My personal spin as a DM is to think of each individual gaming session as a television episode and have the overall arc of my campaign play like a television season. Television shows such as Xena: Warrior Princess, Hercules and Legend of the Seeker have a genre similar to that of Dungeons & Dragons and can provide some insight and ideas into your own campaign.
Here are some basic elements to keep your campaigns fresh so you don’t get “canceled” by your gaming group.
The Dungeon’s Master team welcomes Skallawag into the fold. Skallawag, Wimwick and Ameron have played D&D together for over 20 years. Since Dungeon’s Master launched, Skallawag has provided many insightful comments. It took some coaxing, but we finally convinced him to write an article. We hope that this is his first of many articles and that you find his perspective on D&D as helpful and insightful as we do.
You need to appeal to your gaming group. Your gaming sessions and overall campaign need to retain player interest. You might have an awesome campaign idea or story arc, so get your players as excited. Advertise and appeal to them, get their interest and tell them it’s commercial free and they don’t need to subscribe to cable.
Tone is key to keeping the game and genre fresh with you and your players. You should strive to thrill the players each week and throw in a twist or two. In addition you may want to add some humor (really, have some fun with this, but don’t go over the top). Critical elements of success may include keeping your players on edge or keeping them engaged with a continuing sense of lurking danger. Enjoy and evolve this part of your campaign, and use this to strengthen and facilitate your role playing elements.
Each gaming session, the party will need to use their powers, abilities and intellect to solve mysteries, resolve conflicts and even battle evil. At the same time the party will evolve as heroes, explore the meanings of their powers, continue to follow and strengthen relationships. Constantly bring in new elements each session to keep it fresh for your players and add some twists to keep it interesting. Have a good balance of role playing and encounters each week so that you can appeal to the all of your players. Some players like to role dice while others like to role play – have your session appeal to both.
Characters and Character Development
Your players are the stars and treat them that way. Like a television show, there are some weeks where episodes focus on a specific characters and the rest of the party plays more supporting roles. Other weeks, episodes focus on the whole group. Make sure you spread the love, and evolve all of your player’s characters, including bringing in characters or entities from their past (the guest appearances) or touching on some items from their back stories. Recurring characters and villains are good tools to bring in to tie your campaign together (just think of Callisto from Xena).
Overall Story Arc
While your players and their own personal story arcs. continue through the life of your campaign, don’t continually let your supporting characters and villains drive the story and your campaign won’t be fun if you’re only sending the party on quests time and time again. Your players are the stars and you want them to be the driver and come back to your gaming sessions. Have your players drive your story, but don’t be scared to railroad your players using any of the above elements. Think of Gabrielle from Xena and her evolution from farm girl to warrior – the story was really about her.
Always try to think outside of the box. Keep an open mind and enjoy the campaign and gaming sessions as much as your players will.