Last time, we chatted about some flashy showmanship to keep attention while running your games. This time, we’re looking at the bigger picture and talking about the benefits of using supplemental content when building your campaigns.
We are undoubtedly living in the golden age of RPGs. People are not just excited to be playing games; they are excited to write them. Websites like DriveThruRPG and DM’s Guild now allow the average person to sell their content to a large market with a simple administrative process. We have companies like Kobold Press and Green Ronin Press standing as titans with Wizards of the Coast. It is an exciting time to be creating games, and the bright showrunner should capitalize on this creative zeitgeist. I’m going to discuss two different ways that incorporating supplemental RPG content can increase the scope of your audience. First off, we’ll talk about the benefits of running published campaigns from RPG companies, and then we’ll jump to the merits of incorporating content from small creators.
Before I start singing the merits of running published campaigns, let me break down the two main styles of running RPGs for you (just in case!). The first style is running a “homebrew” campaign, which typically means that the GM uses the basic rules of an RPG system (such as monsters and character creation), but they create their setting and follow a unique story path of their own design. The second style is what I’m focusing on in this article, which is running a published campaign. Running a campaign means that the GM purchases a campaign book from a company like Wizards of the Coast or Kobold Press and then runs their players through the adventure as written. Running pre-written campaigns is a wildly popular way to game since it saves a great deal of creative stress for a GM. Published campaigns already come pre-loaded with exciting stories, interesting characters, and a structured world in which your players can thrive. Since so many people are already playing these published campaigns, running them on your show creates an instant link between your production and an invested audience. For the majority of my life, I ran homebrew games exclusively, so when I decided to run my first published campaign, I had no idea where to start. I had picked up Curse of Strahd from Wizards of the Coast, so I ran to the internet and began to search through streamed playthroughs and podcasts furiously. Luckily, I found the podcast Taking Initiative, which proved to be an incredible marriage of the Curse of Strahd module and creative threads inspired by the adventure content. I am certainly not the only one to be in that exact position. Running a published campaign makes your show relatable, helpful, and takes advantage of all the marketing big publishing companies already contribute to their products. So consider these written adventures for your next arc or even spice up your feed with a bonus playthrough and watch those new audiences roll in.
The other side of the coin would be incorporating content from small creators. Rather than buying and running the giant source and campaign books, you choose to include smaller pieces of content published online by individual creators. The vast majority of this content is either cheap or free, and you can find a wealth of short modules, monster stat blocks, magical items, and additional class features posted by individuals. But what is the benefit of incorporating this content from lesser-known folks you ask? While running published campaigns appeals to a broad market, integrating the content of small creators works like a grass-roots campaign. Running a short module by an individual creator is likely to attract the attention of the creator. Lifting the work of these writers creates an atmosphere of gratitude and taps into the benefits of “phoning a friend,” which I chatted about a couple of articles ago. By championing these smaller creations, your show instantly gains an atmosphere of inclusivity and becomes interesting because of the uniqueness of your content. When employing this strategy however, you must declare loudly and proudly which new piece of content you are using (and always always always give credit to the creator!). All of us content creators are hungry to grow our audience, and allying yourself with like-minded individuals always yields benefits.
In summation, there is a veritable dragon’s hoard of RPG material out there ready to plug and play in your shows. Gamers are creating all over the place, and folding their work into your games makes both parties stronger for it. So get out there and take your supplements! Whether you run full campaigns or use quirky trinket tables, the bulk of your audience will thank you for it.
See you next time, adventurers.
Greetings travelers! And welcome to Beyond the Audience where we take a look at tips and tricks for building an RPG show that is loved by both your players and the larger audience beyond your table.