Good evening and welcome to another Saturday random-topic discussion piece. Tonight I wanted to touch on when you can have too much preparation and some wandering thoughts I had on it.
Now I am probably prone to going too deep into world building from the get go. I normally have a rough plot, some segues (relatable secondary hooks) and a rough idea from how to go from session zero to session 26. But I then tend to go super deep into it establishing the origin story for the homebrew setting, complex political movements, secondary (and even tertiary) powers who oppose the player and main plot and so on.
I then create new races, new religions, new creatures, sometimes new classes and subclasses and before I know it I have a whole book worth of content before I even have my players. This well of ideas, lore and history sometimes doesn’t translate well when my players rock up at the table and begin to discuss their back story.
Sometimes empires shift. Relationships, cities and outcomes of battles may change based on what the party members have achieved or where they have come from. Sometimes I get bogged down in too much preparation that I fail to factor in a fundamental step that I weave in with my games.
The simply fact that, the players and their characters tell the stories.
I recognise that some of the re-work, potential-frustration as well as mental fatigue and exhaustion that I go through with world building and campaign setting could be removed if I was to simply involve my players early on. Maybe having session -1 where I have the players get involved in the world building.
Simply telling them about the world and giving them the opportunity of asking me questions they care about. What races are there? Is there any political drama? Where do elves fit in? Simple things like this could help me, the DM, in build the world for them to explore.
After all there is game without the players so why not involve them earlier in the process of creating it.
This also serves a secondary purpose – to get your players invested in this world. If they asked what gnomes were like in this world and you explained that they happened to be extremely military perhaps they could expand why. Maybe Gnomes are military because dwarves invaded their lands? Perhaps a certain gnome family or village was the reason for the banding together of the gnomish people into this warrior state. Maybe one of the party was a descendant of the king that brought them together and they now are trying to broker peace with the elves.
Getting investment from your players
Little things such as these questions can grow into bigger investment for your players. And this is a great thing because after all, we want them invested in the world. We want them to show up each week to go “I need to make sure that my people continue on the right path.” With a greater level of investment the greater chance that those players will prioritise a slot in their calendar for D&D night.
What a fantastical notion. In fact the breaking down of the DM role’s walls and exposing the inner workings to your players could be the best thing you could do.
I think that my next adventure, which I hope to start in the coming months after a lengthy break, will be a collaboration between player and DM. Getting my players to explain the world, perhaps build parts of it for themselves will help tie their characters involvement in with it.
I believe that with less focus on the world building and more focus on the involvement will help me level up as a DM. Perhaps it will help my players level up as players too. Regardless the new year and next few months should be a learning curve for myself and my players as we build a world together.
I will hope to post a few updates on here when the times comes to get involvement from my readers. So if you have questions for me in the setting I will creature let me know. I will have some more info on this coming December and hopefully the new year brings with it a new adventure for me and my players to begin.
On that note don’t forget to visit me again here tomorrow for the end of week write up. We have a few hidden things to work through and a mammoth week next week to prepare for. So, lastly, don’t forget to roll with advantage and I’ll see you tomorrow,
The Brazen Wolfe