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What’s in a Name?


A tale of Two Campaigns.

Game Masters! (And you “Dungeons” Masters too) name your campaigns!

Maybe even share that name with the players.

What’s in a name?

As Romeo (of the eponymous Shakespearian play “Romeo and Juliet”) opined, what does a name really matter?

As William Shakespeare, pointed out, the wrong name could wind up getting you and your nubile bride killed!

So while naming your Role Playing campaigns isn’t (and shouldn’t) be a matter of life and death, picking the name of a campaign will help set expectations and tone for the players.

And as an example let me share with you the names and experiences of two real world campaigns.

Both were long running Star Wars games, both set in the Age of Rebellion era.

Both began shortly after the destruction of the Death Star and proceeded toward the battle of Hoth.

Both games included force sensitive player characters who were learning the force.

One game ran for three years and the other ran for just over a full year.

And for full disclosure, I ran one of these games as a Game Master and participated in the other as a Player.

The longer game was titled, “The Greater Hope.” And while I as the GM made references toward and even had NPC’s reference the title, the players were otherwise unaware of the title of this campaign.

The subsequent game was titled “A Few Dopes.” This name was emblazzoned on game materials and quite obvious to the players.

That said, I don’t think either game was better than the other. (Oh please. To be honest, I think the game I ran was ‘better’ but that’s not the point of this article. Stick with me a moment and ignore my huberous).

Both games were successful and enjoyable for the players who participated.

However the names of the game definitely guided the tenor and tone of each game in a marked manner.

While “The Greater Hope” had examples of humor and even some slapstick moments, it didn’t have nearly as many silly antics as the “A Few Dopes” campaign.

In “A Greater Hope,” the players often realized that their actions were having real and lasting consequences. This was a team of professional characters, given dangerous missions where success and failure were always on the table.

While there were stakes in the “A Few Dopes” game the situations never seemed all that galaxy altering. But why should we? We were playing “a few dopes” wandering about and reacting as the situations arrose.

Again, both campaigns were enjoyable and successful.

But as each of the GM’s assigned names to these two very similar Role Playing campaigns, each Game Master established assumptions into their settings that affected the play at both a conscious and subconscious level.

You will not always name your campaign. There are loads of details to attend to as a Game Master as you lay out and plan a campaign. Indeed, getting a group of players can be a Herculean task just by itself!

But naming your campaign can help you as you find players. When you provide a campaign name it helps prospective players evaluate, whether or not this is a game they would be interested in.

A campaign name may also help you anchor your campaign description for prospective and ongoing players as it excites their imagination.

As you prepare your next Role Playing Game campaign, consider giving it a name. This is another tool that may help you bring life into the next game.