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  • Writer's pictureW. R. Frady

Where Do I Start?

Updated: Jan 29

The First Gaming Session

Part 3

Ah, well-met, my friends and Welcome back to the Ye Olde Wayfarer’s Adventurer’s Almanac. Here, we talk about Fantasy Roleplay, from looking at the various systems, to tips and tricks that I have found to be effective over the years, to rules, inspiration for your game, and more. Have a seat, friends, grab a tankard of your favorite ale, mead, or whatever libation you choose and listen as we dive into the topic at hand.

In this segment, we will continue this opening series about running your first game. So far, we have talked about the basic steps of getting ready for running your first quest. Let’s take a moment to briefly recap these- First, you need to decide whether to run a standalone quest or the opening scene for a bigger story. Next, you want to set up a pre-game session to make characters, go over rules, etc. You will need to decide when and where the game will be held. Also, you must decide whether or not you’re going to employ the use of miniatures. These steps, including the ones we will discuss here, are meant to be done before the actual session. As you play, you will find that there will always be things that have to be done in preparation for the gaming session; however, these will be discussed at a later time. For now, though, let’s get to the topic we’re here to discuss; the first quest.

In addition to the above, when preparing for your first gaming session, you should consider the following-

Will you start with Character Creation or Pre-generated Characters-

As with choosing whether or not to use miniatures, there is no wrong answer. This decision can make the difference on your pre-game session which was mentioned in an earlier post in this series. In my experience, I have found that when starting a new gaming group, or a first quest, it is easier to get into the gameplay if you begin with generic pre-generated characters. Character Creation, depending on the system you are using, has become more complex since I began playing. Even then, it still took a good hour to hour and a half to fully build and equip a character with the necessary equipment to start the game… and that was just Classic Dungeons & Dragons, or Advanced Dungeons

& Dragons 1st or 2nd Edition. With systems like Pathfinder, Dungeons & Dragons 3rd – 5th Edition, as well as many more, it can take even longer with all the skills, feats, and various customizations that it entails. While it will require a little more work from you as a Gamemaster, having a small stack of pre-generated characters which have been equipped with all the basic needs for starting adventurers will save time and allow you to get right to the quest. All they have to do is choose a character sheet, name their character, and get started. This is not to say that after a few quests, they can’t opt to create a character of their own; it just gives them a chance to begin playing and get a feel for the game.

Familiarize yourself with the Quest that you are going to run-

An adventure is much like a script, except that the only one who needs to know the story is you, the Gamemaster. As with the other steps which have been mentioned previously, this task has to be done before the actual session. In fact, this might be the single most important thing that needs to be done in preparation. Read over the adventure several times during the week(s) leading up to the game. Establish multiple ways to keep the characters on track even if it means preparing a secondary quest as a backup, or better yet, have a short side-quest that ultimately leads back to the quest you have ready. You see this done effectively in video games where you take one course of action, but it still leads your path right back to where you needed to be in the first place. By familiarizing yourself with the quest in advance, you get an understanding of how the quest plays out, the NPCs (Non-Player Characters), the encounters, and the other little tidbits of information you need to run the game smoothly. This applies whether the quest is written by you or a pre-published adventure. Once you know the material, go over it again before the gaming session. This will keep the information fresh and prevent having to constantly refer to the source material any more than necessary during gameplay.

As stated before, and I can’t stress enough, these steps, along with those mentioned in the previous posts, are to be taken prior to the game night. Should you wait till the last minute for these preparations, you risk not being adequately prepared to run the first quest which could be disastrous to your game, or at the very least, it could result in your game not living up to its true potential. By heeding these steps, it will give you what you need to know concerning the quest and the scheduling of the pre-game session. I have learned the hard way that, the longer it takes for the quest to begin, new players and veterans alike tend to become distracted and lose interest. Even the most excited player will find another source of entertainment, if kept waiting too long before the quest starts.

Well adventurers, it looks like this is it for this segment. When next we meet, we will discuss how to approach the first quest. From treating it like the opening episode of your favorite television series, to letting players know what to expect with the game, we’ll get you and your players ready to venture into that vast realm of Fantasy Roleplay. I’ll see you again soon, until then, my friends, happy adventuring.

W. R. Frady

Disclaimer- All products pictured above are from my collection and are for reference only. Dungeons & Dragons, and Castles & Crusades each belong to their respective companies.

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