Odd Player Out: A DnD 5e idea
Recently getting a fulltime job, trying to play DnD has gotten harder to do, especially with online games with all the different timezones and things. My work schedule changes week to week, without a consistent day off, and I don't want to have everyone else wait for me, so the game goes on without me.
But surely there is a way to contribute to the game when you can't make it, right? In my opinion, yes. I haven't been able to try this yet, or only on small scale, but I feel this would be a very fun idea:
The DM has created this world, read through all the backstories they can stand, and ran the session. It was great, fun, and full of memorable moments. Too bad you couldn't make it. The DM packs up their stuff, takes notes of important events, and waits.
When you can, the DM has a private session with just you. They lay out the general history, and tell you who you are: the BBEG. They tell you your goals, your resources, and what major rumors and events are happening.
The DM does NOT mention the player's location or actions unless it is world news, a very popular rumor, or the BBEG has a spy/contact in the area to report back. (Ideally, the DM has other groups of adventurer's travelling around to make the world seem more real, and also keep the BBEG player from knowing which group is the players'.)
Then, you just tell the DM how you move your minions and resources to accomplish your goals. Have a Mcguffin in a warehouse? What guards do you have patrolling, and what security measures are in place? Keep in mind, it takes some money to keep those guards loyal and attentive, or you can buy some cheaper henchmen (or henchwomen, evil is an equal opportunity employer). Do you purposefully let slip the Mcguffin is stored there, only to move it somewhere else instead to bait any would-be thieves?
Planning a siege? How do you move resources to keep the pressure up? Is the siege for show? How will you quell possible rebellion when you take control?
I think having these little villain sessions helps involve a player that can't make it but still have impact. It also helps the DM plan out their world and game, while also spit balling off another human being to catch any flaws and things. The DM may try to keep the players alive and play nice, but having someone else be the villain allows the DM to truly just be narrator and roleplay henchman well. "I'm just following orders."
Of course, the DM has final say on everything, but I always thought this was a cool concept. Please let me know any questions, comments, or concerns!
And if you need me to be your BBEG, PLEASE let me know, I will happily be your villain and take over your world for you.
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The Basics Of Writing a D&D Campaign
I love to play TTRPGs with my friends. Since I am the most prolific writer in the bunch, the task of DM usually falls on my head. I’m fine with this, cause as a writer, I love DMing the games! But when I first started out, I had no idea what I was getting myself into. I knew how to write a book, but a campaign? Not so easy. Thankfully, with time, practice, and I little bit of research, I’ve got the swing of it. Here are some tips I’ve gathered for you to start writing your own game.
Gather all your info in one place. Whether a Google doc, a journal, or a fancy leather notebook, you’ll want all your information close by and readily available when you’re playing.
Start with the basic premise of your campaign. In a bulleted list or a small paragraph, outline your campaign setting, conflict, antagonist, stakes, and deadline. These five things should be enough to get you off the ground.
Start small, and don’t get too attached to any one idea/detail right away. Annoyingly, your players will never do what you want them to, almost ever. Rather then building up a huge, intricately detailed plot, building something small your players can work from, make it pretty, and then be willing to let them take the reigns with you. On that note,
Let the players take part in the game creation. Obviously they can’t write the story with you, but let them have a hand in world design and magic and mechanics. Not only does this make your job easier, the players are happy because they helped make the world they play in and already know about it.
PREPARE SCENES/NPCS/ETC IN ADVANCE. I hit this point so hard, because I have learned from experience 😔. Though improvisation and spontaneity is the crux of D&D, if you do not have any sort of structure or plan for encounters and NPCs, you will fall short. This goes for important NPCs, unimportant NPCs, vital encounters, random encounters, and more.
Don’t be afraid to steal. Sounds funny, I know, but really. This is for your friends. You aren’t publishing it as a work of fiction. Don’t be afraid to steal ideas, plots, mechanics, items, etc. from your favorite pieces of media and put your own little twist on it.
Make yourself cheat sheets. Whether they’re for monsters, NPCs, important dialogue, or locations, don’t be afraid to make papers for you to look at so you don’t forget stats in the middle of a battle or the villain’s epic monologue during their scene.
Fill your campaign with variety. Add lots of different puzzles, traps, locations, and encounters to keep your players engaged and thinking. Give them mysterious clues and sweet loot to reward them for figuring out your puzzle (that you could’ve sworn wasn’t that hard).
Use your resources! There are a million websites, book, and online tools to help you keep your campaign all together. Don’t be afraid to use them, and to invest in the nice ones I’d you’re serious about it! The help will go a long way.
D&D is one of my favorite things I do with my friends. Even when my meticulously planned session goes completely off the rails, and they do something I never expected causing me to have to improv back to something familiar, the energy and humor of the sessions is unmatchable. I hope these tips help you out, and happy writing!!
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