12/20/2009

Published on 12/20/2009 Written by 13 comments

Three Simple Rules

I am gearing up for a new campaign and in the process of finishing all the fun bits and pieces. This is my favorite time, just before the show starts and the lights come on. I am trying very hard to create a campaign that will execute maximum awesome with minimum stress.

I try to follow three simple rules when I create a new campaign and get ready to throw my players into it.

1) Your players are your campaign - Make the campaign for your players, not for you. Its that simple.

2) Create stories, not a story - Its always a temptation to go all Lord of the Rings with a campaign. DON"T.... you are not Tolkien and this isn't Middle Earth. Creating an epic over-arching super story that binds the characters into an amazing epic adventure is almost always doomed to fail. Create many stories for your world and let your players own ambitions create the epic story.

3) Make the campaign intriguing not cool - If everyone is an uber-cool ninja gangster, and there are a thousand cool races and places and monsters and... well there is only so much cool before it just gets cold. But if you say something like, "this campaign is gonna be kinda Gangs of New York meets Feudal Japan", people may not get it, but they will be intrigued and probably want to know more. I have found that the more players are intrigued by an idea in the beginning the better the campaign in the end.

These usually work for me, what works for you?

13 comments:

  1. Nice points. I'd also add, 'start small, work to the big stuff.' I think if players have the time to get a few sessions to gel, you get some feedback on what is clicking and what direction the campaign can take. Having that huge arc set up session one can lead to a bored group. I am totally on board with your comment of making stories, not a story.

    ReplyDelete
  2. I've DMd for over 20 years, and it's only recently that I've learned the real value of the points you've presented. Too often I've held tight creative control over epic plots and expected my players to become the heroes I envisioned. Duh!

    I currently have two groups playing in different locations in the same game world, and I hope to leverage their creativity to help in the worldbuilding process. At some point I expect they'll be creating things for one another. Thanks for the reminder of how important the simple things can be.

    ReplyDelete
  3. @Geek Ken... I agree with the 'Start small, work to the big stuff', I just wished I followed that advice more often.

    @anarkeith... Getting players involved in the worldbuilding process is a really great idea. One of the best campaigns I ever ran involved everyone contributing to the world, and building it as we went.

    ReplyDelete
  4. Great points. I would say, building off #1, that it should still hold some interest to you as a DM. You will put a lot of energy and time into the game; keep it something that you are passionate about while not being so contolling as to allow the players no freedom to explore you setting.

    ReplyDelete
  5. Great advice. I like #3 best - let the PCs shine bright.

    I prefer to start with a few big pieces in place, then go small. Gods, races, regional politics, at least a couple major villain candidates, etc. I can tweak the big pieces after a few sessions, and I find that easier than trying to put a tossed salad of small, emergent pieces together in a way that makes sense after being revealed.

    ReplyDelete
  6. @ Cinderella Man... I agree The gamemaster does have to have a passion for the campaign, just temper it with player interest.

    @ Johnn... I have a tendency to do my campaign building from the top down as well. I find that even though the workload might be larger it produces a more coherent world in the end.

    ReplyDelete
  7. Good, good rules. Especially about telling stories, not a grand epic story. The big ones are way too easy to get derailed even inadvertently by players. (Plus, anyone read DM of the Rings?)

    ReplyDelete
  8. @Geek Ken... When I first jumped in the DM chair I would have benefited from such a guideline. I get it now, and starting small is actually wildly successful, both for my group of players, who are trying to digest a completely different world (what? No elves?) and still get a feel for their characters.

    The concept of making stories and not a story is something I just started doing. In my most recent campaign, I decided to go for an episodic approach, whereas in previous campaigns I've done the Tolkien bit...almost every time. I'm having much more fun with the short, concentrated story lines, which are in fact building up into a grand plot.

    What really works for me is a player co-op. In one particular campaign I drew a map. I labeled next to nothing. I knew where they were starting, and some other key areas, but that was it. As the story progressed, the map was filled in by their ideas, interest, and story hooks.

    ReplyDelete
  9. @Geek Ken... When I first jumped in the DM chair I would have benefited from such a guideline. I get it now, and starting small is actually wildly successful, both for my group of players, who are trying to digest a completely different world (what? No elves?) and still get a feel for their characters.

    The concept of making stories and not a story is something I just started doing. In my most recent campaign, I decided to go for an episodic approach, whereas in previous campaigns I've done the Tolkien bit...almost every time. I'm having much more fun with the short, concentrated story lines, which are in fact building up into a grand plot.

    What really works for me is a player co-op. In one particular campaign I drew a map. I labeled next to nothing. I knew where they were starting, and some other key areas, but that was it. As the story progressed, the map was filled in by their ideas, interest, and story hooks.

    ReplyDelete
  10. Great points. I would say, building off #1, that it should still hold some interest to you as a DM. You will put a lot of energy and time into the game; keep it something that you are passionate about while not being so contolling as to allow the players no freedom to explore you setting.

    ReplyDelete
  11. @Geek Ken... I agree with the 'Start small, work to the big stuff', I just wished I followed that advice more often.

    @anarkeith... Getting players involved in the worldbuilding process is a really great idea. One of the best campaigns I ever ran involved everyone contributing to the world, and building it as we went.

    ReplyDelete
  12. I've DMd for over 20 years, and it's only recently that I've learned the real value of the points you've presented. Too often I've held tight creative control over epic plots and expected my players to become the heroes I envisioned. Duh!

    I currently have two groups playing in different locations in the same game world, and I hope to leverage their creativity to help in the worldbuilding process. At some point I expect they'll be creating things for one another. Thanks for the reminder of how important the simple things can be.

    ReplyDelete
  13. Nice points. I'd also add, 'start small, work to the big stuff.' I think if players have the time to get a few sessions to gel, you get some feedback on what is clicking and what direction the campaign can take. Having that huge arc set up session one can lead to a bored group. I am totally on board with your comment of making stories, not a story.

    ReplyDelete

Thanks for commenting at Rule of the Dice.

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...