GM Advice: How to Start a New Campaign

Starting a new campaign is an exciting time! Sadly, few people give much thought about how to go about choosing what to do next and simply dive straight in. There are two basic ways to start a new campaign, but few people use both.


By William McAusland (Outland Arts)
By William McAusland (Outland Arts)


The selection of a campaign is the foundation upon which all subsequent adventures are built. A GM should give some serious thought about the new campaign before getting engrossed in module preparation, campaign primer creation and so on.

There are a couple of basic ways of starting a new campaign. Both have their pros and cons and they require the GM to approach the situation in different fashions.

GM Friendly

The GM chooses a module or campaign to run and then informs the players of this choice.

  • The Good: The GM can start preparing the new campaign as the last one reaches its climax. This means by the time character generation begins the campaign primer is ready, the first module is prepared and so on. The GM is also ready to answer questions about the campaign theme, setting and so on.
  • The Bad: This method renders some character concepts a poor choice if a player wants to meaningfully contribute to the campaign. For example, a half-orc barbarian is probably not the best choice for an urban, role-play intensive campaign while a wizard faces significant challenges if the campaign starts with the PCs incarcerated without equipment.

Player Friendly

The players generate characters and the GM then chooses a module or campaign.

  • The Good: Towards the end of a campaign, players often start to ponder concepts for their next characters. Many players put a lot of effort into this and spend hours reading books, plotting their character build, concept and so on. A new campaign is a fantastic opportunity to put the new concept to the test. Because some adventures and campaigns favour certain races and classes, this method enables a GM to reward the players’ initial choices.
  • The Bad: The GM has very little preparation time between character generation and the first session of the new campaign. Depending on a GM’s personal circumstances, it can be a real challenge to prepare the module, create a campaign primer and so on in the time between sessions.
  • Suggestion: Have the character generation session about a month before the end of the current campaign. This gives the GM time to prepare relevant handouts, design house rules and suchlike.

Help Fellow GMs!

Have you got any tips for starting a new campaign? Let us know what they are in the comments below and help your fellow GMs start their new campaigns today!

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Creighton is the publisher at Raging Swan Press and the designer of the award winning adventure Madness at Gardmore Abbey. He has designed many critically acclaimed modules such as Retribution and Shadowed Keep on the Borderlands and worked with Wizards of the Coast, Paizo, Expeditious Retreat Press, Rite Publishing and Kobold Press.

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