Behind the DM Screen, Narrative, Process, Recaps

What’s Been Going on in Strierbridge: A Brief History of What Your Characters Have Stepped In; Or, Everything You Ever Wanted to Know about Dendar the Night Serpent, but Were Afraid to Ask (Campaign Backstory)

Dendar by Jason A. Engel

Once upon a time, a wrong-side-of-the law adventuring group from Aberland called The Whitesnakes sailed to Yuanterio on the southern continent in search of arcane relics of the Night Serpent, Dendar. Led by the charismatic bard Daviton Cloverdale-Sykes, the Whitesnakes left behind the Strier river delta for fame, power, and fortune abroad. Once in the rocky, desert coast of Yuanterio, the Whitesnakes encountered a cult to Dendar. The yuan-ti were led by the half-woman, half-serpent priestess Talash, a warlock who ruled through acts of terror and received magical powers in return. Continue reading “What’s Been Going on in Strierbridge: A Brief History of What Your Characters Have Stepped In; Or, Everything You Ever Wanted to Know about Dendar the Night Serpent, but Were Afraid to Ask (Campaign Backstory)”

Behind the DM Screen

Episode 9: Behind the DM Screen: On the Occasion of a Near Fatal Encounter

My DMing philosophy agrees with a remark Matt Mercer made, “I don’t want to kill you; I wants to make you heroes.”

But sometimes things don’t go as planned.

Continue reading “Episode 9: Behind the DM Screen: On the Occasion of a Near Fatal Encounter”

Behind the DM Screen

The Blacksmith’s Daughter: On Using Familiar Tropes in the Campaign

You and some of your friends want to play D&D. It looks like fun. Maybe you’ve never played. Maybe you played once. Maybe you know a person who has. And, if you’re like me, you say, “I kinda want to be the DM.” Where do you begin?

Stop me if you’ve heard this one before: You meet in a tavern. Someone needs saving. Banding together with a group of strangers, you embark on an adventure.

It’s a standard hook for your first D&D session, right?

But what if you gave your adventurers this quest without them knowing they were on that quest? How do you create a world where the characters can happen onto narratives and stories in the environment? And how do you solve problems in the narrative you didn’t expect to happen?

This (long) piece is a reflection on plot hooks, player investment, and the challenges of being a new DM running his first session in a world he’s still building. Continue reading “The Blacksmith’s Daughter: On Using Familiar Tropes in the Campaign”