February 1, 2021:
A tool that can really help a DM out in creating and running adventures is a map. This can also help the players. But I especially find it much easier to run a game when I have a map on hand. Even if it's just a simple, crudely drawn scribble of a map. It helps a lot.
Some time ago I found a book on making your own RPG maps. How to Draw Fantasy Art and RPG Maps by Jared Blando. Since buying it, I purchased drawing pencils, thought about getting my hands on one of those fancy large sheets of watercolor paper. Kept this idea in the back of my mind for a couple years. Finally, I purchased the paper, cut it down to a more manageable size that will fit on my table, and leaving some for possible map expansions. Already it's helping me grow my world and see that the areas my adventures have taken place are all on one continent, or part of a continent or whatever large landmass I decide to call this. My map is only part of the world. I'm going to focus on just this part. It's what I have.
So I started at the beginning of the book, drew out the shape, a few large lakes, and then mountains and hills and just recently forests. So many tiny trees! Next step is rivers. Honestly I don't have this all figured out at all. I'm seeing what comes up while keeping in mind the places that are established by me and some of my players. It's kind of a nice mindless activity. And it's turning out way better than I expected. It looks like cartography! I'm trying not to think too much about the world and physics and geography and all that. I just want to make a world where stories happen. It's got magic. It's not realistic at all. I don't know if I'll get to the point where I give up. I don't know if I'll actually finish it or leave it in pencil to add and change as needed. I don't even know if I'll ever visit this place again. There's a Pandemic going on and I haven't made any new adventures since the Before Times. But I can still make my map until I am done making my map, whatever conditions apply at that time.
Running Remote Sessions:
February 1, 2021:
Some major life changes have come up that make running my D&D sessions more difficult. We've had to change things up. At the start of the Pandemic, Wizards of the Coast offered up some free adventures and other goodies. I haven't checked back in a long time. I have enough premade adventures now to last a long while. I don't know if they're still offering freebies.
Our friend died right before the Pandemic really hit. He was part of our Friday game night group and was in my 3.5 adventures. Needless to say, that put an end to some things. I took it as the time to really for real move on from the old system. Focus on the now. It's all we can really do. So that made things hard. But D&D was something we could do during quarantine time. Just remotely, on Zoom.
I set up my netbook and have added my phone to work as BattleCam. My husband is the only player at the table. But we have others joining through the computer lands. Because we started this new bunch of premade adventures--my inspiration and energy levels had suddenly disappeared for the obvious reasons. I'd never used premade adventures. It'll do for now. And now I have two remote groups. One is the game group made up of a dwarf paladin, dwarf druid, and tiefling monk. I've been using a series of possibly connected adventures. (I haven't read ahead so I don't know if they'll all come together in the end.) I've changed the name of a few places to make it easier for me to remember. It's been interesting using these premade adventures. Some were not edited at all, I'm pretty sure. Some have cool ideas. They are different than what I make so whenever I get back to writing my own, I think it will help to have seen what other people have come up with. And the formatting.
Some other friends wanted to play so I chose another premade series of a higher level because I was tired of my players always being low level. So we started at level eight. There are five of them, made up of the Friday group and two other friends. A bugbear druid, dragonborn bard, elf monk, elf sorcerer, tiefling cleric. What I'm discovering with this group, and after seeing how one of the Before Times groups played out, five players works best. I've been set on four this whole time That came up from the very early games I played, as a player, with twelve plus people. TOO MUCH! Four seemed like a perfect, balanced number. Yes, balanced, but with that fifth person you tip it off balance and more interesting role playing and player choices come about. The dynamics are greater. Not that it was bad before, but there seems to be that energetic spark that infects everyone. That giddiness that encourages people to make weird and usually silly but amazing choices in their problem solving. Something to keep in mind for when we can see friends again and play those games in person.
And even though we lost our friend and the group had to end, I think those characters will still play into my world's lore. But they don't know that yet.