Instant Campaign Builder – Part I: Knowledge

Table of Contents


This article is part of the Instant Campaign Builder Project.Knowledge is power

The most important building block in a campaign is knowledge. Your knowledge of yourself, your Dming skills, your players and their characters. If the characters have yet to be created, I suggest you plan a first game around character creation before you start working on the details of your campaign.

During this first game, make sure all the players have some backstory and survey their preferences for style of play (more on style of play below).

Your draft is your final product

Chances are you will be the only one ever using that campaign. If your goal is to publish your work then the Instant Campaign Building kit is not for you. Your work will not be submitted to an art or literary contest – it is yours. Don’t spend too much time on maps or character sketches and be brief in your notes – as long as you will be able to understand your notes when you read them. All the shortcuts are worth something. If you can save time by bookmarking a rulebook instead of writing down some info, then do it.

Have faith in your improvization skills

If you believe in your improvization abilities you won’t feel like you need to plan out every single detail of the campaign. For improvization helpers check out Before the second game and The second game – 2 articles I wrote about planning and running a spanking new game.

I will invest one whole article on improvization during the Instant Campaign Builder Project.

Expy the dragon says:
Style of play doesn’t matter.
Just make sure you
throw a dragon at them.

Style of play

Determine what your style of play will be. Hack & Slash? Heavy role-playing? Casual fun? Burlesque D&D? Ultimately that decision should be heavily influenced by your players. The best way to assess the success of a DM is by measuring the enthusiasm of the players, so make sure they are playing the kind of game they enjoy.

Cashing in on familiarity

Do your players have a particular hatred for one kind of monsters? That’s probably because you – the DM – has introduced that creature in a past game. By planning a campaign around creatures and monsters you know well, you’ll save a lot of time. A couple of tweaks and modifications to theses creatures should bring unexpected surprises and a new challenge while still triggering memories of past encounters.

Familiar creatures also have the advantage of rarely being utterly retarded monsters.

Copy games and stories you liked

Here is some

I don’t know how many DragonLance games I’ve played when I was in high school but I know I always had fun during them. I’ve also played Amber, based on the Roger Zelazny novels.

It rocked. Check out these resources for getting inspiration from various sources:

Contribute to the Instant Campaign Builder Project

The project will benefit greatly from any feedback. Comments, suggestions, and hate mail are all welcome – but please send hate mail to my personal e-mail address because it looks bad in the comments!

This article is part of the Instant Campaign Builder Project.

8 thoughts on “Instant Campaign Builder – Part I: Knowledge”

  1. There are things you can get away with in a video game (because of the graphics and sound). Some of the bosses in video games would take a VERY long time to defeat. Can you imagine trying to beat the bosses from the final fantasy series of games in a roleplaying game, with how many options there are? Also, there’s human interaction with a roleplaying game, so things have to be adjusted accordingly.

  2. Words of wisdom. A first game with no pressure to rush onto the railroad, er, the game allows for role-playing, character tweaking, backstory, and builds anticipation for the following game.

  3. I know as a player, I really prefer to have no pressure going in to the first session of a new game. Reserving that session for character creation, background and story development is my favorite way to get started; everyone can coordinate and get to know each other in character.

  4. Im always worried that if i coppy games or storys i like the players might know them 2 nd get one step ahead!

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