Playing A More Serious Campaign – Would Love Ideas!

Playing A More Serious Campaign – Would Love Ideas!

Playing A More Serious Campaign – Would Love Ideas!

I GMd a first session last night with players that are very experienced with other systems but not DW. We only had time to do character creation, and I got a lot of cool background and stories from the players. In the few other games I’ve GMd, most players didn’t have quite as much background, and it felt easier to drop them in to some random setting because the characters were just not that deep. From what my players gave me last night, I feel like they want something a little deeper than “you fight some random goblins in a camp”.

We have a Wizard that I believe said he learned magic basically by accident, but I think he said he is still very good at being a wizard. (I need to confirm this and didn’t realize until later it was unclear to me.) He was taught by a bad mentor, and I believe I will make that mentor a big bad guy (possibly still incompetent).

There is also a ranger that belonged to a group that was basically trying to eradicate magic and magic users. He eventually felt that this was not right – he is still not okay with magic and finds it unnatural but isn’t looking to kill all magic users. He explained it as basically believing in God but leaving the church. I think this will give some interesting interpersonal conflict between the ranger and wizard; both players are on board with this (and really enjoyed the bonds they were able to make between each other).

There is a barbarian princess that was driven from her home by militant elves, and later rescued by orc druids.

And there is a cleric that is on the verge of being kicked from his order because he is a drunkard and spends a lot of time drinking with the undead.

So, I want to start with a bang that ties into at least one character and hopefully more. My first thought is I want to find a way to introduce some magic users that are doing something that is controversial and the ranger will have a situation where he has to decide if what they are doing is so terrible, or do the ends justify the means.

Any other ideas would be really appreciated! Even just a cool setting; I am just not experienced with D&D etc to have the background where I can think of cool fantasy settings without a prompt. I might ask the players, but they already complained about not having a story and world laid out to create the characters in. I think this first scenario and my fronts will work better if I can do it from their input, but not with explicitly asking for “what do you think you are doing”.

6 thoughts on “Playing A More Serious Campaign – Would Love Ideas!”

  1. Relationship mapping helps with this sort of stuff. Take a piece of paper and make some circles with the PCs in them. Make smaller circles for NPCs and draw lines connecting them.

    Look at where things look unbalanced and start drawing them together. Did you make a triangle? Good, now have one side of a triangle make a request the other two are likely to disagree with.

    Maybe that wizard’s mentor is no hanging with those Ork druids, sharing magic. Maybe the ranger’s group also hated undead and they’re moving on a group the cleric is drinking with. Connect all the NPCs together in ways that bring people together AND split them apart

  2. Random thoughts I had:

    * The Wizard’s mentor might not have been incompetent – perhaps he/she/it was deliberately trying to confuse the Wizard about magic and keep them in the dark, because they could sense how powerful the Wizard was (as demonstrated by the fact that despite the mentor’s efforts, the Wizard spontaneously learned how to use magic anyway).

    * Elves are often portrayed as magical, so the militant elves (or agents thereof) could be antagonists as well, uniting elements from the Ranger’s and Barbarian’s backstory. Since the Wizard is presumably still looking for information about magic, they would be interested in the magical knowledge and writings of the elves as well – as might their mentor.

    * As well as magic-using antagonists, you’ll want some sympathetic users of magic the Ranger can get to know, to give their defection some validity (and for the Ranger’s order to show up and attempt to exterminate). Perhaps the orc druids? Or perhaps some magic user(s) that aren’t particularly sympathetic, but just mind their own business and want to be left alone.

    * The Cleric drinking with the undead is intriguing because I don’t usually think of undead as drinking… or rather, drinking alcohol (and I presume the Cleric isn’t out drinking blood with vampires each night). Perhaps the Cleric is hanging out with some undead (ghosts perhaps) who don’t actually know their dead, and are repeatedly re-living their last evening alive at a (now ruined and abandoned) tavern, but with an excellent and still-intact wine cellar? Perhaps there’s an opportunity for the Cleric to bring peace to these undead through socialising with them, and/or solving the mystery around their death. That mystery could tie in to some of the other elements you have.

  3. Relationship maps are a huge help. I”ve used them many times in my games (I can provide some links to actual play if you want to see a couple). But your players and their characters sound awesome!

    I like the idea of an incompetent nemesis, ex-mentor. A casting of his could suddenly run amok, causing chaos for everyone in the area, lending credence to the Ranger’s views, impacting the Druid’s orc peoples most severely… ( off the top of my noggin: a spell meant to harness natural powers is twisting the usual herbivore populace into demonic nasties. Killer deer, marauding spikey buffalo.)

  4. I like Robert’s idea that the mentor was trying to keep the wizard in the dark about his/her own power. If the mentor is going to be a big bad, just throw hints about this at first for a few sessions before having a dramatic reveal later.

    It does sound like you should do some world-building work: your players specifically requested it. You don’t have to design every little thing, but at least some broad general outlines – what are the main powers and/or nations in the region, and what do they want? What are the biggest threats that folks worry about? What are the main things they hope for or aspire to? Why are a fair number of people so afraid of magic they want to kill all its users? Don’t worry too much about logic or realism, just what would be the most fun for you. And there’s nothing wrong with asking your players to chip in to help answer these questions (collaborative world-building is great fun imho).

    Also, give the players something local or immediate to care about: have they lived in the current village for some time, and do they care about its inhabitants? Then threaten it 🙂

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