Author Topic: A DM's first Campaign: Session Logs  (Read 975 times)

thecommandtent

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on: December 05, 2020, 11:31:45 PM
Intro:

So a few months ago I started running my first D&D 5e campaign as the DM. (And well I also really only having a few one shots or online sessions under my belt as a player.)  Basically my father-in-law stumbled upon the RPG world from his recent interest in boardgames and I was the only one he knew who is aware of TTRPGs. So long story short our group consists of me a first time DM and my father-in-law, sister-in-law, brother-in-law and my wife. All of which are first time RPG players. Also, due to Covid and distance I am running it all online and have been using and learning Roll20 on the fly.  And because of work, kids, schedules, and sleep we only meet for about 2 hours every week so its a fairly slow moving campaign which so far has suited the players since they are all so new to the RPG scene.

Because I like to make things harder on myself the campaign is set in a WIP homebrew world idea that I've been tinkering on and off with over the past few years. Thankfully this has allowed me alot more room to make things up on the fly and not having to know a setting's lore so deep, but then there are all the drawbacks of, you know, having to create a world for the players to adventure in.  That being said I am using/altering some published adventures to fit into my world as need be.

All that to say, I wanted this thread to be a place for me to post sessions logs/reports and get feedback from y'all and generally just have a place to share how my first DM experience is going. It will be nice to have a place for me to share thoughts, frustrations, and highlights.




Metaldog

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Reply #1 on: December 05, 2020, 11:38:28 PM
I commend you, sir!  I got roped into DMing my first 5E by my daughter a few years back.  I had never seriously done it before, although I had a boatload of BECMI and 1st Edition AD&D under my belt as a player.  But that was 30 years ago.  Plus, all my players were n00bs, too.  If I could pass two things along to you that I learned it would be 1) keep notes on each play session and date them and 2) try to make things episodic, like a linear tv show.  Good luck and look forward to your growing pains :)   :bigthumb:

Lots of maps is a good thing - Panzerde


Bison

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Reply #2 on: December 05, 2020, 11:44:11 PM
If you think your campaign will be virtual for a long period of time, I would recommend looking into Fantasy Grounds. It's just a better VTT for maintaining a campaign and 5e is a very well-supported game. It does have an upfront cost but the program's utility is worth it. Steep learning curve but lots of youtube "how-to" videos help. For example, if you use campaign or dungeon creation programs you can import the images and just create the pin tags for the areas to note details, encounters, treasure, etc...

Anyway looking forward to reading about your exploits. And when you are ready to embrace the glory of the TSR era, let me know.



thecommandtent

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Reply #3 on: December 05, 2020, 11:52:13 PM
Session 0

I gave all the players basic info on D&D and the races and classes, pointed them to some online resources and readings and then virtual sat with them to help brainstorm and then roll up their characters. Each of the players definitely has a different buy in but for first time players I thought they did a good job thinking through who their PCs would be.

PCs

Father-In-law playing a - Male Elf Paladin - Linolas Nailo - Of noble birth but disowned by his family. Upon returning to them as an adult found they had all been killed and his family estate destroyed and looted

Sister-In-law playing a - Female Human Ranger - Rowan Arroway Has a horse named Mithrial - Grew up in the outdoors and woods raised by loving parents who a week before the campaign started disappeared and left only a note saying they were not her parents but a wizard and sorceress who had raised her after saving her from giants who had killed her family and instructing her to find fellow adventurers and travel with them as she discovers who she really is

Brother-In-law playing a - Male Human Fighter - Lucan - Ex soldier who faces things head on but is haunted by those friends he saw fall in combat. Very tactically minded and wants to fight for good

Wife playing a - Female Half-Elf Rouge - Ember Villac - Street urchin w/ a pet mouse named Ralph, grew up on the streets of Vale without a family but was helped by a mentor who taught her how to survive on the streets and to help others in need.




thecommandtent

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Reply #4 on: December 05, 2020, 11:59:10 PM
I commend you, sir!  I got roped into DMing my first 5E by my daughter a few years back.  I had never seriously done it before, although I had a boatload of BECMI and 1st Edition AD&D under my belt as a player.  But that was 30 years ago.  Plus, all my players were n00bs, too.  If I could pass two things along to you that I learned it would be 1) keep notes on each play session and date them and 2) try to make things episodic, like a linear tv show.  Good luck and look forward to your growing pains :)   :bigthumb:

Thanks I'll keep those two things in mind. I've got some notes but am fairly unorganized, another reason to start this thread, to help me take better notes and remember the ongoing story. 

