Running a pre-made campaign can be great, but sometimes, Game Masters look for something funnier or more relevant to their lives or perhaps the pre-made campaign just doesn’t offer enough versatility. Enter Troll DnD: creating campaigns using pop culture. We sat down and spoke with Trainer Jodie, a DM who is bringing Troll DnD to livestreaming, to get some tips on how you can make troll campaigns of your own.
Come up with an Idea
Image Credit: Geeks of Doom
The first step is to come up with a fun idea to center your campaign around. Trainer Jodie found an old April Fools Day joke from Wizards of the Coast which described a new plane of existence known as “The Interwebs” and decided to adapt it to DnD 5e for a livestream game on International TableTop Day 2014. For 2015, Trainer crafted the game around The Dress and the escaped llamas, two events that took over the internet earlier this year.
Adapt the Idea for Your Tabletop RPG
Now that you have an idea, it’s important to adapt it to your RPG system. This step can take some time. For a Troll DnD game in July, Trainer spent months adapting Power Rangers to work in the DnD world. Morphers wouldn’t make any sense in the DnD system, but by turning them into transmutation stones, they suddenly work.
Look through your rulebooks for monsters, items, and characters that can be adapted for your pop culture theme. Llamas aren’t often seen in DnD, but blink dogs, creatures that have been in the Dungeons & Dragons universe since the beginning, would make sense for the RPG. To explain the obsession with the dress, Jodie adapted it as enchanted armor which caused anyone who saw it to become corrupted and obsessed with it (which makes more sense than people just going crazy over a regular dress anyway).
Once you finish incorporating your pop culture elements, it’s important to make sure the encounter is balanced. It’s great to try to include megamorphs in your game, but if you adapt them as tarrasques, your party is going to have some issues. However, if you give the megamorph the stats of a wolf when your party consists of level 5 adventurers, the encounter will be too easy. Make sure that whatever elements you insert into your campaign are adapted to follow the rules of your chosen system and are a balanced challenge.
Image Credit: Forgotten Realms
Create a Hook
Now that you’ve adapted your idea to work in your RPG system, you need to create a hook to engage the adventurers. This hook can be anything as long as it will get the adventurers started on the campaign. For instance, in his first Troll DnD game, Trainer Jodie introduced Ricardo, whose ballad transported the party to The Interwebs. Once you’ve adapted your idea and created your hook, your party is ready to start the adventure!
Be prepared to Improvise
Always be prepared to improvise. The character of Ricardo was only meant to be a one-time joke, but after a character mentioned how much they hated the character in the next game, Jodie adapted the game on the fly to include Ricardo in the rest of the campaign as an “evil” mastermind behind everything that had happened.
Jodie suggests adapting your ideas, but not planning out everything that should happen. If you have a few key elements, but don’t plan everything, you allow your party to find its way to the encounters on their own. Your adventurers will do something you don’t expect, so it’s important to not get upset when they don’t follow the path you’ve created for them.
Image Credit: Moulinbleu
This last International Tabletop Day, the party concluded the game by trapping Ricardo. However, instead of doing the expected (turning him over to authorities), the party voted to auction him off to a bar full of people who hated him. The party made 1,000 gold and somehow Ricardo managed to live to rick roll another day.
Start with something you actually enjoy. The Power Rangers to Trainer months to adapt. If he wasn’t passionate about Power Rangers and truly loved what he was creating, he would have never finished. If you have fun creating it, your adventurers are more likely to have fun playing it! Some of Trainer Jodie’s favorite moments during games are when players realize what was adapted for the game. When the party realized they would be Power Rangers, for instance, everyone got extremely excited and had mini-freak outs of joy. Make something you enjoy that is fun and your party will be just as excited as you are to play.
Trainer Jodie’s Troll DnD games can be found on All For Geek Alliance’s Youtube channel. Trainer Jodie and All For Geek Alliance will be playing another Troll DnD game October 23rd 8pm-midnight on their Twitch channel as part of Extra Life’s 48 hour charity stream to benefit the Children’s Hospital of Los Angeles. More information about the charity stream can be found here.
Featured Image Credit: Know-Kname