7 Ideas to Implement to Improve Your Tabletop RPG Campaigns
Guest article written by Jacob Tegtman from at Eternity TTRPG.
Let's Go Over Some Simple Tips for Improving Your Tabletop RPG Campaign
Many people realize the benefits of playing an ongoing RPG campaign. They simply provide much better gaming experiences than one-shot adventures. And although it’s possible to play singleplayer DnD, it’s often a more fulfilling experience, with better stories, gaming with a core group of friends.
That being said, there are ways to improve almost any ongoing RPG campaign. Whether your gaming group is new, and you’re working on getting your group up and running, or you’ve been gaming together for years and things have grown a little predictable or stale, we have some ideas for you to implement in your next game.
Some of these ideas are for players at the table, while others are for the dungeon master. Whatever role you bring to your group, start there. Then, if you find your games getting better from our advice, have your gaming group take a look at this article and see what they can implement for themselves.
1. Bonus Exp & Gold for Showing Up on Time
If you offer your players bonus Exp and gold for showing up on time, players will do so. It’s a simple matter. If the game starts at 4pm on a Saturday, and the player walks through the door at 3:59, they’re good to go. If they show up at 4:01, they don’t get the bonuses that everyone else does.
Just make the bonuses enough to incentivize players to take the game more seriously. Everyone at the table is setting aside their time to play, so it’s really just a way to reward people for respecting each other’s time.
The added benefit is that as everyone treats the game a little more seriously, the games themselves actually do get more interesting and more fun.
2. Bonus Exp & Gold for Immersive Roleplaying
This is the same kind of idea as bonus Exp and gold for showing up on time. But instead, this is a small bonus for roleplaying characters particularly well.
Not everyone gets as into roleplaying as others. The point isn’t to reward the best actor or theater person in the group. Instead, the goal is to incentivize players to roleplay just a little more than they usually do, in a way that helps the gaming group get more into the “flow” of the game.
Let your players know that bonuses are available, and if anyone at the table notices someone putting in more effort to create an immersive game, then they will be rewarded.
3. Follow Up on Loose Ends
As a dungeon master, it’s really easy to come up with a lot of great ideas, and a lot of half-baked ideas. That’s just the nature of the game and of storytelling RPGs where players can literally do anything they want at any time.
Keep a notepad beside you while gaming that’s exclusively for any ideas that players mention during the game that could affect the story. They might talk amongst themselves what they think is happening in the story, for example – and even if they’re very wrong, it might be an idea you could use later.
Additionally, any side characters you create, places the characters have gone, or minor plotlines could grow into something larger. When players see something they’ve heard about before come back around, even if it was minor, it grows in significance in their minds. It’s how you can create an endlessly entertaining campaign.
Note that players can do the same things. Have your characters pursue things that you feel could be a fun addition to the story, based on something you’ve seen or experienced in the campaign so far that you character finds interesting.
4. Questions at the Start of Each Adventure
To help players learn more about their characters and come up with additional story ideas, ask each player 2-3 questions at the start of each gaming adventure. Alternatively, players can ask each other questions.
Questions can be simple things like getting-to-know you (your character) questions. Preferences, hobbies, or what players think about certain NPCs or places.
Also, questions can be more in-depth, about the campaign itself, major storylines, villains, or what they each think is happening in the story. Answers to these questions create more investment in the game and give loads of ideas to both players and dungeon master for how to continue the campaign in a meaningful and interesting way.
5. Initiative Tracker
There are plenty of initiative trackers available for purchase on the web, or you can simply create a system from notecards.
Basically, rather than writing down each player’s initiative at the start of combat on a notepad, have each player write their character’s name on a card. Then, have a bunch of “enemy” cards.
When initiative is rolled, line up the initiative cards for players and “enemies,” visually. That way, each player always knows when their turn is coming up, and the fight becomes more dramatic as it becomes more visual.
6. Time Limits on Turns in Combat
Remember that combat is, well: COMBAT! It’s supposed to represent a life-or-death struggle. Think about it like an action scene in a movie. Slowness just doesn’t mix well with the fast-paced possibility of death.
When it comes to a player’s turn for combat, give them 10 seconds to say what their character does. If they need more time, no problem, they just move back one space on the initiative order. That way, they aren’t “punished” by being skipped entirely, or anything like that. But they are reminded to keep combat moving to keep the game immersive.
This is an especially fair thing to implement in your game if players always know when their turn is coming up because you’re making use of an initiative tracker. There’s really no excuse for people being extremely slow on their turns.
7. Everyone Stands Up During Combat
Another easy way to amp up combat is to have everyone stand up during battles. Get the blood flowing a little bit. Chances are, everyone’s been sitting for quite a while anyways, and could use a stretch.
When players stand up, you’ll notice a change not only in their body language, but in their voice, and in the way they roleplay battles.
Bonus: Consistency and Variety
If you’re currently playing an ongoing RPG campaign, chances are good that your group has consistency in your gaming. Just be sure to not become too predictable. A little variety adds flavor to your game, and can be a big help for improving the experience at each gaming session.
Try out one or two of the ideas we’ve presented here, and see what it does for your group.
Guest article written by Jacob Tegtman from at Eternity TTRPG.
Read another one of Jacob's articles: "RPG Campaign."
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These are some great ideas, but I don’t use extra XP. All characters are at the same xp in my campaign, weather they make it to every session or not. I might use that if I was running an after school program and wanted commitment to keeping characters in an adventure.