So this weekend hailed the official beginning of my D&D 4E Campaign. I’d like to say as awesome as everything went, that it was due to clever preparations and what not. What a crock.
Truth is, I hardly prepared anything for the actual adventure. It was about as “off the cuff” run as a person could make. Somehow, it came out awesome. This reminded me of something….how much better at GM’ing I am ad-libbing almost 90% of the actual game. I’ve noticed campaigns that I put a lot of painstaking effort in end up exploding due to my convoluted plot lines, or totally expecting players to behave one way and they wind up venturing off another path.
Discovering My World
What I have worked on is the setting itself. I love world building, and I think (for me at least) that’s a part that truly helps me develop the game for the players. It’s easy to run by the seat of your pants when you understand the world in terms of locations, society, background history etc. Even when it’s your world, which usually implies you can make anything up….it’s better for you as a GM, a writer and all around storycrafter to, I dare say, explore your realms.
Explore your realms? Yes, I said that. As I wrote over 20 pages of back history in random Google Docs at odd times, I wasn’t so much creating the world as I was discovering it for the first time. There were things I went in knowing I wanted to focus on: A history of Dragons, an Empire with a long past of strife and vigilance. But there were things that as I wrote it out I felt like I wasn’t so much creating as I was witnessing in my mind’s eye the events that transpired.
Even when I began making my world map, I probably went through countless drafts, in SEVERAL programs until I finally created the world I knew I was witnessing. Before then, I had no real mental image except for the details that played out in my random scribblings….but never the less, after an afternoon of playing around I finally made a map that I could probably even re-create from scratch if I needed to, knowing this is that world.
There’s still a lot of gaps, a lot of empty spaces needing to be filled out. But it’s there, and after Friday Night it’s definitely alive. One thing that is helping me was a site I discovered via Dungeon Mastering, which has its site syndicated on the RPG Blogger’s Network. The site in particular is Obsidian Portal, which offers both free and premium memberships to world builders offering them a wiki site that is designed to cater to their campaigns and chronicles. I’ve been enjoying it and have decided I work better on a wiki-article structure than a pure doc layout, since my mind always wanders off on weird tangents. For those who’d be curious, this video shows how to implement the site as a decent tool for DM’s:
World Building with Obsidian Portal from Michael Harrison on Vimeo.
The Campaign Begins:
I’d love to go into details about the events of the night, but frankly my fiancee has begun journaling about the campaign at her blog site. Check out the intro to the game night here, and the follow it up with an in-depth, in character account of our first adventure here.
Also, I leave you with one of the pieces she has up in the art show at Tarleton State: