I am starting my first campaign as GM tomorrow with a bunch of people who never played and I am real nervous.

I am starting my first campaign as GM tomorrow with a bunch of people who never played and I am real nervous.

I am starting my first campaign as GM tomorrow with a bunch of people who never played and I am real nervous. I have an idea how to start. What i thought would be cool is throw them into it. Have them enter a dungeon and find a really hard boss that will wipe them all out but one. the one left will be told of impending doom and then they will all wake up in the town they will start from. Apart from that I have custom items and a general map with blanks.

The idea is that a group of people will be trying to open a portal to release the dangers inside and slowly take over the world. I assume this would be the campaign front?

How do i go about making other fronts or adventure fronts. Do i pick from the backstories of the characters when i hear then. Also how do you continue from the point i left off, just ask what the characters will do?

Are there any good pointers i can get for my first campaign?

41 thoughts on “I am starting my first campaign as GM tomorrow with a bunch of people who never played and I am real nervous.”

  1. I did my first session recently, which went pretty well. I found the way in was lots of questions back and forth at the start to establish the characters’ place within it. From there, and the things we extrapolated from there, we improvised the whole session.

  2. Some notes:

    You’re planning the outcome of a boss fight. Playing like that is called “railroading” where they players are just train cars moving along the tracks you laid out. What if they are sneaky, discover the boss, and just collapse the whole dungeon on top of it? What if they try to talk to it and ask to be it’s servants? What if what if what if…

    Your first session will probably be mostly character creation. That’s good! Character creation is as much play as the game is. Ask the barbarian where they come from, and why they left their lands. Ask the thief what their biggest score was. Ask the paladin what daily rites they observe for their deity. Write this all down and try to use it.

    For the dungeon itself, know what it looks like, what it contains, and give them a reason to be there. Start with them there already, possibly in some sort of bind. “Ok, so there you are, in what looks like the foyer of the Temple of Maitan-rah, and these three big-ass parrot things have you guys pinned down behind some statues, chucking rocks with their claws. PlayerA, what asshole is going to pay for not mentioning the birds when they told you about this place? PlayerB, you said you were from the lands near here – you ever heard about these things? PlayerC, one of the birds circles around a bit and notices you, cawing and charging right at you! What do you do?”

  3. First of all, relax. It’s going to be okay.

    Second, don’t worry about fronts yet. That’s for later.

    As far as your idea for the start, I’m not a fan of “this will happen then that will happen.” That’s railroading, not playing to find out what happens. A dungeon with ideas for monsters is great. A map with blanks, great. A boss that you plan on having beat all the players and then they are teleported somewhere and it’s all out of their control… not so much. Throw a hard boss at them, sure, but don’t plot out what’s going to happen in the fight.

    When your players are making their characters, ask a million questions. Build on the answers. Use the answer to populate the world and generate threats. Use the answers to fill in some of the blanks in that dungeon you’ve got handy. Ask them why they’re in the dungeon, what they’re looking for. In my experience, the more you let the players get involved in setting things up, the more invested they are in it.

    The elements you’ll use to build your fronts will come up naturally during the first session. Don’t plan your fronts in advance. Let them emerge from play.

    My first session tips:

    * Ask questions like crazy, take notes like crazy.

    * Have your agenda, principles, and GM moves printed on a sheet of paper in front of you at all times

    * Fiction first – no one should ever say “I hack and slash. 10!” Ask them WHAT they are doing, specifically.

    * Read the Dungeon World Guide, if you haven’t already.

  4. Aaron Griffin Chris Whetstone how could I change it so I do not railroad them. I like the start idea of it being a dream to inform of a doom on coming. Could I change it so that it could be beatable or something but have it explain the situation arising still or should I scrap that idea?

  5. Stephen Dini​ the only way I can think to make it not railroad-y is to have them awaken at the end of session regardless of what they did or what happened. You’d have to start giving clues about the fading dream (now you’re not wearing pants, and that girl you grew up with is here and so is your mom) for a bit and then have them awaken.

