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Amaril
2015-11-04, 10:16 PM
Within a week or two, I'll be starting a new D&D 5e game with four of my friends. I've DM'd a couple times before, but I'd definitely still describe myself as a novice--this will be my first real attempt at anything like a long-term campaign. I'm using my own homebrew setting, so there's a lot that my players aren't familiar with. I've heard the best way to get a group up to speed on a new setting is with a one-or-two-page leaflet that outlines the most important points, but I've never written anything like that before, and I'm not really sure how to go about it. Can anyone help me? Any advice on what to include, or examples to look over, would be super helpful.

Kane0
2015-11-04, 10:48 PM
Its useful to also make it double as a reference sheet as well as an introduction. Having bullet point lists of important names as well as a one line description will work wonders for people trying to get their heads around all the new names they have to deal with.
Doing the same for any houserules or changes to basic expectations are also important, especially if its something to do with the PCs.
At most you'll want only 2 or three paragraphs, like the blurb on a book. Expect your players to put in the minimal amount of reading unless you know them better than that, and only put in things that you would want to know as a player. Your world comes alive more from you than from your leaflet, but its a great tool after the first session as a reference if you make it so.

Edit: Try a layout something like this:

1. Epic sounding blurb paragraph. This is your hook, and probably the only real fluff text on your page.

2. Minor extrapolation paragraph. Only the most important details, less is more.

3. Small paragraph detailing what kind of game you are going for and what to expect, to give some context. Also helps to give a basic plot or theme here if you are comfortable doing so.

4. Optionally, a line or two detailing what you hope to expect from the players. Better to be on the same page, but better still to discuss this around the table.

5. Dot point summary of changes specific to this setting, eg dwarves cannot be sorcerers. One line of explanation at most.

6. Bullet list of important people, places and events for reference, one line description each. The less to remember the better, you can reveal more as the game progresses.

7. Leave space for notes.

8. You can also work in a hidden message for your really attentive and RP heavy players if you are inclined. For example My DM once used the elven script from the DMG as a border to a journal page we found, and my time spent deciphering that payed off a lot later on. This shouldn't be necessary not beneficial to only one player, but a tool to get investment from those that put in the effort.

Kol Korran
2015-11-05, 08:29 AM
Before we start, I'd like to emphasize that there are 3 types of preliminary info that you'd like to share with a group: the setting, the campaign, and the gaming table. How much you need to elaborate on each depends on the groups familiarity with your gaming style, your setting, and how involved they we're in choosing the type of game and campaign to play.

Also, be aware that the purpose of thev1-2 page sum up, is not time be extensively informative, but rather to give the theme/ just of the game, get the players enthusiastic, and get some creative juices fliwing. For more info I suggest either talking at the table/ emails, using a site for a list of detailrd setting/ campaign/ house rules, (you can easily make a simple wiki) or go as far as making a sort of "campaign players guide", as some Paizo adventure patH's have made. I suggest to take a look at those, they are a decent example for a pre- game document.

As to the 1-2 pages blurb, here is what I suggestions, somewhat similar to the posterabove:
- a one paragraph flavor blurb, as in a back of a book.
- what is the campaign about, in broad strokes- what are the main themes, the kind of play you'd like to focus on. This really depends on your idea, and can be many things: play style ( high fantasy, gritty survival, siklutz and outrageous, investigations, dungeon galore! And so on). Focus on a local (Gothic Ustalav, a desert, sigil and more ) a group/ organization ( fight an alien invasion! Be part of a secret rebellion/ monsters nation) or more.
- maybe strong themes that are prevalent in the game ( magic is outlawed, dragons rule nations, refrigeration is common).
- main rule changes (not fixing this it that class features, but things like " no nature themed characters, only bronze weapons which might break, necromancy requires a sacrifice of life )
- lastly, the basics of character generation (how you generate stats, level/ skill points, and so on).

hope this helps, like.

Nobot
2015-11-05, 08:52 AM
Here's a short example. To me, this is enough info. Players that want to know more will ask and the rest can be unveiled as you go!

