5 Pre-Campaign Preparation Tips for Dungeon Masters
As a Dungeon Master (DM), one of the most important tasks you have is to ensure that your campaign is well-planned and runs smoothly. Whether you are running a one-shot adventure or a long-term campaign, taking the time to properly prepare will make a big difference in the success of your game. In this post, we will explore five key pre-campaign preparation tips for DMs to help you get off to a great start.
Create Detailed Character Sheets
One of the first steps in preparing for a campaign is to create detailed character sheets for each of your players. A character sheet is a document that includes all of the relevant information about a player's character, including their stats, abilities, and equipment. By having detailed character sheets, you can easily keep track of what each character is capable of and make informed decisions about how to challenge them in the game.
There are a few key things to include on your character sheets:
Stats: The stats of a character (such as strength, dexterity, and intelligence) determine their abilities and limitations in the game. Make sure to include all of the relevant stats and make sure they are accurate.
Abilities: Each character has a unique set of abilities and skills that make them special. Make sure to include a list of these abilities on the character sheet so you know what each character is capable of.
Equipment: Characters typically have a variety of equipment that they use in the game, such as weapons, armour, and other items. Make sure to include a list of this equipment on the character sheet so you know what each character has at their disposal.
Write Out a Campaign Outline
A campaign outline is a document that outlines the main plot points and storylines of your campaign. It should include the main goals and objectives of the campaign, as well as any major events or encounters that the players will experience. By creating a campaign outline, you can ensure that your campaign has a clear direction and purpose, and that you have a roadmap to follow as you run the game.
Here are a few things to consider when creating a campaign outline:
Main plot: What is the main goal or objective of the campaign? What are the players trying to achieve, and what obstacles will they face along the way?
Key encounters: What are the major events or encounters that the players will experience during the campaign? These could include battles, puzzles, or other challenges that the players will need to overcome.
- Story arcs: What are the main storylines that will unfold over the course of the campaign? These could be individual storylines for each player, or larger arcs that involve the group as a whole.
Set Ground Rules with Your Players
Before you start your campaign, it's important to set some ground rules with your players to ensure that everyone is on the same page. These rules should cover things like communication, expectations, and behaviour. By setting clear ground rules, you can create a positive and enjoyable gaming experience for everyone.
Some things to consider when setting ground rules with your players include:
- Communication: How will you communicate with your players during the game? Will you use a voice chat program, or will you communicate through in-game chat? Make sure to set clear expectations for how you will communicate with your players.
- Expectations: What are your expectations for player behaviour and participation during the game? Make sure to set clear expectations for things like punctuality, focus, and contribution to the game.
Rules: What are the rules of the game? Make sure to clearly communicate any rules or guidelines that will be in effect during the game. This could include things like rules for combat, character death, and player actions.
Build Player Engagement from the Very Beginning
One of the keys to running a successful campaign is building player engagement from the very beginning. This means making sure that your players are invested in the story and the characters, and that they feel like they are an important part of the game. There are a few ways you can build player engagement:
Create compelling characters: Make sure to create interesting and compelling characters for your players to play as. This could include giving them unique backgrounds, motivations, and goals.
Encourage role-playing: Encourage your players to role-play their characters as much as possible. This means having them speak and act as their character would, rather than just making mechanical decisions.
Involve your players in the story: Make sure to involve your players in the story as much as possible. This could mean giving them choices and decision-making power, or incorporating their characters' backgrounds and goals into the main plot.
Make Use of Online Tools and Resources
There are many online tools and resources available to DMs that can help make your job easier and your campaign more successful. Some examples include:
Virtual tabletop software: There are many virtual tabletop software programs available that allow you to run your game online. These programs provide a virtual playing surface, character sheets, and other features that can make it easier to run your game.
Character generators: There are many character generators available online that can help you quickly and easily create detailed character sheets for your players.
Online resources: There are many online resources available for DMs, such as adventure modules, maps, and other materials that can help you run your game.
By making use of these online tools and resources, you can save time and energy and focus on what really matters: creating an engaging and exciting campaign for your players.
In conclusion, proper pre-campaign preparation is essential for any Dungeon Master. By taking the time to create detailed character sheets, write out a campaign outline, set ground rules with your players, build player engagement, and make use of online tools and resources, you can set yourself up for success and run an enjoyable and memorable campaign.