How do you begin to create and run your own homebrew campaign?

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Title says it all.

I really like the idea of coming up with my own story and DMing for my friends. But where does one start when wanting to do make their first Homebrew campaign?
Start small. Every DM has their own method that works best for them, and it may take some time to find what style works for you. But a good rule of thumb is to start on a small scale and build outward as the game progresses.

Think about where the PCs will start the game. Will it be their home community? A big city? A farming hamlet? Somehwere in the Wilderness?
What will spur them to go from regular people to adventurers? Is their home attacked by goblins? Does a mysterious stranger appear in town? Will they decide to head out in search of fame and fortune?
What are some key landmarks around the starting location? Any mountains? Lakes? Forests? Is there anything special about these places? Does a dragon dwell in the mountains? Are the forests home to elven tribes? Is there a sunken city at the bottom of the lake?
Why would the players want to explore these sites? Are there rumors of lost treasure? Are they infested with monsters that harass the town? Are they just curious?
Is anyone else interested in these places? Is there a warlord who wants that forgotten treasure? Is there a wizard searching for lost magic in that sunken city?

Talk with your players and let them help you answer some of these questions. Let them tell you what they ould like to achive in the game. Do they want to become famous heroes? Do they want to amass great fortune? Are they interested in hunting down evil doers?

Once you havea  general idea of what you and your players want from the game, start fleshing out the starting area and some of the locations nearby. Don't be too specific with dungeons and monsters until you know for sure the players will be visiting that area. Try to keep things open so you can change things as the game evolves. Don't worry about the world beyond your starting area until the players decide to go explore it.

I hope this helps you get a start. If you have any questions don't hesitate to ask them.
Above all else make sure you have fun.
Start small. Every DM has their own method that works best for them, and it may take some time to find what style works for you. But a good rule of thumb is to start on a small scale and build outward as the game progresses.

Think about where the PCs will start the game. Will it be their home community? A big city? A farming hamlet? Somehwere in the Wilderness?
What will spur them to go from regular people to adventurers? Is their home attacked by goblins? Does a mysterious stranger appear in town? Will they decide to head out in search of fame and fortune?
What are some key landmarks around the starting location? Any mountains? Lakes? Forests? Is there anything special about these places? Does a dragon dwell in the mountains? Are the forests home to elven tribes? Is there a sunken city at the bottom of the lake?
Why would the players want to explore these sites? Are there rumors of lost treasure? Are they infested with monsters that harass the town? Are they just curious?
Is anyone else interested in these places? Is there a warlord who wants that forgotten treasure? Is there a wizard searching for lost magic in that sunken city?

Talk with your players and let them help you answer some of these questions. Let them tell you what they ould like to achive in the game. Do they want to become famous heroes? Do they want to amass great fortune? Are they interested in hunting down evil doers?

Once you havea  general idea of what you and your players want from the game, start fleshing out the starting area and some of the locations nearby. Don't be too specific with dungeons and monsters until you know for sure the players will be visiting that area. Try to keep things open so you can change things as the game evolves. Don't worry about the world beyond your starting area until the players decide to go explore it.

I hope this helps you get a start. If you have any questions don't hesitate to ask them.
Above all else make sure you have fun.



Hm. Well in terms of creating the story and situations I'm not really worried about it.

I'm more concerned about things like putting together encounters, enemies,  how to keep the story progressing in terms of meeting NPC's, when and where to apply skill checks and all the "technical aspects" I guess.
Okay... We have a lot to talk about.

I really like the idea of coming up with my own story...



Now I know this was said pretty innocently, but that can be a dangerous statement. Don't play DnD to tell your own story, and don't envision the characters shackled to your script. That's probably not what you meant to say, but it is very common for new DMs to block their players when things that are unexpected or "unfair" come into play.

What you should do instead is focus on cooperative storytelling/world building. Not only does it draw more investment from the players into the game/setting/world, it keeps everybody on the same page, which is important no matter how many campaigns you've run.

