So I have run a couple of D&D campaigns over the past 6 years or so, and I would like to share my experiences with it. This all started freshman year of highschool with a couple of friends whom I hadn’t talked to since middle school. They went to the rival high school, so you can see why we didn’t keep in touch as much. Anyways, we still talked every once in a while, and they mentioned they were running a D&D campaign and they needed players. Since I had never played before there was a bit of a learning curve. We started with 3.5 and stuck to that system. Anyways we started playing and I was immediately hooked. We played for anywhere from 5-10 hours every Friday for the next 4 years. It got to the point where we were always playing in some campaign and we rotated through people who wanted to be the Dungeon Master. My friend Chris was our first DM and I like to think he was the best. The stories were cohesive, interesting, and had some sort of medium difficulty level for our group. He claimed that he was making most of the story up as we went, which was something I found amazing. Eventually I would go on to become a DM who does the same thing, but we will get to that later. We ran upwards of 10 different campaigns over the years, some much longer than others. When I eventually started running my own campaigns I quickly found out that using Homebrew classes and mechanics made the game far more interesting to me. This would become my style of DMing eventually, but for now I was just a young buck trying to make the best campaign I could.
There are a couple of things that every DM should know and always keep in mind. These are also things I did not learn very quickly. The first thing is that the DM is not the enemy of the player. They are there to provide structure to the campaign, and somebody has to control the bad guys. Another thing to remember is that if you want your players to do well, then you will lose. Kinda. In the sense that you control the bad guys, and if the good guys win, then the bad guys have to lose. The way I chose to look at it is that I don’t control the bad guys, but rather I just give them life, and explain how they are acting, instead of creating a divide between the players and the DM. I don’t like to think of the DM as an enemy of the players as this would be a very short campaign if you were. Another thing to know is how your players will play out in certain situations. If you know your players don’t like to search for traps in dungeons, then don’t place hundreds of traps that will instantly kill your players. Now obviously these things are just my opinions and are based off of the way that I play, which certainly isn’t exactly a hardcore strict campaign. I typically don’t keep track of things like food and water, weight, etc. as I feel that these make more problems for the players when we are just there to have fun, beat the bad guys, and save the princess. Some people probably wouldn’t agree with this, but oh well, this is a blog.
One of my favorite parts of any campaign is letting the players do pretty much whatever they want. Now this causes many problems initially, but it evens out as the campaign goes on. Learning the mentality of your players is something you should try to do as fast as possible as this will make designing the rest of the campaign even easier. I have generally created my campaigns with some general structure, but nothing too tight as I typically will change events, people, places, etc. as the players move through it. This could be from various reasons, like if one player forgets to look in a chest that has an item to begin a large quest line, so I will just move the key to another chest that they do decide to open. Or maybe the players have a choice to go to City 1, which has their main objective in it, or go to City 2, which is just a side quest. Being able to make these adjustments on the spot is a valuable tool for DMs as it allows them to have to worry less about trying to predict the way the players will act and then make the campaign around that prediction instead of waiting until they do something and making adjustments from there. These things are just ideas that I picked up from various other blogs online, or that I thought of while playing the game, so take them all with a grain of salt. Anyways that’s all I have for today, but I will be back, don’t you worry.