With most of the heavy lifting of world building already done for me by using The Forgotten Realms campaign setting, the next task is to lay out possibilities. These possibilities are the available paths that the characters can take in the world. I want them to feel like they are in a “sand box” without there truly being a “sand box”. For me this means that I need to have several “railroads” for the characters to follow and to present these “railroads” to the players in an organic fashion.
However, in this new campaign I have several new players, players who are unfamiliar with The Forgotten Realms, and players who are veteran gamers and very familiar with Faerun. SO I have to find a middle ground of game and world introduction. I ask questions during character creation about what each player wants to do in a campaign as well as what they see as the goals and aspirations of the characters. Some of the players aren’t really sure about what they want from the game besides just to wanting to participate, others are very specific (“I want to head into the Underdark!”, “I want to kill a dragon!”). Most of them mention fighting evil or epic battles against legendary monsters. I let them know that we will need to start small, learn the rules, and get to know the world. With that in mind they all agree to do an introductory quest and follow my prompts.
Getting the characters together in a smooth, role-playing manner can be a real challenge. With the players agreeing to do the introductory quest it makes things a little easier on me. I split the party into two groups and in separate sessions I describe the setting and then hand them the first quest on a platter. We spend the rest of the session following the quest where it leads; interacting with NPC’s, learning to travel as a group, setting a guard on the camp in the evening, and an easy combat encounter. Combat is the most rules intensive part of the game so I don’t want the threat to be overwhelming while we figure out things like initiative, combat actions, attack rolls, modifiers, damage, etc. The next session with the small groups gets into the meat of the intro quest with more choices for the players, exploration, skill rolls, and tougher combat.
My goal so far has been education and entertainment. I want the players to learn the game while they have fun. I want to introduce them to different facets of the game in small doses so they can see how it works and also so they can discover what parts they like the best.