Monday, 22 April 2013

Landmark Moments

Landmark Moments

Whilst I didn't used to use them, I've now come to discover the power of "Landmark Moments" in my gaming, and after successfully using a few of them in my campaign, I thought it was time to shed the word. I'm certain I'm not to first to come up with this concept (in fact, I know they are used in the very very awesome Shadow of the Sun Campaign), but I've yet to see anything written about them.
Not even close to a landmark yet, Frodo.
Basically, I really wish someone had told me about them when I started, so I'll pass it along for anyone who cares to listen.

What are Landmark Moments?


Landmark Moments are key events in a characters life which shift them forwards by a great deal. In the real world, they are often called life changing experiences, but in the realm of roleplaying games, I feel "Landmark" sums it up better.

Consider the following: you have a Dark Heresy Arbitrator character who has been groomed for a long time to become an Inquisitor, and you're a few XP away from realising your dream and buying into an Ascension career. You play one more session, gain some XP and bam, you're an Inquisitor.

Well that was anti-climactic.
Not as anti-climactic as that, but still not great.
What you're missing is something big happening. Something terrible and awesome and life changing so that you can officially grab your Rosarius and state with pride that "I am an Inquisitor (and all you fools can suck it!)" You need a Landmark Moment.

Why are Landmark Moments Useful?

Landmark Moments are useful because the represent a great leap forward for your character - perhaps they come at the end of a long side-quest, or they come after a titanic battle. Perhaps they push you into a new career, or turn the story on its head.

Whatever they do, the character after the moments is different to who they used to be.

This break is especially important for hand-waving significant career advances. For instance, in my WFRP game, one of the players is playing a Grey Wizard. This character is amping up for the Master Wizard career, but is learning from a "retired" Wizard without a spark any more  She is way to far from Altdorf to go back and take her exams, and doesn't really have the time to do so anyway.
You think you can just stumble into this? Nope.
Should I hold her back? Tell her the career is locked to her? No way. I prefer to kill her instead. Then have her fight a mental duel with an Aethyric apparition that has been dogging her footsteps. After she survived this, she had gone through such an experience that the path was now open to her. The magic comes naturally, and the +1 to her Mag characteristic can be purchase.

How to Create Landmark Moments

All great and good to know how awesome they are, but what goes into making them? Well, the same things that go into any great GMing, really.

Make sure you listen to your players and their back stories  Delve into their racial features. Delve into the portions of the campaign which have gripped them the most.

Do they hate undead? Have them defeat a horde of zombies and get knighted for it (about to plan the ceremony, in fact). Do they wish to overthrow the local crimelord? Set up those dominoes for some lovely crime-filled action. Do they have a thing for Dwarven runes?... Can't actually go into this one as [SPOILERS]. But you get the idea.
A hint, nothing more.
Your players should already have an inkling of what their Landmark Moments are, so asking them "what do you really want to do in this campaign" and then riff off of that. But make sure you change it just enough so that you keep them guessing and on their toes. You know they'll pull through stronger than before, but they don't have to.

So, have any of you used Landmark Moments? Let us know your success stories!