Wandering Monsters: Campaign Themes

I never thought I would see the day where I actually started to miss the days when Wandering Monsters would show us sometimes questionable monster art, and/or pitch often hilariously confusing and horrible flavor content.

I have long since concluded that the design team has not really been trying for some time now, what with—for starters—the inflexible classes, lazy sub-classes, nonsense magic, boring monsters, recycling of inelegant—yet more importantly traditional—mechanics, and the recent Legends & Lore and Wandering Monsters articles, but come on: campaign themes?

The article asks the question, "What's your campaign about?" and provides an entire page's worth of responses, some of which overlap pretty well, and almost half of which are recycled from 4th Edition's Dungeon Master's Guide (I am not surprised about the recycling, though I am surprised that they actually credited 4th Edition for something positive).

There is no talk about the strengths (or weaknesses) of using a campaign theme (or not), figuring it out later, drawing ideas from the characters/tying them to the characters, having several potential options, using multiple themes at the same time, or even switching it up down the road. It is just several lists of answers broken up by some art that depicts...something.

A much shorter and more useful article could have just been written as:

A campaign theme is the answer to, "What is my campaign about?" Examples include an ancient evil that is about to awaken, a war between two nations, or struggling to survive in a harsh environment. It is analogous to issues in FATE and fronts in Dungeon World.

Sometimes you should ask yourself this question sooner than later, but it is completely fine if you do not know, especially early on. You can decide upon (or discover) the theme as you play, and sometimes you might end up with more than one, or it might change over time (especially in response to the characters' actions).

The author could then have devoted text-walls to either going into detail discussing each approach, or just throw out words to take up space. Hell, he could have still included the lists. As it is, like last week's Legends & Lore, this article brings nothing to the proverbial table.

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