Content of the article: "Friend of mine posted a thread here a while ago and he said you guys wanted to see my DM notes on a campaign I ran"
(Original thread here: https://www.reddit.com/r/dndnext/comments/gcndje/im_convinced_my_dm_wants_to_run_a_different_genre/)
So a friend told me he posted here about you guys wanting my notes for a game I DMed and I was super flattered you guys would want that! I feel bad because that was a while ago and I've been taking my time with it, so I wanted to at least give you guys an update, and give you a footnotes version of my notes if you want to run with it.
It's a highly visual game, so I felt like I couldn't just pass on my (poorly organized) notes and call it a day. I used a bunch of 3D models in the original campaign I ran, but that was a mixture of stuff that I made myself(and since sold) and stuff that I don't have a license to redistribute.
So I've been rebuilding that campaign from scratch on Unity. Figure if you guys want to play it, hey it's something the DM can stream on Discord or something to the players.
Here's what it looks like right now:
It's made in Unity so it should be playable on Windows, Linux and Mac. It's nothing too big, but it has all the visual cues for the players to visualize things better and stuff to help the DM as well.
You can move tokens around the map, place them wherever and stuff.
You can alternate between top down and first person view because pretty as it is to look at, I know that sometimes you just want to count grid squares 😛 I've been there.
There's also a dice roller in case you want to play with nothing but it, but I imagine that anyone using this would still want to play with roll20 or something of the sort.
DM feature – before you start playing, you can place NPC Tokens around the map and edit dialogue for them if you'd like. I'm really terribly at improv so I made this feature so that when I need to remember exactly what character said what or whatever I can just go "…Guys look at the stream, uh, yeah – that's what he's saying." Not sure if any other DMs like something like this but I found it really useful for scrubs like me haha.
Each house has its own interior and stuff as well, though they do use the same models for things like chairs and stuff, so it's more like the little touches that make them different.
If you didn't read the original thread(also I think my friend didn't explain things in too much detail) this is the reason why the campaign needs a more heavy visual element…it's a murder mystery. And I find that often it's hard to be subtle because when unlike a book you can't be too subtle as the players don't have the ability to turn a few pages back and see what they missed, and they generally don't have the time to handle anything more complicated than a simple puzzle. So sometimes I find that it's a lot easier to just SHOW them something and be like "have at it." Plus this way they can keep screenshots of areas they investigated and so on.
Also I think that it's a LOT easier to DM a murder mystery when you can place NPC tokens around the map ahead of time and have their dialogue pre-written and you just have to like, walk up the camera controller next to them and press E to have them recite something. It's a lot easier for me, anyway haha.
The setting is that the group was asked to come investigate a murder mystery in this newly colonized island – more specifically, "The mayor needs the world's greatest detectives on the case. They're not available, so he's stuck with you."
Once on the island, the mayor shows the crime scene, explains the suspects, the circumstances and so on – then gives each player character house. The players get to pick whatever house they want, and if they solve the crime the house is theirs to keep.
Each house has their own set of clues. The players can solve the crime with literally zero clues, but each of those can help them uncover what really went down.
At the same time, the players learn that the mayor hired a detective before the party to solve the crime – and he did it, solving it a mere three days after arriving on the island. Only, he refuses to tell him what happened. Instead the detective ran into a mysterious dungeon and locked himself in there, saying he prefers death over telling the mayor the killer's identity. Early on, the detective(who is a very strong boss fight) gives the players a sword with unique properties: it is incredibly strong, but it can only be wielded by someone who has solved a mystery. It's a sword that feeds on mysteries.
The mystery itself was designed to be solved assuming the worst of literal murder hobos, but assuming the players are clever enough. Meaning that if every character is killed and the players roll nat 1s on every investigation, they should still be able to puzzle things out if they think hard enough. I'm a big fan of Golden Age of mystery fiction(John Dickson Carr, Ellery Queen and so on) where the reader has a chance to solve the mystery ahead of the detective – it's like that. It's solvable, but it requires effort. I know murder mysteries aren't everyone's thing though, and since I ran this campaign with two groups of very different people I tried to stretch the setup a little.
So the players at this point have a few options:
Mystery book plot: Solve murder mystery, tell the mayor the truth, end quest there.
Standard RPG plot: Refuse to solve the murder mystery, go into the dungeon, beat the shit out of the detective and extract the truth out of him.
Arsene Lupin plot: With a few key plot points uncovered, perform a heist and steal the detective's diary with the truth.
Murder Hobo Plot: If they decide to just murder everyone in town, it turns into a tower defense game.
That's the short version.
I'm hoping to have everything done soon. I'm working on a PDF with all the information needed to run the campaign(like very part of the murder plot and so on) plus finishing up the 3D map for the area. Sorry it's taking so long! It's going a lot faster now that I've just bought a few assets on the unity store and I'm only modeling things that I need to do myself because there aren't good models of available anywhere.
I'm hoping to be done in a week but realistically two or three weeks sounds more plausible, really sorry about that. I can get the PDF with the details done within a week but the map part is taking a bit longer.
Honestly, would like to thank everyone who was so positive when my friend posted that thread, he mentioned the thread to me when he posted but he didn't say just how many of you were positive about it. Thanks for all your kind comments, it honestly made my day!
- Social Media Feeds in Games
- Players struggling to define who their characters are and I need a strong central tension in this pirate campaign to get them motivated. Will take any tips or advice!!
- Long Some of the best advice on D&D backstories, and how they contribute to a campaign, that I’ve come across – from Monty & Kelly; the Dungeon Dudes
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