I was in Brisbane a little while ago thinking about all the great Dungeon Masters I’ve played with and how great it would be to run a game for them. The A-Team of nerds. ONE LAST JOB. Anyway, so I’m putting together a homebrew campaign.
Brad is my older brother. He took over my last homebrew group, running us through the Lost Mines of Phandelver.
Jack is a friend from uni. He’s the funniest person I know and runs great improv RPG sessions.
Luke is a stranger-turned-friend from Reddit. He gets paid to run D&D and does great character voices. He ran me through Curse of Strahd.
Tim is another internet stranger-turned-friend. He invited me into his Princes of the Apocalypse and Tomb of Annihilation groups.
Ideas pre-session zero
My personal goal is to challenge myself, but I want the players to challenge themselves too. They’re all great DMs and players with different strengths, but I want to offer everybody opportunities to flex their skills and grow as roleplayers.
Eight sessions and a movie
The thing that stops me joining extra campaigns is the uncertainty of pacing and timeframe. We all work full-time — some of us have kids! I’m offering the players a campaign of eight sessions to take us from level one to five (or thereabouts).
Fireside framing device
To maintain the breakneck pace and get everything done in eight sessions, I want to frame the campaign through a group of stroytellers around a fire. This will let me play with unreliable narrators, different styles from narrator-to-narrator, maybe slot in a parallel meta-story.
Things covered in session zero (at the pub)
All the players said they wanted a hard campaign. They all said they were OK with being attacked when unconscious. When I asked them to rate the lethality, they all floated around seven out of ten. Seven! That’s rough. I promised to challenge them on a strategic level rather than a mechanical level (smarter enemies rather than stronger enemies).
Rules for character creation
• Extra health at level one
• All alignments/classes/races from official books OK
• Free feat at level one (variant human gets rejigged for balance)
Rolling for stats
Brad 13 | 14 | 16 | 16 | 6 | 16
Jack 9 | 11 | 4 | 9 | 13 | 12
Luke 13 | 14 | 6 | 9 | 13 | 8
Tim 17 | 14 | 12 | 8 | 10 | 9
A homebrew setting
The players wanted to know more about the setting, but I genuinely had zero ideas. At this point, all I could offer was that I wanted to play in a standard European-style fantasy world with analogs for our favourite tropes.
Choosing the adventure
I drafted a list of stories I’d be happy to run and let the players choose which one they wanted to do. They picked revenge! I asked if they wanted to start the campaign after they’ve been wronged or if they wanted to play out their origin story in a prologue-style session. They were happy to do a prologue.
The next step is to get a foundation for the world done so the players can make their characters. I’m not sure how I want the story to go yet, but we’ll see where we land.