This past week, our group completed the first major story arc of our campaign. It was awesome and a little sad, for several reasons. I knew this group and this story was about to change forever. I just didn’t know how until it was over.
It’s good to be back! The first week of August saw us at GenCon and very happily winning a Gold ENnie award, and then in the weeks after I’ve been catching up on things post-convention and getting back into the swing of things. Lately I’ve been discussing and toying with the concept that the best world building happens through playing a campaign, and so I suggest the world building DMs out there spend less time before play and just jump into things with a published or a bare bones adventure and then let the world build from there. This also opens your game up to the possibilities for players to contribute to the world building which for me has always turned out better than I could imagine.
The Architect DM series has covered a lot of different aspects or tabletop RPGs ranging from details of a single encounter to the much larger task of planning out an entire game world. I’ve found myself tending to progress through that range from post to post instead of staying to one end or another for more than one or two posts in a row. With this in mind, today’s post comes from some of my more recent thoughts on Campaign planning and how to build towards running a mostly sandbox style game.
Not every D&D campaign or world map includes nations or regions that break the larger mass into more digestible pieces, but this is one of the features that I’m glad I chose to be a primary element of my current D&D campaign. Inspired by a 3rd Edition D&D campaign run by our friend Dennis (aka The Main Event) where the nationality of the PCs became one of the most memorable parts of the game for me and ended up factoring into the ongoing plots in interesting ways, I decided to present my players with a world divided into various nations each with a unique flair and often divided by racial distinctions. However, one of the elements that I failed to strongly present to my players and that I’m going to discuss today is the idea of giving a unique design and feel to each of those nations when it comes to locations and buildings.
So far the Architect DM series has focused primarily on locations and building design, but today and over the next few weeks I’m going to take a look at the larger scale idea of world building and some factors that play into designing a realistic and believable world to play your games in. As with many of the design aspects I’ve talked about previously, designing a realistic world can feel like one of the most intimidating and daunting tasks to undertake but in reality if you apply principles correctly it can make your efforts easier and better at the same time.
About two months ago Dave decided to tell you about his campaign – the setting, world, how it all began, characters, planning, and some of his house rules. He set me up to share about my campaign also, as a large part of planning for both of our games was done together. In fact his game is being run in a world that I designed and handed over for him to take and expand upon as he saw fit.
In general, though, writing about my specific campaign tends to fall close enough to “let me tell you about my character” that I tend to let it go. However, I realize that there’s some value for me talking about my campaign, especially given my current setup. I won’t go adventure by adventure. I will, however, hit some of the important points of running the game in the hopes that it will help some of you run your own games.
I still consider myself an inexperienced DM. the 4th Edition campaign that I’m currently running has just passed twenty adventures and is the longest campaign I’ve ever run. Hell, it was the longest game I’ve ever run when it hit ten adventures back in May.
After a long hiatus of actively DMing, I was roused from my gaming slumber. The results are a bit unusual and probably not going to be to everyone’s liking, but after droves and droves of articles detailing how to run games, I figure I’d do an article of my current work in progress: XIX.
Looking at the Campaigning Inquisition, I saw that the vast majority of people favor heroic or at least characters that have the potential to be heroes. Considering the nature of the D&D beast, this makes sense, but I worry that people may be hesitant to try one of the most enjoyable modes of D&D: playing as one of the bad guys.