Here's the list of what I would do when designing a homebrew campaign:

1. Have a Session Zero. Gather everybody up and ask a lot of questions. What kind of style do people want? How cinematic/gritty? Low or High Fantasy? What makes this world unique? Is there a theme we're going to pursue? Does anybody have any Big Bads we want to kill within the scope of this campaign? Once you have asked these questions, use those answers to build the foundations of what you're looking for.

2. Don't do much work from there. Let the player thinktank work for you. Seriously, it takes a GIGANTIC cumbersome load off of your back that the players may not even fully like. If you are nearing an adventure end, and it seems probable that they will swiftly be leaving the province, ask them where they are going and as long as its consistant within the world, write it down. In general, the players will always jump to ideas they find interesting, while a DM might slave and labour over a country's logistics that players a) don't care about, and b) don't find engaging.

You shouldn't ask the players all the time, but it should be fairly regular. And feel free to add your own additions as long as they don't hinder or manipulate what the player has already said.

Hope that helps. Ask if you need anything.

He said to me: "It is done. I am the Alpha and the Omega, the Beginning and the End. To him who is thirsty I will give to drink without cost from the spring of the water of life. -Revelation 21:6

Any man's death diminishes me, because I am involved in mankind, and therefore never send to know for whom the bells tolls; it tolls for thee.-John Donne, Meditation XVII

My photo was found here.



Hm. Well in terms of creating the story and situations I'm not really worried about it.

I'm more concerned about things like putting together encounters, enemies,  how to keep the story progressing in terms of meeting NPC's, when and where to apply skill checks and all the "technical aspects" I guess.



ARRGGGHHHH!! 

Just finished posting to learn that you wanted more techincal aspects...(sigh). Still, the above applies around here as well.

Putting together Encounters: What are the PCs facing? What are the enemies' goals and how can the PCs interfere with them? How many ways can the PCs win? What happens if they lose and how does that keep the story going? What do the PCs have to lose?

Keep those questions in mind and stick with the XP budgets in the DMG. Also, peruse the Adventure tools for monsters because you can reskin everything. I doubt you will need to make any single monster from scratch.

Meeting NPCs: I... what? You mean like how the PCc meet NPCs? Or how the NPCs should keep the story going?? If so, its the PCs that should keep the story going. Build adventures with them that drives their characters motivations. Make it personal.

Apply Skill checks: Only when the outcome of failure is interesting and branches the storyline, often adding difficulty to a challenge. Ex: Haggling with a merchant for better wares=Not a skill check. Pick a lock under arrow fire=Skill check. If something is mundane, skip the check. These are adventurers afterall.

What other aspects?

He said to me: "It is done. I am the Alpha and the Omega, the Beginning and the End. To him who is thirsty I will give to drink without cost from the spring of the water of life. -Revelation 21:6

Any man's death diminishes me, because I am involved in mankind, and therefore never send to know for whom the bells tolls; it tolls for thee.-John Donne, Meditation XVII

My photo was found here.



Hm. Well in terms of creating the story and situations I'm not really worried about it.

I'm more concerned about things like putting together encounters, enemies,  how to keep the story progressing in terms of meeting NPC's, when and where to apply skill checks and all the "technical aspects" I guess.



ARRGGGHHHH!! 

Just finished posting to learn that you wanted more techincal aspects...(sigh). Still, the above applies around here as well.

Putting together Encounters: What are the PCs facing? What are the enemies' goals and how can the PCs interfere with them? How many ways can the PCs win? What happens if they lose and how does that keep the story going? What do the PCs have to lose?

Keep those questions in mind and stick with the XP budgets in the DMG. Also, peruse the Adventure tools for monsters because you can reskin everything. I doubt you will need to make any single monster from scratch.

Meeting NPCs: I... what? You mean like how the PCc meet NPCs? Or how the NPCs should keep the story going?? If so, its the PCs that should keep the story going. Build adventures with them that drives their characters motivations. Make it personal.

