As a rule, I overthink and make things harder than they ought to be. But I’m nearly 30 years old and I’ve accepted that about myself. My idea of “fun” is researching the absolute shit out of a thing. I don’t know, man, for some reason that’s just my jam and I super enjoy it.
I literally spent my entire off day on YouTube, scouring the interwebs for campaign know-how, and basically read the entire Monster Manual. I spiraled so bad, now I’ve got Volo’s Guide to Monsters and Mordenkainen’s Tome of Foes in my Amazon cart. Remember earlier when I said I go all-in on new interests? Yeah… it’s somewhat shameful in all honesty.
The second part to this video is over an hour long, but it was definitely an interesting watch (over lunch) to see just how he thinks through his campaign and simplifies tasks. This second part I desperately needed (re: overthinking and making things harder). I immediately downloaded mindmup and began my own flow chart. I was proud of the fact I had already started a flow chart on paper. It was the only way I could figure out how to document all the ideas floating around in my head. At one point I had written notes, notes on my phone, and miscellaneous ideas still floating around. It was encouraging to see someone else using the same technique and to see how they applied it.
Putting my paper flow chart to the side, I opened up mindmup and did exactly as Luke showed – pulling out monsters and grouping them rationally for the campaign. This was where I basically went on a three or four hour spiral into the Monster Manual. Well worth it, though. The creatures I selected altered the storyline, gave more options to the party, and helped flesh out ideas I wasn’t sure would fit into the campaign. Approaching the campaign monster-first helped me bridge certain plot points I wanted to include but wasn’t sure how they fit together.
I’ve now moved on to the format, well overthinking it. I flipped through a published campaign book Storm King’s Thunder and got a bit overwhelmed. There’s absolutely so much detail about every little piece of a setting that it was quite a turnoff. After all the great work I’d accomplished today, I suddenly had a heavy “this is way too much” feeling. I just know there’s absolutely no way I’m going to have the maps, the details, the omniscient presence like the DMs over at Wizards of the Coast apparently have.
Determined not to let this ice wall kill my vibes, I looked for alternatives. Because frankly, there’s no way I, an absolute rookie, can model my campaign – epic or otherwise – after Storm King’s Thunder. Thus I found the D&D Tomb and a neat campaign titled “Defiance in Phlan.” Defiance in Phlan is much more casual, but no less exciting than the “official” campaign book. It has the block descriptive texts, bullet-point options for NPCs, and hand drawn maps. As part of the D&D Adventure League (not sure what that is at this time), it sticks to a very similar format as the PH/MM/DMG and is extremely legible. It is all the more legible for a novice like myself as there are fewer locations on each map to keep track of. It’s a stepping stone and I’m glad there are so many resources available.
I doubt I’ll get a detailed as half of these campaigns – I’m just not there yet. I think I can hold on to a loose idea of “there are about x-many goblins here” and “a trapdoor with x-many goblins there” for starters.
I’m nowhere near complete, not even close enough to post a solid adventure just yet. There are many different checkpoints and plot points to go. Still, there’s some real meat on my story’s bones and I’m genuinely proud of it. Honestly, I had a lot of fun today not leaving my house.