    I feel like something like this would be very discouraging for the players, though. They may have made sacrifices, had victories, or taken risks that you just invalidated with a wave of your hand. “Those awesome things you guys did? Didn’t happen”.

  6. “Have them enter a dungeon and find a really hard boss that will wipe them all out but one.”

    That sounds like a lot of no fun to me. What player wants to have their character killed right out of the gates, especially if the GM has set it up as unavoidable? I know that this ends up being a dream, but i would be pretty pissed if this is how a game started.

    This is your first time GMing with people who are new to the system, right? I say go with a more traditional and straightforward start to the adventure.

  7. I found that following the book’s advice and leaving the first session really open-ended worked out great. It might feel a little chaotic, but that’s okay, because the first session is your chance to figure out what kind of game you all want to play. Ask a bunch of questions to establish some backstory, then just keep things moving and dangerous; it’s about having fun and getting your first taste of how the system works. After that first game, you’ll have so many ideas, you won’t know what to do with them all.

  8. Stephen Dini If you’re really want the “prophetic dreams pointing toward a big threat,” one way to do that is by asking leading questions.

    “Hey, fighter… Last night, every night on your way towards the dungeon, you’ve been having dreams where this horrible, nasty monster just tore you and your friends apart. What sort of monster was it, and why were you so hold less against it?”

    “Hey wizard, why do you think these dreams the fighter is having are more than just dreams, but rather portents of what you’ll find in the dungeon?”

    “Cleric, what do the prophesies say about this creature? What is the first sign of its coming?”

    “Ranger… what do you know about this monster the fighter describes? What is said to be its most terrible trait?”

    “Hey thief… if a monster like that really is in this dungeon, what could possibly be in there that’s worth risking certain doom? Why is so important that you retrieve it, and quickly?”

    Then: once you’ve established that the fighter (or whoever) is having these dreams, you can invoke dream sequences when they make camp. Maybe even play out an encounter, but make it clear to the players that this is a dream. And have everyone wake up at a key moment, maybe when some rolls a miss but before as you describe the big beastie about to chomp their arm off… everyone wakes up!

  9. Dan Bryant so with this in mind. Instead of a story to follow, you build off all the characters and the conversation with the characters and determine it from the first session?

  10. Jeremy Strandberg that intersting. So instead of starting it off in the dream have it sorta follow along while ,let’s say, they are questing in order to show of some impending doom that is coming?

  11. I really agree with what Dan Bryant suggests. For the first session, drop the characters right into the action and just go from there. Follow where the players lead, asking questions and getting player input wherever you can. It’s totally fine to not know where things are going in that first session.

    That being said, you can add ideas and input as well. Like if you think vampires are cool, toss in some vampires. If you think an adventure in a ruined volcano would be rad, set things there. This is a collaborative game and everyone should be able to contribute regarding what they want to see.

    Don’t even worry about how things fit together for this first session. That happens after the first session. That’s when you sit down, look at all the content you generated, and figure out what is going on and who is involved. That’s when you build Fronts and Dangers.

  12. Ah I see. thank you. this all helped take the edge off and address issues i already had with my idea. So thank you all. I think im going with the idea of the dreams following along which will change with the info gathered from the backstory and character stories.

  13. One last question, I have a player who is playing an assassin who does not want to share his story how would i handle that. He wants people to know as little about him as possible.

  14. I don’t know the player in question. But my kneejerk reaction is that a player wanting to keep secrets from the other players is a bad idea. It has the possibility to lead to all kinds of “but I’m just playing my character” trouble.

  15. Again, I don’t know this person, but I would tell them that they need to make a character that will help ensure everyone has fun.

    What reason does this secretive assassin who won’t share their personal details have for staying in a group with the other characters? What reason do the other character have for letting someone who won’t share hang around? If the player can’t can’t come up with a reason for being in the group that the whole table agrees on, I would ask them to make a different character.

