I sat down with my sister last night and did a lot of brainstorming for my Fixed Table D&D. It was probably about an hour or so of me jotting down note, explaining things about what I wanted to do, then coming up with different and better ways of having things happen. It was a lot of work. And that’s something about D&D that I want to recognize today.
Running a game of D&D or any other game, is Work. Real work. There is so much that goes into a good game. There are plot hooks to develop, maps to draw, dungeons to balance, clues to place. And that’s not including things like I’m doing for Fixed D&D, like making characters, designing a race, figuring out who the gods are and how they interact with the setting…
Ah, man, setting craft. That’s such a big thing. I’m not going to call it world building anymore, for no particular reason. I like setting raft better, as its more D&D-centric and it applies even if the world is already established. Like this Greek game I’m prepping right now. A lot of the material is already decided for me. I have names for like 20 gods already prepared, I know what they’re like and what they want. I have some rough names for big cities and, if push came to shove, I could run the 12 trials or Jason and the Argonauts pretty quickly.
But instead of doing something that is solidly based on legends, that has been seen before, I’m washing the game with brand new soap, leaving behind that fresh greek smell. (This is what we call a stupid analogy) I’ve not head of this story, the Shadows of Erebus, in any shape and form, except as the bits and pieces I looted to make the world.
Which is a lot, I have to say. I don’t even know exactly where all these things come from. They just get lodged in my brain. The main army would not be out of place on Doctor Who, but it has not exactly been on air, as far as I’m aware.
I need to put some undead in this. I realized I have this openish setting with no undead.
Anyway, to be a good DM, there’s a lot of reading you have to do. Not only do the reading and the research for the campaign as a whole, but you should also be reading whatever fantasy you can get your hands on. Or watching. Or listening. Whatever. (And its not just fantasy, although that’s easier to convert into game world. Sci-fi is also acceptable.)
And the reading of the game materials is also important. My players are astonished by my knowledge about their characters, even though I hadn’t seen their sheet before. That is from the effort I put into learning the game. (On related topic to this weeks articles, I would probably be put out if we suddenly had a 6e, because I’ve spent a bit of effort learning all the rules and the intricacies thereof and I would hate to have to change gears. Unless 6e was frikkin awesome)
And in regards to work I have to do, I still have a BUNCH before the debut of Fixed Tabble D&D next Wednesday evening. I have to build 6 characters (although I do know names, classes, and lineages), I have to make a bunch of maps (adapting my overlay for player use, as well as designing a few dungeons), I have to design the encounters (I have no idea what level this will be at, although I’m leaning towards 7 or 8 atm), I have to design the treasure hoards (yes, there will be treasure, with a few good magic items scattered about (and not just magic items, magic weapons, which I am usually loathe to give out)), I have to name a bunch of things (five or six towns, 10-20 NPCs, a few land marks, a few treasures), I have to design the characters and character sheets (less worried about this one, as I could go standard sheet, but I’d rather not. Pictures of all NPCs, Characters, Etc. would be cool, but I’ve worked without those before.)
And, on top of all of that, I have a 16 hour drive in there somewhere. And who knows what else I’m forgetting. A cheat sheet for the gods, I guess, as well as a few generic prophecy and prayers and some religiouns details. Oh, and some tables and charts for random encounters and-
Look, I have a lot to do for it. Can’t deny that. Some are a bit more important than others. But, ideally, once its all done, my players will be more along the lines of playtesters and I’ll have something I could package up and maybe sell, although WotC scares me.
Oh, and please not that none of this work I have to do is the actual running of the campaign. This is just prep work. Adequate stress in the prep stage means less stress in the execution. Or so I’ve been told. If I’m wrong, well, let me know for next time.