I’m working on my own game, and let me tell you that I am finding it quite frustrating. I’ll even go so far as to say I find it discouraging. Fair warning, blog: this post is mainly for my own benefit, as I ramble about my inability to prepare.

To some extent, my expectations are too high. I’ve been into World of Darkness games and their ilk pretty consistently for nearly a decade. (Also, jesus shit that’s a long time.) I have a pretty good sense of what makes a good game in this regard, and although I still struggle a lot of the time, it’s just a matter of putting the work into that it requires.

By this point, I’ve run more one-shots of D&D than I have of any other game, which is bizarre considering how much time, thought, and money I’ve invested in the new World of Darkness alone. It’s easy to see why, though: one-shots are easy, especially when you’re doing little more than a mechanical demo.

Now that I want to run something more extensive, something substantial, I’m running into a lot of trouble.

The World

For the world itself, I’m setting my expectations of creativity pretty low. I started devising my own pantheon and shelved it— I’m not trying to invent a unique world. I’m trying to do the basics, a fairly simple game with a new system.

There is one thing I’ll say that running a lot of one-shots has helped with. I have a pretty good mental routine developed of what exactly I am going to need to tell players. There’s not a whole lot of information that I really need to flesh out the world. Even though I know this, it’s easy to forget.

That’s why I’ve spent a disproportionate amount of time devising the region around the starting town. Is any of this going to come up? It won’t, at least not for the first arc. It’s very easy to narrate what happens in various parts of the world without describing in exacting detail how everything fits together.

Maybe the best way to summarize this is by saying that I’m having a hard time dividing and conquering. Pick the little problems. What do I want the PCs to do for the first session? Structure the town and initial quests around that.

The Dungeon

Designing a dungeon is hard for me, too. (Of course there’s going to be a dungeon in the first arc, blog. Dungeons are awesome.). This is another area where I’m overthinking. I want the dungeon to make some kind of sense when in reality people are very much willing to suspend disbelief when it comes to things like ancient ruins or underground caverns. It’s goddamn Dungeons and Dragons. It’s a game where players fight floating heads with eye tentacles, little green men, and enormous cuts of Jell-O.

Still, my default inclination is to avoid the generic. I still want beholders, goblins, and gelatinous cubes. I also want a dungeon to have had a purpose and make some kind of sense, with some history that I understand or is suggested by the dungeon’s location.

And oh, yeah, what was that about just trying to run a simple game?

Back to work / Notes for the future

Yeah, all right. I’m done complaining for now.

I’m doing OK with having created a premise for the starting town. Where I go from here is to come up with the details that I know will come up in the first session. This, at any rate, has gotten quite a bit easier over time, and the modest amount of confidence I have in this is actually refreshing.

I also have the germ of an idea or two for the starting dungeon, and some pretty solid rationalizations for the party to be there.

Once I have something share-able, I’ll be sure to post it, whether you like it or not, blog. And after I run each session, I’ll probably include some of the technical bits about each encounter, in terms of how I planned it and how it actually panned out.

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