May 11, 2020

Goals For Your First Session

Whether you’re an experienced or first time GM, planning your campaign’s first session, as fun as it is, brings some pressure along for the ride as well. You want all the players to enjoy the story and really dig into where it’s going. And perhaps most of all, you want everyone to be excited playing the next session.

Today’s worldbuilding advice aims to help GMs outline their goals for their campaign’s first session so that they – and everyone at the table – get the most out of the experience.

What Do You Want Out of the Experience?

Before fleshing out how best to setup the players for a great time, I’ve found it helpful to be in tune with what you, as the GM, are looking for during this particular campaign. Especially before your first session, the vast majority of the onus is on you to set the backbone of the story as well as creating a canvas on which the players can be creative with their characters, ideas, actions, and words.

In order to do that work effectively, I’ve found that it’s borderline crucial that you’re able to answer the simple question: “what’s all this for?” Obviously there are many potential answers to that question. But the important thing is that you’re in tune with your individual answer. And you can use that perspective to help empower you throughout your worldbuilding process. “I’m creating this campaign because…” can be a permanently stickied mantra on your notes…

So as you’re planning your campaign’s first session, you have this automatic wind in your sails, guiding you where it may. And in that first meeting, your players will be able to pick up on whatever it is that’s driving you. In my experience, carrying that common thread throughout the campaign does wonders for your own perspective, continuity, and desire to keep things fresh and exciting.

What Do You Want the Players to Get Out of the Experience?

Equally as important in setting your goals is deciding what it is you want the players to get out of the story. Is it just a chill, fun escape from the real world? An uber-serious epic campaign of cosmic proportions? What about individually – what are you hoping draws-in, interests, and fulfills each player?

Because every table and every story is different, there’s no one right set of answers to these questions. My advice though, especially when you’re planning your first session, is to invest the time in outlining the answers to these questions. Oftentimes, they’ll serve as signposts in your decision-making processes later-on.

If you had a new player who you really just wanted to show a good time and not throw anything too ridiculous or complex at to lay the foundation of what playing stories was all about, you might not go too far down the rabbit hole in the first session. Likewise, if you had a table of experienced players who really wanted to dig into a true epic, you wouldn’t give them a purely vanilla first session either.

Taking the time to really outline what you want you and the players to get our of the first session – and story as a whole – is going to serve you so, so well in the long run. So invest in that thinking before your first session – you (and your players!) won’t regret it!