By RJ on January 22, 2022
The day is finally here. You start a new tabletop roleplaying game campaign. It could be your first Dungeons and Dragons session. It could be scout. Thirteenth age? Call from Cthulu? Maybe something incredibly niche and evolving…? Nevertheless, you and your friends have agreed to play and are about to make your characters all the way. You could be the world master; you could be one of the players.
There are a few things you can do to make sure you hit the ground running in the first session of your new favorite RPG campaign.
- Establish a consistent schedule that every player agrees to.
- Create compelling characters and know them well.
- Quickly jump into the story and world, with everyone contributing.
I’m here and ready to assure you D&D or the first session of the general TTRPG campaign and everything after that is an undisputed success. Let’s examine each of the pillars that support that fundamental claim, shall we?
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Before anyone gets too comfortable in their chair at the table or computer desk, bring up the campaign schedule. As always there are many options. Everyone should be aware and agree to a set time and date.
Here are the best ways to set up a schedule:
- Weekly on a recurring day.
- Every other week on a specific day.
- Monthly on a recurring day.
- Every other month on a specific day.
- The second Tuesday of the month.
On the other end of the spectrum, here are a few ways not to set up a successful RPG campaign:
- When everyone is available.
- When it feels right.
- One a year during the summer solstice.
- Every day.
Any of these options could easily result in a campaign dying before it really gets going or someone not being able to enjoy it at all.
Okay, the schedule is set and it’s time to create the characters. What is the best way to ensure the success of the campaign, you may ask…
Making compelling characters, no doubt one of the best.
Rather than each player remaining isolated and building their character in the quiet and safety of their own home, I would recommend the entire party gathering create their characters. This way everyone can participate in the composition of the party if they wish, or just talk to each other while they secretly create their character.
Each player should spend a great deal of time on their character, if not on their background, then on current drivers and future goals.
Below is a short list of good role-playing character traits:
- The character stands out among ordinary people.
- The character is somehow connected to the world.
- The character has flaws, needs and desires.
- The character relates to one of the other characters in the party, indirectly or directly.
- The character has a reason to go on an adventure or be present in the story.
- They have long and short term goals.
Almost as important as the character being ready is the player being ready. There are few things worse than a player who doesn’t understand their character’s abilities. If you’re a player, make sure you read up on your character’s different actions, special abilities, and racial traits before the first session. Know and understand them. Your character is what initially brings you to the table, and you will portray them. Be an expert on them.
Don’t respect others’ time by not understanding how many attacks your 5th level fighter gets, what your magic caster’s spell might be, and whether or not your druid can turn into a grizzly bear. Read and understand before session one, here you go. Everyone will appreciate it. Everybody. Including me, and I’m probably not there!
The campaign is planned, the characters live and breathe, and now it’s time for the campaign to really begin: the adventure awaits! What now?
It’s all up to the World Master to ensure success, right? After all, they run the world, pull the characters together, write plot hooks, and try to keep each player as close as possible.
The whole party has to work together at the start of the campaign to get the ball rolling. It’s not just the World Master’s job to weave together a compelling story. It is the duty of every player at the table. Of course, the World Master will open the game and present the world to the group, but once everyone is in it and the characters interact, each player must make an effort to form bonds and mutual drive.
Potential players, please note the following concepts:
- Don’t be uptight and in the shadows. Get out of the corner and talk to the other characters, don’t worry or hide from them.
- Don’t act hostile unless other players are good at starting the game this way. Animosity to start the story usually doesn’t work and can quickly derail the campaign.
- Once the first meet and greet is over and an obvious plot hook is flung your way, bite it if it’s interesting! The World Master doesn’t just throw out dirty food, they put what they think are cool events your way.
Not every game starts with a simple meet and greet, but these three concepts are embodied by the players can be easily adjusted for any start.
Dungeon Masters, Game Masters, Lore Keepers, World Masters… this is how you start your TTRPG or D&D opening session of the campaign. Once everyone is at the table, characters prepared, players wide-eyed and ready to go, start talking.
You could start the group separately, each member somewhere in a rustic inn. You could thrust them into an unbridled action sequence, screaming goblins chasing the party as they chase minecarts down a dark mineshaft. Heaven above, you could just drop them in front of the abandoned watchtower, while pirate goblins are partying inside, and give them the prompt: “Vile goblins inhabit this once great watchtower, innocents are imprisoned in the dungeons. It’s your job to save them.”
However you start the campaign, exude confidence and know that the difficult set-up has been completed. Everyone is present and ready to play as a group. What comes next is pure pleasure, as long as you’ve laid a solid foundation.
Whether the RPG campaign kicks off mid-battle with a horde of goblins on a mountainside, on a stormy sea, or in the bowels of the rotten abyss, keep these concepts in mind and remember everyone sits at the table or desk to play a game, have fun and maybe tell a kickass and compelling story. Rarely do great campaigns begin with two characters sulking in the shadows of a dark room, another three battling it out over a game of dice, and one last speaking to the planned patron and watching the madness unfold.
Do your best to start the story quickly and in the best possible way. All in all, it’s hard to fail.
Player of World Master, you can make sure your RPG campaign starts in the best way possible. To remind:
- Synchronize everyone’s schedules and set a consistent time to play the campaign.
- Spend enough time with the characters to ensure they are interesting and fun to play. At least understand how their mechanics work in the game.
- Quickly bring everyone into the world and the story with great yet simple plot hooks. It’s not just the World Master’s job to make sure this happens; each player must try to assist.
If you liked this week’s article, check out last week’s post about the tabletop roleplay I’m creating: Planetarium. It is mainly based on my favorite RPGs and video games D&D and Path of Exile.
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As always, thanks for reading. Send any questions to [email protected] or leave a comment below.
This is to improve your game and world: cheers!