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/tg/ - Traditional Games

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72317745 No.72317745 [Reply] [Original] [4plebs] [archived.moe]

How do you do campaign prep and how do you design your campaigns? Do you just make a box full of interesting things and let stories emerge or do you plan out story beats and then figure out what things are going to enable that story?

>> No.72317790
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I operate on a Rule of Three.
My campaign has a three-act structure. In every act, there are three major antagonists. To every antagonist, I dedicate three - or sometimes more - dungeons. Sometimes I also use the dungeon of the current act to hint or build up the antagonist of the next act.

When it comes to designing a dungeon, I think "what are the antagonist's plans, what is his powerbase, what are his secrets?". I build a dungeon around one or more of that, and the players come to foil it.

One of my players describes my style of DMing as "very planned. Not railroad-y, we have a ton of personal autonomy, but more guided".

>> No.72317835

I'll have to give this style a try sometime

>> No.72318541
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Here's some knowledge from the original thread I took the cap from. If nobody cares I'll just let the thread die

>> No.72318578

I'm going to disappoint you, anon - this thread will die, because it's useless to the board. No one on /tg/ actually plays games.

>> No.72318595
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I like to have hope sometimes.

>> No.72318606

I admit I don't prepare at all. I want to play a game without GM so I do it myself. I prepare 3-4 one shot and if the players like it, I start to build up untill something big come out. Yes it's a mess and it doesn't completely satisfy me, but as long as we enjoy the games, whatever

>> No.72318770

I used to over-prep a lot. Nowadays I don't really design a whole campaign. I choose a direction that the world is headed towards - things that'll begin happening in the back until they're big enough to not be ignored anymore - but especially in lower levels I won't make it the main focus. Just some hints to the big threat here and there: an unknown lord has taken the king prisoner. A strange sickness is spreading in the outer settlements. A certain gods' clerics have lost their powers, their prayers going unanswered. But I've grown so tired of trying to push my players in a certain direction, I prefer making a sound in the back louder and louder until they choose to face it.

>> No.72318804

I've also learned that it's more fun for me personally if we begin our game with a common goal. One of my groups has chosen to be a crew of lizards and kobolds who want to take back their ancestral home that has been taken over by the dwarves, who now even push into their new territory.

This gives the group a clear main objective (atm gathering allies and convincing minor enemies to help against this common threat), and I get to plan the why's and how's and potential plot twists of the bigger setup. Who's behind this new invasion? Maybe the dwarves have been running from something? etc.

>> No.72318810

I always have the problem of starting out with overly ambitious plans and a few folders of maps, art and documents but then burn out after playing for like a couple months and end the game after the first or second dungeon. Its really hard to stay invested and continue to put work into preparing, I just come home and its the last thing I want to do. Like I'm in school with an essay hanging over my head.

>> No.72319058

My strat is to make 2-3 maps, then a few quests ideas that take place in those area, then trying to connect the two

>> No.72319264

Generally I choose the environment the campaign will be taking place in (tundra, desert, jungle, underground etc.) and then come up with villains that would play well into that environment thematically (frost giants and trolls for a tundra, rakshasi and gnolls for a desert, you get the picture). Usually I either have one BBEG with a quirky miniboss squad or three or so villains with a few mooks under their command. After that I give each villain a plan and determine how they interact with each other and the campaign's other relevant NPCs, such as local rulers and other important figures. Once that's all done, I hold a session zero where I tell the players where the campaign is gonna take place and give them a basic plot hook to follow (usually something among the lines of "This guy's hired you for a job here, so now you're here to do the job"). My players don't usually make their characters with much of a clear goal in mind from the get go, so I come up with some stuff for them to do, hint at what the bad guys are scheming and once the PCs have figured out what they want I look for a way to work it into the campaign, using the villains as an obstacle between the PCs and the thing they want.

>> No.72319312


>> No.72321178

I'm thinking about using a flowchart for important story junctures where the party have a chance to change the plot, branching from railroad to murderhobo, and using that as a rough framework when they inevitably throw everything off the rails.

>> No.72321212

>actively encouraging people to railroad with prep
You are cancer. Procedurally generate everything, it’s the only valid way to GM.

