General Questions from a new DM

Please answer any that you can/care to.

  1. How do you define a “campaign” when you DM? Is it by in-game time? Number of sessions? Real life time? Levels? Printed books?

  2. How do you know when players are ready to commit to a campaign? How do you choose people if too many express interest?

  3. Is it better to keep running one-shots and modules until you feel ready to start a campaign or does it make more sense to just add those to a long running story?

  4. When you do run a campaign, how much do you (obvi will be different for everyone) tie everything together with worldbuilding? Are all your campaigns in Loorou or do you have your own worlds separately?

  5. What kinds of sources do you use for inspiration for your games?

  6. How do you usually keep track of lore for your worlds? (apart from Loorou which I know is more collaborative)

  7. How technically do you play combat in terms of positions and ranges, especially if you don’t always have maps on hand?

Thank you!

  1. A campaign is defined by having a larger narrative than the small singular goal found in a one-shot, and has the option to explore the world, compared to one-shots which do not have any scope for going out of the prepared area, you can definitely string a bunch of one-shots together to form a campaign, just make sure they are somehow connected to each other, and there needs to be an end goal for the campaign that most of the sessions will help accomplish

  2. For new players, have them play a one-shot before they join a campaign to see if they like your play-style, for experienced players, just ask who is ready for the commitment, though it’s possible some might not like your campaign play-style even if they liked your one-shot playstyle, and might ask you to change things up, you can either try to accommodate them and change your style a bit, or you can let them know it’s not possible, which might make them leave, though make sure that everyone knows what they are getting into at session 0 so it’s less likely to happen, and for choosing players, just choose the people who you like and are consistent in showing up for the sessions, as playing with someone you don’t like as much may become tiring, and playing with someone who cannot show up consistently would hinder the party, as they will not be able to rely on a team member’s skills while planning for what to do in the next session, especially if it’s a specific class without whom the plan cannot work

  3. This depends on how you feel, which one sounds more fun to you and what your players will like, though in my experience, having a consistent playerbase who play through a bunch of sessions to get to an objective is more fun, and levelling up and getting new abilities while playing as a character they like is fun for the players too, and one-shots don’t have much scope for levelling up, stringing together one-shots is a good way to start

  4. I keep worldbuilding to a minimum, and usually use the pre-existing Forgotten Realms world for any background, and if a player asks about something that happened in the past, I would tell them that I will look it up before the next session unless it’s important to the current problem, in which case I make up the event’s specifics and later when researching will decide if it’s fine to retcon it into the actual thing or keep it as what you have said, though the reason I use the Forgotten Realms as a setting is because I am familiar with a large portion of the lore and I always homebrew in any official race/subclass that the players might want to use, for campaign tie-ins just make sure that all quests somehow connect to a major part of the section, does not mean that all quests are connected tp all others, just that if quest 5 is an important quest to the story, make sure that quest 4 and maybe 3 are connected to quest 5, you can easily connect quests by making them lead up to each other, so that quest 1 is related to 2 or 3 and so on, it would be amazing if you can make every quest relate to each other, but that requires an ungodly ammount of time and effort, which is highly likely to be missed by your players, so would not recommend it, since I haven’t DMd a Loorou game yet, I will have to see, though I have plans for a couple one-shots set in Loorou

  5. Books, TV shows, Movies, Anime, Video Games, basically anything thay I have fun doing, and would have fun doing as a player, I use in my campaigns

  6. As I mentioned earlier, I don’t make too much lore, and since I use the Forgotten Realms as a setting, the Forgotten Realms Wiki is a good place to get info on, as well as youtube, where you can probably find any piece of lore explained in an easy to understand format and you can decide what parts to include and not include, as well as writing down important changes made by the actions (or inaction) of the PC

  7. I like to use a sheet of paper and a bunch of d6s for positioning, or when playing online use roll20 to set up positions, but you can just ask your players where they are standing at the start of combat and describe how far the enemies are, you don’t really have to worry about range for melee combat, but if there are ranged combatants you need to note down how far are they from everyone if you are following the rules that say that ranged attacks (spell and melee) have disadvantage when in melee range

Hope this helps, though I should probably tell you that I haven’t DMd for too long, so my advice might not apply, in the end it’s you who’s playing, and if you don’t like something about the rules, change it, though always try out the rules as written first before changing it so you know how it actually works

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I’m going to preface this by saying that I agree with a lot of what @ShankMugen has said.

