Starting a New Campaign

Summer is almost here and traditionally it’s time for new games and campaigns. I’m actually going to start two new campaigns during this month. So I decided it might be interesting to discuss about how I do it. I’m not saying my way is the best but since it works for me I have no doubt it could work for others.

Since I’m also pretty sure that you do know how to choose a campaign and players I’m going straight to the good stuff.

As pre-written campaigns are not for me I tend to build the campaigns myself. And as our current meta favors sandboxing with clear adventures I can’t really design the campaign either. Instead I browse through internet for inspiration.

For quite a some time now I’ve been building “inspiration banks” in Tumblr. I usually tend to forget the image galleries during the game but while preparing the stories it helps me to get into mood. While planing for out upcoming pirate campaign I created a gallery and search for concept art, photos, images and whatnot and just added them there. It’s the easiest way for me to visualize what I want from my campaign.

Another (quite new thing for me) is starting a new playlist in Spotify for the game. Since I tend to become obsessed with searching the “perfect soundtrack” I’m not sure if this is something I really should be doing. I have spent hours upon hours going through suitable songs for the pirate campaign and could have very well spent that time on thinking about the campaign itself.

On the other hand I’m currently so pleased with this playlist that I actually listen to it more than my other lists. And again – it set my mind on the campaign mood and helps me to come up with new interesting things for it.

In addition to image bank and playlists I have done trailers for new campaigns (though have now shifted away from them), movie posters, image headers (for Facebook) etc. in essence things that are not needed but make me like the campaign even more.

But in actuality the most important thing I have learned is making check lists. I think this might come from Sami‘s way of doing check lists for random stuff. Though the origin of the idea is not important the execution of it is.

When we choose a new idea for a campaign and create the characters (and even before that) I try to come up with every and each good idea that links to the said campaign theme. I watch movies and tv-series and play video games that could give me that clear “I want that in my next campaign!”-feeling.

In some occasions the lists grow too large for the game and sometimes there are only a handful of ideas. And most times I do not get to involve each of them. But here’s the beauty of such lists: I really do not need to include them to set my mind to a certain track. I might occasionally add a new idea and check over those I have used. But the list keeps me honest to myself and to what I want from the game.

During our most recent campaign I even made a list of possible events for the players. At the beginning of each session one of them got to choose an event and it was a shared responsibility for all players to narrate the story in such a way that would trigger the event. It was a good idea and worked pretty well. So well in fact that I’ll definitely try it again in the upcoming campaigns.

For with all of my preparation (and improvisation) I cannot great a good story and game without the involvement and investment of my players. I like to joke about players always ruining my plans (I think most GMs do this too) but to be fair players ruining my plans lets me to play to find out what happens. I do not play to tell my own story but to create something great with my friends. Something we can all look back to and still be excited about.

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