Welcome to VILLAGE!
VILLAGE is a small village that lies on the western edge of the heartland of NATION, where the RIVER meets the LAKE, bordering the untamed hills and forests of the UNTAMED AND WILD TERRITORY. Its inhabitants are fishermen, farmers, or craftsmen that make a living off the sweat of their brows: simple-minded people, who regard strangers with suspicion and who have learned to endure the hardships of NATION.

There is one thing, however, that makes VILLAGE stand out. Every year, it is home to the GLADIATORIAL GAMES, drawing crowds from across NATION and even as far as OTHER NATIONS.

The adventure begins!
You find yourself in VILLAGE, just a week before the GLADIATORIAL GAMES's ceremonial opening day. VILLAGE has been filling up with hundreds of enthusiasts, merchants, nobles, gladiators, merrymakers, and criminals of every known race, easily doubling its population and causing it to swell well beyond the village proper.

You can be anything you like: perhaps a local, a gladiator, a traveling merchant, a mercenary in search of coins, a criminal looking for a purse to steal, a priest looking to convert the masses lusting for blood, or a wizard looking to purchase some corpses to experiment on. Your imagination is the limit!

House rules
Bla bla
Dwarves must speak in a Scottish accent;
Elves +1 fashion sense;
Halflings can't be fat;
Scimitars do not exist;
Chocobo's available for 25 Gp;
You can be Lizardfolk only if you're a slave gladiator;
Don't chew on your dice.

Mr Booze
2015-11-05, 09:07 AM
There is a good post on the old Chris Perkins - The Dungeon Master Experience Blog:

can't post links yet....


I think there is some more stuff somewhere on the blog about this, but I'm unable to find it right now.

Amaril
2015-11-05, 10:03 AM
Thanks for the tips, folks. I think I know what to do now.


Also, be aware that the purpose of thev1-2 page sum up, is not time be extensively informative, but rather to give the theme/ just of the game, get the players enthusiastic, and get some creative juices fliwing. For more info I suggest either talking at the table/ emails, using a site for a list of detailrd setting/ campaign/ house rules, (you can easily make a simple wiki) or go as far as making a sort of "campaign players guide", as some Paizo adventure patH's have made. I suggest to take a look at those, they are a decent example for a pre- game document.

Actually, I already have given them the basics--we did character creation as a group, and I told them enough to make sure their characters would fit in (and some more, because I like showing off my settings). The reason I want to do a summary page now is because once the characters were done, I provided them with a fairly extensive setting guide like you're describing (nineteen pages) and told them they were free to look through it as much or as little as they chose for more information, but none of them have read any of it at all because they say it's too much. I still don't feel like I've quite covered all the essentials outside the main guide, though, so I think providing something like this is a good idea at this point. I've asked if they think it would help, and they seem to be in favor.

Amaril
2015-11-05, 03:05 PM
Just because I'm curious what people think, here's a transcription of what I came up with.

An Introduction to the Five Rivers Region

On a world built upon the dead body of a gigantic dragon, slain by the gods at the dawn of time, there exists a land where five great rivers flow toward the sea and the distant horizon. It is a land of high, jagged-peaked mountains, shadowed evergreen forests, and ice-carved coasts. A land gripped by dark, frigid winters whose snowfalls can bury a man, and wracked with storms whose winds can blow down the oldest and strongest of trees. A land where great halls echo with skaldrís songs of praise to heroes of old, and longships carry raiders across the turbulent ocean to seek riches, honor, and glory in far-off places. A land where dwarves labor over wondrous inventions in underground fortresses, Šlfar guard the trackless wilderness, and bloodthirsty monsters lurk in dark places, plotting against humanity.

In a land like the Five Rivers, only the strongest prosper. Will you?

Things you should know about the world.
Like most D&D settings, there are some ways in which the Five Rivers fits right into the normal expectations of the game, and others in which it defies them. These are some of the most important of the latter.

1. The land is harsh and deadly. The climate and terrain of the Five Rivers are often dangerous all on their own, with brutal winter cold, risky mountain slopes, and hostile wildlife commonplace.
2. Society is chaotic. Might makes right, and peace is usually tenuous at best. Those who rule donít do so by inheritance or divine right, but by earning respect with strength, wisdom, or force.
3. Knowledge is precious. Almost no one is educated beyond what they need to farm or work a trade. Literacy is far from the norm. Medicine is unreliable, and any injury can be fatal.
4. Resources are scarce. Most trade is through barter rather than coin. Even mundane combat gear is often precious. Magic items are never sold, and only rarely given away.
5. Death is final. No known power can return a life once lost. If you die, thereís no coming back.