>> No.72321543
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I had this idea that kind of worked out a month ago. The campaign I've been running is just a short one-on-one with a friend back home. Most of our games are that way, so most of the ideas we implement are successful. Take it with a grain of salt.

After he gave me a bio with some rudimentary details, I dropped the character into a fucked up hotel room a la Fear and Loathing with no memory of the prior night (I admit that that part is ham-fisted). The majority of the things in the room had no real consequence, but the important ones would shape how the story would procede. In this case, he took a solid iron knuckleduster, a bunch of money hidden in a bible, a pair of boots that he woke up in and didn't want to take off, and an oddly nonporous brick. He also woke up a passed-out girl on a sofa and convinced her to tag along on this adventure, which I didn't entirely expect.
The brick contains a living faerie; it's fired into enchanted clay in a stasis. It's the focal point of the campaign and the reason his character is being watched and tracked down by a government agency, a backwoods cult, and a descendant of a senile demigod. The boots were gifted by the same asshole that passed off the brick while the character was getting hammered the night before, but bugged by a crafty cultist in that same night. Some of the money, namely the 50 dollar bills, are connected to a back robbery six years prior in a different state. The government agency will use it to frame the character if local law enforcement gets involved somehow to pull them into federal custody so they can safely interrogate. The knuckleduster is a last-ditch effort to kill the faerie if it is released in violent circumstances, i.e. the brick is broken/shattered/forcibly torn open, but it must be cold to really work. The girl is a red herring, but as shit is starting to go sideways, accusations may be leveled one way or the other and there may be conflict between the player and this NPC.

>> No.72321703

Wait, you asked how we campaign prep and I just threw this at you. >>72321543
I come up with stuff on the fly a day or two in advance. Then I just go with whatever seems like its working. Even when I ran games with multiple people, it's never been an issue for me. I guess my only real advice is to play with people that you talk and think well with.

>> No.72321795

>How do you do campaign prep
I don't. Vast majority of groups won't take advantage of the content and its just over-preparation.

my pre-game ritual is to start building a nice, well thought out adventure with branching paths, continue elaborating it for a bit, wait for the sinking feeling of "these morons will never get it" and then tear it up and wing it.

good campaigns are built, session by session with memorable, satisfying bursts of story and you work with what you have every session.
View it like a fight. You can prepare for a fight by exercising, but you can't dictate how its going to go down when the bell rings.

anybody can come with a decent story on paper, selling it to players is the part that takes skill.

>> No.72325047

Like... a branching railroad, with a sandpit as backup for unrecoverable derailings.

>> No.72325266

>How do you campaign prep

Vague world building to subtly set boundaries while not being too restrictive. Include the player’s starting situation with a hook or goal to send them in a very general direction. Then wait for them to come up with character backgrounds to flesh out the world and intertwine it to what they’ve come up with.

Players will do a lot of the work for you if you let them.

>> No.72326386

Railroad and Prep aren't the same thing anon

>> No.72326490

Yes they are. You prep something, and you inevitably railroad your players to encounter what you prepped.

>> No.72327117
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>Things only mean this one very specific thing and it can't mean anything else because I say so
Whatever dude. It's your autism.

>> No.72329791

I'm definitely a 'box of toys' gm. I like the idea of setting the world spinning and letting the PC's loose to do what they want. Whatever reward, consequence or story comes from that is the campaign. My players so far have not had the same mindset, though, so I end up having to prod them forward and get more and more railroady to get them to do more than dick around town and look for a job board when they're low on money.

>> No.72331989


I design it exactly as if I'm writing a story for a videogame. Each session is compartmentalized as a "level", which must have some kind of a climactic payoff at the end. I make a point of never designing more than one level in advance though, because the players need to be left an opportunity to derail the train.

>> No.72332025

>You prep something, and you inevitably railroad your players to encounter what you prepped

That's an absurd notion, unless you count designing maps and encounters in advance as "railroading" in which case go fuck yourself. Prepping simply means that DM prepares for eventualities in advance so that he doesn't have to pull everything out of his ass all the time. It doesn't mean the players have to go through everything he has prepared for.

>> No.72332159

Procedural generation is still prep, Anon.

>> No.72332194

If anything wouldn't procedural generation be even more railroady than regular prep? Regular prep can at least kind of respond to players realistically according to what they might happen. Random tables and dice give zero fucks about the actions of your players

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