Behind the D.M. Screen - Influence


When it comes to creating adventures for a Dungeons & Dragons game, there's a certain amount of stress many Dungeon Masters, (especially new ones,) feel involving originality. How frustrating would it be to spend hours working on something, crafting it to near perfection, only to have a friend tell you that the session for that evening was strikingly similar to your favorite holiday movie Die Hard? Get any group of people together, even those with similar interests, and you'll likely find that there's enough knowledge between them that most movies, comics, video games and books couldn't be copied, or else someone in the group is going to realize you stole the idea, and they'll probably be uninterested in the adventure. For many fresh Dungeon Masters, the fear of being branded as an 'idea thief' is a scary prospect, and could possibly lead to the players either finding someone else to D.M. or could make them disinterested in the game itself. One of the most important things for a Dungeon Master to learn, is that it's completely fine to steal ideas. Go right ahead, and take what you please, because what's important isn't that you come up with something that the world has never seen before, but instead it's that the players all have a good time. The other reason is that your time is valuable, and it's already a large undertaking to craft a D&D campaign, so if your goal is to always come up with something that's never been seen in the history of fiction, you'll be brainstorming for quite a long time. Now, this isn't to say that you should just take your favorite video game and make a campaign about it; instead you should take an idea and twist it around to your campaign setting of choice. Earlier Die Hard was mentioned, and sure you could just lift the entire plot and slap it into your story, but it would likely come across as awkward and forced. Instead, you could design a story where a group of heroes have to sneak around a tower that was captured by a cult of fanatics, who have taken a noble family hostage during a religious festival. Sure, it's the same basic premise to one of the greatest Christmas movies of all time, but enough has been changed that it not only fits your fantasy setting, but feels more like an homage, than outright thievery. As another example, you could have an adventure where the heroes arrive in a strange land, because they've heard there are a collection of relics in the region that have the power to grant unlimited power to whomever first obtains them. Once there, they quickly find that not only are their previous foes hunting for the artifacts, but there's a new opponent who's incredibly powerful and already has half the relics gathered. For those unfamiliar with Dragon Ball Z, this is a fairly obvious reference to the Freeza saga, but unless the players are watching for it, they'll likely be caught off guard when realization finally dawns on them. Many years ago, when I first started working towards a Dungeons and Dragons campaign, I wracked my brain trying to come up with something that my friends would have never imagined, but the reality of the situation is no matter how original you think you might be, likely something similar has been done before, so it's best not to stress yourself out about it. Instead, create adventures with complete freedom, knowing that if you come up with an idea that's been already been created, you can at least put a unique spin on it! Every week on Wednesday, the podcast Noobs and Dragons releases, and I hope you'll listen in, and kudos if you can spot any references,nods, spins, or homages that I've put into the campaign.