I have been playing D&D for the last three years and I absolutely love it. Like most people who start with D&D 5e, I played Dwarf Cleric in a “Lost mines of Phandelver” campaign. This led me to run three campaigns with two different groups of people over the last two years. And I have never felt joy in a hobby before. This post is going to walk through my current process to how I plan my campaigns and how I would like to improve.
The first campaign I ran was Curse of Strahd , one of the finest adventures that were written. Being the first long term campaign I ran, I went for a pre-written campaign. The adventure was augmented with modifications that I homebrewed or ones I stole from the subreddit for it. I will write a post on this adventure in the future.
I ran the same homebrew campaigns that I wrote for two different groups and they couldn’t have gone in two different ways. This time I decided to write a campaign because I saw a how elemental energy was used in the Wu Assassins TV show. The show was quite bad but this gave me the idea of elemental nodes being spit out in the world and what would happen if one person had control over all four elemental powers.
So my current process to write a campaign is to build only upto 3 sessions forward. When I started with my homebrew campaign, I didn’t have any idea beside the fact that I wanted to have a node thrust into the world for each element. Beyond which, I didn’t have much and I went along this path.
- Draw map for my world, .
- Write the first session adventure and build up the village where it would happen.
- And then write session by session.
This worked for the first part of campaign, as I could keep up with the party considering the nodes as the point of focus. As the party become more powerful and started gathering these nodes, I had to quickly scramble for a final villain and why they are gathering the nodes.
This become more of a problem as I ran the campaign for two groups at the same time. Of course, they didn’t approach the game in the same manner. Different cities, continents and different reactions to NPCs.
As the two campaign as coming to a close, I think, there is significant lack of sense of dread that I enjoyed in the Curse of Strahd campaign. The parties also were not as into the main villain as there were not as many breadcrumbs I left in the start of the campaign.
Things I learnt from running Curse of Strahd and my homebrew campaign.
- Decide what you want the endgame to be about. Its easier to lay breadcrumbs.
- Build your map or steal one. But having a general overview is useful. I also like drawing maps. So yay.
- Have a common concept/idea for the enemies that is related to the endgame.
- Figure out how to build the Player Character backstories into the world.
- Write basic information about important factions and organizations.
- Writing each city as you go is fine. Fill in NPCs from factions as you go.
- Maybe not run two groups if possible at least not the same campaign.
I have learnt a lot by running these campaign. I have come to enjoy D&D very much and can’t wait to run another one. For the next one, I am thinking about a wild west style campaign with very little magic.