So I'm creating my first world.

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Hey there everyone.

I've got very little DM experience, but I've been playing DnD for a few years now. I want to run a game for some friends from college, and I'd like some advice.

I started off by creating a simple map (I'm no cartographer) for one of the major continents of my world.

imgur.com/55YCU

After creating this, I started to work on campaign plots/story arcs. And that's where I got stumped. I feel like parts of my arcs could use some more depth. I've got a general feel for what I want, but I don't feel like they're strong enough to support a whole campaign.

Here's what I got. Also, in the picture of the continent The Black Mountains are the huge ones in the center of it. I had issues marking those without the words being in the way. I always have issues thinking of political plots, so I feel like #3 is probably going to be my weakest point.
 

1. East of the Black Mountain Range is home to a ferocious Half-Dragon Army, The Smoldering Knights. It is also home to a large group of Tiefling Thieves, The Shadowhorns. War erupts when a Tiefling steals an ancient artifact that requires a long lost ritual to open and close the gates to the Abyss.


2. The volcanoes of Pelenall have been inactive for many centuries. Recently there have been massive earthquakes said to be centered from the volcanoes. The most active are The Kikorongo Trio in the Black Mountains. This could be a threat to all of Pelenall, or the entire world.


3. The dwarves of Old Northpass and New Northpass are in a political debate about who to trust in the war to the east. Old Northpass supports the tieflings, saying The Smoldering Knights are nothing but a bunch of dirty crossbreeds that deserve to be gone. New Northpass says that The Shadowhorns are a bunch of no good bandits looking to cause trouble. This could close the only pass in the mountains from the west to the east.

And yes, some of it is borrowed, or maliciously ripped, from Chris Perkins' Iomandra campaign, such as The Black Curtain. I just finished reading all of The DM Experience, and loved his ideas, so I incorporated some. I'm sure he wouldn't mind.

Thanks in advance for any advice! 

It's great to have some big ideas floating around, and to inject into the adventure. It makes the world feel alive and deep, and gives the players options.

You don't need to flesh these ideas out in detail. Now you have a loosely written down framework and feel from the top down, switch tactics. Start from the bottom up and write a small and localised adventure, the PC's first adventure.

Perhaps add in some links to your big themes, and see which the players become interested in: For instance, a major bad guy (or good guy) in the adventure is a Tiefling with links to his fellows in the East, and who is an active agent in the distant war - perhaps spying, or spreading confusion to prevent assistance reaching the Knights. Do something (at some point) for each of the campaign ideas that you think the players might go for, and hey presto, you have a campaign setting with great depth, and the plot driven by player choices . . .

Just stay one step ahead, keep dropping those clues, and switch every now and then between the big thematic ideas, and the detail of the next few sessions.

I guess I'm having some major writer's block at the moment. I can't seem to think of a reason for the Tieflings to want the ancient artifact except for doing bad and unleashing the demons into the world. I kind of want them to have a reason that makes them sound good, so there is a moral dilemma between choosing who to help, or trying to settle the feud between the Half Dragons and the Tieflings. I'm thinking about trying to relate it to the volcanoes. Maybe somehow opening The Abyss will calm the volcanoes, or nullify whatever the threat is? Another part of me doesn't want to relate all three of the major events to eachother. Two are already linked and it would somewhat bother me if they all played a part in eachother.
Hey there everyone.

I've got very little DM experience, but I've been playing DnD for a few years now. I want to run a game for some friends from college, and I'd like some advice.

I started off by creating a simple map (I'm no cartographer) for one of the major continents of my world.

imgur.com/55YCU

After creating this, I started to work on campaign plots/story arcs. And that's where I got stumped. I feel like parts of my arcs could use some more depth. I've got a general feel for what I want, but I don't feel like they're strong enough to support a whole campaign.

Here's what I got. Also, in the picture of the continent The Black Mountains are the huge ones in the center of it. I had issues marking those without the words being in the way. I always have issues thinking of political plots, so I feel like #3 is probably going to be my weakest point.
 

1. East of the Black Mountain Range is home to a ferocious Half-Dragon Army, The Smoldering Knights. It is also home to a large group of Tiefling Thieves, The Shadowhorns. War erupts when a Tiefling steals an ancient artifact that requires a long lost ritual to open and close the gates to the Abyss.


2. The volcanoes of Pelenall have been inactive for many centuries. Recently there have been massive earthquakes said to be centered from the volcanoes. The most active are The Kikorongo Trio in the Black Mountains. This could be a threat to all of Pelenall, or the entire world.


3. The dwarves of Old Northpass and New Northpass are in a political debate about who to trust in the war to the east. Old Northpass supports the tieflings, saying The Smoldering Knights are nothing but a bunch of dirty crossbreeds that deserve to be gone. New Northpass says that The Shadowhorns are a bunch of no good bandits looking to cause trouble. This could close the only pass in the mountains from the west to the east.

