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My first D&D4E campaign

Written by Expy - Published on December 6, 2007

Random thoughts

Never underestimate the power of karma! I made fun of Johnn Four’s favorite hockey team in my Top 50 RPG websites article and the next thing I know my favorite gets trounced.

Geographical issues

Real life snuck up on me! Looks like my D&D buddies and I won’t be able to get together for a game for a few months. What do I do know?

Planning for the long haul, over the long haul

I’m going to start preparing a campaign… for the 4th edition. Yep! That’s right. I won’t get to play for 6-ish months so that brings us to May 2008 – during which WotC will release the 4E PHB.

What would you do if you had 6 months to prepare?

I’m all about gaming, not preparing. But I won’t be gaming much. What would you focus on if you had 6 months to prepare a kick-arse campaign? Here’s my plan…

No PCs

I think that not knowing what the players will play – or even how many players I’ll have in 6 months – will be the hardest thing to plan for. That will force me to prepare a game in a living world, where everything is possible and all options are available to the PCs.

NPC and environment based

You could also call this an open choice, competition-based adventure. The NPCs will need to have goals and motivations. That way no matter what the PCs will play, they’ll be helped or opposed by NPCs. NPCs that I had no grand plans for might end up being uber-villains if their goals are opposed to the player characters’ goals.

No stat blocks

I’m not a crunchy DM so I don’t really care what the actual mechanics of 4E will be. A few minutes before each game should suffice to add stat blocks to relevant NPCs, monsters, traps, locations.

Scene based adventures

The PCs will witness or hear of what’s going on around them. I like to break down my adventures into stand-alone scenes that the PCs might choose to participate in or not. Examples of how I try to build my campaign events: LOCK your D&D scenes, Parallel Adventure #1.

I’ll also try to prepare a few 5 room dungeons.

Rich Setting

I want a rich campaign setting but I don’t want to invest too much time for world creation. Right now I’m thinking of using Ptolus as a campaign setting. Reading the hefty campaign setting will be my low energy work, when I don’t feel like being creative.

Personalized Campaign

Even though I have a lot of time to prepare I want to be efficient and productive so I’ll try to follow my own advice! And I’ll also peruse Treasure Tables and Roleplaying Tips to get me pumped up and improve my DM skills.

Access to information for the players

While I plan for this campaign, my players will have access to some information – prominent NPCs, where the campaign is taking place, and hopefully I’ll get some feedback and ideas from the players before the game even starts! They should also be easily immersed in the game world when we actually play.

I’ll probably set up an Obsidian Portal campaign blog/wiki.

This should be fun!

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Written by Expy

Meet Expy The Red Dragon

Expy is the mascot for DungeonMastering.com and the real mastermind behind Expy Games. He likes to hoard treasure, terrorize neighbors, burn down villages, and tell white dragon jokes..

No matter how fearful the legends claim dragons are, they always end up being defeated in 5 rounds by adventuring parties they encounter. That’s what dragons are – experience points for the heroes in your Dungeons & Dragon party. And this mascot is no different, hence the name Expy.

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5 Responses to “My first D&D4E campaign”
  1. Robert says:

    This is how I am trying to approach all DM writing now – it is not about the game system, and to some extent it is not about the PCs either. I want a rich world where the PCs can do almost anything. I want to create scenes for use, and let the PCs find a way to link them together. I keep the scenes ‘loose’, so that it is easy to modify to fit what the PCs are doing. I am not very good at it yet but it feels great when it works.

    The day before the game I try to find different ways to incorporate a few things to make each PC shine – I am not good at giving the ninja a chance to sneak attack, I know that the Warlock will use Detect Magic to find and follow NPCs, the Necromancer’s Magic Missile is great though he is growing bored with the lack of necromancy to his spell list, the barbarian loves to hit things with his great axe.

    The night before I also churn out NPC stats quickly – unless there is a particular NPC I’ve been planning on using for a while s/he gets almost as much attention as PC creation.

    I also try to list any and all skill checks that might be relevant, particularly knowledge based ones and how it would help the party. It is getting off topic a bit but for my next campaign I plan to make Knowledge really worth something by giving a 2 for 1 deal on ranks in Knowledge, and allowing it to be a class skill for anyone who can show the relevance to their characters background or even campaigning history.

    I’ve babbled on a bit much here – all I was really trying to say is ‘what a great idea – I am trying to work towards the same ends. Doing it in a system-less environ is inspirational. Thanks.’

  2. Yax says:

    I’ve always thought that spellcasters had more combat options that fighters and barbarians but in my game the wizard is running out of ideas to make his spells colorful and spectacular. The melee-type characters can always go for some fancy attack – I never apply negative modifiers for showmanship.

  3. Rannok says:

    Even for villains I take a shine to, I never invest too much time in creating them until AFTER they survive the first encounter with the party.

    Darn PCs.

  4. Yax says:

    Now that’s a good DMing tip!


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