Final Preperations

The Dungeons and Dragons campaign I am in is about to come to a close. 2-4 more weeks of games for this campaign (DM says 1-2 but when do things go as the DM plans?). Then it will be my turn. My campaign should officially begin in less than a month. What do I have left to do?

Session Zero Prep

There are a few last things for me to put together for the session zero that will kick off my stint as DM. First is a questionnaire. The questionnaire will be about what topics the players are comfortable encountering. These will range from slap stick comedy, to romance plots, to much darker topics. I don’t have plans to use most if any of the things going onto the questionnaire, but it is much better to know where the lines are well ahead of time.

The next step of session zero is to help my players make their characters. This step has already begun. Some of my players are throwing character ideas and backstories at me so we can work on them.

Populating the World

I know where my players are going and what they are doing, but I have a sparse few NPCs for them to interact with. I have the main quest giver, his wife, an idea for a pudgy shop keep, and a fun bar keep. But I don’t have much else. So I am going to have to make more characters.

And of course, I am going to have to design some dungeons and other encounters for my players. I have a few early encounters for my players, but I need to flesh out the layout of the actual dungeons.


Finally, we come to how we are going to play the game. I have a play mat that can be drawn on… but it takes some work to erase a given map to make a new one. So, I am reconsidering the idea of using Roll20 to run my game. The main problem being getting maps. But that is a relatively easy to solve problem. Even if I have to make the grid maps myself.

Changes: Visual, Functional, and Programmed

Changes are happening in my game. Lots of those changes are minor UI layout tweaks that are uninteresting to talk about. Bit of experimenting, little movements to make big differences, that type of things. But I have been making some more substantial changes too.

First Biggish Change

For the pre-made levels mode, there is a visual indicator of if you have previously completed a level before and if you have solved the level optimally. At first the indicator was a big “X”, but that had always been a placeholder. Next I tried a star shape to go with the twinkling star effect I put in the background, but that didn’t mesh as well as I had hopped. Then I settled on a circle that was filled with a dot when the appropriate condition was true. But recently an idea was suggested that I should have tried much sooner.

The idea was simple: Just have the word disappear and appear as needed. Having the entire word showing up and disappearing will draw the user’s eye, showing the change. I may add a few subtle effects to the appearing (very subtle animations to help draw the eye), but just goes to show that I should always strive to follow the K.I.S.S. principle. Keep It Simple Stupid.

Upcoming Change

The next change will take a bit more untangling and reworking than the last one. I am reworking the difficulty select for the randomized puzzles. Currently it is a drop down with the options of: easy, medium, hard, or custom. The rework is three fold.

First and foremost I am changing the dropdown to a spinner design. Originally I didn’t know what platform I would be releasing on, but now I have narrowed down to a mobile release. I light of that, I am trying to eliminate dropdown boxes wherever feasible, to avoid people fat fingering the wrong option.

Next is to remove the “custom” difficulty option. I liked the option at the start, but in light of various design decisions I have made, I have decided to scrap it. Which leads to the third change.

Up to this point when you selected a easy, medium, or hard difficulty puzzle it would give you a puzzle with a preset number of moves needed to complete it. This change is to add a small randomized element. So instead of always giving a puzzle that needed 4 moves to complete an easy puzzle will need between 3-5 moves to complete. This will be reflected in the Target # the player can see, so they know how many moves they are expected to make.

Beyond All That

Those are the immediate changes I am making to my game. But some other things are in the pipeline that I have planned. But I can’t talk about everything all at once. Besides, if this project has taught me 1 thing it is this: Plans need to be fluid and you can’t stubbornly hold onto one idea.

Designing a New One Shot

As the current Dungeons and Dragons campaign I am playing in draws closer and closer to an end, my campaign draws closer to its beginning. But before that happens, a few weeks may come when we don’t have enough players to progress the story. In those cases, we have generally run one-shot adventures. This works out great as it also gives me some experience as the Dungeon Master. Only one problem, what do I put in the adventure?

Seed Idea

Given the nature of the campaign I want to run I have plenty of ideas I can turn into adventures. One of the big problems is that a lot of those ideas have restrictions that prevent them form easily becoming one-shots. Some of the ideas are character specific (If I have a character that meets X requirement this dungeon will be good) or perhaps the idea will simply take too long to tell a good story for a one-shot. Whatever the case, I have to be specific with the base idea I grow into my one-shot.

Then I remembered an idea I have been throwing around for a while. This idea actually had some of the opposite problems. It didn’t easily fit into a campaign, but a quick “one and done” session? Works great. Honestly, the only reservation I have with using this idea is if I should keep it for a Halloween special. It does have a few creepy parts to it, plus plenty of zombies and such.