The Airas Chronicler – Session Six
A behind-the-scenes, slice-of-life series based on the trials of a new Game Master.
There are a few different types of campaigns that you might be running for your players: pre-written by-the-book adventures, dungeon crawling hack-and-slash, or if you are like me you prefer to run a homebrew narrative driven game.
Anyway you slice it, the goal as a DM is to make the journey exciting, enjoyable and memorable to your players. When I first sat down and decided to write my own campaign, I had a list of goals that I wanted to achieve throughout the course of playing. I wanted to create a story that meant something to me and to the players and on top of this I wanted it to be a story that was crafted by all of us.
When you’re writing a book, you have total control over every person and every creature – the protagonists and antagonists, the monsters and the Gods. As a DM you still have immense power over the world in which your PCs play, but you don’t have that same control over them or their actions. They come into the game with a set of goals separate to yours. It’s your job to incorporate those aspirations into the game you are crafting for them.
Around my fifth session, we had a “cut scene” moment for each of my players. We had recently completed a dungeon (see session 4) and we were skipping forward in time about two weeks. I asked each of them what they’d like to do during those two weeks and wrote mini scenes for each of them. This was an opportunity to get to know characters that had only been vaguely expounded upon since their conception. I can’t even begin to say how rewarding this session was.
The moments were intimate and not only further developed their characters, but the NPCs they had met and the world around them. Using a moment out of combat or adventure makes the character feel more real. It’s nice to see them when they aren’t “on” as an adventurer.
Because I took the time to really think about each of these characters and consider where they fell into my world, I started to look at the entire campaign differently. Since then I feel as if I’ve grown to know them as individuals. They exists inside this fictional world I’ve provided for them as vibrant beings and that makes each adventure more exciting than the last. Each session I look forward to seeing how they interact with each other and with the world around them.
Roleplaying is something that I enjoy most when playing D&D and while it isn’t for everyone it can breathe new life into your game. If you’re experiencing a lull or a lack of creativity I highly recommend taking a step back and talking to your players. Ask them what they want for their characters over the course of the campaign and work with them to make those things happen in compelling ways. The game is what you put into it – you are setting the bar for your party.
Draw from the things you love and the stories that mean something to you to create a whole new tale worth remembering.
Good luck out there DMs and stay chill.