If you think your campaign will be virtual for a long period of time, I would recommend looking into Fantasy Grounds. It's just a better VTT for maintaining a campaign and 5e is a very well-supported game. It does have an upfront cost but the program's utility is worth it. Steep learning curve but lots of youtube "how-to" videos help. For example, if you use campaign or dungeon creation programs you can import the images and just create the pin tags for the areas to note details, encounters, treasure, etc...

Anyway looking forward to reading about your exploits. And when you are ready to embrace the glory of the TSR era, let me know.


Thanks, I hadn't really considered Fantasy Grounds because of the cost but if this does go long term I may rethink it.  I've been poking around with World Anvil for world building and tracking the campaign but for now most of it is in Google Docs.



Bison

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Reply #5 on: December 06, 2020, 12:22:30 AM
I would just download the free demo and mess around with FG at some point. It comes with the 5e SDR rules (Free) to conduct your tests to see if it's worth it or not.


I use a notebook with one of those elastic straps, I bought at Walmart for like $8, for my DM campaign book. I have printed out the commonly used tables, attack and saving throw tables,  and equipment list for example, and glued onto the inner cover and first couple of pages. I forget stuff and find it easier to open the notebook rather than page through a couple of different books for a table. Then I make notes on the pages for the upcoming game. NPCs, encounters, pencil out a map, etc...

I also use free browser sites like https://donjon.bin.sh/ to help me be lazy and save time. Generated and printed a name list for NPCs. Keep it in my notebook and cross off names as I use them for example. I've printed a couple of dungeon levels and caves (I don't care about the encounters it generates) to have sidebar quests for when my kids go off in the opposite direction to what I planned for the night. I spend a couple of minutes here and there filling them with encounters and a broad storyline. typical stuff like a lost temple in the hills or a forgotten crypt of some old legendary knight, mage, or royalty. I find have a couple of these in the old hip pocket has saved me more than once. Also, I design the areas I want them to go to to be modular. You need to find X in Y place. The only thing that really matters is they find X. So Y encounter area is modular. The crypt or thieves' den could be stumbled upon in town, down by the river, out in the woods, or where ever.



Martok

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Reply #6 on: December 06, 2020, 01:56:14 AM
Very cool, TCT!  Hope you guys have fun! 


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bbmike

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Reply #7 on: December 06, 2020, 08:54:49 AM
I commend you, sir!  I got roped into DMing my first 5E by my daughter a few years back.  I had never seriously done it before, although I had a boatload of BECMI and 1st Edition AD&D under my belt as a player.  But that was 30 years ago.  Plus, all my players were n00bs, too.  If I could pass two things along to you that I learned it would be 1) keep notes on each play session and date them and 2) try to make things episodic, like a linear tv show.  Good luck and look forward to your growing pains :)   :bigthumb:

Thanks I'll keep those two things in mind. I've got some notes but am fairly unorganized, another reason to start this thread, to help me take better notes and remember the ongoing story. 

If you think your campaign will be virtual for a long period of time, I would recommend looking into Fantasy Grounds. It's just a better VTT for maintaining a campaign and 5e is a very well-supported game. It does have an upfront cost but the program's utility is worth it. Steep learning curve but lots of youtube "how-to" videos help. For example, if you use campaign or dungeon creation programs you can import the images and just create the pin tags for the areas to note details, encounters, treasure, etc...

Anyway looking forward to reading about your exploits. And when you are ready to embrace the glory of the TSR era, let me know.


Thanks, I hadn't really considered Fantasy Grounds because of the cost but if this does go long term I may rethink it.  I've been poking around with World Anvil for world building and tracking the campaign but for now most of it is in Google Docs.

I've been toying around with setting up an RPG table in Tabletop Simulator. It's actually pretty cool so far.

"My life is spent in one long effort to escape from the commonplace of existence."
-Sherlock Holmes

My Own Worst Enemy


thecommandtent

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Reply #8 on: December 06, 2020, 02:36:11 PM
I would just download the free demo and mess around with FG at some point. It comes with the 5e SDR rules (Free) to conduct your tests to see if it's worth it or not.


I use a notebook with one of those elastic straps, I bought at Walmart for like $8, for my DM campaign book. I have printed out the commonly used tables, attack and saving throw tables,  and equipment list for example, and glued onto the inner cover and first couple of pages. I forget stuff and find it easier to open the notebook rather than page through a couple of different books for a table. Then I make notes on the pages for the upcoming game. NPCs, encounters, pencil out a map, etc...

