Vignette D&D Play, Part 1: The Technique

When we started a new D&D campaign, my players made it clear: they’d much rather not start at level 1 again.

I couldn’t help but think how dropping 5-7th level PCs in a freshly created world didn’t feel quite right. It made for this strange narrative where established heroes, capable of great feats, exist in a world yet to be shaped by their prior adventures.

As I lay thinking about this problem, I came up with the following solution (which is at the core of game design):

  • Create short 5-10 minute scenes featuring all players
  • Incorporate elements of the world that we built in the previous session.
  • No dice rolls to resolve any conflicts, make it purely narrative driven.
  • Each scene resolves with one or more characters gaining some form of story reward or hitting a goal.
  • Each scene resolves with at least one character paying some kind of story cost to get the reward or hitting the goal.
  • At the end of a scene, all characters gain one level.
  • At the end of all the scenes, hand treasure and magic item based on how the story progressed.

This is, of course, inspired by Jason Morningstar’s Fiasco game and some of the design ideas we’re working into the Sentinel Comics RPG (i.e succeed at a cost.)

Last night, I set to try this concept with my players to see if it had traction.

It worked beautifully.

Up next, the actual results!