Time to make a huge game. I think that there are a lot of interesting things that you could do with this idea, including something a long ways out there, which is have it played with multiple groups. In this game the different planes, fire, […]
So a couple of days ago I started building out a D&D Campaign – the first part can be found here. I want to try and write on it and add in more things a couple of times a week at least, might be more often than that.
Now, I will say that this is a bit more granular than I might build, but I do think it’ll be a good exercise for me as I look at getting back into DM’ing after a few weeks off. I also think that a little bit more detailed approach, especially up front, will help me know what to do next in the story.
But let’s talk about Magic!
Where we left off in the previous article was some world building. I had determined that I wanted to play in a smaller location than world hopping adventurers. So it was a trade town known for mining granite for nobles. So the question is, how much magic would there be in a town like that?
I think, starting looking at it, there would probably be a fair amount of magic from whatever temples are there. So there is going to be a fair amount of divine magic, I’d think. So you’d have your paladins and clerics who are casting some spells and probably are there primarily as healers.
I also think, because it’s a fairly remote area, you’d likely have some druids around as well. While they might not be a part of the normal society, they likely would be around the fringes, taking care of the woodland creatures, and probably butting heads with the town in some ways. If the mining starts to displace creatures or destroy groves, they likely would take up issue with them.
Warlocks seem to naturally show up in most D&D and fantasy RPG societies, because as long as there is someone who has a lot of power, there are people who are going to be willing to make a deal with them for better or worse, and the same with Sorcerers because a Sorcerers magic happens more naturally and flows out of them without the training you need to be a wizard.
That brings us to the one that is the biggest question, would there be a wizard in the town? Wizards are generally very learned, and I don’t think even a medium sized trading town, like the one that I’m building, would have a wizarding school in it. That education wouldn’t be something that is highly valued. So anyone who does show that ability would either get limited teaching from some voodoo style of wizard, which there might be one or two in the area, but that would be about it, or they would get sent off to a larger city to learn. Obviously, that would only be the children of some of the richer people in the town, the poorest would likely only get that limited training focused more on controlling the magic than anything else.
However, for this campaign, I think that there is one person in the town who is a powerful wizard, and they have a tower. I see it as part of the towns political structure. There’s the noble who is in charge of the town, but the wizard, who is kind of a recluse has a lot of sway over the town as well, because they are powerful and people are scared of them. This can be a solid starting point for conflict in the story. The wizard says one thing and the noble says another. Do you disobey the person who can blast you with lightning or do you go against the person who could raise taxes or arrest you?
I think that actually is starting to lead us into the next part which will come out next week, D&D Campain Building: The Hook.
How would you have used magic in the society that was built in the first article? Would you have put in a wizarding school? Is magic common in your games?
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Here’s the newest Thursday video that I’ve been doing. Because of March Madness happening now I came up with the idea of Monster Madness. This is where I tackle a monster and try and create a story/campaign arc around them that people could use […]
What I was getting at with last weeks articles about Dungeons and Dragons monsters was the idea of creating an overarching campaign that makes sense that isn’t just a bunch of random monsters thrown together and how you can turn that into a story that you enjoy running and your players enjoy being a part of. Any RPG is going to be a bit of a cooperative storytelling experience. Some games, Star Wars RPG from Fantasy Flight Games and Nefertiti Overdrive are built more for the PC’s taking control of the story at different points whereas Dungeons and Dragons the players actions greatly shape the story, but there is more of a single focus on the DM to be the storyteller. But , no matter what type of RPG you are playing, if you are playing a campaign, you need to create a story that makes sense.
So how do you go about doing that?
I would recommend starting small. Think about what you want the tone and feel of the game to be and create your first session from that. Are you looking for high adventure, make the characters have to chase some goblins into a woods and explore or get your characters onto the high sea. Are you looking to create a mystery? Someone in the town whom everyone loves died in mysterious circumstances or maybe there are people who have gone missing. Are you looking for a dark game? Have the adventuring party stumble across someone who was hung in the old windmill or maybe someone is being burned at the stake for being accused as a witch.
None of those things above are a full campaign, but it gets the story moving and it gives you the feel that you are looking for to set the tone for your game. And for a lot of people, that is where you should stop in planning. There is a great desire to come up with 20 more moments that you want to have in your game when you are prepping the very first session. There is one unfortunate problem with planning like that, your players are going to ruin your plans. Another issue is that your players are going to help set the mood. It’s important as the DM to set the mood and even prior to the game set the expectation for the mood, but if you have a dark and gritty game and all of a sudden your players aren’t quite in that mood, maybe they are looking for a more practical answer to your mystery than the terrifying one, you might need to adjust on the fly.
Once you have the first session done you’re going to start to see what your players like, and that’s what you build your next session on. Maybe you focused on the Wizard in the first session, now the second one is built for the rogue, and so on, but it all is tied together. You don’t need to know your big bad guy right away, you just need to know how the story progresses for the next session. If you are taking notes and spending some time planning you can keep yourself from having to retcon something, but the more you build it does make that harder and you will probably end up contradicting yourself.
There are some people who do it another way though and that is building it backwards from your big bad guy (BBG). If you know that you want to have a Lich be your big bad guy, and not just any Lich, the Lich who was the former head of the religion that your Paladin character is from and who that player looked up to but is now bent and saving everyone through helping them into the afterlife before a meteor that he predicted comes to hit the lands and kill them all, you know kind of how it is going to end. It’s going to end with the BBG facing off against the group, probably trying to turn some to their side and then battling them. So work backwards from there, what are the big moments that you want, maybe you want them to actually face off first against one of their henchmen, maybe you want them to think that it’s a cult that is doing this, maybe it’s both, hit your plot points from end to beginning and then start your first session there. But with this method, don’t plan it out too much, and don’t plan on a perfect timeline and pacing because your players are going to miss some clues that you lay down and glom onto and your story will go down a different tangent. You are looking for the few major beats when planning it this way. Think of it more as them reaching point X at the half way point of the game or where things will shift, don’t think out specifics when you do this.
Finally there is the dream way. The dream way is to build out your whole world, towns, cities, NPC’s, planes of existence, and so much more ahead of time. You know everything about everywhere that they are going to go, what people will say to them when they see them, and nothing your players can throw at you will ever stump you. Sounds amazing, also it’s impossible. Do not try this way, you will go crazy creating everything prior to even playing your first session.
So, how would I go about doing this? A little of first and second way. Early on in a game, I story by creating just for that session and figure out what the players are finding as fun. I let the world grow naturally that way. Then after the story has started and we’re getting an idea that there is a BBG somewhere in the world, t hat’s when I build them and start building out moments of importance or story beats I want to hit leading up to the BBG. You’ll need to figure out what works out best for you. Maybe it is planning more, maybe it is faking it, but it’s up to you and your style to determine how it goes.
Next week I’m going to talk about different types of stories and what some hooks are for those.
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