First a bit of an introduction, I've been interested in d&d for as long as I can remember. Playing games like Ice wind Dale and Baldurâs Gate from a young age. Me and my best friend at the time would invent butchered rules to play from using just the instruction manuals and magic lists included with the games. Using Warhammer minis, Lego, Mechano anything to bring the game to life. Pretty much every rule, every character, every plotline was made up on the spot, you could go any where, do anything, most importantly be anything you wanted. Every detail was an amalgam of those from all the comic books, TV shows and Warhammer fluff I picked up over the years. Â
From these childhood experiences I learned so many things I use today as a DM. I learned to use inspiration from different sources effectively, how to cater the adventure to a specific audience; being my best friend at the time, I knew everything Scott liked. Crazy mushroom eating goblins, animal companions and classic good vs. evil battles. Then again given we were only about 7 at the time, we were both pretty easy pleased. But come to think of it, I donât think heâs changed all that much lol.
Finally the most important thing I learned, was how to make a sandbox game that works, and for me so far it works so well it counteracts some of the problems normally associated with sandbox games, like lack of direction. Now these learning are ever present in my current FR campaign.
This is actually my first FR realms game and only my 2nd game as a 4th edition DM, scrap that my 2nd game as a DM full stop. Now this may seem hypocritical, giving advice when Iâm hardly that experienced. However I really think you can learn just as much from a new DM as you can from a 40 year old veteran. Everyone has a different take on the game, therefore every single DM out there has read one of the many D&D and interpreted them a different way. If they can pass on this information. Essentially what you can have when you put a book in front of you, is your own take on it, and an infinite other number of takes that you could interchange with. Itâs like listening to you PCâs paranoid discussionâs during game play, sometime the elaborateness they expect from the plot is ridiculous, but sometimes in can present a take on your story you never though of that can be better than you originally planned.
Whew, Iâm getting off trackâŠ This is only my second game as DM, my first game was a totally homebrew universe. I tried too go to big, it came off as too âunrealâ and disjointed. I had a thousand big ideas, but with a huge playing group (7-8) all joining and leaving at different points. I just didnât have enough room for everything. That campaign is now suspended and I have a much earlier finish point in mind. But now, with my FR campaign. Iâm going more back to my roots, a big sandbox full of huge ideas, and Iâm not railroading the PCâs so they can take or leave what they want. And Iâm not short of ideas with in my opinion the amazing job they have done with the 4E FRCG.
-Big learnings & my campaign-
AnywayâŠ The lesson I learned concerning sand box style play from my youth was that with the players you can design areas, plots, characters etc that fit into your world together. For example before play, me and Scott designed the world together laying our scenery and naming the places, and there rulers etc. With FR there is already a map available to the PCâs when they look an area and say âoh cool, I wonder what its like thereâŠ Beast Lands I betÂ such and such happens there.â Unknowingly they have added to the details I can inject into these areas. Having something the PCâs are familiar with even in an area never visited, or that was seemingly unconnectedÂ to there task at hand , is connected up nicely, and gives more of a sense of realism in my opinion, even if literally this shouldnât be the case. Strange how that works.
So far my campaign I have used everything from the CG, Khyberâs harvest and the necromancers apprentice from d&d dummies. I have tangent plots connected to all of the main plot ideas presented in these adventures and too connect it all together I have given the whole campaign a (so far) subtle aberrant themed undertone. I have a bid baddy in place an conclusion in my head. And these may not be characteristic of a sand box approach. But I have so many other adventures ready to go, and put a strong focus on the PCâs being able to influence the politics and rejuvenation of there base town Loudwater, and later the whole of Grey Vale. That eventually when the fight is brought to them, they will naturally be in position to take on the big bad, working to fight it on there own grounds.
So, to sum up the structure of my campaign, itâs like a sand box, but with a few rocks thrown in that the PCâs cant move or break. If they want to play around them thatâs fine. But they really are; very nice rocks.
So I have:
-A definite beginning that subtly shows the PCâs a lot of the main themes that are to come throughout the campaign
-A fluid middle of interchangeable, and again subtly connected adventures. Dotted throughout a series of crucial adventures that will give the PCâs more direction. But rather than railroad them into taking the fight to the bad guys, more encourage them to want to protect there home town and come up with their own solutions to deal with the bad guys.
-A conclusive ending, that ties together all the plot threads. But culminates in an epic encounter that the PCâs can work to fight on their own grounds.
Seems compared to my last game, subtlety is the key. âShow donât tell and tell donât show.â
-Campaign so far-
So far I have ran two sessions of the campaign with another to go this afternoon. Iâll give you some details of those games at later date.
Thanks for reading. Later Guys.
P.S. Iâm sure that was far too long. Sorry . Take care.