What Makes a Good Dungeons and Dragons Campaign?

I wanted to be a dungeon master as soon as I got started playing D&D almost 15 years ago. So with most people wanting to be player characters in the game, I have hosted a lot of campaigns. I personally rarely use modules, preferring to write my own stories and adventures. This means that  for as many campaign as I ave seen succeed, I have had twice that many fail.

Being slightly less critical of myself, these days my campaigns are usually successes. They keep the players interested and wanting to come back for more. I currently have no fewer than 3 games running that are approaching or are well into the 10th game mark. Our Arachnophobia Campaign, for example, is going into Game 31 next session, with no signs of stopping!

Now all that said, not every game you host or play can be an absolute smash, but here are five things that every D&D campaign should have to keep things as fun, and as playable as possible!

1. A Prepared Dungeon Master

Something I say a lot on this blog, and I am not afraid to say again, being a dungeon master is a lot of work. You need to be focused during the game, and you have work to do when you are finished. Whether that is reading the next chapter of the module, calculating the player XP, or writing the next game, you have preparations to make.

So be sure you actually give yourself enough time to do this. Keep notes during the game so you can reference them later. Take time to map out how the events of last game effect the events of this game. Consider consequences of what's to come, etc. etc.

Essentially do your homework, and your campaign will come to life.

2. Well Thought out Player Characters

This one is for the players in any campaign. It is really easy to make hilarious characters in Dungeons and Dragons. I personally have a barbarian who after the first swing with their magic weapon will leave it buried in their victim in order to switch to bare-fisted melee. It is a terrible tactical decision, but it is hilarious and really fun to play. That being said, while playing these sort of silly characters can be fine (My barbarian only plays through dungeon crawls without any real role play events), It is important to think about who they are as a person.

Any genuine role play event will require your characters to have more depth to them so that they can make reasonable decisions and participate in that half of the game. I have often found that parties that feature too many of these goofy characters tend to fall apart due to their own silliness. Without any real personalities to fall back on the comedic troupes of each of these players will be all you have, and rarely have I found that it is enough. These sorts of groups often result in the party getting arrested for causing a public disturbance, or worse.

So even if they are a strange person, think about your character's back story, how they will react in different situations and spend some time to create a well thought out character. They will get further in the game.

3. Actions that Have Consequences

Both players and dungeon masters should always be aware of the consequences of their actions.

Players, this means that you should think before you act. Bands of murderers usually get run out of town and eventually labeled as Bandits. Being disrespectful to Clerics means that they might be reluctant to heal you. Etc, etc. So plan out your interactions a bit and keep in mind the consequences of what you do.

Dungeon masters, you need to pay attention to what is going on. Look at what your characters are doing and determine what the likely outcome will be. It is ok to skew it in their favour if you like, but when the player's actions matter, they feel more involved in the world and motivated to keep going. Don't be afraid to give them some negative consequences for poorly planned actions as well.

So add a touch of realism and consider what happens when you begin to interact with the world.

4. Encounters That are More Than Just Combat

Fighting things is fun. There is no two ways about it. But endless battle encounters can get real stale real fast. Once your group figures out an effective formation they will simply re-use it and battles can lose their pizzazz. Sure you can absolutely change combat up! You can throw in a new monster, change the terrain they are fighting in, and so on and so forth. But better still is to shake things up with a non-combat based encounter.

One thing you can do is give the players a puzzle a solve. Have them fix a bridge so that they can leave town. Shrink them down to being only 6" tall and have them figure out how to escape the room. Have them figure out how to sneak into the royal court. The possibilities here are only limited by your imagination!

So have them use their problem solving skills and keep them on their toes. The reward of solving a complicated puzzle will be as sweet as a combat well won... Just make sure that your puzzle is actually solvable.

5. A Fair and Reasonable Atmosphere Around the Table.

It is up to dungeon masters and players alike to keep the game going. Remember that it is just a game, and we all want to have fun. So players need to realize that they can't always get what they want, and that the story needs to move forward regardless. Dungeon Masters if your players are unhappy you need to make some changes, and work with them.

Ultimately Dungeons and Dragons is a team sport and it works best if everyone is trying to make it a good game. So be mindful if you are pointlessly holding up the game to the determent of others, and if hosting, provide challenges to over come, not death traps the squeeze through.

In short, avoid being selfish as a player and a sadist as a DM and your game should go off without a hitch.

Every D&D group is different, and communication between everyone involved in the game is a must! So your group maybe different. But I have found over the years that maintaining a fun D&D campaign is largely about how much effort everyone is willing to put into the game. So do your homework, create well thought out characters, throw them into interesting scenarios where the outcome really matters, and be a good  and supportive player and dungeon master in D&D, and your game will run fine!

How do you guys keep your campaigns fun and interesting? Let us know in the comments!

Written by: Andrew Gregory

What Makes a Good Dungeons and Dragons Campaign? What Makes a Good Dungeons and Dragons Campaign? Reviewed by JADE Gaming on 2/08/2019 02:05:00 pm Rating: 5

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