And yes, some of it is borrowed, or maliciously ripped, from Chris Perkins' Iomandra campaign, such as The Black Curtain. I just finished reading all of The DM Experience, and loved his ideas, so I incorporated some. I'm sure he wouldn't mind.

Thanks in advance for any advice! 


Typically when I create new campaigns I  get an idea of what is going on worldwide, then regionally then locally. I try to think about how the bigger issues affect the everyday life of the commoners and adventureres.


Then I tend to get VERY local. Start off with a village or small settlement. someplace where the lvl 1 characters can make a name for themselves. As they grow in power you start fleshing out the region around your starting village. Typically as I create the adventures I can add landmarks and towns ect. to fit the story I am creating. As you expand outward your world will start to take on a life of it's own and start defining itself. Just make sure you make logical choices, especially with geography, and  animal life. While it is cool to put  exotic locations and such into your game, the world has to be grounded in such a way that the players can easily identify with it.

Be sure to  create events or naratives that  inform the players of what is going on in the region beyond their sphere of influence. Think of ways to give the characters reasons to be concerned about the bigger events so that as they grow in power (i.e. level up) they  have  some background about who and what they might have to deal with in the near or even far future .


I tend to  create a lot of NPCs that have nothing to do with the current adventure. Typically the players can set things into motion by the way they interact and treat NPCs   It's like casting a big net. You are bound to get some nice adventure ideas based on the players own actions.


finally I like to create about 5 to 10 random events/encounters to use when the players go off the  tracks. sometimes they are related to the main adventure and sometimes they aren't. It helps the players see your world as  having a life of it's own.   

      
I guess I'm having some major writer's block at the moment. I can't seem to think of a reason for the Tieflings to want the ancient artifact except for doing bad and unleashing the demons into the world. I kind of want them to have a reason that makes them sound good, so there is a moral dilemma between choosing who to help, or trying to settle the feud between the Half Dragons and the Tieflings. I'm thinking about trying to relate it to the volcanoes. Maybe somehow opening The Abyss will calm the volcanoes, or nullify whatever the threat is? Another part of me doesn't want to relate all three of the major events to eachother. Two are already linked and it would somewhat bother me if they all played a part in eachother.



The easiest way to do this is tradition/religion, the tieflings might not want to use the artifact for anything, but it's a religious object to them or it belonged to a long gone tiefling empire and they see it as theirs by birthright, you might even portray the knights as the bad guys who want to use the artefact.

The three points that you've listed, assuming that they've already happened, aren't really story arcs as such, but rather background to your story arcs.  An arc connects two points and you've done a good job of defining the starting point, now you need to define the end point, and how you think the heroes will get there.

I'd suggest keeping it very general and reasonably simple.  Complexity will come as your campaign progresses and a simple arc gives you plenty of scope for players' actions to help chart the course of the campaign.

Challenge yourself to sum up each arc in a single sentence, something like: 'the heroes are forced to choose sides in an epic conflict between two ancient kingdoms in the battle for a stolen artifact'.  That's all you need - if the specifics aren't coming, don't worry about it.  The details will fall into place when they need to.

From there I'm with slobo777a - start writing your first adventure.  Assuming that #1 is your primary arc, get them involved in that.  Have them choose sides within the first hour of the campaign starting - maybe a dragonborn inquisitor is hunting for a tiefling that he thinks has information about the artifact and at some point the heroes need to choose who they help.  As the campaign progresses they might discover information that makes them decide to switch allegiances, but for now they're learning about the conflict that's at the heart of your campaign, without need for lengthy exposition.
 
Thank you all for your wonderful advice. I feel comfortable enough to start writing the first adventure. I really like the idea of narrowing everything Diceman. Sgtfreakshow, you've helped give me some kind of direction with the artifact as well. Litmus, you have helped sort of gather my thoughts and make them more simple, while my mind was trying to complicate them all.
Another idea: The land-razing volcanic eruption is caused by some stranded, former Abyss resident/primordial weapon known to the tieflings (perhaps they are one of the few groups that knows this, and it plays into the story that the stolen item was originally theirs); the tieflings believe that the land can be rid of the volcanic scourge only by throwing it into the Abyss. The Smoldering Knights only know bad stuff comes from the Abyss and they wouldn't know how to close the door once open (do the tieflings?).

Part of the fun comes from players figuring out bits and pieces of this story and connecting them.
Here is my idea for the stolen artifact.   The artifact is one of the oldest remaining from the pre-history of dragonborn.  Most dragonborn see is it as a cultural icon that does not have any powers.   The artifact shortens the hatching time and maturing time of dragons by making volcanoes erupt.   A faction within the dragonborn (or perhaps all dragonborn) have figured this out and their goal is bring this about to create a dragonborn empire to rule the continent. These dragonborn plan on flooding the Vale of Eggs with lava and hatching the fossil dragons eggs that have been there for thousands of years.


Re: getting stumped on campaign set ups:

www.paperspencils.com/2011/10/10/magical...

You don't even need the cards, you can just use the random card feature in Gatherer.

It's really helped me break through the writer's block at a few key areas. 
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