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First time DMing + Making First Campaign from scratch = ???

Discussion in 'Dungeons & Dragons + Other RPGs' started by Alorekent, Feb 4, 2011.

  1. Alorekent Gems: 1/31
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    Well, I suppose I should start this thread with a nice hello to everyone passing by. So hello. I joined as a member of this forum a few days ago for advice on being a DM, issues with making my own campaign, and various other DnD related questions.
    First off, I'll start with my DnD experience.

    ~Over 120 hours of being a Druid in a pre made module from my friend.
    ~Countless(Way over 20 weeks time) time spent playing Neverwinter Nights 1 on persistant role playing servers with 8 to 10 friends over school breaks.
    ~Talking about game mechanics and great times in DnD and NWN
    ~Practice DMing a pre made campaign literally last Sunday.
    That sums it up i think.

    Now I have always wanted to DM, every since I was a little boy I've always had an extensive(very extensive) imagination. Thing is when I was playing DnD and talking with my old DM it occured to me that he needed/wanted to play DnD as a player now, also I intend to show him he's not the only super awesome DM around... in time. :D

    Well I currently have T-minus 5 hours to go until we start, and I have about 7 pages of description from a city and a druids grove and a outline of a plot with a lot of gray area. Though I think I can handle it.

    I've read a lot on the "How to be a good DM" thread and it's all really good advice but on here I'd like some help developing my campaign. I have ideas but I can't collaborate because all my friends who know anything about DnD are either in my campaign (A total of 5-6) and the others don't want to talk to me about it because I didn't invite them in T_T. So I'm at a loss. Please and thank you for your help in advance. Here goes...
    (Warning: If any of my players see this they are so dead, you know who you are)
    Origin of the Soul Garden
    The adventure revolves around, what once was, the Garden of Clarity. This garden is perched atop a hill where blue skies and a river flow nearby. The surrounding area resembles a grassland, plentiful and ever growing in beauty. The garden served as a place of refuge for weary travelers who had lost their way. Nearest the garden there were two buildings: The White Cathedral and ,at the foot of the hill, the abandoned fortress Annestor long ruined by battles and war.The garden used to be sacred grounds where religious retributions and services became nearly daily there. The high priest there, named Vince Konnal, lived a long and healthy life helping those who came to him asking to aid their weariness, though on the darkest of nights Vince was needing to fend off some spawns of evil domains. Vince came across and young lad named Drake Elmsworth whose parents had died from a village raid and he raised him like his own, though Drake never became to close to anyone. Drake was taught the teachings of ______ through Vince though Drake wasn't interested and became Vince's advisor instead of his pupil. Drake turned out to be very promising, and perhaps matching a prodigy, in the magical arts, though arcane, not divine. Secretly Drake studied using his own magic prowess and learned through his talents alone, further separating him and his old mentor. Through Drake's time at the cathedral he noticed that all who had come through this sanctuary were only using it and were a waste to Vince by only giving him simple praises, though Vince certainly did not agree. Drake eventually became sickened from the overwhelming amount of "small praises,"as he put it, that Vince was receiving and although Vince was the one who raised him he eventually began to despise him. One day within the transition for fall to winter a band of three travelers who had taken an opposite turn in traveling back to there home town stumbled upon the Cathedral in the midst of night and asked for lodging, Vince, happy to welcome any new folk, graciously let them in. They needed a guide back to their homes and just so happened Drake had an inkling for leaving the place he had lived most of his life. When it came time for them to leave the next morning Drake never went to say goodbye to the priest, his only friend ever, this revitalized his feelings for the old man and on his journey to as a guide he thought greatly about his life spent in hate for such a kind old man.

