What Do I Know About Reviews? Rules for Collaborative Campaign Creation
The product I’m looking at today came my way via my Patreon subscription to the Misdirected Mark Network, via the Dungeons & Dragons podcast Mastering Dungeons. One of the hosts of Mastering Dungeons, Teos Abadia, was featured on Dragon Talk, the official D&D podcast. While he was on that podcast, he and regular host Shelly Mazzanoble walk through a process of collaboratively creating a campaign. Teos summarized the process he used on that podcast, and you can find it at Drive Through RPG here.
Now that we have the origins out of the way, let’s take a look at the product itself. What goes into collaboratively creating a campaign?
This PDF is ten pages long, with a cover, a credits page, a table of contents, the example setting that Teos and Shelly created on the podcast, and a page with links to Teos’ other projects and products. The formatting is nice and clear, with bolded topics and subtopics and bullet pointed steps. The document itself has a few pieces of black and white artwork, usually third or quarter page pieces.
What’s the Secret Formula?
Since this is a relatively short product, I don’t want to dive too deeply into this document, so you can encounter the information for yourself, in Teos’ own words. That said, the product spells out six steps in the process. The pages are set up in two column format, so one column per page is dedicated to the process as presented.
In broad strokes, it encourages game facilitators to present a high-level concept if they have one, and then invites the group to discuss what their starting area will look like. Once that is established, the next step is to come up with locations, themes, threats, and the decision to use or not use a group patron or other framing organization.
It’s easy to read the concept behind this and think that this is design for entirely original campaign settings. What I appreciate about the examples uses is that Teos uses examples of published adventures and showing how to customize and frame even an existing set of circumstances that might be present.
The final page not only presents the setting that Teos and Shelly created, but it bullet points how each step in the rest of the document relates to how those steps were used to create this setting. Keep in mind, this is a setting summarized on a page, so we’re not talking about something that resembles the Forgotten Realms or Eberron. What we have is a city based on a real-world city, how those real-world elements are transformed into magical elements. There are several historical landmarks turned into adventure locations and plot hooks, and then extrapolates on those supernatural elements to create some starting threats.
I love actionable advice, and by that, I mean advice that has clear steps to follow and examples of what the process looks like. As written, this product walks you through the steps as envisioned and explains what those steps should produce.
Off the Map
I don’t have a lot of criticism for how this product is presented. If I had to cite any particular thing, I think I would have liked the example settings to be drawn out a bit more, with a few more details. I think I would have liked a few more examples of customizing campaigns in existing settings or existing adventures, and maybe slightly more “zoomed in” original settings. Despite that, the examples that exist work well.
Recommended–If the product fits in your broad area of gaming interests, you are likely to be happy with this purchase.
I’m a fan of game master tools, both to use and to contemplate. I like the outline of this process, and some aspects of it dovetail with practices that I’ve adopted for the session zeroes that I run for my game. I don’t think anyone that likes planning their campaigns with intentionality–or anyone that wants to share the responsibility of building the campaign with their player, but aren’t sure about where the labor should be divided–would be disappointed with this purchase.
Given that a lot of GM advice is written in the longer form, this may even appeal more to you if you want something quicker and punchy, that still gives you specific steps to follow.