Important themes of the game.
In addition to the objective stuff about the world and its history, there are a few other basic ideas I want to stick to for this game that might be helpful to keep in mind. Theyíll play into the kinds of stories you should expect.

1. Everything dies. The gods are fighting an eternal war against monsters that want to destroy everything, and they canít keep it up forever. No matter how eternal it might seem, even the world itself must eventually end. Itís not about living foreveróitís about how you go out, and what you leave behind.
2. Fate, luck, and choice are in constant conflict. Parts of the future are written. Parts are governed by random chance. And parts are determined by the actions of mortals. Who can say which are which? No one really knows.
3. No one is born a hero. There are no ďspecialĒ people, no chosen ones ordained by the universe to accomplish legendary feats. Your characters arenít a cut above the common folkótheyíre just like everyone else, with their own strengths and weaknesses, trying to do the best they can. And none of that means they canít achieve great things.
4. There are no ďgood peopleĒ or ďbad peopleĒ. Actions are good and evilópeople are just people, and everyone does both good and bad things.

A brief world history.
As mentioned above, the world of mortals, Myndar, is built on the corpse of an impossibly huge dragon, one known as Glaurnir. At the beginning of time, the gods banded together to kill Glaurnir. His body became land, upon which the gods created all living things, including humans, dwarves, and Šlfar. As soon as the world was finished, though, it came under attack by the Weird, demons from the Void who wanted to destroy it. To help them fight the Weird, the gods asked Death to bring them the souls of the strongest and bravest mortals after they died, so they could join their armies. This worked for a long time, until a few of the gods got tired of fighting and realized that if they just destroyed the world themselves, the Weird would go away. They betrayed the other gods, and made armies of monsters, including ice giants, goblins, and lesser dragons, to wipe out the mortals. The other gods intervened by teaching their servants to use magical runes, which has allowed them to survive in the centuries since.

The people of the Five Rivers, the Mšnniskorna, were once ruled by a hero-king named Albrecht Stern-gaze, who first united the clans under his banner. Eventually, he died and was succeeded by his son, Ulfric Ink-touch, whose preference for scholarship over war led to the kingdomís decline and ultimate collapse. Since then, numerous other hopeful rulers have claimed inheritance of Albrechtís legacy. The newest of these is Gerda Golden-sky, recently crowned queen of the city of Thorskard, and sheís been quickly expanding her influence. Trondheim, the small village of farmers, hunters, and woodcutters in which you all find yourselves, is one of the more recent to swear fealty to her. Whether this will be a good or bad thing, itís too early to tell.

Things I promise to do as DM.
1. Roll with your choices. I will try my absolute hardest not to unduly railroad or restrict you. If you want to respond to a situation in a way I didnít expect or plan for, Iíll find a way to make it work.
2. Roleplay. Iím not super good at voices, but Iíll try my best. Iíll always speak in-character for NPCs.
3. Listen to your suggestions. If thereís something Iím not doing well at, or something you want me to add to the game, just let me know, and I promise Iíll do my best to address it.
4. Play the dice as they fall. I want to make this abundantly clear: I will not, under any circumstances, fudge the numbers in any way. If you roll a crit on the villain and kill them instantly, fine. If I do the same to you, tough.
5. Have a sense of humor. I have a habit of taking my games too seriously, but I know thatís no fun, and Iíll do my absolute best to lighten up.

Things I expect of you as players.
1. Engage with the world as people, not players. However you decide to treat the NPCs, I want you to think of them as individuals with lives of their own, not just bundles of XP and treasure.
2. Roleplay. You donít have to do funny voices, but at least be willing to talk in-character, and to address each other by your charactersí names instead of your real ones. When you need to make a decision, think about what your character would actually do.
3. Be understanding of my mistakes. Iím still pretty new to DMing, and Iím figuring a lot of this out as I go. I will screw up. Let me know when I do, but please donít be upset, unless I deserve it.
4. Play characters an audience would root for. You donít have to be perfect saints, but I donít want to run a villain game. Try not to go too crazy.
5. Take things seriously on occasion. I have a hard time staying invested if everything is just pure silliness. Sometimes youíll encounter real high-stakes situations; treat them as such.

