Tonight I am going to GM some more of our DSA campaign. I designed my own adventure for this and this will be our third session. I create nearly all my campaigns, scenarios and adventures the same way. I start out with one interesting NPC. Sometimes he or she is a good guy, sometimes it is the ‘evil-overlord’ type. It doesn’t matter where I start. I usually make my NPCs likable, I have rarely made a completely evil NPC, that is just not my style. Neither are the ‘good’ NPCs perfect. Everyone should have some weaknesses. This time I started out with a young and pretty female thief and the young gullibe heir of the local baron. I had some kind of highway robbery in mind since the goal of this campaign is testing the new rules for fighting.
Once I have the first of the characters I starting thinking about supporting cast, family, friends and acquaintances. Sometimes the PCs are part of this ‘aura’ as well which makes it much easier to integrate the scenario with the campaign. That is another reason why I keep a long list of all NPCs I ever used in a campaign and a list of names to be used for random people that appear throughout the evening. Each one has to have a name. Later I can re-use these random characters and give them significance in a later scenario.
The actual scenario then results from the network of relations and weaknesses of the cast I designed in the first step. Then I need a couple of locations which are designed to fit some of the characters. To involve the characters I designed a unique inn and some reason why they would need to go there. The innkeeper is special as well. Her personality is just a stereotype: a kind mother to her patrons with some connections to the local ‘underworld’. I threw in some more relations and some weirdness and then I walked the players to the inn and let go.
The whole trick is to be open about everything. If they have a great idea make something of it. The most important thing to me is to be open about the outcome of each and every action and to go with what the players want and still make them paranoid. It is especially hard to leave the outcome of fights open but this time it is really open what happens.