just so you know, we play 3.5 edition
Oh boy was there a LOT of them. If you're a fan of Magic: the gathering, you would have noticed the title itself is a reference to magic. For those who don’t know, it’s a city plane in the magic universe, and I felt it was one of my favorite places, and it really fit the narrative of the type of story I wanted to tell. The theme I was going for was suspense mystery, with a lot of comedic elements. I wanted to create a paradox, if you will, where the characters think they know what’s going on, they think that their quest is unimportant to the world, but they would be wrong. Very wrong. You'll might notice the subtle JoJo references in the story. Most were intentional, but some of them kind of breed into them. As I was making the NPC's (non playable characters, in case you didn’t know) and world, I thought, for instance, that it would be cool if they fought a bunch of noble vampire people (I got that idea from Darkest Dungeon, one of my favorite if not my favorite turn based rpgs) that were making a wine with the blood of people in the neighboring city. When I thought of what powers the vampires would have, I wanted to have a super powerful defensive technique that the players would have to try to get around. I thought originally the vampires would have a sort of paralyzing spell (which they did have) but I wanted something more. I thought about making them have their arms turn into stone, but some of the players (the druid, really) could have been able to easily overcome that. Then, I thought, "Oh, remember that time when (spoilers for JoJo’s part one) Dio flash froze Dire by making his body temp super low? Let’s throw that in instead!" The players were in awe, and I was happy I could throw another JoJo reference in, cause tbh, you can’t really have too many JoJo references. Another major influence was Darkest Dungeon (I talked about it a bit before, but there's more than that). Lots of the NPC abilities come from this game, and one of the friendly NPCs (named Kevin) is just the bounty hunter off the game, because I really like his design and skills. Most of the enemies come from the 3.5 monster manual, but with special skills that flesh them out, giving them a unique aspect (like the vampire flash freezing thing).
One thing I struggled with when I first started out was, well, pretty much everything involving other people! I had awesome ideas, but when other people were thrown into the equation, well, it wasnt fun. If you're not having fun, there's no real point in playing then, is there. As I was going around website to website, video to video, I saw bits and pieces of info that was good, and I thought I would put my experiences and knowledge gained from those videos into an easy to read list. If you have any tips you would like to add, email me.
If you're feeling overwhelmed or stressed, take a little 5 minute break: get a drink, review your notes and so on. Try not to do this frequently, as it will kinda break the illusion that the players are in the world, and will overall break the special mystical feeling.
I HATE taking notes. They're just annoying, cumbersome, and irratating: at least that's what I used to think, before I saw how helpful they really are. Hell, you dont even need to write them. You can always record each session, or type them. Whatever you do, write every thing down. You dont have to write an entire paragraph, but if you introduce a new npc, write his name down. New town, write it down. New powerful item, write it down. travel for a long time, write. It. Down.
Details are good, they make the game intresting, and if you're really good at adding them to your campaign, it'll show that you're a good DM. At the same time, there are some problems with too many details, especially if you're just starting out. If you make things too descriptive, you have to remember those tiny details. Also, if you have nit picky players (nothing wrong with that, but they do get tiresome), they will constantly repimend you for not remembering those rules by making loop holes in the rules and such. Be cautious when using too many details, because they're like double edge swords.
Many a time have I stated something, and the other players try to make loop holes around it. "the orc swings his ragged sword and hits you for 10 hp.""BUT WHY CANT I USE A REFLEX SAVE?!?""Well, that's because you're caught in a snare.""BUT I COULD WIGGLE AROUND AND DODGE, COULDNT I???""I highly doubt the orc would miss.""B-BUT HE COULD MISS!" At this point, I wouldnt be able to argue, cause technacially he could miss, if the orc rolled a one (we have a house rule where if you roll a one, its an automatic miss, and a 20 is an automatic hit), but that wouldnt make any sense: the point of the snare is so he wouldnt move, and would be easy to hit. This is one of those times where you have to say,"well, im the DM. He hits." Its snobby, but sometimes you just gotta, but dont be a douche about it, and sometimes, players can get creative ways to make escapes and stuff, so dont dappen that.
DM boards (or screens) are vital to my campaign, and are a vital piece of equipment, even thought it's just cheap cardboard. the most obvious use is to hide your notes and maps and dice rolls, but the cool thing you can do is add info and notes on it, so, if your game is at a halt cause of a rule dispute, instead of taking time out of the game to just find the page where the rule might be, you can look at the board and, dojyaan, and you know where to go now.
If you dont plan, it will show. I had the mind process of,"It's not a big area, and its not important, so I dont have to draw a map or anything, right?". This type of thinking will unravel your story and create a sense of unstablness. In a game where players are incouraged to get creative, not planning will have serious consequences. All it takes is one player to do something crazy, and then you have to rapidly try to piece things together, and that's no fun for both you and the players.
This is one of the most important tips I can give you. Let the game flow naturly. I tried to push the story I made too hard because I was proud of it: I wanted the players to experience that. But they interpited the story differently: they wanted to go here, not where they needed to go, so I was basically telling them no by throwing all these obsticles and enemies and stuff, trying to guide them in the right direction, then I realized that the players wernt having fun, and I needed to change that. Your Ideas need to be a foundation for the story, not the actual story. You need to let the players shape and mold the story, to make it feel that their player is more important, and it makes your game realistic.
The plane of Ravnica is a diverse group of peoples: from elvic biomancers to goblin mad scientists to a guild based around a church run by the ghost council. Each guild co-exsits with each other (or at least tries to) but no relationship is without some problems. Each group has customs and traditions, values maybe not shared with the other groups. There used to ba a time where a guild peacekeeper solved these problems:a powerful planeswalker named Jace Beleran, but he vanished from the plane, leaving each group without a middleman to solve discrepancies between them. So, as time went on, they elected new members and such, but none were right for the job: it took a special type of person to be the guild peacekeeper. With the proper peacekeeper gone, Ravnica was forced to deal with its problems without a middle man. Without this middle man, the guilds started to conspire against each other, the tension growing more and more, until the tension finally snapped. The Izzet, the guild of mad scientist working with electricity and goblins, was attacked, one of their laboroties, the gigavolt lab, was bombed and looted by the Dimir, the shadow guild, notorious for being hired by other guilds to do their dirty work. Niv Mizzet, the draco genius with an IQ of 4 million, has hired our party to kill Vraska, the medusa guild leader of the Golgari, the swamp covered guild in the south, because she is rumered to have hired the Dimir. He sways he will pay a hefty price the medusas head, and how could you say no? It's just a simple medusa, after all. So, our party heads out, the promise of gold fueling their quest to slay the head of the Golgari.