Building a Campaign from the Ground Up Part 9

Let’s hop to it; shall we?

This week we’re going to look at designing a Timed Encounter for our players. Now, this rendition of it will be left a little open. We’re going to base it around the idea that the party is going to scale the wall with crafted ladders. However, the DM could have to tweak this if their players decided on an alternative means of escaping.

So I figure we should have set points to keep pressure on the characters. First would be to see if the characters react quick enough. There have been times my players just stand around and don’t know what to do or they spend forever on deciding what they should do. Players should think through things, there’s no issue with that, but if you allow them to have all the time in the world then it takes away from the gravity of the situation and in the end breaks the self-immersion. Our players are trying to escape! They don’t have a half hour to decide what to do.

Event 1: The players have 1 minute to decide what they’re going to do. Whether it’s rush up the ladders as fast as they can or turn to face down the countless amounts of guards, they have to choose quickly or they’re in trouble. If they don’t start doing anything before the minute is up, they find themselves surrounded by guards. The ladders are knocked down and things don’t look very good.  If they do decide what they want to do, the DM can have them roll initiative and move on. Otherwise they’ll skip through this entire section. Which is fine. The players failed to react, there are consequences for that.

After the initial moments, the characters will proceed with the escape through each round as they would any encounter. From here, all events will occur after a set number of rounds. This will give them time to achieve their goal with more consequences of being slow. Of course, we’re going to make it extremely hard for them to succeed. The plan is to get them in the arena and jump shards there. If they successfully escape-which they very well might-the DM will have to improvise; but we can make a suggestion on that later as well.

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Building a Campaign from the Ground Up Part 8

Good Wednesday, Readers,

Last week we went over the general scheme of things for the big prison escape. We left a lot open to flexibility and improvisation. This was done on purpose to help our DM understand that the characters need to help craft the story. The DM might ignore the advice but there’s only so much we can do.

I’m sorry I haven’t updated the google docs yet. I’m hoping I’ll get a chance this week. It’s at the point where it’s so far behind it’s become intimidating. I promise that by the end of this it will be in a usable form.  However, if any reader has a knack for throwing together these kind of things in a professional manner and would love to work on it, please let me know :D. I could always use the extra hand.

So, what’s next?  With our open escape plan, we took a lot of work off of our chests and threw it in on the DM. Sucks to be them I guess. But in all seriousness, we have some tidbits to add in the final product for that section—examples and some helpful tips for the DM. We’ll attack that much later. Right now we’re going to press forward with completing the chapter.

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Building a Campaign from the Ground Up Part 7

Parts 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, and 6.

DMs, GMs, and other interested parties, welcome back.

Last week was a short post, but we talked about the big escape from slavery. The overall plan was basic enough: climb over the wall in the wee hours of the night. We left out a lot of details and I received your much appreciated input to help give some sense of structure. We’ll pick up with Minni Torre asking the adventurer’s for their help.

The morning comes after the long restful night. Your body aches in every nook and cranny. You may as well have not slept at all. Guards come by and let each cell of prisoners out to a wide open area. There are a few tables with other slaves eatinggoop.  Many guards patrol the sand floor space and there are stone walls the height of three men. Across from the path to the slave quarters is a hole in the wall where people seem to be getting the ’food’. Off to your right is a training area where some slaves practice for their inevitable deaths in the arena and to the left a well-guarded gate. There is also an unknown hut in the far left corner.

From here, we’ll let the characters mosey around a bit. They can talk to other slaves, check out the hut, get food, whatever. The point is for the DM to gather what peaks their interest and make note of it. This can then be used by the DM to help craft the rest of the escape and such.

If your paladin is super curious about the hut, then we’ll use that to feed their story. If the fighter wants to spar with other slaves, let him; this is key. Why? It lets the players do what they want and allows their actions to choose the important aspects of the story. EVERYTHING the players do that isn’t “part of the plan” should be noted by the DM. If a player decides to skin off the face of a kobold and wear it as a mask (yes this happened in my last game session) then the DM has to make use of that detail.

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Building a Campaign from the Ground Up Part 6

Weekly followers,

Let’s do it. Last week we discussed the introduction of Unknown and his possible importance to the plot. As well as our plan for the adventurers; how to lead them out of slave hood. Let’s implement it.

