New Campaign Energy

Umbran

Mod Squad
Staff member
Many of us around here are old troopers at starting new games. We do it all the time, and there may be a tendency for it to become unremarkable. How many of you find yourself with what might be called, "new relationship energy," with a campaign?

I am an old trooper, but for the past 15 years or so, I am the one who runs games. I don't get to play that often, and when I do, it is likely a one-shot. Thankfully, one of my players, who has not run a game in decades, has decided that he'd like to experiment with running games again. I don't want to laden the guy with pressure or expectations, because he is apt to be a bit rusty, but I find myself nearly bouncing with energy and a desire to get to it! This gnome must be played, damnit!

How do game starts go for you folks?
 

iserith

Magic Wordsmith
I play in three campaigns and DM one campaign (and play in and DM the odd one-shot). Two of the campaigns are new starts - Ghosts of Saltmarsh and Descent into Avernus. They are being run by a couple of my campaign regulars. What I often do is when my campaign is approaching its end, I ask a couple of regulars to alternate sessions with me with whatever they feel like running. These "off-weeks" for me allow me to really put some effort into making the ending grand and also makes it so I can start work on the next campaign.

New game starts are pretty standardized among my regulars: The DM announces the game and frequency (with some deference to my game which is the "main game," I guess you could say) and the player pool and party size is set. The DM then puts out the Character Creation rules and any house/table rules. There is typically a discussion among the players about what everyone wants to play within those parameters and we post up our characters before the first session.

For my own campaigns, I will usually estimate for the players the total run time which is typically 20 to 30 sessions of four hours each, tops. I use player pools as well so players and characters can change up from session to session which are held every Friday night without fail. It works beautifully.
 

Lanefan

Victoria Rules
I don't start new campaigns often - thus far it's been once-per-ten-plus-years - but when I do it's largely because that "New Campaign Energy" from the previous one has worn off to the point where the amount of work required to set up a new one (I homebrew the game world from scratch each time) becomes worth it.
 

CleverNickName

Limit Break Dancing
How do game starts go for you folks?
Oh man, we go all out. Here's what I did last June, when I kicked off my current 5E campaign.

First, I put together all the online resources into a Google Drive. I created folders for everything, with a sensible structure, and filled them up with everything the players would need. Form-fillable PDF character sheets. A compiled PDF of my homebrew game world. Notes on what sourcebooks and materials were allowed and which ones weren't, which optional rules and variants we would be using, etc. I shared this folder with my players a couple of weeks ahead of time, so that they had time to get familiar, ask questions, and plan their characters.

I also set up a planning calendar, also on Google, so that we can track everyone's free weekends and plan our gaming sessions. And the first thing we planned was the Rolling Party.

At the Rolling Party, we rolled up new characters. We served cinnamon rolls, egg rolls, Fruit Roll-UpsTM, and other "rolled up" snacks. Everyone created their characters using the 4d6 method and the approved resources, and then we took an hour break and enjoyed a dinner (burritos, duh) to chat about the new characters and their roles in the story.

Then when everything was finished and their characters were ready to play, I threw them a surprise curve ball: I had them all draw a card from a Tarot deck to see what "sign" their characters would be "born under." This gave them a random boon: the character born under the sign of The High Priestess got to start the game with a free cleric cantrip, the character born under the sign of the Three of Swords got a weapon of warning, that sort of thing. This boon was completely random and wasn't necessarily matched to any optimized build...so we ended up with some pretty wild results and excellent storytelling prospects. Now we have a hard-boiled dwarf fighter and war veteran who dropped out of med school, but not before learning the spare the dying cantrip. And the sorcerer who swears his grandpa's old walking stick is haunted because he can sometimes hear his grandpa say "look out!" when danger is near.

Then I ran them through a quick two-hour adventure in which they had to break up a riot in the center of town, only to discover The Plot Hook.
 
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Shiroiken

Adventurer
IME, most campaigns start out with everyone excited, because everything is just potential. Once things start happening, that's when the new game smell starts to turn sour :)
 

Lanefan

Victoria Rules
At the Rolling Party, we ... served cinnamon rolls, egg rolls, Fruit Roll-UpsTM, and other "rolled up" snacks.
Brilliant! :)

Then when everything was finished and their characters were ready to play, I threw them a surprise curve ball: I had them all draw a card from a Tarot deck to see what "sign" their characters would be "born under." This gave them a random boon: the character born under the sign of The High Priestess got to start the game with a free cleric cantrip, the character born under the sign of the Three of Swords got a weapon of warning, that sort of thing. This boon was completely random and wasn't necessarily matched to any optimized build...so we ended up with some pretty wild results and excellent storytelling prospects. Now we have a hard-boiled dwarf fighter and war veteran who dropped out of med school, but not before learning the spare the dying cantrip. And the sorcerer who swears his grandpa's old walking stick is haunted because he can sometimes hear his grandpa say "look out!" when danger is near.
You'd predetermined a boon for each card in the tarot deck? Cool!
 

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