    After 4 days and 3 nights of traveling Drake and the other travelers crossed a bend to look upon the travelers city, Halleth, though they noticed something odd about the town... it was in complete silence. The party then came into town to have a look see, very concerned about what had befallen their home. Drake, being enchanted with magical prowess from birth knew something was wrong here and because of his mentors teachings of life and death combined with his unmonitored arcane study he was familiar with the stench of undead. Unfortunately the lack of Drake"s memory about undead that day had been great and the sun was dropping faster and faster as was the chance they would make it out alive. Reaching the center of town they realized the sun had set and an eerie fog was setting in all around them. Suddenly three humanoid figures appeared in the mist and with pale white skin and blood red eyes they approached their defenseless prey. Drake who had finally regained his senses began to chant softly to apply magical vestments to his person. By this time Drake had seen the fall of all the travelers beside him, the vampires each taking one for their own. Within seconds they were upon Drake and quick was he with his scroll book and within a few seconds his feet were lighter and so was his heart, he started back to run. He then realized, as his heart sunk even deeper, that he could no longer move as the gaze of a fourth muscular vampire, from behind, laid upon his neck. The vampires closed in on him, awaiting the opportunity to strike.... though the muscular undead stepped in to halt his hungry ally's. After a few words from the undead master the others stepped back and the vampire struck a deal with Drake, seeing the holy symbol of ______ upon his gown. The vampire instructed Drake to take him to his temple or else he will be forever tormented and used to feed on only to recover for more use. The thought of eternal torment didn't please Drake and he went along the path back to the White Cathedral, for he believed maybe Vince could save him.

    Spending there days in dark caverns along the way and the death of countless animals to feed off of made there journey last 1 week in time. When arriving nearest the abandoned fortress and then the cathedral at last the vampires, after sending Drake inside to "wait for more instructions", they summoned an eternal dark flame and burned the cathedral to the ground burning the cathedral to the ground. After the cathedral burned to the ground the vampires took refuged in the abandoned fortress from the coming day. Drake the night before, while in the cathedral realized the destruction that was about to commence. He rushed to Vince's quarters only to find the fool sleeping, though upon further inspection he realized that Vince was very much dead. A letter for Drake lay beside his night desk, one of the last things that man might have done before dieing. Drake read the letter to find that Vince had died of old age in the short time he had been gone and he left the cathedral for him to take care of. The anger flooded through Drake as he had no way of escaping the flood of dark flames engulfing the cathedral and the loss of his only friend. Through the cries of an angered mage and the rage he felt against the vampires for burning the only home he ever knew, the home his mentor entrusted him to protect Drake began to cast. He didn't have enough time the walls were burning fast they would soon catch up to him as well. In his rage, he remembered reading about a spell only for the highest class of sorcerers, a spell that would grant him one wish. The feat was impossible, he had no chance of being able to cast it but only one thing was surging through his head: Live @amnit! The next thing he knew everything went white. The spell worked? He thought, though he was sadly mistaken.
    The spell might as well killed the fool for attempting such a grand challenge, though his cling to life to avenge his mentor was too great. Drake did die, though he still lives on...

    Drake, to this day lives on as a shadow of himself and tormented being whose need to lived caused him to become something that he wanted to live only to destroy; an undead. Drake now realizing the consequences of his actions combined with the pain of his life decided to make the rest of the world suffer as well. In a hundred years time Drake, the lich and the vampires he so hated took over the northeastern half of the region of Tombul. His undead army spreads through the land hiding in raided towns and gaining power through undead rituals. Drake has become so powerful in fact that the souls of the people slain do not leave to be with their god nor do they vanish into hell, they linger on in limbo with an eternity to spend on earth, the villains and evil doers become ghouls, wraiths and specters haunting the lands and falling under his ever growing chain of command. The undead world is growing and expanded to the point where no mere underling knows of Drake only the commanding vampires and necromancers that are stationed at overtaken fortresses and towns. Syre, a large city in the southwestern part of Tombul has been receiving trade caravans from the north that should contain food, clothes, and other supplies for the town though they contain various poisons weapons, and spell components. That not being weird enough the guarda have determined that not only do these caravans have no named receiver, they are also being sent to a completely vacant address. The mayor is becoming paranoid about the weird happenings and has sent out patrol groups to the north. Upon searching a bandits warehouse has been spotted smuggling goods inside, though only 1 out of 5 patrol parties came back from there. The mayor is cautious about his city and is choosing his ally's for a possible attack. The druids grove to the south of the city is allied with only natures path and won't provide much, if any, assistance to societies issues, though they have been sensing an imbalance in the natural order and are on their toes as well. The bandits hideout is currently under the control of a wizard who is extremely low on Drake's chain of command. My heroes, good or evil will benefit from this I hope, as they march eastward getting closer to the city, a group of bandits, in affiliation with the bandits warehouse will stop them on there path and shake them down for money or make them into recruits depending on how they answer. Oh and there is a port city to the far east of the town, on the brim on an ocean.

