Anthony and everyone---
How much thought have you given to game elements/structures that are part of the campaign's flow and evolution, independent of the individual adventures' structures? I'm reading Erin Morgenstern's new book _The Starless Sea_, which is a fairy-tale-like novel told through nested stories like the 1001 Arabian Nights, and exploring their structures, some of which are meta-fictionally self-reflective/-reflexive, a la Borges or Robert Coover. It's a bit like a mega-dungeon of a book, really.
I'm thinking of structures that drive campaigns over the medium- to long haul, like:
- active foreshadowing through backgound/history/sage advice, spies/spying, divination and research spells, prophecies and divine/infernal guidance, etc.
- hidden foreshadowing through returning to earlier locations/NPCs/items/prophecies/etc. that have a newly-realized meaning or significance in retrospect after learning D after A, B, and C ("we should never have sold that wand at 3rd level so we could pay our training costs---it's the X"; "whoa!: we need to head back to that well in level 6 and open that unopenable door with this key now"; etc.); this works best, of course, when specific items, content, histories, etc. have layers of meaning/mystery to them
- assembling pieces and parts of multi-part magic items (Rod of Seven Parts, Eye and Hand of Vecna, etc.), maps, information/lore, paintings, etc.; Anthony's falls into this category, I think, in addition to being an awesome prop
- red herrings, false trails/false alarms, and misinterpretations: player agency means that they'll get distracted by the fake ghost's tricks rather than unmasking the fake ghost, sometimes; this is possible through their own misinterpretations, as well as through being distracted by false trails/fake news clues intentionally created by NPCs---I'm thinking of Urgaan of Angarngi's map from Leiber's "" here, or Eclavdra's false trail luring the classic GDQ players to assault Lolth as the root of all of their woes.
- independent actors with their own agendas that drive their goals, priorities, relationships, etc.---this is the whole "putting it all in motion" to create verisimilitude
What other kinds of tools like these do you use to structure long-term campaign play?