What's your favorite start point for a campaign?

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Urk
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What's your favorite start point for a campaign?

Post by Urk » Tue Aug 12, 2008 6:02 pm

Well I can't help noticing that the best and the brightest DMs have all become active on this site. I'm posting here instead of NWC because I'd like to avoid the legions.

I am just curious...

What is your favorite starting point for a campaign? What is your favorite base of operations? Rural? Town? City? And of course... "why".

I have always gravitated a certain way... but I'm curious what other DMs think.

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NWN DM
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Re: What's your favorite start point for a campaign?

Post by NWN DM » Tue Aug 12, 2008 6:17 pm

Personally, I like a rural setting that is close to a small town of some sort.

For example, in my Greyhawk Adventures (NWN) campaign, new players start in a Rhennee encampment on the shore of a lake. Here they have access to several stores and important NPCs that provide their first "getting to know you" adventure.

From there, a short overland trek brings them to a small city, which provides opportunity to spend newly found coin, trade in goods that they've found, meet more influential NPCs and access to about five different potential adventures and plot developments.

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Dane Bramage
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Re: What's your favorite start point for a campaign?

Post by Dane Bramage » Tue Aug 12, 2008 6:39 pm

The Golden Gryphon... with a bar brawl! :lol: :lol: :lol:

heh heh... kicking it old school :roll:

seriously, it depends on the campaign. what fits into the story arc. for example, a project that i am working on starts off in a walled city... the capitol of the realm, to be exact, because it's central to the story. there is no intrigue about how or why the PCs are there. the city itself is the story.

i'm of the opinion that the PCs are special and that's why they are "heroes" or at least destined to be heroes. i never do the "some kid from a farm that raises to the status of hero" thing. just never been something that i've ever done.

so for me... the beginning is more of a plot device than anything else.

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Venture
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Re: What's your favorite start point for a campaign?

Post by Venture » Tue Aug 12, 2008 6:44 pm

Since my campaigns have bee ongoing with the same group, I've only had 2 start points (one NWN, and one NWN2). Both started in small villages, mostly for logistical purposes (easier to build). I, too, like the idea of a place where the group can find what equipment they need, within reason. In a village in a good-aligned campaign, the player characters are more likely to have to take care of things themselves, compared with a big city where there would be other adventurers, the city guard, etc.

In NWN2, our start point was on a caravan route near the village outskirts. Each player joining the campaign was given a bit of a backstory as to the major events going on in the area, and had to come up with a reason for being part of the caravan heading to the village. In the weeks leading up to the first session, we did forum roleplay that took place during the caravan's trek, so the characters could get to know one another. The last post of the forum roleplay was by me, describing an attack on the caravan. The first session started off with the player characters in the midst of that attack.

With the NWN campaign, we actually started with the Saltmarsh series before transitioning the same characters into a custom campaign (we made Saltmarsh part of the campaign world). The custom part started in a small village, but the group was already formed from Saltmarsh, and had gone to the new village in pursuit of somebody.

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Mulu
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Re: What's your favorite start point for a campaign?

Post by Mulu » Tue Aug 12, 2008 7:31 pm

I'm starting to like a hub and spoke approach to campaign design, so the starting point is the hub, or base of operations for the players. For XCOM it actually was a base of operations, but a town the party keeps returning to, or a University as I'm going to do next, serves the same function of a place to rest and recuperate, sell and buy equipment, advance a plot through a primary patron, and just be a familiar setting, which will inevitably be attacked and razed to the ground, of course. :D

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Re: What's your favorite start point for a campaign?

Post by Gulfwulf » Tue Aug 12, 2008 7:35 pm

It depends on what the mod maker decided on the starting point :D But most of them either start in a small town or a larger city, depending upon the mod. I'm lazy in that I mainly use pre-built campaigns and tweak them to serve my and/or my players' needs.

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Urk
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Re: What's your favorite start point for a campaign?

Post by Urk » Wed Aug 13, 2008 9:05 pm

I gravitate towards cities as well. It just makes more sense. What are the odds that a half a dozen adventurers would suddenly band together in a sleepy hamlet somewhere? It just seems rather inplausable to me. Also... D&D worlds are very dangerous places. Cities just seem the safest place for noobs to begin. Lastly... it allows the players disparate skills. Not everyone has to be a farmer which was very much the case outside the walls in medieval Europe.

NWN doesn't even have a farming skill. :)

There are big downsides to cities though. It restricts the availability of many classes. Not a lot of druids or barbarians running around in a city. More importantly, though... It seems many newer players are overwhelmed. Some just stand and gawk, unable to figure out where to go or what to do. Others waste whole sessions exploring the map. Some turn into shopaholics and run from store to store trying to buy up everything they can find.

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Dragonstar
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Re: What's your favorite start point for a campaign?

Post by Dragonstar » Thu Aug 14, 2008 12:56 am

There is much to what Urk just said, because I've seen all of that. But when I'm starting a campaign, I nearly always set it in a city that the players can use as a home base. I do this whether it's NWN or whether it's tabletop. Then I send them out on missions out across the map. They may find a place they like better than "Starting City" to set up their base of operations. But in the beginning, they generally always have a reason to be in the city.

Waterdeep, for example, is a city that is soooooo big that you can easily break the different wards down into almost small cities of their own. Few people wander all over Waterdeep. They find their niche and stay there for the most part.

I don't think I've ever had an occasion to start a campaign in the wilderness. Hmmmm. *wanders off trying to remember*

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Re: What's your favorite start point for a campaign?

Post by GM_ODA » Thu Aug 14, 2008 5:41 pm

My module (City of Dohral / Argentum Regio) starts in an OOC outfitting area and offers entry into the game by DRAMATIC and PRACTICAL means. The DRAMATIC is what I address here (PRACTICAL takes a PC to the Tutorial area 'Noob U.').

The PC starts in a dreamstate, tho not entirely obvious; cursing his/her luck and 'hearing voices of the dead and dying echo in their mind' - the scene is the ocean floor shipwreck. The PC need only move around some to get flavor text and clues that the voices stop and there is nothing to hold the PC there any longer. The dreamscape segues to a marshy land with dragon skeletons in it and the dialog turns to 'Oh, so this is a dream? What's next then?' and the PC is free to move off the map, the last text hints at 'distant voices sounding concerned about a bump on the head'. Next the PC awakes aboard a ship in a storm with a lump on their head. :D

After interacting with the passengers and crew the ship makes unplanned landfall in the City of Dohral and the passengers are free to debark.

This is my default start of the module. As for starting the game, from the docks, it goes where the player takes it; I like freeform.
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Carlo
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Re: What's your favorite start point for a campaign?

Post by Carlo » Fri Aug 15, 2008 12:55 am

When I began my ongoing freeform campaign back in February 2004, I used a modified version of my Faerun Survival Course module as the starting sequence. It's set in an outer district of the city of Westgate (although can be easily modified), so provided a meeting and equipping place. The rest of the mod is wilderness/dungeon, so gave the players a common goal to focus on without city life distractions. I also modified the campaign rules a bit for this "prelude" sequence, not having permanent death while the players got used to working with each other. The mod takes PCs from level 1 to 3 (at a deliberately accelerated pace), so it also got them past the level 1 blues quickly.

I thought this sort of setup worked well, I felt it helped create a more cohesive party and a bit of a safety net at the beginning, which then left players better prepared to work without a net once the main campaign started up.

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