Last night I took the great plunge. I, for the first time, led a Dungeons and Dragons campaign. I am officially a DM.
The group met in the Jewett Conference room, which is downstairs from the suite that all my friends are sharing this semester. When I got there, two of the member were already sitting at the table, so I was heartened by the fact that they were excited to get there and get started. I set everything up (DM screen, my notes, etc.) and we chatted until everyone was ready. Then, the campaign opened on the PCs heading toward the city of Talos, Amber (character name) steering the cart and asking for her traveling companions’ names. As they rode along, fog settled over the road, and a scream pierced through the quiet, coming from the grove of trees to their left. From there, the events unfolded (it seemed to me) naturally and easily.
So overall, I think it went well. Everyone seemed engaged, and juggling each character’s perspective, playing as all the NPCs, desperately trying to keep from railroading thrilled me. I’m trying not to let myself freak out about everything that may have come across wrong, anything I did that was weird, didn’t work, or something else. I don’t want to dwell on it too much, just remember the things that worked and build on those. After all, I came into the campaign ready to be loose and loud and a little embarrassed in order to make the PCs comfortable role playing. So I think I accomplished that, at the very least.
But the next thing I do need to do is give the party as a whole a goal, something that will keep them together through out the campaign (I returned to my friends’ suite, and one of my friends asked what the hook was; so while I have the characters all in one place now, they need a Big Goal to keep it that way). I have an idea about how this will happen. I just want to make sure that all the agency is placed on the PCs. I think that no matter what the goals of the NPCs might be (since they have goals so that they feel realistic), they shouldn’t overshadow the PCs’ goals. But I will probably use an NPC with some standing to send the party on a mission. Hopefully they take the bait.
Which leads me to another part of the night that I was most nervous for but found to be the most exciting. The entire time leading up to this first meeting, I fretted over what would happen if (when) the PCs did something I hadn’t prepared for. However, based on what I knew about the characters, the world, and the NPCs, I was able to work my plans around their actions. I hope that the PCs felt that they could literally do whatever they wanted and I would do my best to accommodate it, which is the whole point of DnD really: that you can do whatever you want.
As the session came to a close, everyone thanked me (I was flattered, really, because everyone agreed that now they were forced to go back to the real world), and we clarified that our next meeting will be on Friday instead of Monday. The past few weeks have been hectic trying to figure out a good time to meet (with Halloweekend, October break, etc.) but we should be on a normal meeting time and meeting place schedule after Friday. As we progress through the campaign, I’ll try to post generally about what the characters did and what they accomplished. I’d like to be able to go through these and learn from the sessions. Mostly I guess I just want to make sure that the campaign is fun. I want the PCs to feel like an integral part of the world. I want them to feel that the story is about them.