Writing, managing, and expanding campaigns.

learn more… | top users | synonyms

71
votes
20answers
13k views

I'm creating an original setting for D&D—where do I start? [closed]

Creating a new fantasy setting for D&D is daunting but I don't want to use one of the published settings. I have a blank piece of paper in front of me and a whole world to create. My friends want ...
55
votes
16answers
2k views

How can I help my PCs remember clues that they found?

I'm a new DM running my first adventure in D&D 4e. I've heard of the "three clue rule", that there should be at least three independent pointers to any plot element you want the PCs to take note ...
43
votes
6answers
3k views

Preventing saturation in a horror campaign

I am currently designing my first horror campaign and what I've come up with so far is pretty dark and gruesome. I worry that if it is gut wrenching the whole way through, eventually the players will ...
42
votes
13answers
956 views

How do I help my players not get caught up on smaller plot points?

I just finished having a conversation with one of my players, and was led to a question I'm not sure I know how to answer. I'm running a sandbox campaign (D&D 4e, if it makes a difference) where ...
38
votes
11answers
5k views

How to ease down the munchkin factor?

I've been playing RPGs since the early eighties and have come to terms with the fact that not everyone enjoys this hobby for the same reasons as myself. I'm into it for the sake of the adventure, the ...
35
votes
8answers
6k views

What are the essential features of a successful evil campaign?

Until this point, I have demanded that my players not build characters with evil alignments, as I am familiar with how to design campaigns and adventures around "good" or "redemption" themes. ...
35
votes
8answers
2k views

What ways are there to anger the PC's without angering the players?

Since I got so many good ideas on my last question, here's part 2: What ways are there to really anger my PC's -- give them that sense of unbridled rage and fury -- without pissing the players off ...
33
votes
7answers
2k views

Pre-modern farming: What percent of the population is in agriculture?

I'm running a premodern setting where the characters will be involved in local administration. Assuming no magic, how many farmers does it take to support one non-farmer? Any statistics/estimates ...
32
votes
11answers
1k views

What are some dangerous non-fantasy creatures?

We're running a fantasy game where the adventurers frequently travel through the wilderness. Too many of the threatening encounters they have are with fantasy creatures (like goblins, orcs, etc.). ...
31
votes
11answers
501 views

How to get better feedback from players?

OK, we started a new campaign yesterday and I really want to take quality feedback from my players. When I ask, "How was it? Do you like it?", I generally get some vague answers like "It was good, I ...
30
votes
6answers
3k views

What to do when a great idea comes too soon?

As a GM, often a fantastic ending to a campaign comes to me before I start it. In the Star Wars universe, I picture the heroes stealing a Star Destroyer from the Empire or, in D&D, I picture the ...
28
votes
7answers
5k views

How do I run a successful and engaging campaign without combat?

I'm thinking of starting my own campaign with a few of my friends with me as DM, primarily because I wasn't extremely impressed with the campaign my friend was DMing. When I started thinking about the ...
27
votes
9answers
2k views

How do you discourage “player knowledge” as a GM?

As a trivial random encounter is winding down, a player thinks "That was too easy... The GM wouldn't give us an encounter that doesn't give XP," and starts searching for hidden bad guys or other ...
27
votes
8answers
573 views

Running Parallel Campaigns

So, as seems to frequently be the case with me, more players wish to be a part of my new campaign than I'm comfortable putting around one table (maybe 8). I toyed briefly with the idea of running two ...
25
votes
5answers
611 views

Creating the setting with the players

As far as I'm aware, the two most common ways to choose a setting for your campaign are one of these: The GM makes it up pre-game, or the GM has some source book containing the desired setting. ...
24
votes
9answers
551 views

How do I help create story around the table without writing it?

I love RPGs. I think they can create some of the most fun and enjoyable stories, both from an out-of-game and in-game standpoint. I also realize that "story" is the result of the game played by the ...
23
votes
4answers
878 views

How much to bend “the rules” about populating a world?

