PDA

View Full Version : How do *you* create a campaign (order in which you do things)?



danzibr
2012-05-17, 04:54 PM
I'm creating a campaign from scratch and I'm wondering what process other people take.

First, I had an idea for the campaign in my head in a long time. I mean, major bad dudes and such. I never actually wrote any of it down, though.

For the actual planning part, I downloaded and started to actually figure out how to use MapTool. I have the world map (well, region map) about 80% done.

I've started to write the history of the region, which I'll fill in as I go along. Also, I know the general path the party will take, but it won't be so linear that I know their exact path (option of taking risky shortcuts and the like).

My next plan is to create cities and villages and whatnot, complete with approximate population (broken down by race), people of interest (including their classes and levels).

Then I'm going to actually map out the cities.

Then I'm going to make the rest of the places that need maps, like a forest they'll go through, an abandoned fort, et cetera, et cetera.

Then I'm going to stat out all the big baddies.

Then I'm going to make a bunch of encounters per area in their expected route (monsters, traps, diplomacy, et cetera). I'm also going to have several options per encounter, like what happens if they run, kill the guys, try to do some diplomacy, capture the enemy, enemy escapes.

Then I'll fiddle with the encounters to have them be the "right" level at the right them. Basically, for them to be able to handle the big baddies when they appear.

Then it's time to play!

What do you all think? I didn't make it clear, but I plan to leave the players lots of options and not just railroad them.

EDIT: How do my steps compare to yours when you make up a campaign? Do you start with encounters then make the maps around them? Do you stat out the bad guys first?

vasharanpaladin
2012-05-17, 08:52 PM
Always remember that the best laid plans never survive contact with the enemy. In this case, given the choice of north or south the players will invariably choose cantaloupe.

Unless you employ liberal use of Schroedinger's Plot Device, they're going to screw you over within a session or two. :smalltongue:

Yitzi
2012-05-17, 10:33 PM
Always remember that the best laid plans never survive contact with the enemy. In this case, given the choice of north or south the players will invariably choose cantaloupe.

Unless you employ liberal use of Schroedinger's Plot Device, they're going to screw you over within a session or two. :smalltongue:

If the end goal is determined from the start, then that does place some limits on what they can do to mess up the plot; some changes may be necessary, but unless they decide to completely ignore the main campaign (which they shouldn't, as that's what they're there for) it should mostly be the same.

That said, make sure you know (or can make up quickly enough) what's going on, so that if they do do something unexpected you can easily figure out the natural reactions of all the characters and go from there. Having explicit rules for the likely actions they might take is useful, but as vasharanpaladin said, they will take unexpected actions, so having enough information to react on the spot is needed as well.

danzibr
2012-05-18, 06:11 AM
If the end goal is determined from the start, then that does place some limits on what they can do to mess up the plot; some changes may be necessary, but unless they decide to completely ignore the main campaign (which they shouldn't, as that's what they're there for) it should mostly be the same.

That said, make sure you know (or can make up quickly enough) what's going on, so that if they do do something unexpected you can easily figure out the natural reactions of all the characters and go from there. Having explicit rules for the likely actions they might take is useful, but as vasharanpaladin said, they will take unexpected actions, so having enough information to react on the spot is needed as well.
Yes! That's exactly what I need. In the past I prepared just the info I needed for them to do what I wanted them to do, and of course it didn't pan out.

But by making maps for all the towns and making NPC's all over the place, I think that'll give me the info I need.

I should have made the OP more clear. I'll make an edit now.

Yitzi
2012-05-18, 10:42 AM
Yes! That's exactly what I need. In the past I prepared just the info I needed for them to do what I wanted them to do, and of course it didn't pan out.

But by making maps for all the towns and making NPC's all over the place, I think that'll give me the info I need.

You'll want more than just "NPCs all over the place"; you should work out what the politics of the area look like, and what the motivations are for each of the major players (other than the PCs). Fully motivationally fleshed-out characters are the key to dealing with unexpected actions.

As for the edit question: I'd start with the basic outline of the plot, then make the basic info for the major towns and characters and maps for the major dungeons and then write the background history (well, except the part directly relevant to the plot, which I do with the plot) and general info about the civilization. Last comes the names for people and places. At that point, I'd feel ready to begin at least a PbP game (note that I have not yet run a campaign), filling in everything else (i.e. everything not relevant to the overall plot) as I go.

ulgulanoth
2012-05-18, 10:54 AM
I tend to GM alot on the fly, some times it goes too far (like an entire continent+pantheon+NPCs in a session from scratch), but I always have a small line in the sand as to plot. Basically I start with a theme (horror, action, ect), followed by a setting (50/50 made from scratch to previously owned) and finally the behind the curtains villains (ei the big bads at the end). Once this is done I ask my players to make their characters. I read them, especially their backstory (how ever little or long it may be :smallsigh:). I perp the side plots from their backstories and scetch out some encounters. Finally I detail the first session (ie what needs to happen) and stop there, then once the first session is over I prep the next, doing one session at a time trying to head towards the main goal

Alabenson
2012-05-18, 11:15 AM
Regarding planning for PC behavior, I've found it helpful to make plans for the following approaches to any challanges you throw at them:
The Brute Force/Violence method
The Sneaky method
The Guile/Diplomacy method
and The Insane/Stupid/WTF-Are-They-Thinking method

Odds are the PCs will choose at least one approach, and if you don't plan for one, that will be the approach they go with.

ChumpLump
2012-05-18, 11:28 AM
1) I get an idea for a theme or character or setting.
2) I flesh out the Major NPCs, figuring out what it is they want, what they will and won't do to get it.
3) I flesh out the world, I do research if research can be done using wikipedia. I do a bit of speculation.
4) I figure out where the PCs fit into all this mess.
5) When playing I remain flexible to the inevitable chaos of PC action. No matter what the PCs do, the Major NPCS (and environment if the case may be) all pursue their goals with absolute vigor.

These steps, of course, can blur or come one before the other.

Yitzi
2012-05-18, 02:28 PM
and The Insane/Stupid/WTF-Are-They-Thinking method

Wait, you can plan for that? I thought the whole idea was that it's so absurd that there's no way you could expect a particular decision of that category.

Just to Browse
2012-05-18, 02:34 PM
Wait, you can plan for that? I thought the whole idea was that it's so absurd that there's no way you could expect a particular decision of that category.

This. The idea of WTF is that DM's can't plan for it--so making a list and saying "There's a WTF method they can choose" is counter to the existence of the WTF method.

Cardea
2012-05-20, 06:51 AM
I do some on-the-fly stuff, I admit, but I always start out by world-building first. Then I make the BBEG. I flesh him out, come up with a full story for him, then crunch for him. This gives me motivation, which causes conflict. I then try and make a start-up quest, that doesn't at all seem connected to what I plan for a final quest. I then build inbetween those for what they have to do. This step is the hardest, because this is where I finish off world-building, which includes any NPCs, additional puzzles/items and just general realism for it.


This. The idea of WTF is that DM's can't plan for it--so making a list and saying "There's a WTF method they can choose" is counter to the existence of the WTF method.
There's no preparing for Gnomes who roll natural 20s on Strength, Grapple, Intimidate, Bull Rush, Climb and Jump checks, who are then upstaged by their Summon Monster I Fiendish Centipedes. :smallfrown: