How do you run your campaigns?

System-neutral discussion of campaign setting and game world design. Discussion of existing rules systems belongs in The Crunchy Bits and its sub-forums.
Post Reply

When running an RPG campaign, do you primarily:

Use a published campaign/adventure path.
Piece together a series of otherwise unrelated published adventures.
Use a published sandbox setting/random encounter tables.
No votes
Use your own content.
A combination of the above (please add a comment with details).
Something else (please add a comment with details).
Total votes: 22

User avatar
Tim Baker
Axe Beak
Posts: 2448
Joined: Tue Jan 19, 2016 7:51 am
Gender: male
Location: United States

How do you run your campaigns?

Post by Tim Baker » Tue Jun 11, 2019 5:51 am

Please help satisfy my curiosity by answering the poll question above.

User avatar
Resident Catgirl
Posts: 334
Joined: Thu May 31, 2018 1:23 am
Gender: female
Location: WNY

Re: How do you run your campaigns?

Post by Kythkyn » Tue Jun 11, 2019 6:00 am

I have for a long time done complete homebrew, especially for fantasy. But I have also run in some settings, not using published adventures (Star Trek, Star Wars, Marvel all come to mind). Lately, I have been piecing together unrelated adventures into something more, like I was doing with Red Steel and some other AD&D as well. So, I kind of fall in the middle of every option you have, with a lean toward my own content
Gaming Blog | Twitter | Discord

User avatar
Dire Flumph
Posts: 4378
Joined: Sun May 25, 2008 10:33 pm
Gender: male
Location: Texas, USA

Re: How do you run your campaigns?

Post by RobJN » Tue Jun 11, 2019 6:25 am

I've gone the "published/pre-written material plus my own stuff" route. My old D&D campaign started out with "Escape from Zanzer's Dungeon," which led to B11: King's Festival. I bridged the gap between it and B12: Queen's Harvest with my own "Rillhollow's Rest." B12 was modified from the monster-filled keep to one of the Grand Duke's heavily fortified silver mines where the "soldiers" garrisoned there were not at all who they seemed.
Thorn's Chronicle: The Thread Index|Thorn's Chronicle Blog
My articles at the Vaults of Pandius; My W.O.I.N. adventure in ENWorld's EONS Patreon #56.
Follow Thorn's Chronicle on Facebook |twitter

User avatar
The Real Nowhere Man
Posts: 1549
Joined: Sun May 27, 2012 10:55 pm
Gender: male
Location: My Nowhere Land

Re: How do you run your campaigns?

Post by Yaztromo » Tue Jun 11, 2019 7:12 am

Right now I'm going with a published base (so, if I don't know what to do, I have a solid support I can go to) with some specific adventure from other settings that I think fits very well and some occasional adventure homebrew (but they took too long for me to do them properly at the speed of the campaigns that I'm currently running) or homebrew variant over published adventures (when I start suspecting that the players may have found where the mainstream adventures come from).
I'm the Real Nowhere Man, sitting in my Nowhere Land,
making all my Nowhere plans for Nobody.

Red Dragon
Posts: 7703
Joined: Sat May 24, 2008 6:42 pm
Gender: male
Location: Milan, Italy

Re: How do you run your campaigns?

Post by agathokles » Tue Jun 11, 2019 9:22 am

Running 3 games in parallel (2 of which weekly) makes it difficult to write my own adventures. So I mostly run published modules for most games I play. My current BECMI game follows an overarching storyline of my own design (see my Skauskogr material in Threshold Magazine), but uses both TSR modules (especially the UK Series, The Sentinel and The Gauntlet) and newer OSR materials (e.g., several free adventures from the Adventure Anthologies for the Basic Fantasy RPG). So this fits into option 2 in the poll.

My non-D&D campaigns currently follow The Eternal Lies (Trail of Cthulhu, converted to CoC7e) and Emerald City Knights (Mutants and Masterminds). Both fit into option 1 of the poll.

However, when I had more spare time to prepare and only one weekly game, I did more writing of my own. I tend to do that for modern fantasy games (I designed a long WitchCraft campaign pitting a group of Templars and allies against demons behind some of the Oil-for-Food programme corruption scandals), but I did write several Karameikos-based D&D adventures which were part of a campaign that is currently on hiatus (you can find them on Threshold Magazine, mostly, or on the Vaults of Pandius). So these fit into option 4.

