Miscellany: A Different Kind of Campaign Trail, Part 6
In a way, the forced cessation of my "Sparks of Fate" D&D campaign due to Christmas break is a blessing in disguise. You see, I'm suffering from a severe case of writer's block - I simply don't know where to direct the campaign next.
A Dungeon Master's writer's block is a little different from the garden variety case. A DM is not just tasked with generating the storyline for a game; he or she must also make sure that upcoming adventures are balanced and fun to play (both for the players and the DM). I've never believed in running a game solely for the sake of the players' enjoyment; if you don't like what you're running, the DM's ennui invariably carries through into the game anyway.
There are a few tried-and-true ways to solve this problem. One option is a "palette cleanser" - a session that uses a different system, or that uses different characters. Breaking out of your epic storyline for a few hours allows you to riff on ideas that you had trouble shoehorning in.
Another technique is to start putting your stealing into high gear. DMs, like most writers, are natural thieves - good story hooks can be found all around you. Whether it's scanning the local newspaper, reading a biography of an obscure historical figure, or simply browsing the Web, try to turn what you read into something usable.
Some people opt for the backwards approach - use the desired mechanic to shape the storyline. For instance, if I want to mess around with 4E's new Druid class, it'd make sense to have the new druids be part of some order or group. Where are they? What would their goals be? What do they want from the PCs?
I'll see if any inspiration comes my way between now and New Year's.