How to Start a Successful TTRPG Campaign

By RJ on 22 January 2023. 

The day is finally here. You're beginning a new tabletop roleplaying game campaign. It might be your first Dungeons & Dragons session. It might be Pathfinder. Thirteenth Age? Call of Cthulu? Perhaps something incredibly niche and in development...? Nonetheless, you and your friends have agreed to play and are about to make your characters, altogether. You might be the World Master; you might be one of the players. 

There are a few things you can do to ensure you hit the ground running in the first session of your new favorite RPG campaign.

  • Set a consistent schedule that every player agrees to.
  • Craft compelling characters and know them well.
  • Hop quickly into the story and world, with everyone contributing.

I'm here and ready to ensure your D&D or general TTRPG campaign's first session and everything thereafter is an uncontested success. Let's explore each of the pillars supporting that fundamental assertion, shall we?

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If you would like exclusive access to playtest material for Orrery, in-depth updates on the project, and insight into all else RJD20, please consider becoming and patron and joining our great community. You can support this site, all upcoming supplements, and Orrery for $1 a month. Come on, you want to be a Rat, don't you? 

Already, I've received excellent feedback from my patrons and the collaboration shall continue. Come pitch in!

Scheduling Your TTRPG Sessions

Before anyone gets too comfortable in their chair at the table or computer desk, you need to bring up the schedule for the campaign. As always, there are many options. Everyone needs to be aware of them and agree to a set time and date.

Here are the best ways to set a schedule:

  • Weekly on a recurring day.
  • Every other week on a certain day.
  • Monthly on a recurring day.
  • Every other month on a certain day.
  • The second Tuesday of the month.
On the opposite end of the spectrum, here are a few ways to not set up a successful RPG campaign:

  • Whenever everyone's available.
  • When it feels right.
  • One a year during the summer solstice.
  • Whenever.
  • Every day.

Each one of those options can easily lead to a campaign dying before it really hits its stride or prevent anyone from really enjoying it at all.

Character Creation & Study is Vital

Alright, the schedule is set and it's time to create the characters. What's the best way to ensure the success of the campaign, you might ask... 

Crafting compelling characters, hands down, is one of the best.

As opposed to each player staying isolated and building their character in the silence and safety of their own home, I'd recommend the entire party meeting to make their characters. This way, everyone can collaborate on the party composition if they'd like, or simply talk together as they make their character secretly.

Every player should spend a good chunk of time on their character, if not on their background, then on current motivations and future goals.

Outlined below is a short list of good tabletop roleplaying game character traits:

  • The character stands out among commoners.
  • The character is connected to the world in some manner.
  • The character has flaws, needs, and desires.
  • The character relates to one of the other characters in the party, indirectly or directly.
  • The character has a reason to adventure or be present in the story. 
  • They have goals long-term and short-term.

Almost as important as the character being ready is the player being ready. There are few things worse than a player not understanding their character's abilities. Before the first session, if you're a player, make sure you read through your character's various actions, special abilities, and racial traits. Know and understand them. Your character is what you're initially bringing to the table, and you will be portraying them. Be an expert on them

Don't disrespect the time of others by not understanding how many attacks your fifth-level fighter gets, what your magic user's spell save might be, or whether or not your druid can transform into a grizzly bear. Read and comprehend it before session one, please. Everyone will appreciate it. Everyone. Including me, and I'm not likely there!

Quick Hooks into the Story are Essential

The campaign is scheduled out, the characters are living and breathing, and now it's time for the campaign to truly begin: adventure awaits! What now?

It's all up to the World Master to ensure success, right? After all, they're running the world, pulling the characters together, writing out plot hooks, and trying to grip every player as best they can.


The entire party needs to work together at the start of the campaign to get the ball rolling. It's not just the job of the World Master to weave together a compelling story. It's the duty of every player at the table. Sure, the World Master shall open the game and present the world to the group, but once everyone is in, their characters interacting, each player needs to make an effort to form bonds and mutual drive.

Potential players, please take note of the following concepts:

  • Avoid being edgy and in the shadows. Get out of the corner and speak with the other characters, don't brood or hide from them.
  • Refrain from acting hostile unless other players are good with beginning the game this way. Hostility to start the story usually doesn't work and can quickly derail the campaign.
  • Once the initial meet and greet is over and an obvious plot hook is flung your way, bite into it if it's interesting! The World Master isn't merely throwing out nasty food, they're placing what they believe to be cool events your way.

Not every game begins with a simple meet and greet, but these three concepts embodied by the players can easily be adjusted for any start.

Dungeon Masters, Game Masters, Lore Keepers, World's how to begin your TTRPG or D&D campaign's opening session. Once everyone is at the table, characters prepared, players wide-eyed and ready-to-go, start talking.

You could begin the group apart, each member somewhere in a rustic tavern. You might thrust them into an unbridled action sequence, yelping kobolds chasing after the party as they speed down mine carts in a dark mineshaft. Heavens above, you could just drop them in front of the abandoned watchtower, pirate goblins partying inside, and give them the prompt: "Vile goblins inhabit this once great watchtower, innocents trapped in its dungeons. It's your job to save them." 

However you begin the campaign, ooze confidence, and know the difficult set-up is complete. Everyone is there and ready to play as a group. What comes after is pure fun, as long as you've lain a solid foundation.

Whether the RPG campaign begins mid-battle with a horde of goblins on a mountainside, on a stormy sea, or in the bowels of the putrid Abyss, keep these concepts in mind and remember everyone is at the table or desk to play a game, have fun, and maybe tell a kickass and compelling story. Rarely do great campaigns begin with two characters sulking in the shadows of a dark room, another three duking it out over a dice game, and a final one speaking with the planned patron and watching the madness unfold.

Try your best to start the story quickly and in the best way possible. Altogether, it's hard to fail.

In Summary

Whether you are a Player or World Master, you can help ensure your RPG campaign starts in the absolute best manner possible. Remember:

  • Sync everyone's schedules and set a consistent time to play the campaign.
  • Spend enough time on the characters to guarantee they're interesting and fun to play. Understand how their mechanics operate in the game, at least.
  • Rapidly bring everyone into the world and story with awesome but simple plot hooks. It's not only the World Master's job to ensure this happens; every player should aim to assist.

If you enjoyed this week's article, check out last week's post about the tabletop roleplaying game I'm creating: Orrery. It's based on my favorite RPGs and video games, especially D&D and Path of Exile.

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