So the time has come and you feel brave enough to fill a Pukka pad full of notes and launch a campaign. Here are my tips about doing that.
1. Keep it simple: Campaigns are a lot of work and the first thing you want is for things to become super complicated. The best way to do this is to have a nice linear plot with little room for convoluted personal quests and side-plots that you have not engineered to happen. The worst thing that can happen in your first ever campaign is that it gets derailed by every player persuing their own personal plot line. A straightforward, linear plot can be just as exciting as a sprawling web of mini-plots.
2. Think about length: How long do you want to run your campaign for? Will this be a stringent ten session run or are you just going to keep hosting sessions until your players stop showing up? This will allow you to work out things such as character progression, whether you want to include side-quests and subplots. Also, a longer campaign allows you to build your confidence over time. It also makes the possibility of personal quests more viable and allows you to manage them without having to try and rush them through it.
3. Pick your players: While this may not be hugely viable in a university or other structured roleplay society, picking your players is a great way to ensure your campaign runs smoothly as it negates the potenial effects of players who don’t know very well. Also, you can use this to better organise your players and keep them in touch with you and one another. Speaking of which…
4. Consider implementing a downtime system: Feel like you aren’t getting everything done in your sessions? A downtime system is a mechanic in which players can speak with the GM about what their character is doing between sessions. This is a way of dealing with one-person plot lines without taking up too much session time and it also encourages players to start and create their own plot lines.
5. Do your research: As I have said in the past, research is your friend. It will give you confidence about the world you are creating and it can help your players get into the game. Furthermore, it will definitely help with making the game more immsersive. Similarly…
6. Make sure everything can be justified: Don’t include things for the fun of it. If you make something prominent or just there, your players will go for it. I set a game in rural Maine where the biggest point about this town was it’s paper mill that had burned down 50 years previous. The players were so convinced that this was a thing, that they wasted a good half an hour talking to a hobo at the old paper mill because they thought it was plot relevent. Sure, red herrings can be fun but make sure that you aren’t wasting your players time with anything pointless.
What advice do you have for first time campaign GMs? What advice to your have for first time GMs in general?