I didn't devote any space to houserules because the only ones I'm using are chargen-related, and have already been addressed.

How's it look?

Milodiah
2015-11-05, 03:21 PM
What I do is give my players a write-up on what their characters know, and that's mostly it. Last time it was broken down to what they know as residents of the world (general, over-arching geopolitical stuff, like the major kingdoms and such), what they know as residents of their kingdom (its recent history, challenges facing it, social attitudes, etc), what they know as citizens of their city (districts, major players, guilds, laws, etc), and what they know as members of the City Watch (ordinances, criminal groups, signals, other members of the Watch, etc.) since that was the linking factor for them all.

One of the main things that appeals to me about making my own settings is that the secrets are, you know...secret. You don't have to worry about the plot twist being spoiled because someone else read that part of that sourcebook, or that everyone has to pretend to be surprised in-character when they all knew about this stuff out-of-character. It also helps cut down on metagaming. So I do ensure that when I make a setting, I don't divulge information their characters would have no way of knowing. It also helps ensure they think like their characters...a big part of the setting is the bias induced by nationalism against the other kingdoms, and the players are just as distrustful of the "bad guy" nation as their characters should be, because I've gone out of my way to institute the kind of information control one sees in a cold war.

Kol Korran
2015-11-07, 04:23 AM
Just because I'm curious what people think, here's a transcription of what I came up with.
Hey. A lot of what you wrote reflects highly on you aesthetics of play. Which is cool, but you should also consider others. Once you finish readingthis post, I suggest reding this piece by The Angry DM (http://angrydm.com/2014/01/gaming-for-fun-part-1-eight-kinds-of-fun/) and vieweing this piece by Extra Credis (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uepAJ-rqJKA) I found them quite enlightening.

Ok, lets tale a looksy! :smallsmile:


An Introduction to the Five Rivers Region

On a world built upon the dead body of a gigantic dragon, slain by the gods at the dawn of time, there exists a land where five great rivers flow toward the sea and the distant horizon. It is a land of high, jagged-peaked mountains, shadowed evergreen forests, and ice-carved coasts. A land gripped by dark, frigid winters whose snowfalls can bury a man, and wracked with storms whose winds can blow down the oldest and strongest of trees. A land where great halls echo with skaldrís songs of praise to heroes of old, and longships carry raiders across the turbulent ocean to seek riches, honor, and glory in far-off places. A land where dwarves labor over wondrous inventions in underground fortresses, Šlfar guard the trackless wilderness, and bloodthirsty monsters lurk in dark places, plotting against humanity.

In a land like the Five Rivers, only the strongest prosper. Will you?
I like the opening, you give enoughtidbits to grab the imaginaiton, and set the main theme as I get it- Rough survival in a harsh wild and savage world. The only thing I'm missing, is a link (One sentence may be enough) to the situation the party begins in...


Things you should know about the world.
Like most D&D settings, there are some ways in which the Five Rivers fits right into the normal expectations of the game, and others in which it defies them. These are some of the most important of the latter.

1. The land is harsh and deadly. The climate and terrain of the Five Rivers are often dangerous all on their own, with brutal winter cold, risky mountain slopes, and hostile wildlife commonplace.
2. Society is chaotic. Might makes right, and peace is usually tenuous at best. Those who rule donít do so by inheritance or divine right, but by earning respect with strength, wisdom, or force.
3. Knowledge is precious. Almost no one is educated beyond what they need to farm or work a trade. Literacy is far from the norm. Medicine is unreliable, and any injury can be fatal.
4. Resources are scarce. Most trade is through barter rather than coin. Even mundane combat gear is often precious. Magic items are never sold, and only rarely given away.
5. Death is final. No known power can return a life once lost. If you die, thereís no coming back.
These are good, and go to emphasize the main theme, and the feeling of the game. Two suggestions though:
- As the previous poster suggested, try to write these from the world inhabitants point of view. A sort of "common knowledge"/ "Realities of the setting". I'd once made something like this told by a tribe's elder. For example, if we take the first: "The land can kill you faster than an orc horde. The wise warrior fears the land, and respects it. It can be your ally, but for most it's a deadly harsh mistress!"
- The title and explanation: I'd work on a bit of a more imagination inspiring titles (Through out), and no need for the short explanation. It is obvious from the text. Soem ideas for titles: "What every X knows"/ "Rough lives on X", and so on...


