Can a campaign entirely run on low stakes?

I guess the players will feel involved as long as they enjoy roleplaying and the stakes are deeply personal to their characters, but long term leveling and stats increase might force DMs to bring greater challenges, which are generally posed by more ambitious foes and ultimately lead back to played out saving the world/kingdom scenarios.

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  1. 3 weeks ago
    Anonymous

    Well, if you play down to earth campaign, yes. Like a detective or a slice of life or a drama.

  2. 3 weeks ago
    Anonymous

    >long term leveling and stats increase
    Play a game without those things then.

  3. 3 weeks ago
    Anonymous

    The problem with it is combat. Whether you're a DM, a player, a writer on a TV show or an audience watch it: you always want the next challenge to be harder. The stakes to be higher.

    If you want to keep it low stakes, you've got to provide satisfying resolutions that reset the status quo. Think about cowboy tv shows. Or even Firefly or Cowboy Bebop. How'd they reset the stakes every time? The gang or the crew wind up just as broke at the end as when the episode started.

    So yeah I think you can keep it low stakes. You've just got to remember to reset at the end of every adventure. What brings the players back down to planet Earth, back to who they were before it all got going? And what's the purpose to keep going if you do? Well, for the TV shows or novels or serials or comic books that do it well, it's because the characters themselves grow. Their interpersonal relationships develop in ways that don't make anyone better or more powerful, but make them more engrossing.

    I think it's hard to do and keep interesting.

    • 3 weeks ago
      Anonymous

      >How'd they reset the stakes every time?
      They didn't. The first mission was stealing a poker chip and the climax of the show is one guy killing the entire Martian Mafia because his oneitis died.

      • 3 weeks ago
        Anonymous

        Spike was always capable of that, he was running away from his past for the series leading up to that. That other anon's point stands in that the episodic content was maintained by the crew repeatedly losing out on their big payoffs and being similarly desperate in the next episode.

        • 2 weeks ago
          Anonymous

          >Spike was always capable of that
          That's irrelevant to the fact that the show raised the stakes into an explosive finish, which OP seems to despise for some reason.

          • 2 weeks ago
            Anonymous

            >The 22 episodes leading up to the grand finale of the entire season doesn't count as low stake because the grand finale wasn't as low stakes as everything else
            Anon you might simply be moronic.

  4. 3 weeks ago
    Anonymous

    >but long term leveling and stats increase might force DMs to bring greater challenges,
    Just because rolls are better doesn't mean you (necessarily) have to introduce world-ending challenges. I find that in campaigns, having a "cap" level often simplifies this issue. Find what kind of enemy you want them to fight in the endgame, and compare that to the level you think they'll be at when they fight that enemy. Does it really need 20th level spells to combat? Can they get by with scrolls and magical items while at a lower level?

    That's just as an example, of course. It'll vary depending on the system being used, but always be aware that level isn't the only indicator of progression. A lot of times, material wealth and established logistics (or territory, honestly, you can reward your players with fricking anything) can go a lot further than a simple level-up.

    And, of course, once your party hits that cap level, stop giving them XP. Make it clear to them that they're approaching what you consider the "endgame" level and start orienting your storylines to be more less focused on baddie-of-the-week threats and more insidiously quiet or background. If a corrupt politician is slowly trying to erode the rights of the landed gentry in a society that's transitioning from feudal to a republic, that's not exactly something that can be tackled in a head-on way. Find issues that take more effort than Bring Item A to Location B or Kill X thing. Level of stakes isn't something measured by the amount of progression characters have, but how invested they are in the scenario and how harmful something would be if it came to fruition.

  5. 3 weeks ago
    Anonymous

    Depends entirely on the system. For example very experienced adventurers in Warhammer Fantasy can easily get btfo by beginner level enemies if they get overconfident.

  6. 3 weeks ago
    Anonymous

    A campaign can run on low stakes, or no stakes.
    You don't have to put in greater challenges to run the campaign on low stakes. You don't need to nix leveling to run the campaign on low stakes. You don't need to change it to mystery or drama to run the campaign on low stakes.
    It might not be fun for anyone involved, but it CAN be RUN.

  7. 3 weeks ago
    Anonymous

    I wrote a game with that sort of concept, it's about playing as woodland critters though.
    Since players can start with a maxed out skill it can keep the campaigns pretty in check in terms of scaling.

