Catalyst is an open world. Unlimited storytelling potential exists within the demon-infested ruins of humanity. This gives the game a high amount of replay value. One game master’s campaign could be about a cross-country trek to cure the demon-brought plague, another’s about uniting squabbling human factions against a demon assault, and yet another’s spinning the lore to focus on humans turning into demons and an internal struggle against darkness.
All of these require a level of creativity and commitment from the game master. Role playing games, as a genre, are meant to have dynamic stories bounded by the game master’s keen grasp of the rules and story. This is certainly daunting to new game masters, particularly with a new game.
To help introduce people to Catalyst, we are selling premade campaigns. Our first, “Runaways”, is available now. Three more are on their way. These were all commissioned by Kickstarter backers and tell drastically different stories.
These campaigns serve as guides for game masters. They establish the specific lore for this instant of the Catalyst universe. In particular, the guides delineate what players know and what the game master knows. They help setup a player’s background and explain what happened to them before the campaign’s events.
The premade campaign then follows the story through the major pot events. It describes scenes game masters need to relay to their players. The players still have input; the guide establishes setting and gives advice on how to handle expected player reactions. It also lists common check goals players will need to succeed in various scenarios (e.g.: “players need an engineering check of 7 to fix the broken truck”).
Since combat is a big part of Catalyst, the guides break down a lot of the complexities of managing and designing a good fight. Battles are broken down like this:
Battle Notes – Sample Fight
- Who or what the players are battling
- The general setting of the fight and any notable features
- Where everyone starts the battle, particularly in relation to one another
- How the enemies behave and what actions they favor
- Any usual rules or conditions of the fight
- What happens if the players win, lose, or run away
Beyond details about the fight, campaign guides also give enemy statistics. All the data a GM will need when players use spells or skills on a character are provided.
Equipped with all this information, the game master can quickly react to whatever the players throw at them. They no longer have to focus on designing interesting encounters or avoiding repetitive scenes, but can instead absorb the story and better respond to players. Of course, these guides are open to interpretation and you are free to change as much as you want. Tweak the events to match your group. Make the fights harder if you to challenge your group or omit them if you want to focus on the narrative. You are still free to tell the story you and your players want. These guides help remove the uncertainty of doing so.