    To help you decifer my map scheme, There are mountains to the north (along with the Garden of Souls to the north east), an ocean to the south east, forest to the direct south, and hills/plains/desert to the right.

    Thank you for reading, OMG that was long.
    No I'm not going to read them like any of that, all behind the scenes back story and plot. A lot of gray area, and I want this campaign to go for a few months if not, a year or so.


    Thanks again... and of course. Comments? Questions? Concerns?
     
  2. Blades of Vanatar

    Blades of Vanatar Vanatar will rise again Adored Veteran Pillars of Eternity SP Immortalizer (for helping immortalize Sorcerer's Place in the game!)

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    Basic Advice...

    Start small. The bigger you make a campaign from the start, the harder it is to manage. But always throw in a few things that the party can't quite guess is going on. For ex, maybe a cloaked figure follwoing them but they never seem to be able to spot or follow him to find out his intentions. This wil always allow you to change the plot if needed because of party actions or allow you to build new adventures after goals are met. Start small but leaves openeings for expansion.

    Basically, start with BG1 befoer trying to tackle a BG2. :)
     
  3. 8people

    8people 8 is just another way of looking at infinite ★ SPS Account Holder Adored Veteran

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    [​IMG] Outside of CRPGs what do you know of the RULES?

    Do not make the mistake of relying on CRPG knowledge of the rules as a basis of the game. It will bite you in uncomfortable places and hold up the game if you don't have a general idea of the rules and where you can find the rules for combat and everything easily.

    Don't expect to see all your plans come to fruition :p Get used to making stuff up on the fly and tailoring rules for your players inbetween sessions.

    Do not railroad players, it can be tempting to make something beautiful and awesome and then force your players into it because you put so much effort into it that yo ucan't bear to tuck it away for another time.

    If you want players to get the hint tell them three times, from three different NPCs, in three different funny voices before they get the hint.

    Don't expect to maintain your dignity AND make the characters interesting - you can have one or the other ;)

    Try not to look at the game as a story. You have written a LOT of detail for specific encounters, this works in games like NWN and IWD2 as 3e games as a large impressive area with different music and voiced NPCs creates a climax... for a single player setting with one story arc. Some players will want to try different things. Some will try and decapitate the villain while he's midsentence :p

    Design things for your players that they can invest in. A template for an anomaly in their genetics or magical exposure for example will alter as they increase in level, slipping into their skin as it were. Give them a chance to develop personal goals and desires and roles to grow into that fits with the player and the character, be prepared to spend hours going through sourcebooks and search engines to find something that will make your players smile for fifteen minutes.

    Make a small chart of major NPCs, develop it to minor NPCs as the game evolves to link different characters together, mapping relationships can often come up with surprising plot hooks.