  8. 3 weeks ago
    Anonymous

    The true question is what type of system are you using. If you're using something that is d20 based (Unless it's d20 modern) You're going to To be forced to up the anti. Systems like basic role playing and World of darkness SRD can easily be retrofitted for a day to day life. Sometimes the stakes don't have to be end of the world or killing god. You can have your steaks no bigger than your little neck of the wood or your Hometown.
    Just keep it mostly grounded and imported to the characters.
    A game I'm playing right now is pretty much playing the goons squats / sworn vassals to nobility and having to complete antics of whatever stupidity of the week.

  9. 3 weeks ago
    Anonymous

    Have you tried not playing DnD?
    Go play Ryuutama or Chuubos Wish Granting Engine.

  10. 3 weeks ago
    Anonymous

    We’ll fantasy stories tend to. They tend to be about heroes slaying dragons.
    My solution to the problem is: I use XP and not milestone leveling, my campaign is LONG
    There’s a lot of time and I use that time to MAKE the larger than life conflict personal by introducing bigger threats first as character, either as other characters growing in power or a larger power that starts out neutral to the players that either has no reason to kill them at first or actively using them as pawns, giving them plenty of time to actively stew in their resentment and ultimately seek out power to be able to contest with the powerful entity they hate.

    The trick is to have multiple ones so the PCs can organically start hating one of them

  11. 3 weeks ago
    Anonymous

    I remember ages ago running a campaign using a variant of BRP in a totally-not-Athkatla setting.
    It was basically slice of life drama of the PCs trying to run a business in a corrupt as frick city, dealing with various regulations, butthole nobles fricking with them, and making friends in high and low places along the way.

    • 3 weeks ago
      Anonymous

      > SoL business campaign
      Genuinely underrated premise. I'd like to try and DM a campaign where the players run a magical shop or are travelling artists.

      • 2 weeks ago
        Anonymous

        It's great fun. That campaign came about because one player got inspired by those almost useless magic item lists to try to figure out ways to market various goods.
        Another player latched on and wanted to make a tinkerer type character who did some carpentry on the side, and the idea took off.

        In the end if I remember right the PCs were
        >Part time librarian's assistant whose real interest was magic crafting
        >Carpenter who wanted to make watches and other mechanical gizmos
        >Thief who was trying to go straight, often doing courier work or supply acquisition

        Sometimes they would have mini-solo bits for their own personal work, but the majority of the campaign revolved around the shared magic shop and the various problems that they ran into as well as curious customers they would try to figure out how to market towards

  12. 2 weeks ago
    Anonymous

    >Bottom pic
    tfw no goth doge gf

  13. 2 weeks ago
    Anonymous

    Low stakes is the only campaign I'll play. Frick saving the world, frick interdimensional threats, and certainly frick being more than regular mortals. Pick a system where you don't get any tougher with experience, and watch the party feel unease at the Killbot6000 in session 1 as well as in session 100. Today it guards a vault, tomorrow it guards a star crossed lover who wants to escape their controlling parent, next week week it'll be on the fritz and shooting up their house. HP bloat is dull, always was.

    • 2 weeks ago
      Anonymous

      That is something I once felt strange on.
      Playing some RPGs from the 90s, it was off putting to me at first when I saw how many of them front loaded their classes or careers or occupations or whatever they called them.
      But then I came to realize when almost everything a character can do is there at level 1, they just get better at it over time, it does allow the GM to better know what kind of stakes to have.
      If the party are all characters with laser eyes, then the campaign should feature situations with laser eyes as a viable solution.
      If the strongest party member starts with an ability that lets him size people up at a glance to Sherlock Holmes everything about them, then you know the campaign never needs to escalate to the point of laser eye fights.
      Threats end up being threats because they're threatening, not because they have an arbitrary number next to their health bar.

      • 2 weeks ago
        Anonymous

        Amen. The hard truth is that HP divided by average damage per turn equals amount of turns needed to win. That is a game, an enjoyable one, but you can multiply all values with 10 and the game doesn't change. But the problems can change, the situations can change, contexts, and narrative purpose. That's where an RPG is fun, and that is facilitated between GM and player, as a form of asymmetrical problem solving game.

        I have had more fun with figuring how to break into a house than I ever did in combat.

  14. 2 weeks ago
    Anonymous

    Yes, just don’t level up your players. Tell them that the premise of the campaign is that they’ll start and end at level 5 so the scale of what they’re dealing with it more or less the same

  15. 2 weeks ago
    Anonymous

    Whatever stakes you had, you have already lost, all that is left is to accept your death and move on.

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