Continuing the discussion from How to write a series bible:
Righto, then. Let’s start with agenda item number one in Ury’s list:
- The title . You need a title that is catchy, memorable and, if at all possible, captures the essence of the show you’re proposing. If you’re an established producer, or are creating a spin-off, you can get away with titling your show after your main character (e,g., Ed, Joey, Fraizer, Abby’s), but if you’re an unknown writer with an unknown property, it’s best to get to the point (e.g., Survivor, Broad City, Supernatural, Veep.)
Do RPG campaign need titles? Do they benefit a great deal from having them? What is the function of an RPG camaign title? What makes a good one?
I didn’t use campaign titles at all until 1986. Up until then all the players I knew referred to campaigns as “<GM>'s <system> campaign”, such as “Brett’s TFT campaign”. In ’86 I moved to Canberra and joined a new community of role-players, and also started running game systems such as the HERO System and ForeSight that were a bit more general-purpose so that “<system>” got to be less communicative of campaign specifics. My campaign grew titles that were mostly attributive and that I seem to recall emerged by some sort of communal agreement after the character-players had started to settle in. An originally-nameless miniseries in late '86 became “the Survivors campaign”. “Brett’s SF campaign” turned into “The Flat Black campaign”. “Brett’s fantasy campaign” into “the Jehannum campaign” and then “The Giants of the Earth”. I didn’t start assigning official titles to campaigns at their beginnings until I think 1989, when I circulated my first written campaign prospectus¹. The campaign was called Survey; it attracted too many players, but not, I think, because of the title. From then on I started giving campaign titles mostly for the sake of having something to put at the top of the page of the prospectus and to distinguish the folder in which I kept the notes &c. The titles I chose were mostly allusions to the titles of, or lines from, plays, novels, movies, and poems. Some were oblique indications of content (e.g. The Man in the Bamboo Mask), others were just obscure little private jokes.
Anyway, Ury suggests that titles are important for TV shows, particularly when you don’t have an established reputation to bank on. Is the same true of RPG campaigns? It seems to me that you might need to “get to the point” with your campaign title if (a) you are offering a slate of possible campaigns, to help the prospective players form impressions of the alternatives among which to choose or (b) you are pitching a campaign to a group among whom you have no valuable brand as a GM and designer, such as when blurbing a game for a convention.
Do RPG campaign need titles? Do they benefit from having them? What is the function of an RPG campaign title? Is it to attract attention from the right sort of players? What makes a good one? Does that depend on your rep and to whom you are pitching?
¹ My early campaign prospectuses had a rather different character from the campaign prospectuses that @whswhs developed. His contain brief pitches for several possible campaigns, from among which his players choose. Mine were modelled more on the prospectus for a company, giving a detailed specification that investors (or players) can choose either to join or not. Apparently “prospectus” is US English for what we called “faculty handbooks” at the universities I attended.