In my own campaign, I have a specific story to tell. It’s a good story, no GREAT one, but I’ve noticed it feels to me like it lacks character building. I mean, it DOES lack character building. For as long as I can remember RPG were about epic adventures and leveling to gain new powers. I yearned for the image of a warrior leaping off a cliff to slay an evil beast or a mage blasting something into dust. Recently, I played an adventure with my friend Ben and literally half the game was about between adventure actions. There was a battle tossed in there, but the focus had very little to do with combat in the end.
Building Character Personality Matters
Since I have come back to D&D in the past few years I have learned a major lesson. Building character is more important than adventures and great stories. When I develop a story, I work backward to make sure every piece supports the end plot. That’s great, but a by in large a linear campaign allows little room for the character except they are on a one-way track. The truth is D&D is about the characters. Characters gain levels, but their persona will live on in your memory through the personality that shines through those adventures, and in a lot of ways, that means in between adventures.
Why Between Adventures Matter
Between adventure actions are not just activities, but it allows the players to drive the story, even while the DM leads by giving the crumb trail. In my recent session, I have to give a kudos to Ben B@The V0id Man for helping open my eyes to how a sandbox campaign style can work. Because I like to DM, I like to world build. Because I like to world build, I’ve found excitement in changing his adventure to suit MY interests, which fall in line with his own interests. This symbiotic relationship is the heart of RP at its core.
What I’ve decided to do in the campaign in between adventures is work on connecting towns via teleportation circles. I’m using them to make money and to become the regional philanthropist, thereby building my reputation in each of the towns. The RP social interactions this has led to have been extremely exciting and Ben has had to create new ideas on the spot and add on to my interests. This has also energized the group as a whole to creating their own interests and supporting the idea of establishing our own kingdom.