Important themes of the game.
In addition to the objective stuff about the world and its history, there are a few other basic ideas I want to stick to for this game that might be helpful to keep in mind. Theyíll play into the kinds of stories you should expect.

1. Everything dies. The gods are fighting an eternal war against monsters that want to destroy everything, and they canít keep it up forever. No matter how eternal it might seem, even the world itself must eventually end. Itís not about living foreveróitís about how you go out, and what you leave behind.
2. Fate, luck, and choice are in constant conflict. Parts of the future are written. Parts are governed by random chance. And parts are determined by the actions of mortals. Who can say which are which? No one really knows.
3. No one is born a hero. There are no ďspecialĒ people, no chosen ones ordained by the universe to accomplish legendary feats. Your characters arenít a cut above the common folkótheyíre just like everyone else, with their own strengths and weaknesses, trying to do the best they can. And none of that means they canít achieve great things.
4. There are no ďgood peopleĒ or ďbad peopleĒ. Actions are good and evilópeople are just people, and everyone does both good and bad things.

Umm... a few warnings for the game here: The "Everything dies". You phrase the end of the world as an absolute truth. This can be very depressing, discouraging and get players to not want to play it ("What's the point anyway?"). Again, I'd suggest to phrase it as a theme/ belief/ understanding that is common in this world, but phrase it as such. Some players may want to rebel against it, create a same haven, fight against death and the like. I'd suggest to phrase it as a world of the elders or such, but maybe add an ominous question at the end or such, giving a feeling of dread, but not an absolute final verdict- "We fight, but even the bravest die. The gods they fight an endless war. I wonder- how long will the fight last? And can they, and us, last that long?"

About the fate, luck and future. Again, you state this as a truth. I don't quite understand this part- you say some things can't be changed, some can, but you have no idea which. What is the point in this? What can the players get from this? You want to say some things in the world will be railroaded, some won't be, or do you want to give the feeling that some believe in destiny, while some do not? I can't quite make any real impression from that statement, it's kind of hanging there...

About "No one is born a hero"- the paragraph feels mostly like your gripe against "Specila snowflakes", but goes hard about it, which feels a bit like you shouting "You aren't heroes! No! You are not special!" which feels bit depressing, (Which is BAD for a campaign opener) especially since many players do come to the game to feel liek heroes. In the last sentence you say they can become heroes through actions. If I may, I'd suggest to switch the feel a bit, to make it more inspiring, but still get your point across- "In this world heroes are not born. Instead, a true hero becomes one through choices, determination, cunning, courage and struggle. The true heroes are the ones that makes themselves so, that earn it, that through their decisions and actions change the world and thus become legends. The potential is in everyone, no one is born special, but only few take it upon themselves to risk what others won't, to brave where others will cower, to become heroes... Will you?"

About "Good people/ bad people"": I feel you want to take alignments out of the game? If so just say so- "This game won't use alignments. People re more complex than that. Lets play them so."


A brief world history.
As mentioned above, the world of mortals, Myndar, is built on the corpse of an impossibly huge dragon, one known as Glaurnir. At the beginning of time, the gods banded together to kill Glaurnir. His body became land, upon which the gods created all living things, including humans, dwarves, and Šlfar. As soon as the world was finished, though, it came under attack by the Weird, demons from the Void who wanted to destroy it. To help them fight the Weird, the gods asked Death to bring them the souls of the strongest and bravest mortals after they died, so they could join their armies. This worked for a long time, until a few of the gods got tired of fighting and realized that if they just destroyed the world themselves, the Weird would go away. They betrayed the other gods, and made armies of monsters, including ice giants, goblins, and lesser dragons, to wipe out the mortals. The other gods intervened by teaching their servants to use magical runes, which has allowed them to survive in the centuries since.

