Role-Playing Games

Musings on all things related to RPGs

Developing Campaign Narrative

Tonight I created 3 different high-level goals, along with their motivations. I will run each of them past some folks for their opinion, to see if I have a good starting hook, with potential for more discoveries. Once I select one, I’ll continue to define and fill-out the narrative. This narrative will drive the locations the party will have to visit. Well, ‘have to’ is a strong proposition; ‘strongly encouraged to’ is probably more accurate. I say this, because from this central narrative I will be plotting and inserting side-quests. There’s no telling what the party will do.

Here’s my technique, if you’re interested:

I kept it very low-tech: just a text file and text editor. I used the following format:

Goal: [single sentence description]
Motivation: [paragraph that sets the party in motion]
[notes to myself]

Essentially the Goal and Motivation are in-game content that will be shared with the party. The notes are out-of-game content not shared with the party.

Having a clear Goal allows me to introduce situations that either support it or undermine it. <insert evil laughter here>



Creating an Adventure

I’ve started thinking about a campaign, an adventure, I want to create for my son and his friends. In the past I always loved creating the dungeons for my friends to explore. I have a feeling this time will be different.

I plan on using ideas from the many books I’ve read, the many movies & TV shows I’ve watched, the many games (video, board, card, and other RPGs) I’ve played, to craft an Epic Adventure replete with conflict-inducing side quests. I also plan on sharing the completed product. But that’s a long way off.

I already have some things sorted out: it’s going to take place in the Forgotten Realms; the adventure will start in Waterdeep; the adventure will span the known world; the adventure will span seasons; the adventure will span many ‘real life’ sessions.

Right now it will be a party of three: my son, his friend, and my son-in-law. Over time I hope to be able to add more players, however those 3 will be the nucleus of the group. While it’s not yet scheduled, I know our 1st session is going to be spent rolling up characters. At this time I will instruct them to form a tight relationship between the three: 3 brothers, 3 best friends; 3 cousins; a mixture of the 3. I’m also going to steer them towards more traditional races: human, elven, dwarven, halflings, etc. I’m also going to encourage them to come up with a (plausible) backstory. With any hope I’ll teach them how to Role Play and, for me, it starts with the backstory.

I also have some loose notes on a few things with which the party will be subjected. I mentioned to my son, “the campaign will be a mix of Indiana Jones, Lord of the Ring, Harry Potter, Call of Chthulu, Conan, Dr Who; it will have combat, conflict, puzzles, and traps; it will span regions and seasons; it will take place in buildings, in dungeons, in forests, at sea, under the sea, and everywhere in between.” I think his interest is piqued. One of the first things I thought of was the ‘opening sequence’, if you will. This will be the thing, or set of events, the kicks off the adventure. If I can get enough of the adventure defined, I might initiate it during our 1st session. Maybe.

However I still have many things to do and define. The most important thing, for me, is the over-arching narrative. What is the adventure this party will experience? Why are they going on this adventure? I really need to define this Big Goal. Once I have it defined I can then lay the locations and side quests on it as if it were a skeleton.

Additionally, I’ve reached out to the Google+ Community “G+ Tabletop Roleplaying Games” for advice and resources for creating this adventure. I’ve had some excellent suggestions and I’ll be sharing them as I use them. One thing I didn’t mention but will do here: I plan on using tile sets and miniatures. Back in my day we had miniatures but we didn’t use them. I think they’re a valuable tool for the players. And, I plan on using context-appropriate background music. This is definitely a first for me and I’m excited to see where it goes.

That’s all I can share at the moment.

In the beginning…

I played my first RPG game in the late ’70’s and it was, of course, Dungeons & Dragons. The red box set. My friend had the game and, with the rest of our gang, we started battling monsters and saving townsfolk. We then quickly moved to Advanced Dungeons & Dragons. We even played Runequest and Stormbringer. It was glorious. It was fun.

Now I get to share the adventures with my family, my son in particular. And this blog will (hopefully) chronicle our journey together through Dungeons & Dragons 5th edition, and other RPGs. It truly seems they’re making a comeback. The tried-and-true, pencil & paper, tabletop RPGs. There are so many different kinds of RPGs, and different settings, available. I believe there is something for everyone.

This isn’t to take away from VTT sites like Fantasy Grounds and Roll20, and the myriad resources now available to DMs and players alike. I hope to use them myself. When I do, I will let you know about my experiences, both good and bad.

And without further ado, let me tell you about this campaign I’m starting to create for my son and his friends…

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