View Full Version : Noob with a...campaign setting.

2007-01-17, 08:10 AM
Well, it won't be long before it's time for me to run my very first game. I was going to design a homebrew, but that'll take months for me to have to anything resembling the completion I want.

So it occured to me two days ago, I could use Eberron! I've got the materials and I can loan it out amongst my players.

Now, I've got the game setting and I can whip together a plot easily enough, but the problem is a universal lack of experience. I've had the most, and that's only because I've had more than none. I've never DM'ed, and I'm not particularly adept at remembering a bunchtillion rules.

So, does anyone have any advice for me? Other than "do not use the Tarrasque as a character motivator?"

2007-01-17, 08:16 AM

Keep it simple stupid.

Basically, know your players, know what kind of game they want to be apart of, and try to design a campaign that incorporates a lot of their desires. Then, take some time to develop plothooks that deal specifically with a character & their background (It will make the player feel more connected to the game).

Good luck.

2007-01-17, 09:26 AM
Given you have a sample adventure in the ECS, why not run your players through it? That gives you a session where you don't have to do any work figuring out whether the encounters are balanced or not, and only have to worry about learning/deciding the rules. If your players like it, great, continue on either with more published adventures or use the hooks in that one to create your own, if they don't start a game afresh with new characters and the knowledge you gained from that trial-run through.

If you do use a pre-written adventure, don't be afraid to adapt it to suit your players/characters better, or even throw it out the window entirely if they go off on a tangent. Pre-written's should be palettes, not scripts.

2007-01-17, 10:28 AM
Don't get too hung up on your lack of rule mastery. If you run into something, work out a quick solution and move on. Nothing slows down a game (or turns off new players) quicker than stopping for an hour to look up a rule. If you can't find it in the index, make something up, and come back to it later, if you need to.

The J Pizzel
2007-01-17, 10:31 AM
My advice is don't slow the game down on account of rules-searching. Nothing "erks" me more than when my players are all in character and all of a sudden I hear (player 1) "what's the bonus for this again...hang on I'll look it up.........still looking......(player 2) "while he looks that up i'm gonna go smoke" And now the players have lost the mood. If you don't know a rule right off hand, make it up. Be reasonable, but make it up. Then go look it up on a smoke break.

Next - get the d20 SRD in some form or fashion. It has mad my game tremendously better.

Edit - simued

2007-01-17, 11:37 AM
Alright, sounds like a plan.
I know my players have a considerably less-than-sterling approach to morality for their gaming, so I'll be going with an underworld-sort of situation.
I know one loves assassins and spies, so I was going to suggest he try out a House Thuranni (sp?!) scion, or eventually they would contact him in-game.
A prefabricated game sounds like a good start--I'll read it over and see if it'll mesh well with the gang.
Thanks a ton, everyone!

2007-01-17, 03:00 PM
Make sure you have a very good grasp of the combat rules and figure out beforehand if there are any unusual tricks that are likely to be used. I imagine you do have a good grasp, but it's worth reiterating, as combat tends to absorb a lot of time.

2007-01-17, 03:41 PM
Yeah, it'll be my first priority, though the first games won't be combat intensive...
I remember one of my first fights, my DM didn't get the initiative/readied action/attack order right and my rogue ended up gored through the face by a giant spider, seconds before it was hacked into chunks and then bisected by a series of strikes.

I've gone over the Forgotten Forge adventure and I like it, but I think I'll begin with a preview that connects the characters so they have a reason to be travelling--I'm jotting down the basics now.

Basically, they're all traveling to Sharn on the lightning rail and the ride starts going wrong--gets rough, bumpy, and speeding. The PCs investigate and deputized by the crew to both find the cause and assist in fixing it. Then there'll be a traditional investigation and they'll wind up having to find a saboteur and help fix a misaligned track guide on the underside of the train.

2007-01-17, 04:11 PM
Great idea!

I'd also suggest using a bunch of lakeys at the back car of the train for them to cut through, and when they finally reach the sabatuer, (his face hidden to disguise his identity) he jumps off the train "to his certain doom".

Et Voila! Recurring villian!

Then they should probably get around to fixing that track guide before they careen to their violent deaths.

2007-01-17, 06:47 PM
I've started writing it (in class, of course. I've got my priorities set) and when it's done, I'll post the whole thing.

2007-01-17, 06:51 PM
I look forward to it. Good luck.

purple gelatinous cube o' Doom
2007-01-17, 06:52 PM
personally, I really don't like Eberron, I would go with FR if you want to go with a WoTC world, or maybe Kingdoms of Kalamar. My first DM experience was with my own world, and I much preferred it to a prefab one. If you really like some things from Eberron, just incorporate them into your game. For the aforementioned game, I transplanted Thay into it. The first and foremost lesson for a beginning DM is to plan enough, but not too much. Your PC's will likely do anything but what you expect them to do, so having some contingencies and being able to change things on the fly is a must. But those come with experience. Also, you don't have to have something real lavish and highly detailed for a homebrew campaign. If you just get the basics thought up, you can tweak things as you go.

Viscount Einstrauss
2007-01-17, 06:58 PM
To a new DM, I have this very simple advice- make things up when you aren't sure. Set precedents whenever you can't remember something. Don't have a book on hand opened to exactly what the PC's are asking about? Doesn't matter, take a wild guess and run with it.

Slowing the game down to play rules-lawyer is detrimental. Research your materials exhaustively outside of the game, not during it.

2007-01-18, 03:03 AM

Keep it simple stupid.

Dude. I haven't heard that in so long. That line was one of my first DND memories, way back in 1st edition. Oh nostalgia....

2007-01-18, 04:19 AM

Dude. I haven't heard that in so long. That line was one of my first DND memories, way back in 1st edition. Oh nostalgia....

...boy, we sure did a good job of keeping it simple, didn't we?

2007-01-18, 11:11 AM
Avoid political plots, at first. It's a lot easier to do A-B-C games or games based on a location than remember who is doing what behind the scenes. You want something that runs itself, practically, for the first few times.

2007-01-18, 09:17 PM
Work on making up stuff on the fly. In fact don't ever depend on PCs taking the bate on you're adventure hooks. If instead of assaulting the evil fortress that you spent weeks creating they might just jump into an extra planar portal that one of them creates. So my advice is be flexible and make up more than one adventure.

2007-01-18, 09:55 PM
Good idea. Improv is always good.
Fortunately, my lightning rail game should circumvent that to some degree--and the investigations of the train SHOULD have enough individual threads that the party can follow one of several down towards the end--it's not even entirely critical they work out the saboteur. I tossed in plenty of fakes, too.
It's going fast, I did some mapping today for it.

2007-01-18, 10:29 PM
If you've got some time (and the stomach) for even some more advice. I agree that the game bogging down is one of the primary disasters that can kill a game.

However, IMHO the second is unbalanced characters. If you have one guy that's doing everything and wanting the rest of the PCs to be an audience you campaign will die a horrible death in short order.

Check out the PCs before the game, make sure no one has 'accidentally' gained a few too many skill points or bumped up their BAB by one or two.

But most importantly, involve everyone! If the superhero starts doing everything, keep his character busy with something and allow the others some time to shine.

2007-01-19, 05:29 AM
personally, I really don't like Eberron, I would go with FR if you want to go with a WoTC world, or maybe Kingdoms of Kalamar.

Given he already has the book, don't you think it's a little stupid to reccomend he buys an entirely new book due to your dislike of the setting?

2007-01-19, 07:23 AM
Is this going to be Eberron or Homebrew in the end? Are you going to allow Guns? I'm imagining a Lightning Rail Shoot Out at the moment.

2007-01-19, 08:19 AM
Ooh, firearms.
Maybe if I can find reasonable stats for them and incorporate them.
Anyhow, it's going to be Eberron. I might be using my own rules for the rail-encounters, because I wanted a sequence where one player crawls beneath the train to realign a broken conductor stone assembly, while the other players stop a saboteur atop the rail from separating the cars.
And the rules sort of punish anyone who does that.
Editedit(editsquared?): I do appreciate all the advice, and looking over the PC's sheets will be a good idea, especially because they're all new players. I imagine most mistakes will be genuine ones...at first. :D