I do also use random tables, but only for random encounters within a larger campaign.


User avatar
Big Mac
Giant Space Hamster
Posts: 25370
Joined: Sun Jun 15, 2008 3:52 pm
Gender: male
Location: London UK

Re: How do you run your campaigns?

Post by Big Mac » Tue Jun 11, 2019 12:21 pm

Hmm. I've not voted yet, as I'm not sure I fall into any of your categories.

I've been looking into pulling together the content from the official Spelljammer adventures (SJA1 Wildspace, SJA2 Skull and Crossbows, SJA3 Crystal Spheres and SJA4 Under The Dark Fist). They have so many Bral links in them (overall) that I'm thinking that I need to build a fairly strong Bralspace theme into them (rather than making them generic).

At the same time, I'm thinking that I need to build canon-inspired-fanon for Greyspace, Krynnspace and Realmspace (and tie it into any space references in Greyhawk, Dragonlance and Forgotten Realms products.

Because of Takhisis stealing Krynn and the Spellplague, the later eras of Dragonlance and Forgotten Realms are a bit problematic for me, so I'm looking at raiding the best ideas from late DL and FR products and giving them a reboot to fit into an earlier era (probably the era that the AD&D Adventures in Space boxed set is set in). (And doing that means that the Sundered Empire from Chainmail won't be so sundered yet, as Stratis would not have been killed. So after studying Chainmail/Sundered Empire a bit more, I want to wind time back a bit and see what elements of Ravilla and the other nations might work in Greyspace.)

I'm still deciding if I should use the new Stardock material (from Waterdeep: Dungeon of the Mad Mage) as the same Stardock fom Undermountain: Stardock or rename one of them and use them as two different Tears of Selûne.
David "Big Mac" Shepheard
Please join The Piazza's Facebook group, The Piazza's Facebook page and follow The Piazza's Twitter feed so that you can stay in touch.
Spelljammer 3E Conversion Project - Spelljammer Wiki - The Spelljammer Image Group.
Moderator of the Spelljammer forum (and administrator). My moderator voice is green.

User avatar
Dragon Sage
Posts: 834
Joined: Sat Jul 29, 2017 12:18 am
Gender: male
Location: Mostly Melbourne Australia

Re: How do you run your campaigns?

Post by Coronoides » Tue Jun 11, 2019 12:39 pm

My preferred mode is writing my own material 98% or so if the games I have run since 1983 were done this way. Writing your own enables you to respond to the PCs action or even have them drive the plot. However, as I get older more time poor and more varied in my free time the appeal of published adventures as a time saver is undeniable.
Need to convert races to D&D 5e? mathematical analysis of canon races and design rules: ... rs-Toolkit

Conversion & Review of Council of Wryms with dragon PCs compatible with other 5e settings (at level 5+). DRAFT: Book 1 ... 8.pdf?dl=0 and Book 2 ... 0.pdf?dl=0

User avatar
Posts: 1637
Joined: Mon Mar 07, 2011 2:33 am
Gender: male
Location: Emirate of Kobara

Re: How do you run your campaigns?

Post by timemrick » Tue Jun 11, 2019 2:13 pm

My personal preference is to create my own material, and I'm doing that for my current home game. "Time of the Tarrasque" is my own original setting, with a very different history and cosmology from standard Pathfinder. I'll frequently adapt maps that I find online (like those on Dyson Logos' site) for adventure sites, but I avoid using any published adventures of any kind.

I also occasionally run D&D 5E for my family. I don't have nearly enough time and energy to run two homebrew campaigns, and we're all still learning the system, so I've been using exclusively published adventures (Tales from the Yawning Portal).

(I also GM for Pathfinder Society, and that requires exclusively using sanctioned published content. It's technically a campaign I help run, though it's not *my* campaign.)

The most noteworthy exception to my general avoidance of published settings is Green Ronin's Freeport, which I've been running on and off since Death in Freeport. My first Freeport campaign was almost all published adventures (the Freeport Trilogy plus some filler material that was part published, part mine). The second was all original adventures using the setting. The last one was a combination of published adventures and homebrewed ones.

