This book is all about running TTRPG (Table Top Role Playing Game) campaigns. The oldest TTRPG is Dungeons and Dragons – nowadays there are a wealth of TTRPGs covering many genres. Wikipedia has a useful entry that explains TTRPGs (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tabletop_role-playing_game). In TTRPG terms, a campaign is a succession of linked adventures run by a GM (Game Master). An adventure is typically run over one or more sessions – this is not covered by this book – instead, the publisher has another title – Never Unprepared – The Complete Game Master’s Guide to Session Prep – which I will be reading next. Throughout the text, key points are illustrated with a fictional gaming group – Gemma (the GM), Renaldo, Patti, and Adam.
This book has two authors – Phil Vecchione and Walt Ciechanowski. Phil is heavily into prep (preparation) and is also an I.T. project manager, which is reflected in this book – he includes chapters on Risk Management and also Change Management. Walt’s approach is to wing it, where he starts off with a bunch of ingredients and uses them to cook up an improvised home-brewed adventure. This book offers advice to GMs who are either using published adventures or those who have written their own.
After a short introductory section, ‘On Campaigns’, the book is split into three sections – ‘Starting a Campaign’, ‘Managing a Campaign’, and ‘Ending a Campaign’.
‘Starting a Campaign’ is a five chapter section. It starts with the Campaign Concept – where the GM performs a two-minute pitch to the prospective players about an upcoming campaign. Then, with the GM and players interacting, the Campaign Framework is decided upon. With this input from the players, the GM embarks on Campaign Creation – and, finally, the first adventure session – the pilot episode of the campaign is written and run.
‘Managing a Campaign’ is a six chapter section that tackles what most people would think of as running a campaign. There are chapters on managing: Campaign, Story, Player Characters, People, Risk, and Change.
‘Ending a Campaign’ is a four chapter section. It discusses ‘When it’s time to end your campaign’ and covers three different ways to end a campaign: killing it abruptly, suspending it, or coming to a managed ending – ending with a bang.
Over the years, I have run a number of campaigns and stand-alone adventures. Sometimes they have worked. Sometimes they haven’t. This book has helped me go over past campaigns, understanding how things panned out and given me some ideas to use in future campaigns.
If you are going to run a TTRPG campaign, this is a book you should read. It is that good.