I am 7 sessions into a drop-in Dungeon Crawl Classics (DCC) campaign that I run at my local game store – Better World Books. I have made a personal commitment for the foreseeable future that whenever possible I will run an open table RPG session at the game store.
On Friday check my schedule, if it’s open:
- Schedule a game on Better World Board Gamer‘s page
- Post on the Goodman Games community forum
- Submit my Road Crew “order” for Goodman Games Worlds Tour
Set aside at least two hours of solid preparation time to:
- Create random tables - this encodes lots of potential ideas and brainstorming
- Make sure I have an adequate stock of 0-level characters, leveraging Purple Sorcerer’s 0-level Pary Generator
- Read the current adventure
- Look for connecting pieces
During commutes to work:
- Roll around ideas and thoughts
- If carpooling, scratch some notes in Google Keep
- Listen to some Spellburn or Iron Tavern Actual Play Podcast
On game day (Thursday):
- Show up at least 15 minutes beforehand
- Bring pencils, character sheets, dice, paper, rulebooks
- Create an open and inviting table
- Set expectations about DCC (and old school gaming)
- Assume that I may need to run something different
- Say yes an awful lot; require luck checks
- Take some notes
- Write up a session report (follow along at this URL)
- Post session report on Facebook event page
- Email session report to Goodman Games
- Post session report on RPG Geek
- Update Goodman Games community forum
What is Working
The regular schedule is mission critical; Every week is optimal. I also run regardless of who is present.
Keeping the table open - I have now played with at least 13 new players, introducing them to DCC and my interpretation of old school gaming. Each table has different dynamics; Seeing the camaraderie build over the session is rewarding. I do my best to ensure that I have an open and inclusive table.
Writing Session Reports
I’ve made a personal commitment to writing extensive session reports and sharing them across different channels. I also want people to see my session development process. James Maliszewski’s Grognardia posts are my inspiration. He developed Dwimmermount, his megadungeon, session by session; Encoding lessons learned into the random tables, encounters, and history of Dwimmermount.
Writing Random Tables
I have found writing random tables helps my campaign preparation. I think about different directions the campaign could go, but don’t commit to going there.
- Who might be coming to the village due to a “gold rush”
- What might be prowling around the Bitterweed Barrow environs
- What does the King of Elfland demand for his invocation
- They are staying or leaving the village, what might happen
- What might the Jarl learn about in the early hours of an investigation
Joining the Road Crew
The thing that tipped the scales in my decision to run a FLGS open-table game instead of a house game was the Goodman Games road crew program. The table appreciates the small tokens sent by Goodman Games. It also builds in accountability into my process.
Focusing on the Campaign and not the Characters
Yes, I think about what the King of Elfland demands of his patronee; Or how stealing a few silver coins from a road side shrine can have dramatic consequences. But my focus is on making sure I understand the campaign world as it emerges. That I can convey that understanding to the players. And that the players can build assumptions and take actions based on their understanding.
Start Them at 0-Level
New players start with a handful of 0-level characters. They are mixed with the seasoned 1st level characters. I have found this works, and the players grow attached to their survivors.
It also means that there is a steady influx of characters, implying that no characters are foundational for the campaign. The world goes on without them.
When in Doubt, Call for a Luck Check
Players are always coming up with plans; Some more outlandish than others. But DCC provides a perfect mechanic to address these brilliant plans; Call for a Luck check. Either roll under or hit a DC. Regardless it lets them know that Luck is important.
What Have I Done Differently
I have a deep love for campaign play. Characters developing. Growing a shared narrative amongst friends.
For years I kept trying to force a campaign by orchestrating schedules and clearing times that we could play. That is a lot of work. Now the requirements for this game are: I am running a game on Thursday, come if you are able.
This flips my previous dependency on others. If the game captivates the players, they will make time for my game.
I’m seeing the emergence of the campaign I desire. Seven sessions is the longest campaign I’ve run since running The Red Hand of Doom in 3E.