  16. So if he can fit it into a story it could work but if he is not able to then get him to roll another one. Shit he ain’t going to like that. I’m going to have to poke and prod to get him to spill some information. Honestly I just think he took the easy way so he did not have to think of anything.

  17. Unless you and your group decide otherwise, I think the default assumption is that the characters are an adventuring party that, for the most part, gets along with each other. Or at the very least has strong reasons to continue to work together.

    As I said, I don’t know this player. But in my experience wanting to keep character information secret from the other players can be a sign that the player doesn’t really want to participate. That they want to have fun at the rest of the table’s expense.

    That might not be the case here. But just to ensure it’s not, find out why the other characters are willing to work with this shady secretive assassin character. The characters are an adventuring party and need to work together. If the table can’t really come up with a reason why this assassin character is part of the group, that’s a bad sign.

  18. Gotcha I’ll have a talk with him of it gets to that point but I think I might be able to get it so that he explains why he is with the group and why the group needs him. Then I can work with him outside of the game to flesh out the secret bits. Thanks again

  19. I’ve just started my first DW game (PBF in Google Docs) with a group who (me included) are old hands at RPGs but new to DW. I paced them all through character creation then, when we were ready, threw all the characters in a river and attacked them with Giant Leeches. It’s given us all a good insight into how the game works, how combat works and how player input can drive the action. Next step, when they get out of the river, will be to head into town where a ton of questions back and forth can start us on the collaborative world building stuff.

    I think the players are enjoying themselves. As GM, I’m loving it. Trust the rules. Read as much as you can before you start. Listen to all the episodes of the “Discern Realities” podcast. Then dive in!

  20. As a GM, you are creating the world – not the story. Don’t think along terms of “What will happen to the PCs” but rather “What is the world/NPCs going to be doing that the PCs will have to fight against?” You’ve got that with your portal and group trying to open it. So plan how such a thing would be known. More monsters popping up? Murders of important people? A seer with a message? Don’t have your heart set on any, just have some ideas at hand so your ready when the PCs decide to (as always) do the opposite of what you’d think they’d do.

  21. sorry, it went alright the one guy i was talking about was hard to work with he ended up playing league while the session was going on to add to it. (we were half in person and half through roll20.) It went alright but some things i did not do well with like coming up with what an item does they were questioning about. I talked to someone who plays dungeon world and fate a lot and he mentioned that I was mistaken on what how I was suppose to handle it. So when i had a guy offer them a quest i asked what the item they would be retrieving seeing as i thought the players would make it up; apart from that we had people leave mid game and another who was going to be late leave right when they came.

  22. Dude, you’re on a good path. Scrap everything. The next step is super important. Dont skip it: don’t come up with something else.

    Go into the first session with a blank slate. But what will I do with all that open time, you ask?

    Good question, ask more good questions. Develop a keen interest in every little detail your players are willing to give you about their characters. Treat every idea they share like it’s gold. Because it is.

    Every idea they provide is one that you can implement, play with, and develop and when you do you will have one of the hardest resources to extract from RPG players: buy-in.

    They will want to go down the railroad be cause they helped build the tracks.

  23. The first time I ran Apocalypse World (which is the parent game of _Dungeon World) it was a total disaster. I did everything wrong and the game ground to a halt. All you can do is learn from your mistakes.

    It also sounds like you had player issues. running a half online half in person group doesn’t sound all that great.

  24. I think we are going to continue with the current setting since we stoped in the dungeon. So if the dungeon fails I’ll scrap it but for now I’m rolling with it.

    Also the half here half not worked fine it’s just my brothers friend is an ass and get bored easy. We have a great setup with cameras and mics so it’s like they are there. But I’m hoping those that got bored or left early decid to not come back it was a lot of people I ended up with. So a small group would be better for my first time but I’m going to go with it either way. I’ve always wanted to so pnp before just no one would join me.

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