I ran my first Dungeons and Dragons campaign today! Ahhhh!
Since I started playing Dungeons and Dragons regularly, over a year ago, I’ve always had it in the back of my mind that I wanted to run a campaign. Blame it on Griffin McElroy and the wondrousness of The Adventure Zone podcast, but I wanted to be able to build my own story and share it with others, create a world and watch other people play around in it.
I played D&D a couple of times in college, but it wasn’t very engaging. I didn’t really know what I was doing, and I didn’t really know the people I was playing with. I had seen it advertised somewhere on campus and decided to check it out, but I only played one or two times, and I quickly lost interest. Maybe it was because I didn’t know what the story was, or maybe because it was 4th Edition, which focused more on tactics and combat than storytelling, but I just didn’t connect.
Then, a little over a year ago, my friend invited me to play with her group. They had already been playing for a while and were playing a published Adventurers League campaign called Tomb of Annihilation (and yes, it has been as bad as that sounds). I created a character and joined in, quickly establishing my relationship to the other players, and making decisions based on my character’s personality, not how I as my own person would interact with the world. It was difficult and exhilarating. And now my character has gone through so much and developed so drastically, he’s nothing like when we first started. The campaign has been long and brutal, and I don’t know if he’ll survive. But it’s been a lot of fun to explore this new form of storytelling.
And so I started reaching out to my friends at the library, a whole group of which have played D&D before and expressed interest in doing a short campaign with me. Because we all work at the library, I decided to do a short 1-2 session campaign based in the Library of Alexandria. It’s a kind of mystery dungeon crawl, light on encounters and brimming with secrets. I have spent weeks thinking, planning, writing, drawing. I made my own maps and created my own puzzles. I read the Dungeon Master’s Guide and the Player’s Handbook numerous times, nervously preparing for the day when real life humans that I have no control over come to mess around in my sandbox.
Although I’ve only played with one Dungeon Master (DM), I already knew what I wanted to do, what I wanted to avoid, how I wanted to move the story along. But oh my heck is it difficult to not steer the players in the right direction. The internet is rich with memes about players purposely messing with the DM’s carefully laid plans, but I think that’s half the fun. Not only do the players have to be creative in coming up with ways to solve puzzles and destroy monsters, but the DM has to find a way to make it all work and move the story along with some of the bonkers decisions the players make.
And there were some difficulties today. A lot of what I had planned was based on the assumption that the players could do certain things, which it turned out they couldn’t. I had to figure out a way for them to be able to progress in a way that was unplanned but that still fit within the context of the story. And they came up with some really great solutions to certain problems that I never even imagined.
And the character dynamics of this particular group is so perfect. Not only are they rich in personality, the players are fully immersed in the authenticity of their characters. There is friction, romantic tension, confusion, annoyance, and some really really brilliant humor. We all get along as people, so there’s no tension in the room. Although it was my first time DMing, and although I was nervous to share this story I had so carefully crafted, I knew the players would support me. Most of them were playing types of characters they had never played before, so there were a lot of questions and some time spent working things out and sussing out rules. But we all supported one another, no one got annoyed for how long things were taking, and we all had a really, really good time.
Because we were a little limited on time today, we still have one more session to go before we finish out this campaign. And then I’ll get started on a new character, or start writing a new campaign. I would love to delve into this more.
And I did record the whole thing, and there will be a podcast coming out. It will be ridiculous. Stay tuned. :)
I write for fun and to make sure my sister doesn't beat me in our blog challenge.