Monday, August 12, 2013

Tailor Made Campaigns

This month's RPG Blog Carnival is about campaign creation. I generally consider myself a player first, and a DM/GM/Referee second. I create characters, and let others run the story in their world. This is usually the case because I don’t think I’m a very good DM. However, I have occasionally run a campaign with pretty successful results. Two instances come to mind.

My first was D&D 3.5E campaign set in the Forgotten Realms. I created a town founded by retired adventurers, and had the players roll up young, 1st level characters who were supposed to be children of either the retirees, or other members of the town. One thing I asked was that they all give me as detailed a background as they felt comfortable doing. Since they were all pretty experienced, I got a lot of feedback on that.

I then took those backgrounds, and mined them for adventure seeds. My purpose was to run the campaign as a string of related events, wherein each event would draw from a particular character’s background, thus giving them the spotlight for an entire “episode.”

This actually worked really well. And even though we only made it through about three episodes before the campaign imploded due to outside influences, I had a long-term plan that involved everyone. And none of it was planned before characters were rolled.

The other was a D&D game using the Dragon*Star setting. I based the premise off of Firefly, because, well, it’s awesome. But, like the other campaign, individual adventures were not worked out until I had backgrounds from all of the players for their characters. We went through several adventures. And while I didn’t generally focus much on individual character backgrounds as a basis for many of the adventures, I made sure to incorporate elements into the adventures.

So, the take-away is that, when I am most successful at running a campaign, it is generally because I tailor the whole thing to the characters my players create. I’ve always felt that the main focus of any RPG should be the characters. And any good DM will make an effort to let the characters dictate the tone and direction of the campaign. Even if it means ditching some of your initial ideas.

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