All right, I have a question about creating a world and populating it with appropriate monsters, etc. I created a world a little while back, loosely based off of the world found in Michael ...
23
votes
3answers
2k views

How to build an evil campaign

I'm going to start DM'ing for the first time next week. When I got together with my group to figure out what type of game to play, when we got to alignment, I told them they either all needed to be ...
23
votes
6answers
1k views

How can I have a mixed game of nWoD without having a thematic mess?

I'm planning on starting a full-on mixed nWoD game, but I don't know how to avoid having it feel like a fantasy kitchen sink, since that can easily destroy the feel of a game. What are scenarios or ...
23
votes
6answers
915 views

Am I designing my campaign setting to be too specific?

I'm a first time DM (3.5e), and, being a passionate writer, I decided to create the entire campaign and campaign setting myself. It's been good fun, and I have about 12 pages of (elaborated upon) ...
22
votes
10answers
3k views

What alternative models exist for Vampire populations in WoD?

The official WoD sources say that a vampire requires between 50,000 and 100,000 people to support them, giving an upper limit of about 50,000 vampires in the entire world. I've always found this ...
22
votes
7answers
675 views

How can I convey the nonsensicality of a dream world?

Soon I will be GMing a campaign that allows the players to move freely back and forth between the "real" world and the "dream" world. I do not want this to be a secret or try to confuse the players; ...
22
votes
4answers
448 views

How do I construct an individual session as part of a larger campaign?

I've been GMing/DMing on and off for years. I prefer playing. Mainly because when I run a game, I'm more a fly by the seat of your pants kind of dm, and it works sort of.. My problem is that, while I ...
22
votes
6answers
568 views

Rules system for playing out the details of founding and developing a city?

I want to run a campaign in which the players control individual but influential characters (maybe heads of families), with the main focus of play on the PCs building up a city over time, starting ...
20
votes
8answers
1k views

“Retiring” a maxed-out party

This question has a specific and a general sense. Eventually, if your game runs long enough, a party will be pretty much maxed out - reaching level caps, wielding top-level powers and abilities, ...
20
votes
4answers
811 views

Is it plausible to have a Player Character play as a villain against the rest of the party?

If anyone has experience running a game like this, what are some common errors to avoid and tips you would give to a GM embarking on such a campaign? Specifically I intend to have a 3 PC party with 2 ...
19
votes
7answers
603 views

Speed up campaign development

I'm making a campaign, and it's going fairly nicely. However, I found out that my group is able to meet this week, which I didn't expect. So instead of having 9 days to find time to prepare, I have 2 ...
19
votes
9answers
580 views

What makes a good pitch for a new game?

What should make up a pitch about a new game to a prospective group of players? What does a good RPG pitch entail? What should go into the case for why a game should be played (and why that GM is the ...
19
votes
3answers
992 views

Good resources for travel times?

What are some good resources, on or off-line, for determining clear travel times for: different methods of travel (eg: foot, horse, vehicles by period and type, etc) different terrain types ...
18
votes
8answers
595 views

How do I create a sense of mystery about magic?

Magic in so many games is something mechanical and fully understood. Assuming I control the setting (and have a group of players willing to try new rules), how do I make magic something mysterious? ...
17
votes
7answers
2k views

Overcoming setting complexity paralysis as a GM

The problem What are the best practices to overcome that certain “complexity paralysis” that may strike a GM when trying to learn and immerse himself in a setting that has a lot of intricate ...
17
votes
9answers
572 views

What ways are there to convey loneliness and betrayal in an encounter?

A little background: I am designing a campaign that largely takes place in the mind of a twisted wizard. The wizard was shunned and exiled from his home due to a physical disfigurement, and after a ...
17
votes
7answers
342 views

How do you maintain a balance between mystery and offering clues?

Giving good clues that offer just enough information can be difficult. I think I tend to not give the players enough information and then to overcompensate with a reveal that comes too easily. ...
17
votes
8answers
423 views

What's a good method for making cultures differ?