One of my 3.5 campaigns was based on a book of maps I own (Todd Gamble's Cartographica, from Green Ronin). A majority of the book's maps--catacombs, graveyards, wizard's tower, dragon's lair, etc.--connect together to create a large enough adventuring area to advance a few levels all on its own, so I decided to use those maps, populate the dungeons, and invent some history to link them together and get the PCs involved.
Tim Emrick, Green Ronin Freebooter and Keeper of the Freeport Errata
Time of the Tarrasque: My homebrew Pathfinder campaign (2017-).
Studded Plate: My blog about RPGs and LEGO.
Thastygliax's Vault: My other gaming pages.

User avatar
Guardian of the Grave
Posts: 318
Joined: Sat Dec 10, 2016 1:02 am
Gender: male
Location: wandering Thunder Rift dealing w/ the threats that spring up

Re: How do you run your campaigns?

Post by Gravesguardian » Tue Jun 11, 2019 4:52 pm

Since I've never been good at creating my own stuff from scratch, I tend to use all of the Thunder Rift adventures and mix in other stuff that seems like a good fit. My biggest problem has always been that I'm a player; but, I get stuck as DM; so it's always easier for me to just grab pre-mades or things other people have created and made available. (Dragonsfoot had a couple I grabbed and added into TR.)

User avatar
Posts: 440
Joined: Wed May 04, 2016 10:19 am
Gender: male
Location: Andover, UK

Re: How do you run your campaigns?

Post by Khedrac » Tue Jun 11, 2019 6:27 pm

The main problem with the list above is that it depends what system I am running.

At the moment I am running some D&D 3.5, and with D&D I find I am terrible at writing encounters - sorting out he feats etc gets me, so I either use a published campaign book or (as Iam currently doing) I use a set of semi-related adventures and hammer them togther.

For pretty much anything else I want to use a mixture of published and my own material, but I don't know if I will get to do so again.
"If it looks like a duck and quacks like a duck, it might just be a crow".

User avatar
Tom Bulls Eye
Wanderer of Ahl
Posts: 326
Joined: Mon Mar 07, 2011 3:49 pm
Gender: male
Location: Valley of five Surprises

Re: How do you run your campaigns?

Post by Tom Bulls Eye » Wed Jun 12, 2019 3:44 pm

I piece as much together as I can possibly get my hands on. I don't have the time to make up my own material, but on the other hand, I don't always want to play a particular module all the way to conclusion. So I grab a little here'n'there and combine to make my own world come alive.

User avatar
Posts: 179
Joined: Tue Jul 17, 2018 1:09 pm
Gender: male
Location: United States

Re: How do you run your campaigns?

Post by Digitalelf » Fri Jun 21, 2019 10:13 pm

I use published settings (Mainly TSR era settings), and I use a combination of published adventures/modules and stuff I create on my own (e.g. encounters ala Book of Lairs, Encounters Decks 1 & 2, as well as my own adventures, etc.).

Right now, I am running a Greyhawk campaign (From the Ashes Boxed Set) that just recently took a jaunt into Planescape. I am now running the Illithiad Trilogy of modules (I run 2nd Edition AD&D).
-That One Digitalelf Fellow-

User avatar
Zeromaru X
Scion of Arkhosia
Posts: 1409
Joined: Sun Jan 10, 2016 7:24 am
Gender: male
Location: San Gil, Colombia

Re: How do you run your campaigns?

Post by Zeromaru X » Sat Jun 22, 2019 1:16 am

Like many here, I don't have the time to create my own material, so I use published adventures, but I don't like to run them as written, so I customize them with elements from other adventures or with monsters from the Monster Manuals.

Posts: 339
Joined: Sat May 13, 2017 8:46 pm
Gender: male
Location: Sigil, The Lady's Ward

Re: How do you run your campaigns?

Post by zontoxira » Sun Jun 23, 2019 11:11 am

In my latest Forgotten Realms/Planescape campaign, I used a series of 5e published material (mainly from Rage of Demons, up to the overthrow of Hillsfar's tyrant), based it on the Blood War, and ran a few 2e Planescape modules, filling any gaps with original content.
Have a look at my Dark Sun 5e Reconstruction or Planescape 5e Belief System
Zontoxira's blog
Cager extraordinaire, at your service!
"There are no saints in the animal kingdom. Only breakfast, and dinner." - Lorne Malvo

Post Reply

Return to “The Squishy Bits”