From your inputs, I’ve gathered the following responses based on last week’s poll:

  1. Name of slave who has escape plan: Her name is Minni Torre (Yes, she is a minotaur). Why not have a little fun with it? She’s a loner who used to keep a small farm. How she fell into slavery she won’t say.Though our DM can opt to divulge in more of a backstory for her if they choose.
  2. Master Plan? To escape in the wee hours of the morning. But how? Scaling the wall on the north side of the ‘recess’ yard and running off to the nearby woods. But they’re locked in their cell! Yes, but they’re going to dig a hole out.

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Building a Campaign from the Ground Up Part 5

DMs, curious players, vengeful kobolds, and party gnolls, welcome back.

I’d like to begin with a short tidbit about my own troubles as a DM. We recently started playing 5e, me and a bunch of newbies, with Horde of the Dragon Queen. Though the adventure gets a lot of hate, we’ve been having a blast. My group is getting into it and loving D&D.

Monday night we hit our first bad session, however. I’m not sure what it was, but the whole thing felt sluggish and grindy and that the players were just going through the motions. I’m not sure if teis is the adventure itself or myself during a poor job at DM-ing that night or what, but it wasn’t great. Still, I plan to trudge forth and try to whip up some more excitement.

It’s the group’s first dungeon, The Dragon Hatchery, and I feared they would have some issues with it. They can’t ever decide on what they’re doing, I swear they spent have the session just hanging out in one of the cave’s chambers. I’m not sure what to do, but hopefully I can fire a spark into the next session. We made it through three rooms in two and a half hours and they only had three battles that weren’t terribly difficult.

Anyways, on to the good stuff. Last week we went introduced Janu Vadanov, the party’s owner, and explored where the characters are. I also delved into the document on the GoogleDocs and made it look/ flow better.  Not sure if that’ll be the final form, but we’ll see. Any critiques are greatly appreciated.

Last week I asked for the following:

  1. How much rest do the adventurers get?
  2. How do we present the idea of escaping?

I’ve landed with the players receiving a short rest at this period of time. They have nothing else to do but sit in their cell, but the cell isn’t the best conditions so I think it makes the most sense.  Besides, I don’t think they’ll really need a long one anyways.

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Building a Campaign from the Ground Up Part 4

Parts 1, 2, 3

Folks, here we are once again. Wednesday; the day of that glorious mid work week hump. A day we can all take a breather and begin focusing on the fun things in life. Unless you’re lucky and enjoy work; then oooohh gooood foor you.

Anyways, last week we went over my coined ‘guided encounter’. We took our adventurers and threw them up against impossible odds. But we did so in a nice controlled environment. Whether or not it actually plays out safely is up in the air. The Hill Giant encounter looks good on paper, but that means nothing. I mean, half the time I DM my players take me off script the second they sit down. I do plan on play testing the encounter at some point and by all means feel free to try it yourselves and let me know how it goes. It’d be really bad if our first encounter successfully killed everyone to play it.

Last week I asked your opinions on a few key pieces of information. The slaver’s name and the city our adventurers are in. I got more input than last week which makes me happy 😀 and as a result we concluded with Janu Vadanov and the city Kielthrek’s Toe. It’s a combination of two great ideas and even if we don’t delve into the background of the city beyond the following, it gives the place a history. This is key.

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Building a Campaign from the Ground Up: Part 3

What up, DMs? It’s Wednesday and that means we’re hitting the creative books once again. For those of you that need to catch up, we’re working on our first encounter of our campaign. So far we’ve selected a story progression and began scratching the surface of how to get our adventurer’s started.  Last week’s post asked for some reader input that we’ll implement today. And, as promised, you can view the documents I’m starting to put together here[].

Down to business:

Thanks to the less than desired amount of feedback we have our veteran slave fleshed out and I’ve put together a character block for us to present the DM with:

Now, to me that isn’t quite enough info for the DM. Yes, the character block provides the necessary stats, information, etc. But I really want our campaign to be usable and brought to life by anybody. This requires the DM to role play the veteran slave. Unfortunately, fully characterizing an NPC isn’t everyone’s forte and the veteran slave might end up being a flat character that gets mauled in front of the adventurers with no emotions attached to the event. And that’s, well, boring.

As with writing a book, we want our adventurers to feel like they’re part of the campaign. We need to give them emotions, rip them apart, inspire them, and induce fear. In order to achieve this, characters can’t be flat and boring and essentially pointless. Every character has to affect the adventurers in some way.

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