Dungeons & Dragons Diary. Creating a New Campaign World after 26 years.

In my last post I spoke of the need to let things start over in D&D. I just came to that realization recently. I’ve been running a Forgotten Realms campaign for just over 25 years, but it is time it ends and I do something different. I originally ran the campaign from 1992-2007. I went on a gaming hiatus in 2007 since D&D 3rd edition (3E) was getting bloated and tiresome, and when I looked at the upcoming 4E, I saw a game that shouldn’t even have the ‘D&D’ logo placed on it. 4E also planned to destroy and then rebuild the Forgotten Realms, which was something I strongly disagreed with this. So I quit gaming (and did something useful with my life like get a Masters degree and PhD!).

In 2014 5E was about to get released and the game looked fresh and new again. They also tried to correct the fatal choices they made in 4E with the Forgotten Realms (but they didn’t go far enough – they really needed to pretend 4E never happened). I was living in the UK at the time, so restarted my campaign with British players. The rush of youthful fresh thoughts was so invigorating! Yet my old campaign was not up to what this burst of player creativity and the new edition of the game offered. I tried to make it work but somewhere in the back of my head I could sense something was wrong. In 2015 I returned to the US and reunited with my old gamers, but 5E and the dynamic British players I had gamed with had altered me and I struggled with my campaign setting. Last year (2017) I began an epic 25th anniversary adventure for my campaign. I hoped to tie-up incomplete 25 year old plot threads. The adventure ended last week and it was probably the worst campaign I have run as a DM. It has now become clear to me that my Forgotten Realms campaign world is done with. It had its day and now it is time to move on.

I now begin the task of starting over and doing things the way I want. The baggage of using a campaign setting like the Forgotten Realms which has thousands of pages of game material pulled from hundreds of game texts covering more than 30 years, as well as several hundred novels, is more trouble than it is worth. I now begin the task of creating a new world.

I remember trying this for the first time back in 1991, but this was before the internet, and gaming was still rather simple back then. Now, in 2018, we have a robust internet and people are getting university degrees in game design, so there is an endless supply of material to draw upon. I now find it immensely easier to find pantheons of gods and detailed geographical maps to pick and choose from to modify and alter for my new world.

I plan to give myself a year to build up this world and use my own homebrew D&D 5E rules. I will be bringing back lots of old 1st and 2nd edition ideas. Gaming has become too easy since 3E, for example: I want to bring back the importance of Alignment (morality matters!), long rests will also take a week (it makes no sense whatsoever to think that after fighting supernatural undead or dragons that you will be able to get all your health back after an 8 hour nap!). I will also be shaking things up with the D&D races like Elves and Dwarves. My new campaign world will have a strongly focused Scandinavian/Nordic feel in the north and a Celtic feel in the south, and the races need to reflect this specialized focus. In nearly all RPG game worlds humans are dominant, I really find this boring and it has been done to death. In my world the ancient races (elves, dwarves, giants, etc) are still dominant and the humans and their empires are in the minority (the humans are just beginning to find their place in the world by creating their very first fledgling kingdoms). The old magic and ancient beliefs of the elves, dwarves, and giants still hold sway.

I plan to be living in Denmark by 2019, this will be an ideal place for me to unveil my new D&D world – in a new country with new and dynamic players to challenge me in new ways and I’ll have a new world ready to get molded and altered by this fresh new interaction (and once I learn Danish I will be able to properly role-play my Scandinavian Giants and Trolls!).

D&D Diary. Adventurers League.

I attended my second Adventurers League last night at my local game store. I had a lot of fun! I had the same Dungeon Master (DM) and nearly all the same players, so we continued right where we left off.

It is nice to be able to show up to a game as a player with a bunch of others who just want to sit back and relax, and have your game run by informed, professional DMs who know the rules. Over the 5 hours we gamed last night I became aware of several things which I had let pass in my game which I shouldn’t have. It is also a great way to watch and observe other players in action.

Far too often we might find a group of players we game with and never deviate from them. This can be good when they are our close friends and we are all comfortable sitting around the table laughing and socializing together. The bad part is that you tend to acquire a narrow perspective on game play and can lose perspective on other possibilities, you’ll even end up doing things wrong, but because you haven’t seen it done another way you just continue doing it since it never dawned on you that it was wrong. This is true if you’re a veteran gamer and can be especially true if you’re a new gamer – new gamers need to have fresh interactions with people to see how things can be done, and veterans need a shot of creativity to break them free of bad habits and dead-end ideas.

And speaking of leaving dead-end ideas behind and abandoning bad habits, I will cover what I’ve decided to do to start over in my next post.