Setting the Tone: Keeping Players in Mind

So you FINALLY got a group together and you’re ready to throw them into this twisted world of horrors your overactive and mildly psychotic imagination managed to spin together. Awesome. Don’t. Well, I guess you can, but seriously just take a step back and go over a few things with your players. What type of setting do they want? What type of tone? Are they okay with character deaths?

Be sure to ask all of these as well as any other questions you manage to think up before you set out on this journey, because if you’re like me and every other DM and player I know, you want it to last. I know it’s hard to give up everything you’ve been planning, but forcing a concept that only interests you will get you nowhere. If you have ideas you like that don’t seem to fly with the players, write them down and save them for later.

Of course, these preemptive questions are only the tip of the iceberg on setting the tone. One of our jobs as the masters of these games is to adapt to every situation our players throw at us. This doesn’t just mean coming up with a random story arc for the abandoned house you didn’t think they’d bother with. This also means realizing that your group isn’t really interested in the idea of rebuilding a town from rubble, and finding a way to put them back on a path they will enjoy. It is our job to constantly read the room, and if something isn’t pulling the players in, don’t be afraid to stop on a dime and reroute. It has happened to me countless times, and I always try to make sure I immediately redirect into something more tailored to my players. There will always be other opportunities for our ideas to come out, so make sure to always keep the players in mind. Set the tone and tune the setting to ensure a long lasting and enjoyable campaign.

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