The people of the Five Rivers, the Mšnniskorna, were once ruled by a hero-king named Albrecht Stern-gaze, who first united the clans under his banner. Eventually, he died and was succeeded by his son, Ulfric Ink-touch, whose preference for scholarship over war led to the kingdomís decline and ultimate collapse. Since then, numerous other hopeful rulers have claimed inheritance of Albrechtís legacy. The newest of these is Gerda Golden-sky, recently crowned queen of the city of Thorskard, and sheís been quickly expanding her influence. Trondheim, the small village of farmers, hunters, and woodcutters in which you all find yourselves, is one of the more recent to swear fealty to her. Whether this will be a good or bad thing, itís too early to tell.

In a world where "knowledge is precious" you again state the history as something quite clear cut and known. I'd suggest to frame it as a mythos, as a legend, spoken by tribes from generation to generation. Pepper it with some uncertainties, with some questions, with some... mysteries. This my be great to learn later on, won't it?


Things I promise to do as DM.
1. Roll with your choices. I will try my absolute hardest not to unduly railroad or restrict you. If you want to respond to a situation in a way I didnít expect or plan for, Iíll find a way to make it work.
2. Roleplay. Iím not super good at voices, but Iíll try my best. Iíll always speak in-character for NPCs.
3. Listen to your suggestions. If thereís something Iím not doing well at, or something you want me to add to the game, just let me know, and I promise Iíll do my best to address it.
4. Play the dice as they fall. I want to make this abundantly clear: I will not, under any circumstances, fudge the numbers in any way. If you roll a crit on the villain and kill them instantly, fine. If I do the same to you, tough.
5. Have a sense of humor. I have a habit of taking my games too seriously, but I know thatís no fun, and Iíll do my absolute best to lighten up.

The title may need a bit of work. I'd go with "My DMing style", "My DMing motto" or maybe "What can you expect at my table". This entire section though may be better dealt with by speaking to your players directly, not in this document, unless it's used to advertise your game. If you allready got a group, don't they know your GMing style?

Also, some of these items (Using roleplay voices and humor) need not be addressed in this article. It sounds like apologizing upfront before game even started. No need for that. Let people just see you in play. On the whole, the section feels a bit too serious, I'd go with something simpler:
1. Your actions have real consequences: I'll respond to your actions, wherever they may take the party, even to unplanned places. Good or bad.
2. The
3. I try to work with my players. If you feel you'd like to discuss anything- ideas, critique, changes, or any in or out of game issues, talk to me.


Things I expect of you as players.
1. Engage with the world as people, not players. However you decide to treat the NPCs, I want you to think of them as individuals with lives of their own, not just bundles of XP and treasure.
2. Roleplay. You donít have to do funny voices, but at least be willing to talk in-character, and to address each other by your charactersí names instead of your real ones. When you need to make a decision, think about what your character would actually do.
3. Be understanding of my mistakes. Iím still pretty new to DMing, and Iím figuring a lot of this out as I go. I will screw up. Let me know when I do, but please donít be upset, unless I deserve it.
4. Play characters an audience would root for. You donít have to be perfect saints, but I donít want to run a villain game. Try not to go too crazy.
5. Take things seriously on occasion. I have a hard time staying invested if everything is just pure silliness. Sometimes youíll encounter real high-stakes situations; treat them as such.
Ok, this may be VERY problematic. A lot of players have very different play styles and gaming preferences. GO look at the two links at the beginning of this post. The two main aesthetics I get from you are Fantasy and Challenge, which may not be what others in your group may be in for. So... either choose players specifically to fit your style (May be QUITE difficult), or adjust to the players that come (Or most likely, mix of both). Expect that some players may not fit the bill. Most of my group likes some roelplay, drama and such, but one player just isn't good at it, and prefers to come to the game to kil lmonsters and get loot. And that's ok, if the people get along in the end. Your list feels a bit like "My way, or no way". I'd suggest to divide the above into things that you must have for the group to function (These re usually OOC things: respect between members, PvP rules, attending and so on) vs. preferences and preferred style, which may have more room for compromise within them. It's the game of the group, not just yours.

Again, tke a look at the tow links. Tke it more lightly, and have fun! :smallwink: