PDA

View Full Version : How to Deal with Downtime



mr_odd
2014-07-06, 04:00 PM
Hey guys, I run a 3.5 campaign at school. Over the summer, I have been fleshing out the world, coming up with plots, creating interesting NPCs, etc. I find myself unable to wait and play, but I worry that as I find myself coming up with new ideas, old ideas won't seem as grand or exciting. Is this an issue for anyone else?

JusticeZero
2014-07-06, 04:51 PM
Nope. Go back and review the old ideas sometimes and you'll go "Wow, what was I thinking?" but you won't need to throw them out - come back and update them. Fill them in more.

inexorabletruth
2014-07-06, 09:39 PM
I occasionally go back and recycle old plots, campaigns, or worlds as I see fit for that very reason: usually integrating some or all of my old ideas into new campaigns, with a few revisions to add depth and verisimilitude. My campaign ideas, at the time, seemed fresh, brilliant and well fleshed-out, and (for my skill level) they were. But sometimes reviewing my old campaign ideas leaves me thinking, "I like where I was going with this, but it could've been soooo much better if I'd done this... and then this... and THEN THIIIIISSSS!" Next thing you know, I've added so much depth to the campaign, I'm foaming at the mouth to find a group to try it with.

To be frank, this is how great campaigns (and great stories) are made: through imagination, refinement, play-testing, repeat. As you become a better DM through your experiences, I strongly recommend going back through your old work and seeing what you've learned and how you can use that new experience to improve on the groundwork you've already laid out.

ElenionAncalima
2014-07-07, 08:46 AM
Personally, I am a serial tweaker. When I have a lot of time before a certain event is going to happen in game, I re-read over stuff and try to improve it. Sometimes it can be as big as scrapping entire plots or as small as thinking of a different name will make the NPC more memorable.

Since, I am of the opinion that overwriting a campaign is a bad thing, I often use extra time to add texture...stuff that will make it easier to improvise when my PCs inevitably surprise me. I make sure the motives that I have given NPCs really make sense. I think of a few cultural quirks for the next settlement that they are heading to. (One of the best things I ever did was write an "8 Facts About..." document for an island they were heading to...and gave it to the player who had been studying the island). I name a few taverns...because I know they are going to ask.

It is okay if you lose excitement for certain campaign elements. As long as you maintain excitement for the campaign as a whole, you should be good.

elliott20
2014-07-07, 10:22 AM
what you should do, is focus on making sure your ideas and flexible and modular so that it can:

1. withstand a large variety of decisions and not have the whole thing breakdown by a single or several bad decision(s).

2. be able to be implemented in several points of the game so that just in case the players don't end up where you want them to, you can still quickly move things around and let get to it at some point.


what this means is that you should be focusing on the set pieces of the game (i.e. character agendas, factions, settings, etc) and not specific storylines / plots. The first set can be manipulated to react to player actions. The second set is MUCH harder to do, as it often presupposes certain decisions to be made first.

valadil
2014-07-07, 02:06 PM
I'm always coming up with ideas even when I don't have a game in mind to run. Then when it's game time I look through my plots and NPCs and throw them into the game. This way I don't have to stress about coming up with ideas on demand.

The thing you need to realize is that none of the ideas you have are inherently better than other ideas. The best idea is going to be the one that is most applicable to your game. When you aren't running something and haven't met the characters yet, all those ideas are of equal value. But when you get some PCs and find out that you have a drunk, a zealot, two lesbians, and an orphan with a penchant for vengeance, you'll find that some of your ideas are more relevant to that unique group of PCs. Use the ideas your PCs want to explore. Save your other ideas for other parties.

Mark Hall
2014-07-07, 04:35 PM
Keep a journal of ideas. Write them down. Develop them as they speak to you. Be willing to revisit them later, but to let ones that aren't speaking to you lay fallow. Some ideas will fall by the wayside. Others will get revisited, again and again.

The important thing is to not view a radical change to an idea as wasting your previous work; it's part of what brought you to that place. If you find you dislike something, put a line through it... not scratch it out, make sure you can come back to it later. Not all ideas are Athena, bursting fully formed from your forehead. Some gestate over time, and only reach their final form in the last part of the series.

Slipperychicken
2014-07-07, 09:38 PM
Keep a journal of ideas. Write them down. Develop them as they speak to you. Be willing to revisit them later, but to let ones that aren't speaking to you lay fallow. Some ideas will fall by the wayside. Others will get revisited, again and again.

This is something I've heard recommended by both writers and entrepreneurs. Whenever you have an idea, write it down before you forget. Then you can look at them later, and you might even implement some of them.

mr_odd
2014-07-08, 12:16 AM
Thanks guys for all of the comments! I'm still kind of new to DMing and at times it can be pretty overwhelming.

Mark Hall
2014-07-08, 11:10 AM
Thanks guys for all of the comments! I'm still kind of new to DMing and at times it can be pretty overwhelming.

One thing a lot of DMs want to do is tell the grand story they have in their heads. They've grown up reading Game of Thrones, Lord of the Rings, and other grand stories of hugely important events... but those stories are hard to pull off. There's a lot of value, especially with a game that's partially mechanical mastery and partially storytelling, with telling a bunch of small stories so you can practice both, or using a module to get the mechanical side down before you branch off into your own stories (and modules, especially a lot of the old school ones, are great places to jump off for your own stories).

Glimbur
2014-07-10, 04:33 PM
One thing a lot of DMs want to do is tell the grand story they have in their heads. They've grown up reading Game of Thrones, Lord of the Rings, and other grand stories of hugely important events... but those stories are hard to pull off. There's a lot of value, especially with a game that's partially mechanical mastery and partially storytelling, with telling a bunch of small stories so you can practice both, or using a module to get the mechanical side down before you branch off into your own stories (and modules, especially a lot of the old school ones, are great places to jump off for your own stories).

The other advice I'd give to new DM's is that the players like to feel that they make a difference. Maybe it's as simple as people mentioning that a forest road is safer after they clear out some bandits. Maybe they find a mayor of a town that they hate, so they get him removed from power. Or they might change how magic works entirely. It would be cool to have a grand story where they save the world, but if that isn't what they are interested in they will fight you and it will stop being fun. Figure out the stories everyone wants to be involved in, and make the players the center of it.