I took a break this week from building “The Pearly Prison of the Crocodile Queen” to prep a couple campaigns. Three, actually.
The first is my Sunday home game. That one’s set in a homebrew world I don’t know much about yet, and that’s fine. I just needed to know about the town the players will be entering tomorrow.
Step one was to plan out essential services - who leads the town, who keeps order, blacksmith, inn, healer … that sort of thing.
Add an NPC to each, flesh out a tiny bit, and I’m all set.
I like The Angry GM’s idea of listing some things going on in town, and some things going on outside of town, all of which might come up in conversation with various NPCs. So that was next.
After that, I figured out a couple adventure concepts that might work - one was the ol’ escort quest, bringing a wagon of supplies to a lumber camp in the woods nearby, and the other was going to rescue the innkeeper’s kid, who ran off into the nearby hills in search of treasure. Scatter hooks and clues throughout town and I’m all set and ready for Sunday.
None of that is terribly inventive, to be honest. I’ve swiped ideas and NPCs from a solid three or four places, at least. And those are the ones I’m consciously aware of. And that’s okay! Especially since it’s a home game, I’m not streaming anything or claiming that I invented it all whole-cloth, and I’m not publishing it. I’m not entirely sure what either adventure will look like, either, but I don’t need to yet, since the players may well veer off to some other random location instead.
In any case, it’s enough for my players to poke and prod and interact with, enough to feel “real.” And hopefully enough for my players to have fun for a few hours. That’s what it’s all about, after all!
The second campaign is straightforward: It’s a Learn-to-Play Lost Mine of Phandelver run via StartPlaying.Games. Nothing too fancy, but it’s been probably five years since I’ve run it, so I needed to refresh my memory and get FoundryVTT all spiffed up and ready for it.
Even the little fiddly stuff takes time! Fortunately, that is all saved, so if I ever want to run it online again, it’ll be as easy as click, drag, drop, go.
That first session went well, too. Everyone had fun, which is always good to hear as a DM. They’re halfway through the Cragmaw Hideout and nobody’s died yet, so that’s a bonus.
The third campaign, another paid one, is the hardest to prep, at least up front, and its first session is scheduled for next Saturday. Hopefully.
I had a grand idea: What if you combined Ghosts of Saltmarsh with Dragon of Icespire Peak? I’m going to find out!
Of course, I’m not the first to think of this; I’m not the first who wants to find a way to make Saltmarsh into more of a campaign rather than individual, unconnected adventures.
I listed all the different adventures in each source, splitting them out by level, and used this great post as a starting point for rethinking how to approach Saltmarsh in particular.
Add in some good ol’ crowdsourcing efforts from Reddit that someone else asked for back in the day, and I’ve got some things coming together.
I’m working now on what’s possibly the hardest part of any long-term-planned campaign or even adventure: information management.
The quest board system is honestly boring to me, and I don’t want to do it. It feels contrived and unnatural, and it makes the game world feel less real.
Of course, this hardline position of mine means I have to find ways to weave plot hooks directly into the NPCs and the players’ exploration of the world.
And I have to do it without overwhelming the players with All the Things To Do right up front. And I have to place everything in new locations because I’m a glutton for punishment, and I’m moving Saltmarsh to the Sword Coast.
So my current prep focus is: Starting the game. How will I introduce the players to Saltmarsh? Who will they meet in that first session or two? (There’s a lot of faction tension in this one, and it can be overwhelming to digest, let alone dump all at once on players.) And, finally, what opportunities will they hear about and potentially want to go investigate?
That’s a lot to manage.
So here’s my plan:
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