D&D Campaign Ideas

D&D Campaign Ideas – 3 Ways Players Build the Game

D&D Ideas -- Fey
Dungeon Master Just Frakked Your D&D Backstory What Do You Do

Lets discuss a great way for a Dungeon Master to get their players involved in building their campaigns in 5th Edition Dungeons and Dragons. All of the D&D campaign Ideas don’t need to come solely from the Dungeon Master. Video and transcription below.

D&D Campaign Ideas – 3 Ways Players Build the Game Video

D&D Campaign Ideas – 3 Ways Players Build the Game Transcription Video

Ted: “You know, Dave D&D campaign building isn’t just for the Dungeon Master.”

Dave: “That’s so true, Ted. Dungeon Masters there is absolutely no reason why you shouldn’t be using your players as a campaign as well as adventure idea of building resource.”

Ted: “So let’s get into D&D campaign ideas. Three ways D&D players build the game.”

Dave: “Welcome to Nerdarchy for nerds by nerds. I’m Nerdarchist Dave and as usual, I’m hanging out with this nerd.”

Ted: “Nerdarchist Ted.”

Dave: “Hey, maybe it’s your first time visiting Ted’s basement. Well, it’s a place where we like to discuss news, views, and homebrews for 5th edition Dungeons and Dragons. And sometimes we talk about other role-playing games.”

Ted: “So if you don’t want to miss a single video, then don’t forget to crit hit that subscribe button and attune to that notification bell.”

Dave: “All right, Ted D&D campaign ideas, three ways for your players that help build your campaign.”

Ted: “So you know, a lot of times, you know, you see DMs that just like, it’s my story. I got to, I got to write what’s here. And while they might incorporate, you know, players, goals, and things into what’s going on, it’s not integral to the plot. It’s not using what they’ve already provided to capitalize and jump on.”

Dave: “Yeah, I don’t even think it’s always a matter of being intentional. So sometimes I feel like the DM just feels like it’s their job. They have to put the pieces all together, they have to create this immersive experience and you know, tell this story with their players and lay it out all out for them and they have to build all of the pieces and then the players just come in and move the pieces around and play with them. But this video is really about saying no, your players can actually help you build those pieces and we can all move them around together.”

Ted: “Absolutely. Number one is going to be incorporating NPCs, you know, from players backstories.”


Dave: “Yeah, absolutely is this is a great tip and a great way to do things. And that is as your players give you backstories, and they mentioned people in it as a GM, make some notes and think about how they might pop up throughout the campaign. Yeah. Whether it’s just social interactions or you need to have the big bad show up and you know, kidnap someone there. Make great candidates for this.”

Ted: “I mean, look at the MCU in Thor’s backstory. He’s got a brother who turns out to be the big bad Loki.”

Dave: “sort of their relationship is far more complex than that. But yeah, I, you know. Um, you know, even bigger would be when his sister shows up and wreaks havoc. But you’re right and you know, you can look at it, great examples from modern media and kind of incorporate those ideas into your games. But ultimately the idea is mine, the player’s backstories for these details so you can incorporate them into the game that you’re running in the campaign.”

Ted: “and they can be, you know, all over the spectrum from plot devices. They could be captured, they could be bad guys. It could be, you know, people showing up that need the money and it winds up becoming a drain on the party’s resources. Of course, if they’re willing or they could be, you know, totally trying to scam them, steal from them and it’s a drain on their resources without their knowledge.”

Dave: “Yeah, that’s a great point. Plot devices, quest givers and plot twists are three great ways to use those NPCs. Now another area we can talk about is from the backstory and also character creation itself. And that is what background did the players choose?”

Ted: “Absolutely. You know, if, if your player winds up taking the soldier background in the area that they’re in, what does that going to mean Well, are they, you know, a town militia and they don’t really go out and fight a war or are you coming from a major city and war has happened and therefore this, this character has seen much now if multiple characters are taking the same background, well now you’ve got characters that are linked together and you know, there’s a reason for that.”

Dave: “I also look for opportunities to introduce fun encounters that aren’t necessarily combat encounters, right You say you have one or more characters with the soldier background there in the tavern and there’s a table off to the side and they’re creating a lot of ruckuses and maybe they even start picking on and kind of bullying one of the players at the table that doesn’t have the soldier background. And then they realize that one of their comrades is also at that table, which then changes as the encounter completely where you may have almost been ready for a bar fight and now it’s a different kind of thing and it’s like, why is the unit back together Well everyone, but maybe this one character or one or two characters, but the unit is assembled. What are they doing Oh, they’re not actually in the army anymore? They’re mercenaries. They could turn out to be the bad guys. There’s plenty of plots that I’ve seen in movies where this very thing happens, you know So you could run with that.”

Ted: “If you go, guild artisan, you know, is there, is there a rival? Do you have someone who you know is trying to show you up? Is someone trying to sabotage your stuff? Easy ways that you can get, get in on that one. Charlatan, Who did they put a bad deal on Who is coming after them? Folk Hero, If you know you’ve done something great, what was it? You know, do you have someone who’s trying to follow in your footsteps? and you’re going to have to wind up rescuing or as a tag along? Because it’s like, well, I want to see what you do because you’re my hero and this becomes a plot device of this. This person is always getting into danger because they want to be like their hero.”

