D&D: Writing you own Campaign

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What’s Dungeons and Dragons have to do with writing a story? Everything.

To those who aren’t familiar with D&D, I’ll give you a quick overview. Dungeons and Dragons is a table-top, fantasy, role-playing game set in the Forgotten Realms. Those familiar with R.A. Salvatore‘s Drizzt Do’Urden might know a little something about the world. For those who don’t know Drizzt then take a look at the popular show Stranger Things. Mike, Dustin, Lucas, and Will played D&D in the pilot of the show and even in the last episode.

The major component about the game is storytelling and that’s where this post comes in. For starters, there is ‘a lot’ to know about playing D&D but I won’t go into too much detail. Instead, I’ll focus on how to build your own campaign for what’s called a ‘home-brew game.’ This term just means that you made a game set in the Forgotten Realms. It can also mean that you created your own world and are simply using the game mechanics of D&D like the dice rolling, the encounters, etc.

I should also mention that I went to Compicpalooza 2017 and was able to take down notes on many of the panels. The topic for this post was selected from my many notes so, in essence, it’ll be an overview of the advice and tips that I received.

  1. There’s no order in building your campaign and that holds true with writing.

You can start with your characters (in this case it can be your NPCs – the many roles you’ll take on as a DM (Dungeon Master – the one who runs the campaign)). If possible, it’s best to add as many NPCs beforehand. If needed, ‘someone’ will exist for your ‘adventures’ to come talk to and you won’t have to manifest them on the spot and remember them later.

Or your world. Or an object players (the ‘heroes’) have to find or destroy. That’s for you to decide.

Perhaps even your antagonist. This can be from anything you really want – a blood mage or a dragon.

However, for those building your own world, the terrain/ the environment is something to keep in mind. Is it mountainous? Plains? Forest? The Sea? The adventure will depend on what kind of area the players have to traverse. Plus, it would also make the encounters (the ‘enemy/beasts) plays will have to fight.

For the world building, you don’t have to know how to draw a map. There are pre-made maps and map generators available. Like donjon; RPG Tools. There are a lot of resources online to make it easier.

2. Basic Fundamentals of the World

The more details you know about your world the better. Just like writing anything, it is best to know almost everything you need to know about your world. That way, you won’t have to make things up on the spot and possibly forget about it later. I’m not saying it’s bad to make things up but I find that it disrupts the flow of the story. Plus, if you do have everything planned then it makes the world seem more real. Not only that but if you know the relationships between towns or tribes then you can use that as a source of conflict (if needed).

3. Managing your players

It’s not really a rule of thumb but your players are what makes the story. As the DM, you create the story and basically, the players help you write it. The story may go on a different path that you intended but it’s okay. Plans are subjected to change. It’s not like the story went out the window or anything. The DM is there to help guide the players through the story. There has to be some level of control but don’t force them to stay on that path only. Let them explore.

Whatever you don’t use then recycle it for another adventure. I do that in writing all the time. I can’t use something in one story but if I can use it in another story, then I will.

Like any story, there are going to character backstories. As a DM, you can use these to create a different arc or build it into the story. Just give your players something to care about. That’s what the core is for any story. Keep them invested.

Final thoughts:

Have fun. If you’re not having fun then why would your players be?Don’t get caught up in the details. They’re more like guidelines.

Half and Half -Part 1

I decided to try something different today. For the last seventeen days, I have been writing around 1,800 words (sometimes less) all in one sitting. This probably contributes to the reason of why I…

Source: Half and Half -Part 1

Advice and Inspiration

My plot has been going down the drain day by day and it has shown in my writing and in my blog posts. However, thanks to Akaluv, I started to give thought about my plot in the way of chapters. I te…

Source: Advice and Inspiration

Preparation for NaNoWriMo

I haven’t mentioned this before, or maybe you got the idea but, I have a lot of projects I work on so I’m always busy with something. This also means that I never lack any ideas for stories/novels which is why this year, I already have the story I’ll be working on in mind. A little background on this story is in order.

The story is titled Phantom Blade. I posted it on wattpad a few years ago but somehow, it just wasn’t coming out right and it started to drag. I called it quits before I started hating it. Over the years, however, I have reworked the world and the characters and reworked the plot. Sure I don’t have everything set in stone but I have an idea of what’s going to happen and how it is going to end (more on endings later).

This also means that I have most of the characters already set and so I don’t have to start from scratch. I think that’s one of the benefits of having so many projects. You’re always working on something and, when you finally start writing, there’s not a whole lot that you have to worry about. Just like this story, all I have to do is write. Editing comes later.

Sure I’ll keep planning before NaNoWriMo 2016 starts but for now, I’ve started outlining my novel. For me, this is sort of like writing a synopsis. I basically type of the plot, scenes, and/or details of what I want to write for the story. These aren’t always concrete but sometimes I do write out dialogue or character development moments. It all depends. My outline isn’t always complete. I don’t write out the entire story because a. there would be no creativity left and b. I don’t know what’s going to happen.

The one thing I make sure to do is to be flexible. I know I have an outline but I use it more like a guideline. I allow the story to change because, otherwise, I would feel like writing would become a chore. I like writing and I don’t like being forced to write (like college essays for example *cough*). Not to mention that having an outline helps me keep writing without hitting a wall so soon.

Has anyone else started preparing for NaNoWriMo 2016? What tips or advice would you share? Thanks for reading.

Beta Reading

Recently, I was asked by a friend, let’s call him J, to read his story for him as a Beta reader. I’ve done beta reading before – changed some minor grammar issues – commented so, I like to say that I know what I’m doing. Plus the last 60 or so hours of college was all about reading, editing, and commenting on classmates’ work. I have experience under my belt. 

There are a few things I have to keep in mind when I read over someone else’s work.

1. I read through it first.

I like to take it all in before I start to analyze a story. Mostly because if I’m confused on something and I comment on it but later the information is there then, I made a mistake. I also think its nice to just read a story and think about it afterwards.

2. Use a red pen.

Normally when I print a story out then, I tend to use a red pen. There’s nothing special about a red pen, in essence, but it helps me get into the mindset of editor.y job is to look for grammacial errors, minor mispelled words, ect. 

3. Be honest but don’t be mean.

There’s a fine line between disliking something and being mean. At least that’s my opinion. In my comments, I’m honest. If I think something is cliche, I say it. However, I also include suggestions on how to fix or change whatever bothers me or I think needs to be changed. 

4. With a grain of salt

I always tell the author  to take my advice with a grain of salt. Ultimately, it is up to him/her to decide what theu want to change or keep. All I can do is tell him/her about my thoughts on their story. It also helps if the author has a lot if beta readers so if there’s an issue everyone notices then that issue should be worked on.

5. Track changes.

MS Word has an awesome button called track changes. I like this because the author can see what I have changed and kept. Google Docs and I believe Drive also have a feature that let’s you see changes. This way, the author can knownwhat was changed without having to compare the documents side by side. 

Lastly, my opinions and advice are my own. I don’t feel offended if an author disagrees with my comments. I’m just glad that they were willing to let me read their story.