I love D&D, specifically Dungeon Mastering. In this blog I’m going to be sharing all the techniques I’ve learned/stolen from DMing my own home campaign, and from watching other, better DMs on the internet. I’ll also be talking about the elements of a story, and how the same techniques you use when DMing come in handy when writing.
Since this is my first post, I figured I’d talk about how to start a campaign or adventure.
This is how everything starts. Whether it’s in a hobbit hole, or a tavern in Obviously-Improvised-Town-Name, your campaign (or one-off adventure) will have to start off with what I like to call the Meet-Up. This is where all your player characters will meet each other before they go out to slay the dragon or whatever.
The easiest way to do this is to just have them meet randomly in the local tavern. It really makes a lot of sense. Taverns are places people from all walks of life go to with some frequency, and the bartender is a good source of information and gossip. Right there you have a perfect way to ,1) Have your PCs meet, 2) Introduce the problem to your PCs, and 3) Give the PCs an opportunity to learn about the town by talking to the tavern’s patrons.
What makes a story interesting is conflict. Look at any (good) book, movie, telenovella, etc., and you’ll find that they all share one thing: conflict. Just like any other storytelling medium, a D&D adventure needs a problem. The best way to create a conflict is to introduce an antagonist. The antagonist could be anyone whose purpose is opposing the PCs. Maybe it’s a bandit who robs the village by moonlight, or maybe it’s a misguided town guardsmen who thinks the PCs need to be brought to justice for a crime they didn’t commit, all that matters is that the antagonist is working towards an end that opposes the PCs goal. You could also have an antagonist who isn’t even a specific entity. Fighting against a kingdom’s fascist regime can be just as fun as slaying a dragon. It’s just a lot harder.
The Resolution, And Continuation:
Just as important as the meet-up and the problem is the resolution. You want your resolution to wrap up all the loose ends (unless you want to continue unraveling the mystery over a few sessions). You want to give your players a sense of accomplishment, or at least leave them excited for the next session. All in all, if their smiling by the end of the session, you’re doing it right.
An adventure needs a strong exposition, a reason for the players to be together. You also need to provide a common enemy for your players to fight against. A story isn’t a story without conflict. And finally, you need to either wrap up the story, or give the players something to be excited about for next time.