Dave: “Yeah. Like the folk here was a, they’re a threat You overcame? A charlatan Did you assume an of someone who you assumed or was dead or believed to be dead? But now they’re not. There are tons of fun things you can do with the background choices and those NPCs from the backstory. So let’s move down our list to the next one.”

Ted: “So here we’re going to get into lore with player agency.”

Dave: “All right, so this is anytime the players create something probably in their backstory or something they want to do with our character, but it doesn’t exist in your world already. This is the point where we were going to say, hey, why not say yes and allowed them to have it. I remember another youtuber was doing kind of like a live session zero or recapping a session zero was a couple of years ago and one of the players wanted to play, I think they were playing like a wild Elf and they wanted to be from a group of wild elves where either there are elite cavalry road tigers or something like that. Well, that’s kind of cool. Why not Maybe you didn’t plan it and maybe you then have yet in your world, well maybe you can put more wild elves at the different society of them. And that’s a thing now.“


Ted: “In my game that I’m currently running, you know we did a session zero and with you know, seven veteran players, you guys came up with, you know, a massive story about, you know, what happened to prior to session one and while I had stuff working as to what I was going to do with the plot, you know, you gave me, well here’s a villain that you’re going to use. And whether that’s the, you know, the big bad of the game or whether that’s, you know, an intermediary, you know, you guys don’t know, but you’re looking for this mage that you created. You created this whole great story. And for me that’s a major catalyst to be able to like, well I don’t have to come up with names, I don’t have to come up with places. It was all provided by your collective stories.”

Dave: “Yeah. In that instance, we were starting at fourth level. So it’s like what did you do to get the fourth level? We want it to be together to make it easier on Ted, the GM. We came up with probably an organization. We came up with a magic academy. We came up with a villain and we also came up with a handful of NPCs. That all got dropped into Ted’s game. Now, Ted could have been a Dungeon Master that said, no, you can’t do this. This is my 5th edition Dungeons and Dragons campaign, not yours. I do the world building in D&D because I’m the Dungeon Master, but you didn’t do that. You said, oh, okay, there’s room for all of these things and they’re interesting. Now that being said, even though we created some things and came up with ideas, I am 100% in the camp of the DM is now has full rights to do whatever he wants with that stuff and twisted and corrupted in any way he wants and you know like our part is players with the agency he gave us is done. Now it’s his idea to, to interpret it just because you create something and you think it’s a certain way and your character perceives it that way doesn’t mean it is because plot twists happen.”

Ted: “Plot twists happen. I was gonna say the same thing, but you know what else is a, is a, an amazing twist?”

Dave: “What would that be, Ted?”

Ted: “That’s going to be the Kickstarter from Nord Games.”

Dave: “The Ultimate Bestiary of the Dreaded Accursed!”

Ted: “That’s going to be it.”

Dave: “Yeah these guys are kicking butt over there on Kickstarter. They’re sponsoring this video, but we love Nord Games. We’ve worked with them in the past. We were introduced to them through an Ultimate Bestiary that Revenge of the Horde. Uh, you know, now it’s all about the undead and cursed creatures. They’re slamming those stretch goals down and they’ve got four of them already out of the way. Closing in on the 5th one and the stretch goals that they have are cool. Like so far. Player options for undead, whether you wanted to maybe play as one or you’re hunting undead. I don’t know exactly what that means. But it’s going to be cool, you’re going to get more art, we’re going to get monster lairs, where we get dread beasts, and the one that I think Ted excited about is probably the one that’s coming up.”

Ted: “Well, you know, the dreaded accursed is, is amazing. We got some cool undead. I’m excited for, you know, the options, what they have with Willow-O-Wisps. I’m a huge fan of lycanthropes and the were-critters that are in there very excited for but the next stretch goal. It’s probably going to be unlocked by the time you guys, you know, wind up seeing this video. But mongrel folk, I’m excited about that one too.”

Dave: “Ted has loved mongrel folk in all the previous editions. I have too. They’re just so cool and creepy. They’re so ugly. How could you not love them It’s like when you go to the zoo to see the warthog, but it’s, the thing is hideous but so lovable anyway. Yeah, so that is going to be unlocked and they’ve got more planned. I can’t wait to see what they come up with. They’re doing great. They’ve got another like 16 days left. When we’re filming this video here, you should check out this Kickstarter. There is a link in the description below. Go take a look.”

Ted: “All right, so we want to move on to our third and final.”

Dave: “I think that would be the place to go.”

Ted: “So what do we have for number three?”

Dave: “As a Dungeon Master You should experiment with if you haven’t invited your players to help paint the scene.”