Just read through a great question (on getting players to play in line with their characters' cultures) and it got me thinking: What do you do to make the cultures in your setting differ? Let's say ...
17
votes
4answers
299 views

Are there any established “best practices” for teams of GMs creating campaign content?

I maintain a group of roughly 10 players including 3-5 flaky DMs. While looking for solutions to the usual large group problems (maintaining attention, DM overload, slow combat, designing appropriate ...
17
votes
4answers
580 views

Rules for generating a game world as you go?

As an alternative to pre-fabricated game worlds (whether published or home-brewed), I'd like to create some rules for generating a game world gradually and organically. It would work in a manner ...
17
votes
3answers
25k views

Any good premade campaigns for beginners?

Does anyone know of some good premade campaigns for a small (not more than 5) players, all of whom are new to D&D? I want to start them at low level since they haven't played before. I'm finding ...
16
votes
8answers
585 views

What would clever creatures do to protect their lair?

(This question is for fantasy worlds like in D&D and other such games.) Usually, as the adventuring party goes up in ability, they end up facing stronger and more powerful characters. Let's say ...
16
votes
4answers
592 views

How late in history can I set a campaign based in the US without cars and telephones being widespread? [closed]

I'm deciding on my next campaign offering, and I'm dealing with this dilemma: although I prefer, and am best at, running games set in the near-present, one of my players has a mild antipathy toward ...
16
votes
3answers
400 views

What would the life of a child be like in a medieval setting?

The basis for an adventure I'm writing is a child. He is extremely intelligent and had a knack for magic at a very young age, but he has a mental disorder (something similar to Asperger's syndrome). ...
15
votes
8answers
1k views

How do you keep PCs from killing each other when 1 or more is evil?

I'd like to run a more mature themed campaign, along the lines of game of thrones. In that story, several of the main characters have an evil alignment. I'd like to do something similar to this ...
15
votes
15answers
2k views

What are some interesting ways to structure a random encounter table? [closed]

The standard tables I've seen have been basic 'Wandering Monster' tables where you roll some dice in order to generate a random encounter. I'm sure many have taken this concept further, but I haven't ...
15
votes
12answers
313 views

To document house rules, or no?

Or, how much documentation should your "campaign world" provide? This is a fairly generic (and subjective) question, but there is a genuine purpose behind it: I have a set of "house rules" for Tales ...
15
votes
12answers
326 views

What sort of events provides an impetus for adventuring to become commonplace?

As an example, in the Earthdawn setting, civilization was segregated because of demonic creatures known as the horrors that scourged and ruled over the surface world. The tides of magic that enabled ...
15
votes
7answers
4k views

Starting the first game tips? [closed]

I was wondering if anyone had any tips on how to start our very first session. Everyone, counting the DM, has yet to play the game and we are not exactly sure were to start. Our PCs are: Drow ...
15
votes
3answers
593 views

Group-wise Combinable Magic Items (each member owns 1)

I realize this isn't the best reference, but there was a show in the 90's "Captain Planet" where there was 5 kids, and each had a ring of power, and it was when they would combine all of them the ...
15
votes
5answers
545 views

Adding comic relief

As a GM, I would like to add comic relief to my sessions. Comic relief is the inclusion of a humorous character, scene or witty dialogue in an otherwise serious work, often to relieve tension. ...
15
votes
3answers
427 views

Is an ongoing Human Occupied Landfill (HōL) campaign possible?

Back when White Wolf ruled the land of RPGs, they released a really bizarre game called HōL on their Black Dog label. A lot of the game was obviously written as a joke, but I've felt myself drawn ...
15
votes
4answers
2k views

Middle age transportation by river questions

I am playing in a medieval fantasy type setting and am trying to determine travel speeds when people are traveling on rivers. This is similar to this previous question, but that question really only ...
14
votes
10answers
359 views

How do you seamlessly blend inspiration into a campaign?

Often I have campaigns that are inspired by things that are outside of genre and easily recognizable. Lets take Vikings in Space for example. I could have a race of blond haired people with helmets ...