Apply Skill checks: Only when the outcome of failure is interesting and branches the storyline, often adding difficulty to a challenge. Ex: Haggling with a merchant for better wares=Not a skill check. Pick a lock under arrow fire=Skill check. If something is mundane, skip the check. These are adventurers afterall.

What other aspects?





Hey thanks dude. That actually cleared up some stuff for me.

One thing that confuses me though is how does someone who's making their own Homebrew Campaign make maps for the encounters/battles? Are there free online map makers or something of the sort?


Hm. Well in terms of creating the story and situations I'm not really worried about it.

I'm more concerned about things like putting together encounters, enemies,  how to keep the story progressing in terms of meeting NPC's, when and where to apply skill checks and all the "technical aspects" I guess.



ARRGGGHHHH!! 

Just finished posting to learn that you wanted more techincal aspects...(sigh). Still, the above applies around here as well.

Putting together Encounters: What are the PCs facing? What are the enemies' goals and how can the PCs interfere with them? How many ways can the PCs win? What happens if they lose and how does that keep the story going? What do the PCs have to lose?

Keep those questions in mind and stick with the XP budgets in the DMG. Also, peruse the Adventure tools for monsters because you can reskin everything. I doubt you will need to make any single monster from scratch.

Meeting NPCs: I... what? You mean like how the PCc meet NPCs? Or how the NPCs should keep the story going?? If so, its the PCs that should keep the story going. Build adventures with them that drives their characters motivations. Make it personal.

Apply Skill checks: Only when the outcome of failure is interesting and branches the storyline, often adding difficulty to a challenge. Ex: Haggling with a merchant for better wares=Not a skill check. Pick a lock under arrow fire=Skill check. If something is mundane, skip the check. These are adventurers afterall.

What other aspects?





Hey thanks dude. That actually cleared up some stuff for me.

One thing that confuses me though is how does someone who's making their own Homebrew Campaign make maps for the encounters/battles? Are there free online map makers or something of the sort?



I enjoy drawing maps by hand. Get a sheet of graph paper and a pen (or pencil, if you make lots of mistakes), and let the ideas flow. I'm currently running a dungeon requests thread so I can do more mapping (although currently my printer won't scan, it just says "can't connect to PC" :banghead

There's also a map maker on this very site - here's a link.
I use a combination of pre-made maps bought at the store and my "reversible megamat" from Chessex. The pre-made maps are usually generic, so they fit almost anywhere, and they are a pretty good go to if they PCs catch me by suprise (bar fight, caravan raid, marshland).

The Megamat is double sided (squares and hexes) and is used with wet erase markers. This allows the map to be re-used over and over again. I've had the same map for about three years now.

As for map-programs... I'm sure there are some... I don't know enough about it. 

And I've heard good things about dungeon tiles. You might want to investigate that. 

He said to me: "It is done. I am the Alpha and the Omega, the Beginning and the End. To him who is thirsty I will give to drink without cost from the spring of the water of life. -Revelation 21:6

Any man's death diminishes me, because I am involved in mankind, and therefore never send to know for whom the bells tolls; it tolls for thee.-John Donne, Meditation XVII

My photo was found here.

Hm. I suppose I should try playing around with the map maker on this site first.

Also I have another question. Let's say I go the pre-made map route and go to Barnes and Noble, Wal-Mart, etc. and pick up some map packs.

I really want to run a Resident Evil themed campaign.

Basically the PC's are trapped in a city of zombies (with a few survivors here and there struggling to stay alive) and throughout the campaign are taken through the following stages/settings: The Village/City, the Mansion, The Garden, (possibly The Sewers), The Church, The Underground "Laboratory"

None of my friends amazingly have played through the old, classic Resident Evil games so storywise I'm gonna be drawing from them a lot (especially when they make their way into the mansion).


My question is what premade map packs would be best to look into for such a campaign? I was looking into Haunted Temple and Shadowghast Manor but I'm not sure.
Buy a copy of Savage Species so you can have pcs play monster races? Buy Libris Mortis for undead types and undead pcs?

I will immediately report any Phishers or Lonely Hearts Scam Artists.

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