  1. How do you define a “campaign” when you DM? Is it by in-game time? Number of sessions? Real life time? Levels? Printed books?

I’m curious about the context of this question, but let me first give you my answer. To my mind, a campaign is anything that tries to tell a larger story than a one-shot. Basically what Shank said.

  1. How do you know when players are ready to commit to a campaign? How do you choose people if too many express interest?

It’s always a crapshoot. Sometimes you get lucky, sometimes you don’t. If I had the luxury of too many people being interested, I personally would choose based on (i) my personal comfort with the individual players; and (ii) their willingness to commit to whatever cadence/schedule would work for me and the rest of the group, in that order. Again, I find myself agreeing with most of what Shank has said.

  1. Is it better to keep running one-shots and modules until you feel ready to start a campaign or does it make more sense to just add those to a long running story?

Do what feels comfortable to you. I personally started with running a couple of homebrewed one-shots just to see if I would enjoy running games. Especially when you’re starting out, one-shots are lower commitment, and will allow both you and your party to figure out whether this is something you enjoy.

  1. When you do run a campaign, how much do you (obvi will be different for everyone) tie everything together with worldbuilding? Are all your campaigns in Loorou or do you have your own worlds separately?

I have a regular party who I DMed for before Loorou was conceptualised. I’ve slowly been retconning that campaign into the Loorou setting purely from the perspective of the lore being complimentary, although I’m not making their adventures part of the ur-Loorou canon. I find that for me personally it’s too much mental bandwidth to keep multiple different worlds separated.

  1. What kinds of sources do you use for inspiration for your games?

I have read vast quantities of fantasy and sci-fi, so I have a ready source of inspiration whenever I need to steal something or just make something new up. I’d really like to use more Indian mythology in my worldbuilding but I just haven’t read enough. That’s a long-term goal for me.

  1. How do you usually keep track of lore for your worlds? (apart from Loorou which I know is more collaborative)

Before Loorou I mainly used a GoogleDoc, just for accessibility. I’ve also been using GoogleSheets for a campaign tracker, although that is a work in progress. A lot of the lore was just in my head.

  1. How technically do you play combat in terms of positions and ranges, especially if you don’t always have maps on hand?

I feel like I can’t really answer this question properly because I don’t think I’v e had a situation where I didn’t have a map and minis on hand. One of the most important things for me personally is to have battlemaps ready for combat encounters - to the extent that I have an unnecessarily large collection of maps that I have printed on vinyl for games. I just prefer running combat that I can clearly see in front of me. I can imagine using theater of the mind for one-off combats, but somehow have never been in that situation so far. So yeah, not very useful on this question.

I hope this was helpful. Happy to clarify anything that I didn’t express clearly.

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Thanks very much! I feel like I’m at a disadvantage on the lore front so I’ll have to see how to adjust to my limitations.

I have a lot of new players in a discord group and I would like to start larger campaigns but I don’t know how to manage the humans since there are a lot of them and most of them have never played before. It’s stressing me out a bit.

I really like planning ahead and having an overall idea of what I’m doing but I think I might need to change that about myself if I want to stay sane and not give up my life…

I have a lot of new players in a discord group and I would like to start larger campaigns but I don’t know how to manage the humans since there are a lot of them and most of them have never played before.

If you don’t mind my asking, how did you end up in this situation?

I’m asking because I’m reasonably certain anyone with any level of experience would be daunted by what you’re describing. I’d suggest starting small, with group(s) that you are comfortable with, when you feel you’re ready. Anything else will just put too much pressure on yourself.