The Red Box Blog

Ramblings about D&D.

10 Rules For New Campaigns

#1 Be Narrow

Focus on material that is readily playable. Many DMs start a new campaign with grand epic visions of entire worlds. They want to detail every city, every country, every continent through every moment in history and they want it all to sing together like a grand opera. A small game world almost always turns out to be bigger than you think when you concentrate on the finer details. Remember, you can always add to your world later. And there is more likely to be a later if you concentrate on where the game is right now rather than spend your efforts on developing a grand vision.

#2: Be Different

If you have a group of new gamers, then the experience of gaming is itself different and you pretty much have free reign to do as you please. But with a group of experienced gamers you will always be competing with and compared to every other game they have played before. Whether its starting out in a bar, saving a princess, destroying a ring of power, or fighting an evil wizard, if you follow the clichés your game will never light a fire under your veteran gamers.

#3: Be Flexible

Your players are going to ask you for things that you hadn’t thought of. Don’t let a singled minded vision of how your game has to operate pointlessly impede the fun of others.

#4 Be Picky

Though you should accommodate your players whenever possible, don’t let just anything in to your campaign. This is especially true if a player wants to do something that will radically conflict with the other players. You can save yourself a lot of headaches down the road if you just put your foot down at the right time.

#5 Be Player Centric

You can’t have a game without players. Everything you do should always be prefaced with “Will this make my players happy?” That doesn’t mean you go all Monty Haul on them – often the way to make players most happy in a game is to give them a feeling of accomplishment – but you should always wonder how they will react to everything you do, and you should always listen carefully when they give you feedback.

#6 Be Self Centered

If you don’t find your game rewarding, then you won’t be able to give the players the experience they deserve. So while you need to consider their wants, make sure you are doing something you want. If your players want a dungeon crawl and you want a political intrigue, neither side should suffer.

#7 Be Tiny

Its really easy to go overboard bringing together every resource you could imagine. This isn’t necessarily the best thing. If your players don’t want a website, don’t build one. If your players aren’t interested in a newsletter, don’t write one. If your players don’t want a 40 page document detailing all the house rules, don’t make one. Make just enough for everyone to be happy, and nothing more.

#8 Be Agile

A campaign is a story that is not yet written, be prepared to change your plans and go off in other directions. Not only do you have to deal with the whims of your players, but the whims of time as well; both you and your players may change your minds along the way – and that’s a good thing.

#9 Be Balanced

Don’t let your game take over your life. After the initial prep work you should be able to settle into a weekly schedule that is comfortable to you. If it feels like you are over burdened, then try to figure how you can optimize your prep process; even if that means cutting some things out.

#10 Be Wary

Overgeneralized lists of campaign “rules” are not to be taken too literally. There are exceptions to everything.


October 7, 2010 - Posted by | RPGs | , ,

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