View Full Version : DM Help

The Pressman
2010-04-06, 06:22 PM
I'm fairly new to the game, and I was wondering what the general steps were for making a campaign. Any advice would be very, very, welcome.:smallsmile:

Fiery Diamond
2010-04-06, 06:39 PM
Step Number One: Make sure you have access to all the books you intend to use.

Step Number Two: Make sure you are fairly comfortable with the rules of the game.

Step Number Three: Read the DMG from cover to cover. No, really. Read it like a novel, almost. It helps tremendously to have actually read everything at least once. Then in the future you can use it as a reference, but you'll already have a pretty solid knowledge base. Same goes for the PHB, actually, but the DMG has advice on creating adventures and settings and so forth in it, so you will benefit greatly from reading it, even if you don't follow the advice.

Step Number Four: Find players. Find out what you can about the players. Never create a campaign without having some idea of how the players will fit into it. If they like to smash stuff and hate talky bits, making a city-based setting where the plot focuses on political intrigue is a bad idea. If your players love mystery and absolutely adore the talky bits, making everything into a dungeon crawl gauntlet is a bad idea. You get the picture.

Step Number Five: Decide how much stuff you want to make up versus how much stuff you want to steal from another source. If you want to use a module, for example, that requires an entirely different approach than if you want to create your entire universe from scratch.

Step Number Six: Where you go from here depends a lot on what kind of game you intend to run and whether you are using someone else's setting or making your own.

Points to Consider: Don't give characters too much loot. Don't give them too little loot. Don't force them to follow one predetermined plot (railroading). Don't let them just rape and pillage everything (I mean, you CAN, but it's generally a bad idea). Don't throw encounters that are too difficult at them. Don't throw encounters that are too easy at them. Don't be malicious. Don't have nothing bad ever happen to the characters.

Just some basic advice.

2010-04-06, 06:42 PM
It really depends where you're starting from.

Have a group that wants to game? Find out what system and type of campaign they want to play that you want to run.

Have an awesome system you want to try out / only own one set of books and can't afford more? Find a group to play that system and go from there.

Have a brilliant campaign idea? Find a system and a group that matches the idea, if you can.

Have a group, a system, and a general idea what kind of campaign you want to run? There are still pages upon pages of advice all over the internet for this. I direct you to the Roleplaying Tips newsletter (http://roleplayingtips.com), which has a ton of great articles, and also RPG Bloggers (http://rpgbloggers.com).

2010-04-06, 07:01 PM
Start simple and linear if you can. Entertain people's requests if they're new, but don't bite off more than you can chew. You're going to learn what works and what doesn't, but different groups require different styles - and so do different campaigns/settings. Do standard/safe stuff, make a world and expand your competence until you can essentially do sandbox.

Focus more on keeping fights from breaking out among the players and just having fun and work your way up to complex fights and skill challenges.

EDIT: Ah, I mis-read. Yes, making a campaign. There's actually a great resource for that on this site, but I'll throw in my two cents.

The first step is determining setting. Sci-fi, High fantasy, Low Fantasy, High seas, etc. Talk to your players; don't do anything in a vacuum. Brainstorm ideas.

Second step is you plop people onto it (usually). Figure out who's in charge and who lives where.

Third step is where you plop the adventurers into it. Talk with them and find out their roles in society. This is, amazingly, an optional step. Do it anyways.

Fourth step is an adventure hook. Come up with a reason to go on an adventure, lay out a basic adventure and start pulling things outta yer' ass until it starts working and you're comfortable.
That's about it.

The Pressman
2010-04-06, 07:15 PM
Thanks for the advice:smallsmile:

Lin Bayaseda
2010-04-06, 07:18 PM
Get Campain Sourcebook and Catacomb Guide. It was made for 2nd Edition, but there's nothing edition-specific, or even system-specific there, just generic (very) good advice on campain making and game management.
I bet you can get it cheap on Amazon or ebay.

2010-04-06, 09:07 PM
So you want to be a DM? (http://http://www.giantitp.com/forums/showthread.php?t=76474)

2010-04-06, 09:20 PM
My best piece of advice is be prepared to improvise. Your players will always try to do something you haven't thought of and you need to be able to make a ruling or make something up on the fly.

2010-04-07, 02:46 PM
So you want to be a DM? (http://http://www.giantitp.com/forums/showthread.php?t=76474)


My advice to new DMs is to stick to the RAW/RAI as much as possible, even to the point of using the (incredibly broken) CR system (assuming 3.X here). As a new DM, there's enough to worry about without adding in and trying to balance houserules. As you get more used to the feel of balancing encounters and what-not, houserules will come more naturally to you.

My other key advice for new DMs is to start with a dungeon. Something linear like that is much easier to run than a sandbox-style game. The other nice thing about a dungeon is you don't have to plan the whole thing from the first session. It gives you the chance to watch how the players handle encounters in the first session and then build the rest of the dungeon accordingly.

2010-04-07, 10:08 PM
Thinking over your houserules can't be stressed enough ... There is nothing more annoying than a DM halfway through a round saying "Oh that doesn't work that way" Yes i'm guilty of that too (i just happened to have cool players at the time though lol).

2010-04-07, 10:17 PM
Come up with a reason to go on an adventure, lay out a basic adventure and start pulling things outta yer' ass until it starts working and you're comfortable.
That's about it.

Semi-unrelated, but I had my first-ever session DMing a few nights ago. The best thing you can do when writing a campaign, is a) don't go to far ahead, and b) don't waste your time detailing all contingencies. This is a good example:

I wrote the first few encounters of my campaign out, detailing the terrain, enemies and such, and was very proud of the modular way I would write the whole campaign. I wrote a page and a half of specific DC's mechanics and such for how to interrogate, capture and turn in this elf. Six rounds into combat, party ranger puts in arrow in his chest.

It's much better to have many vague possibilities, than a few detailed ones. Players will drive you nuts by how much they deviate from your logic. (Maybe my group is just unfocused, but hey)