    If players come up with an incredibly bizarre solution to a puzzle that you have no idea how they came up with it but all of them think it's obvious... roll with it. It saves on brainache :lol:
     
  4. Manjuu Gems: 2/31
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    My advice is: Be patient and reasonable with your players. No-one likes a DM who abuses his/her power and only uses the players to tell a story. The DM (and board owner) at the board where I was part of an RPG in the Forgotten Realms universe was like that. He/she published the RPG as a story on ff.net, which was fair enough, except for the summary:

    If you're familiar with FR, you probably know who Drizzt and Catti-brie are. If you're familiar with the fantasy literature in FR, you probably also know who Alustriel is. Those who frequent that section of fanfiction do so because they're already familiar with those characters and want to read non-canon stories about them.

    Problem is, the DM hadn't even published her Serenade intro story yet, so no-one had the slightest idea who she was. Considering the angle that the summary has, it's no wonder it ended up with so few reviews. The average fan will look at the summary and think: "Serenade? Who's Serenade?" and ignore the story altogether. Also, you can see from the last sentence: "A Serenade story!" that the DM never meant for our RPG campaign to be a shared campaign. He/she just wanted us to write a story around her character, which she could then show off to the rest of the world.

    Don't get me wrong, I'm not saying that you're doing the same. Just keep in mind that, when you involve players in your RPG, it becomes a shared campaign. The focus isn't on your one (or several) player character. Everyone's giving and taking, and everyone's getting some screentime. Remember this and be humble.

    I hope this was helpful. :)
     
  5. Blades of Vanatar

    Blades of Vanatar Vanatar will rise again Adored Veteran Pillars of Eternity SP Immortalizer (for helping immortalize Sorcerer's Place in the game!)

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    Oh yes, I almost forgot. When you have the VERY annoying PC who just won't stop with the insane requests, no matter how much it is bothering the rest of the group, always drop his charcter into a 100 foot spiked-pit trap, butt first. They should get the hint. :D
     
  6. Manjuu Gems: 2/31
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    I second what Blades of Valantar says. :lol:
     
  7. pplr Gems: 18/31
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    I read through your intro story.

    Something that struck me was what level are your players?

    I played 2nd edition D&D back in high school-including DMing.

    I generally started off my players at level one-even when I had them fighting vampires. If it wasn't for all the allies I put into the campaign (and maybe that I had a soft touch) the party likely would have died.

    If your players are not level 1 then let them come up with a story of where their training came from unless you have a really good one-or perhaps a combination of the 2.

    Don't be too afraid let a foolish player kill his character but it really isn't fair to destroy the party outright.

    I have to agree with the notion of letting party characters determine where the story goes. As a DM I came up with a story and let them (by their actions) choose how much they wanted to follow it (or not).

    Also it may help to let the players explain how they get together into a party in the first place. Otherwise you may have to set up a situation where they meet (different game of mine I started them all off as slaves with zero equipment but left chances to scavange/accomplish something if they worked together).

    I never dropped any character that has appeared in a novel or game into one of my campaigns so you seem to have done that well.

    About your background story.

    It can work but keep in mind it is the background. It is up the the players if they want to fight the vampires, join them, or run away. (You as the DM choose, or roll, to decide if the vampires view them as a serious threat or not, betray them, or chase them-respectively.)

    I know this is your background story but something I would consider changing-if I was you-is the relationship between the vamps and the lich.

    Granted I breezed through it but I would think if the lich hates the vamps and wants revenge this could have led to a centuries long grudge match between him and the vamps.

    If so what does that mean for the region as a whole (how many people have been unlucky enough to be caught between the 2 sides? It could be many or few-depending on if this fight takes place in the open or the shadows).

    The I hate them so I join them and then they let me be the boss premise doesn't necessarily make sense to me.

    A twist could be if the vamps are strong enough to make the lich their servant still and he has had a building resentment against them for all these years but hasn't had a chance to act on it (if the master vampire is too strong).

    It is your background (emphasis on that part) story but just a few thoughts.



    And I strongly agree with what was said above with being familiar with the rules-if you are going to have a battle know how to run it.

    If you don't have rules for a situation then just think something up on the fly-roll a die to see what a peasant's attitude towards a PC is after that player does something you don't know how to react to.
     
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