to prosperity after Campaign 1’s heroes killed the dragon is presented in Campaign 2’s opening and desolate and crumbling the players that know both experiences will immediately try to figure out why things got WORSE after their old heroes success.
* Altered Realities – This works particularly well if you are changing rules elements in a game. Moving systems or editions? Don’t dodge it. PLAY IT. Nothing will make you feel for you edition or new system quite like the story of its cataclysmic arrival. You player characters get a reason to be conscious of the new rules set and even get story based reasons to experience character changes, losses or gains in power.
* Generations & Dynasties – Campaign 1’s heroes retire but their grandchild is haunted by their actions/old nemesis/returned mcguffin in Campaign 2. There are so many ways to play this out. Dynastic sorcery could pass from the hands of one player to another by related characters. The history between games might paint old characters as fools or even villains. Don’t kick Mary Sue too often though or your players could resent it.
* Timelost – A campaign setting in the distant past or far future of a known setting can be amazing. Players suddenly get new perspectives on old events and the variations heighten verisimilitude to ridiculous levels if executed well. Ancient mysteries can become player follies and a heroic rescues quite literally may be the stuff of legends well known in your canon.
*Integumentary System – Sometimes the boundaries and surfaces of your cosmologies can link. Doorway cities, penumbral boneyards, infinite trees and endless stairs all can become setting pieces of the larger metastory and settings. Your connective tissue can be the common element of a thousand disparate worlds and settings.
Don’t have these things or the time to make them? In the coming months Lost Spheres will be trying to help you with that. From the Mythic orders of many worlds to the locales of the Lattice, each piece of metastory we present will both flesh out our game environments and present new ways to link the heroes of your own games, be they genie-binding viziers or dragon riding mystics… There are endless ways to weave you own tapestry together. Once complete you may be surprised by how often the energy of one becomes the power of all…
…and how often lightning strikes twice.