[DnD5e] Planning for the Campaign

I’ve been playing rpgs since ten and most of that time (24ish years) I have been a GM. And I have never ran Dungeons & Dragons. Sure, I started with ANKH that was in essence just a D&D clone in Finnish. But the actual grandfather of rpgs has been a bit of a boogieman for me. The Old School Renaissance introduced me to DCCRPG and most recently I tried out 5th edition while I participated in Out of the Abyss. But now I think I would like to try to run DnD5e.

In this post I share me ideas for my first campaign as well as my impression and thoughts on the subject of starting such a campaign and about DnD5e in general as a first timer.

The amount of micromanagement and dedication D&D seems to require has always felt daunting to me. When creating character for Out of the Abyss my first ideas were almost totally bashed by more “veteran” players of D&D. I understand my responsibility of playing my character and making it my own. That’s why this whole idea of “playing the game right” was alien to me. It seemed like to enjoy the game you would have to min/max your character.

While thinking that campaign as more of a game than storytelling helped in the beginning I quickly noticed it was ruining the experience for me. The length of combats was too much to handle since I believed I did not understand the nuances and strategies of the game. It was like playing Chess after only learning the rules via YouTube.

This time around I understood that this has to chance. The game is what it is. And it is a tool for telling stories together. Just as all the other rpgs. It has deeper emphasis on being a ‘game’ but it doesn’t mean I cannot use it for my own purpose.

I began to retrain my state of mind by borrowing the books from Sami (who ran the Out of the Abyss). It took me some time to actually do this since the discussion within our gaming group was both very positive and negative about running D&D.

Borrowing the books was clearly the right move. I didn’t have to spend money (yet) but I could browse through them with time. I consider myself a visual learner and style of the books was just spot on for me. The graphics are beautiful and the layout is very clear making it easy to read. The images are vibrant and not too ‘adult’. I have grown tired for ‘mature’ entertainment (gore and misery, not the other kind of ‘mature’) and desire for more Fantasy for a change.

While I have been running Dungeon World for some time I only recently realized it was too broad for me. And while I still like the “play to find out”-aspect of AWengine I was clearly missing the planing. I’m not saying you cannot plan for Dungeon World but while going through Monster Manual I immediately knew the kind of game I wanted to run with D&D. It never happened with Dungeon World since there aren’t any sourcebooks with vivid images.

Reading the Monster Manual I made notes about creatures I wanted to pit my PCs against. This lead me to think the framework of the campaign and in an evening I had a few pages of notes about the campaign I wanted to run. The premise for the upcoming campaign is quite simple. Barbarians of the Dragon Mountains.

Over ten years ago I enjoyed running a game with my own system. It was set in a world alike Iron Age Nordics and it was really fun. It didn’t have that much monsters or fantasy though. And now I think I want to return to that kind of a story. But with dragons and magic!

Since I have had fun with my current fantasy world we have used in Dungeon World it was only natural to make this part of that world too. Gods died in an apocalyptic war about 60 years ago, even Death, which has complicated things.

Most recent addition to this campaign world idea was that most of the dragons died in that war too. This means that the barbarian of the Dragon Mountains who had used them to raid on others are now without their “longboats”. Add in the mix the presence of orcs and other classical beasts & monsters and my ideas for the campaign are neatly tying together.

Since Summer is always problematic time to start a campaign we haven’t actually made any characters yet. We have however decided to give Roll20 a chance and will be using it for this game.

At this point I have no idea wether this game will actually happen or dry out even before it begins. Nevertheless I’m now more open for the idea of playing this kind of a game than ever before. And that is a good place to be.

4 thoughts on “[DnD5e] Planning for the Campaign

  1. I can totally relate to the daunting dedication part. I’ve played rules-light games for the last 15 years and I find it hard to take up different approach.

    How are you planning to run the game? If your players are “veterans” who hold the idea about “playing the game right”, are your more story-oriented plans going to work?

    • Veteran players were going to be a big issue. But luckily I have awesome players and I trust them to help me rather than hinder the game. Our game is going to be story-oriented but since we’re playing it with Roll20 rules will be a big part.

      But since I really cannot tell how it will actually play out I’ll just have to roll with it. However it turns out.

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