I also use free browser sites like https://donjon.bin.sh/ to help me be lazy and save time. Generated and printed a name list for NPCs. Keep it in my notebook and cross off names as I use them for example. I've printed a couple of dungeon levels and caves (I don't care about the encounters it generates) to have sidebar quests for when my kids go off in the opposite direction to what I planned for the night. I spend a couple of minutes here and there filling them with encounters and a broad storyline. typical stuff like a lost temple in the hills or a forgotten crypt of some old legendary knight, mage, or royalty. I find have a couple of these in the old hip pocket has saved me more than once. Also, I design the areas I want them to go to to be modular. You need to find X in Y place. The only thing that really matters is they find X. So Y encounter area is modular. The crypt or thieves' den could be stumbled upon in town, down by the river, out in the woods, or where ever.

I've been using the Donjon site there is alot cool stuff for on the fly. I need to take your advice and have a few more backup encounters in case they go in the opposite direction I thought they might take.

However, as newer players they seem to want a little more guidance and pointing in the right direction.  (To that end they befriended an NPC who has been "helpful" but more on that later) :)

Very cool, TCT!  Hope you guys have fun! 



Thanks!


I've been toying around with setting up an RPG table in Tabletop Simulator. It's actually pretty cool so far.

That would be cool to see.  Have people made alot of assets that can be used for your typical RPG adventures?



bayonetbrant

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Reply #9 on: December 06, 2020, 02:44:20 PM
sounds like you stumbled into a decent, fun past-time with the family...  here's hoping it lasts beyond the quarantine!

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bbmike

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Reply #10 on: December 06, 2020, 03:36:09 PM
There's a metric ton of stuff people have made for RPGs in TTS.  8)

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Metaldog

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Reply #11 on: December 06, 2020, 05:08:43 PM
I can't speak to TTS, but, a few years back, Bison ran me and a couple others through some adventures on Fantasy Grounds.  From a player's perspective, it looked great and once you knew where to look, a lot of information at your fingertips.

Lots of maps is a good thing - Panzerde


Bison

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Reply #12 on: December 07, 2020, 01:03:09 AM

However, as newer players they seem to want a little more guidance and pointing in the right direction.  (To that end they befriended an NPC who has been "helpful" but more on that later) :)


This is where making several smaller modular encounter areas works well. (I am making the assumption that you are not running an adventure module)

Let's say you need the group to rescue a local villager from a band of goblins. You want them to find the goblins, defeat through combat or parlay the goblin threat, rescue the villager, and go back to reclaim the reward. Encounter 1: camp (3-4 goblins hanging around the campfire at night, convenient note/map on captured or dead goblin) location could be any location, i.e. hillside, forest, swamp. Encounter 2: cave/abandoned building (5-6 goblins spread out through the complex, 3 or 4 rooms, another note/map on goblin)...the note/map is the key piece. It guides the group but the actual location or encounter is just a limited choice.

So if they wander off into the wilds...they come upon a small group of humanoids at their camp. The next step follows the note/map.

The group lingers in town not sure where to go...they catch a glimpse of a small creature watching them but it runs off when noticed...following the creature along the local river to a cave or old abandoned building maybe it's a farm or a guard tower. Find a small lair. The next step follows the note/map.

It may help keep your prep down to a couple of options both could be an hour or two of gameplay. It also creates the illusion of choice for the players. Wander off following some clue from the locals end up at the camp somewhere, someplace outside of town. Ignore clues, get lost in town, pull them in with being watched by a creature to where you need them to go to keep the story going.

A couple of random encounter areas will have the same effect. Group wanders off into the dark, wilds, and ignores the local's plea to rescue the kidnap victim. Holy cow! You just stumbled onto an old shrine...the entrance and surrounding trees are covered with spiderwebs...(pull out small dungeon encounter area 1 or 2 and go on with life)



Bison

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Reply #13 on: December 07, 2020, 01:05:55 AM
I can't speak to TTS, but, a few years back, Bison ran me and a couple others through some adventures on Fantasy Grounds.  From a player's perspective, it looked great and once you knew where to look, a lot of information at your fingertips.

That was a good time. Too bad we could not make it work for a regular game.



Metaldog

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Reply #14 on: December 07, 2020, 02:20:57 PM
I was sad about that, too. :(

Lots of maps is a good thing - Panzerde