DMs: Every Session Doesn’t Have to Be EPIC

As I was sitting here wondering what things I should be writing about,  have a clean slate for a weekend, nothing to do and not wasting my time seeing the Captain Brie train wreck movie. I noticed a few things on twitter.

It seems to me and a lot of others, that games need to have “Epic stories” that span across time (and space). They want to have these stories that people talk about for years to come, or even try to entertain others.

Stop it.

Stop forcing epic stories, just let them happen.

Plan your adventures out, let the big bad come into existence naturally or organically. No group of young green-horned heroes are automatically going to start out a campaign running after a villain you created, even if you tell them to do so. They need to have a reason to want to do so.

You need to build it up.

Start small, do small quests, small adventures and small rescues. Let your group of adventures start to make a name for themselves, let them gain some “rep”.

Once the gain some rep, the big evil bad guy will seek them out.

Why you ask?

Because evil likes nothing more then finding the good guys and screwing with them and making them look like fools. Its true. Look at any tv show, movie or cartoon from the ’80s or ’90s, most of them have that simple formula of Heroes doing small things, gain the favor of the people, big bad gets word of this, now wants to start attacking their good names.

In fact I wrote an article on my own website The Evil DM, talking about using ’80s Cartoons for Adventures Inspiration. 

Starting small and working towards epic stories, will create those epic stories for talking about over time.

I can’t tell you how many times one of my old friends will bring up that one time, from 20 years ago… (have to pause and reflect on this)

20 years ago, when we were playing two fighters, and we decided to crash our way through the door of the burning house, while riding our horses to save the old woman who was trapped inside.

That was just one scene from an ordinary adventure. Not epic by any scale.

When I ran a campaign a few years back, I had a mid level baddie that I was going to use as a one and done in a boss fight, but he got away after some last minute thinking. He was injured and managed to crawl away as the group forgot about him worrying about the shiny treasure in the room. The group realized this and got annoyed as they chased after him. Finding him again with another battle they killed him. I let him die as they celebrated. BUT I brought him back weeks down the line of gaming, scared up and missing a hand, the look on their faces was priceless, as now they had a big bad enemy, they had their reason for fighting.

So when designing up adventures, think small and let the epic happen, you could play small adventures well into your high levels, never fighting on an epic scale and still walk away with memories.

Remember the only people you need to worry about is you and your group, if they’re having fun, and you are having fun, who cares if others outside your group enjoy it. Its y’all that matter the most.

Vince The Evil DM

Raised in the '80s and enjoys all RPGs, DC Comics and movies that don't push agendas. The Evil DM is an Ennie Award winning writer that has over 25 years of experience in tabletop gaming, is the host of various RPG Podcasts, including Roll for Initiative and Roll High or Die! He also has his own youtube channel where he hosts gaming advice for the OSR Movement.