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Offline Grand Master Lomandalis

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Help me write a D&D campaign
« on: February 9, 2019, 04:55:37 PM »
For Christmas, my brother and I got my dad the books to play 5th Ed D&D. We had been playing AD&D since my dad first got those books back when Christ was a cowboy.

Right now we are in the middle of a dungeon that he is running with the old rules and wants to finish, but I offered him an idea that he was on board with.

I told him that I would run the next campaign, and that we would change things up in that instead of having a party that is comprised of good and neutral characters, I wanted everyone to be evil. The biggest change would be getting him out of the DM seat and back into playing a character.

Now, I know I can just go and buy a dungeon to run through for our first time with the new rules, but I want our campaign to be more than our usual of go into a dungeon, kill everything, win.

So I started getting it into my head of starting a campaign that has some good RP elements while also giving some reasonable backing to get them into dungeons.

What I was figuring to make it more compelling would be to stick with what I know, so it is going to be "set" in the Old World (I say "set" because my sister is adamantly against a setting change, but what she don't know won't hurt her).

Here's what I have so far...

They are new hires to a mercenary company that operates out of the slums of Marienburg.  Summoned to the city, they have to find their way to the company whose headquarters is just south of the Merchant District.  There, they are given orders that they are to meet with a ship at the docks within 3 hours to leave on the tide, where they will be taken to a Bretonnian city along their coast called Mousillion to serve some lord or noble.

When they reach Mousillion, they find that they are summoned before the Duke.  The king was slain (with no heir) in repelling an Orc invasion from the mountains, and the duke figures that this is the best time for him to try and seize power.  He believes that with the right heirloom, one that can be traced back to his ancestor who fought alongside the first king, he can come forward with a strong claim to the throne.  But this artifact was lost centuries ago, and all that remain are stories about how it was lost in battle and that it is rumoured the elves had taken it.  The only elven stronghold that he is aware of is in the Forest of Chalons to the South-East.  They are to enter the woods, seek out the elves, and either retrieve the artifact or find information leading to its whereabouts.  This will be the first dungeon that they must fight through.  They would have to first infiltrate the woods, and then a Wood Elf city.  At the end of the dungeon, they won't find the artifact, but they will find information saying that it was taken by their kin to the ancestral home of the elves to the west.  This should lead them to attacking Ulthuan. 

I'm thinking at this point they charter a ship to search for Ulthuan, but encounter a Black Arc.  Ultimately, the idea here would be to have the Dark Elves lead them to Nagarythe to show them where to land.  Once they reach Ulthuan, they would have to find information on where the High Elves would keep the artifact.  The potential for so many different experiences here are astronomical!

Once they eventually find the artifact, they return to Mousillion and present it to the duke.  I was thinking that at this point, it might be an interesting twist for them to find out that the artifact had no bearing on who became king, which would lead the Duke to enlisting their services as he goes to war.

So that's the overall idea I have for the campaign, but I've always been the player, never the DM.  I have noooooooo idea how to go about organizing or making it interesting for the players.
« Last Edit: February 9, 2019, 05:30:34 PM by Grand Master Lomandalis »
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Offline Wyddr

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Re: Help me write a D&D campaign
« Reply #1 on: February 10, 2019, 10:07:53 AM »
Okay, so I've been running RPGs for 25 years and run so many D&D campaigns it would take me a good half hour to list them all. All that said, this is my first (and most important) piece of advice:

Talk with your players about the kind of game they want to play

The DM is not god and they are not the enemy--they are a facilitator to making a game fun, and the game can't be fun if they try and force everyone into a story they aren't engaged in. Keep in mind your fun matters, too--tell them what you want to try, see how they want to contribute, and keep it open and friendly. The game will VASTLY improve if this conversation is had BEFORE the campaign and not during.

Beyond this, here are my 10 Commandments of Gamemastering, which you can take or leave (links to my blog).

Offline magenb

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Re: Help me write a D&D campaign
« Reply #2 on: February 10, 2019, 08:07:31 PM »
Making a campaign isn't easy, but you have the advantage of knowing the players :) So you know if you should lean more towards a diablo hack, loot, with a sprinkling of story or to go more story driven, more puzzle solving sort of campaign.

Then you can get creative with adding random minor impact events, maybe they leave a pub and if they fail a dex check get vomited on, or maybe while the party is at the pub a band plays a particularly catchy tune and whoever fails a roll gets infected with an "earworm", which you can make them roll to see if the song comes back in the middle of a mission... nothing like an ork trying to sneak into a camp that starts humming a tune :)

I'm also a fan of events that not the entire party will know about, for example, maybe someone fails a check and you hand them a slip of paper that explains the effect on their character. As an example I've had a lot of fun with a character hearing voice(s), then have a bunch of cards already setup, so when ever there is a critical failure (or success) have the voice start making comments, starts out rather benign, but can also feed into story elements just for that player, even solo missions :)

Timed events can also be good, for example, you give the group a list of options and then given them a count down, they have to pick one before the times up. Very good for simulating pressure.


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