Ted: “Here’s a great thing that you know, I’ve, I’ve learned from other role-playing games and haven’t done it, you know, before 5th edition and that walks into a room, a city, any anywhere. And instead of you describing it, you throw it out to the table. Some GMs might award inspiration for allowing the player agency in their world. But here, here you get to step back as a GM and allow a player or players to put in a room exactly what it is they’re looking for. Are they looking for a combat scene? Well if you give it to them to, to make that they can say what it is they’re looking to fight? What it is they’re looking to, to talk to, and they get to build exactly what they want.”

Dave: “They can. It can also be like far less innocuous as well. You could, as you said, your players have gone to a city. Well, one of the players happens to be from that city. They’re like, we want to go to a tavern. This is a great place for you to to go to that player and say, Hey, what is your character’s favorite tavern in the city? What it called and who they like to hang out with there because they’re from the city. They would know that obviously like this is a gray area where you have to kind of know your players a little bit and it’s also a place where you have to be willing to step in. If you put them in a position to make some uncomfortable, maybe they’re not ready to your do things on the fly and Improv the scenes and that’s okay. Throw something out there, respond to what they give you or just take it right back and keep going with it. I’ve talked about this before. I’ve had it come up in, you know, my games with, with a player and, and uh, you know, the same exact scenario, where do you want to go And they weren’t, they just weren’t expecting me to be let them decide what the name of it was, you know, I hadn’t worn them or anything. So whenever you can also warn your players that these things will come up and you know, and they can tell you whether they want to participate at that level or not. And that player was just like, Oh, an adjective animal. And so I was like, all right. And I just ran with it. Blue Hyena because there’s a giant hyena that has been stuffed and dyed blue in the corner of this tavern. It’s run by so and so, blah blah blah. Don’t make a big deal of it. Don’t like try and prompt your player to give you more than they wanted to give you. Just take it and run with it. Whether they give you stuff or not, maybe next time they’ll be more interested in participating and because you just caught them off guard or something.”

Ted: “And, and that’s a key point, you know, knowing your players is really important. I know my, my current group, as I said, it’s full of veterans, you know, most of them, you know, if I tossed something like that out there, they will jump on it and go to town with it. But you know, doing, doing that kind of thing where you give them the freedom, it fills out details. Oh well the Blue Hyena is, is a, is a cool place. Well, Hey, now that there’s this stuffed hyena there, you know, that becomes a plot element. What happens if another tavern tries to steal it? What happens if, uh, you know, it’s, you know, alive and it becomes a plot device in another way? Like, you know, you can go in a lot of different directions. ”

Dave: “I am so disappointed, Ted, that I never thought the steel, the Blue Hyena, almost like a frat house where they steal the mascot from another school, another school. Such a lost opportunity.”

Ted: “I mean that’s, that’s exactly, you know where my brain went. You know when you know you’re talking about essentially this, this mascot, you know there’s a stuffed hyena off in the corner. I’m like, all right, well what would I do with that if I was the GM, this was a, a player characters favorite haunt. Well then anything that happens to that place, you know, then you know, becomes a quest. Hey, Look, oh my God, you know, Not Niles is here. Somebody took the hyena You know, what do I? do I will track it down. I will find the Hyena.”

Dave: “But one of the things too is whenever you do this and you give your players agency and let them create in your world, when you do something like Ted said and had the Hyena get kidnapped, right, then all of a sudden like your players are vested because they created that piece or like, oh you’re not taking my hyena. Right. Cause they have ownership of it by creating it and this creates instant plot hooks into your games. And I think also it’s a lot of fun for the players to be able to take ownership of the world that’s being built around them. As the GM, you’re still going to get the build most of the stuff anyway. It’s not a big deal. Dungeon masters aren’t losing anything by letting their players take some agency and create some little bits and bobs in their world. If anything, it’s going to enrich it and make it a better experience for everyone at the table.”


Ted: “You know, besides being enriched, the players are going to feel more immersed in the game because they’ve had a hand in building it.”

Dave: “Yes. So what do you guys think? Tell us things that you’ve created in your games that the Dungeon Master has let you throw in there. Or Dungeon Masters tell us some creative things your players have come off with. Before we head on out of here, I want to invite you to join the Nerdarchy adventuring party over on Patreon. Hey, Ted, you want to tell them what they can find over there?”

Ted: “Every month we’re creating products for 5th edition Dungeons and Dragons that for, for players and DMs alike.”

Dave: “But Ted that’s not all. Not only that, all of our patrons automatically get entered into our monthly giveaways.”

Ted: “While that’s true, Dave, that’s still not everything. We’re also doing weekly hangouts with our patrons.”

Dave: “So with that, and so next time.”

Both: “Stay nerdy!”

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My name is Dave Friant I've been gaming off and on for over 27 years. But here is the thing it's always been a part of my life I've kept secret and hidden away. I've always been ashamed of the stigma that gaming and my other nerdy and geeky pursuits summon forth. Recently I decided screw it! This is who I am the world be damned. From now on I'm gonna be a geek, nerd, or however folks want to judge me and just enjoy life. Currently one of my greatest joys is introducing my 13 yr old son to table top RPG's.

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