Creating new campaigns

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I'm starting a new campaign after years of not playing.
My question is:  What steps do you follow when starting from scratch (no premade)

I always used to spend a lot of time creating maps, encounters, cities, bad guys.. etc.  Usually:
1.  Map of the area big enough to have at least a few sessions in
2.  Main kingdoms/cities and what's going on in them
3.  Plan how players will start and how their story fits in
4.  Encounters, prominent bad guys, npcs and events that can be thrown in when action slows
www.giantitp.com/Gaming.html

This is an interesting rundown of a few of the basics for creating a new campaign world. Even if you don't use any of the ideas presented, it should help get your creative juices flowing! ;) 
"Oh, I don't get upset. I have people to do that for me." ~DBZ Abridged-Frieza
www.wizards.com/DnD/Article.aspx?x=dnd/4...

chris perkins creates a useful document about his worlds. very useful for plaers an DM alike. i recomend giving it a look.
I do #1, but only for a specific dungeon location. I do this for the first adventure of every campaign. That's the only map I draw at the start. A "dungeon" here refers to any closed location where adventure takes place (but never a city or town). This location represents a few sessions of gameplay, as you say.

Before and while we play that dungeon (as well as continually through the campaign), I'm asking the players about #2 (no pun intended). I ask them to help me establish the details of the world and how they relate to their own characters. Where things are, who the major forces are, what they're up to, and why it matters. Whatever they say becomes new elements established about the setting (provided what they say does not contradict something somebody else already said). I write this down and use it later to build campaign and adventure fronts.

Your #3 is handled during the lead-up to my #1 by asking questions of the players about their characters that tie them to the dungeon and to the world as we discuss it. I don't encourage the players to create traditional backstories because I find they can be problematic, preferring the players to simply establish details as we go and as they are inspired by events in the campaign. (Of course, if the players need to establish backstories as part of their character creation process, they're welcome to do so. I just ask them to remain flexible with regard to changing it to accomodate new ideas or things that come up during play. Things players create by themselves in a vacuum are by definition not collaborative and so it goes against our style.) 

As for #4, I create encounters inside of specific locations or situations the players want their characters to explore. Prominent bad guys, NPCs, and events arise out of the collaborative world-building and as the players establish their history and bonds during play. As for action, it never slows down because by creating your campaign collaboratively, the players tend to be more eager to see where their ideas go. In addition, they tend to remember the details much better than if I simply created the world myself and "download" the information to them. So with all of that collaborative context available to the group, they have no shortage of ideas of what to do next and neither do I. The game just flows from there on out.
I'm starting a new campaign after years of not playing.
My question is:  What steps do you follow when starting from scratch (no premade)

I always used to spend a lot of time creating maps, encounters, cities, bad guys.. etc.  Usually:
1.  Map of the area big enough to have at least a few sessions in
2.  Main kingdoms/cities and what's going on in them
3.  Plan how players will start and how their story fits in
4.  Encounters, prominent bad guys, npcs and events that can be thrown in when action slows

When creating from scratch, I involve my players heavily. Even when I'm working from a module, I involve them. This is because if I create stuff entirely on my own, I still need to download it into the players. Some of my players are familiar with the game and its tropes, and even aspects of the setting, but others are not, and either way listening to me give them details that I've concocted is not a good way for them to internalize them, which means I'm forever reexplaining about the details of the game, and feeling the need to correct their assumptions to keep them on track with what I've established.

This applies to adventure storylines or plots, as well. There's a good chance that what I come up with for the players to do will not interest them, or at least not hook into their brains enough to make them self-motivated and aware of their characters' goals. They're very likely to wonder why they're engaged in any particular encounter. So, I prefer to work with the players on what the party's goals are, so that they have, as players, a stake in seeing the quest or encounter through.

If I have to ask the GM for it, then I don't want it.

I employ a similar but different strategy than iserith and centauri...I do not ask my players for initial assistance.

Using MS Paint (yes that cheap drawing program that comes with Windows), I drew out a continent; put in major terrain features (mountain ranges, large forests, rivers, etc); segmented the continent into realms/kingdoms/governments/whatever you want to call them; dotted them with cities, towns, and villages; drew roads between those population centers; and finally named the largest cities and major points-of-interest.

I then decided where the players were going to start playing (what city they were going to start in).

The final step was the creation of a recent history of the kingdom and city the players are in that I wrote in MS Word (although notepad would work just as well).  This gave my players a starting point for creating a character background...if they wanted.

With the basics in place, I dropped a pre-written module into that kingdom (I made some minor modifications to the terrain and renamed a village so that the module location "fit") and started the campaign.

It is only after the campaign starts that I let the players decide where to go and develop a plot from their assumptions about what's going on.  And now that the campaign is in full swing there are a dozen plot-points the players can investigate and/or deal with.

 

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The cool thing is, you don't even NEED a reason to say yes.  Just stop looking for a reason to say no.
What steps do you follow when starting from scratch (no premade)

Whatever you enjoy most, since you are mostly creating for your own benefit (i.e. the players won't really get much out of you creating scratch over premade).

Then use published stuff for whatever you don't enjoy creating (and/or let your players contribute whatever they like to create).