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Collaborative Campaign Preparation Ideas


First Post
Well, I currently prepare new campaign, but I would like it to do a bit different way than usual. I mean, usually DM (or GM or whatever) choose what kind of adventures he likes to offer, what will be the meta-plot of the campaign, the players create characters and than he tries to link it together somehow.

I wonder, whether it is possible to make it some more sophisticated way. I would like to make something like "session zero" where I would like to discuss the players' opinions, desires and ideas. What kind of game (action, detective, mystery, horror, thriller, romance) they would like to play, which part of the world to explore. I would like, if they make some kind of relation structure between their characters and give them a chance to influence each other's characters as well even before the game itself. And I would like them to work as a group, to find compromises.

My question is - do you make some kind of this preparation session? Which parts of the game do you allow to be influenced by players? Do you have some effective way to do it? Do you know some article/game/whatever which includes some ideas on this? Have you got some hints? Ideas?

Thanx in advance for any feedback.
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There are a couple of ways to handle this; I think it's a great idea. A few immediate ideas:

1. Use a questionnaire via email of what people want to see out of a game. (There are a couple of examples here at EN World. If you're curious, I'll dig one up for you.)

2. Have people roll up characters as a group. I've considered having everyone roll 4d6 seven times, and then go around the table letting people pick one score at a time.

3. Have a solo session with each PC before everyone gathers as a group. Sagiro did this, and it was wonderful. The first "real" session started with each of us together for the first time.

I'm sure there are other good tricks as well.

Whizbang Dustyboots

Gnometown Hero
I did this for my Midwood campaign. I told them what I wanted to do for the setting, but I also told them I wanted them to create how they fit into it, and then I tied all that stuff in. The players have created locations, businesses, other NPCs and so on. It worked great.

A larger scale collaboration is also certainly doable, and once the current few adventures settle down, I expect that to happen with at least some of my players.

If you have some ideas, I would present those, just to give a framework and to give them some ideas, but I think it's a great idea.

We used a wiki, but almost any system could work, I think.


I like the idea of a session zero brainstorming session rather than "OK I'm running Forge of Fury" start to a campaign. I did a bit of brainstorming with players prior to start of my current Wilderlands pbem and it worked really well, got some great ideas and it took the campaign in a different and more interesting direction than I originally envisaged.

Doghead Thirteen

First Post
We normally dedicate an entire session to character generation.

This is partially due to a complex generation system, but mostly due to the fact we'll be tossing campaign ideas and 'wouldn't-it-be-cool' and frequently even rule changes back and forth.
I don't think we've ever had two campaigns use exactly the same ruleset, although most of them take place in exactly the same gameworld.

Even with different GM's.

It's not very technical but, like a lot of the way we work things, it works for us. Partly because we're gradually developing a setting & rule system as we play - if there wasn't questions needing answered before play commenced I suspect I'd end up wondering what was missing.


Second Most Angelic Devil Ever
Piratecat said:
1. Use a questionnaire via email of what people want to see out of a game. (There are a couple of examples here at EN World. If you're curious, I'll dig one up for you.)
I started one campaign (for another GM) by having all of the players brainstorm the world, the main city, the major themes we wanted to explore, and other fun stuff. It worked very well.

Primarily, you have to give choices to the players. Saying "What themes do you want?" will result in fewer viable options than giving them a list of themes "Adventure, mystery, questing, monster-killing, saving the world, political intrigue, or kingdom vs. kingdom conflict" and telling them to pick their top three, in order.

Piratecat, I too would love to see what questionnaires are floating around this place.


One campaign I helped to run had 5 DMs (it was designed to help train new people in running a campaign). Two of us brainstormed the major world where the beginning and end adventures occurred, and one of us always ran those scenarios, but the adventure consisted of many different worlds connected by gates, and each DM had one of those worlds to play with. We spent several sessions simply talking about what those worlds might be like, the kinds of adventures they would foster, and other factors like how to connect them to the metaplot. It worked very well indeed, and I can see it working just as well if the players each had an area of the world that was "theirs" to develop; the main issue is whether your players would be INTERESTED in doing so. My current crop don't seem to be :(


At this very moment I just finished my first session of Primetime Adventures, this indie RPG that is very different from D&D, and highly collaborative. The first hour or so of play was everyone working out what kind of show it was and who the protagonists were... it was fantastic. I'd highly recommend running a 4 or 6 hour session of it just to get the players loosened up while the stakes are low, and then bring them back to D&D and give them the opportunities then.

I think it's also important to have a setting that's flexible, and know, as a DM, that things will be added that aren't jiving with your ideas. It's all about comprimise.


First Post
Thanx for all the feedback! I like the idea of questionnaire, but I prefere to run it in a group, so everybody would be able to answer together I guess. Oh and I really like this idea with the pool of abilites (4d6 pool).

I will add two more things I already use, but this time we will make it together (not via email).

1. Each character has to have two relations (things in common, some reference points) with at least two other characters. Love, hate, running business together.

2. The group create 3-5 shared supportive elements (NPC characters, key items or some interesing events).

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