Hello. Chances are if you've ever gone to the sup/tg/ IRC, you know who I am. If not, then it doesn't really matter, both those unfamiliar with me and those who know and hate me can read this article, I don't fucking care, I'm not your mother.
Anyway, this article is about what the title says: Making and running your very own PnP campaign to run online. I'm being very broad here, but this guide should work for any setting, be it High Fantasy, Low Fantasy, Mid Fantasy, Higher Fantasy, Pulp, Noir, Sci-Fi, Horror or even Ero, if you're a weirdo pervert. The difference is, I'm not going to try and make some ALL ENCOMPASSING GUIDE TO RUNNING GAMES or anything. Chances are these guidelines won't work for some people. But, that's what this list is: How to run games as Blaxploitation does it.
Now, chances are that most people who read this have NEVER EVER played a game I have run, or even know I DM at all. The truth is that I do in fact run Pen and Paper games quite often, so I know what I am talking about, fuck you. But, again, if you've played in one of my games or if you haven't shouldn't make a bit of difference.
So enough Rambling and introductions, let's go on with the LIST.
Yes, you read that right. There haven't been original ideas in Fantasy, Sci-Fi, Pulp, Horror or Sex since the 1920's. You aren't a special snowflake, you aren't an amazing writer and you aren't James Cameron. The sooner you learn this and then learn to work around it, the better. I guarantee that if you've EVER played in a pen and paper RPG, the DM stole the idea from something.
Now when I say steal, I don't mean literally steal. No one wants to play Lord of the Rings or the plot from Final Fantasy 7, whatever your lifted idea may be. The idea is to look at something, take the cool ideas you think would make a fun game, and then make it your own. That's the entire key to it. Find (or stumble upon) an idea you like in existing media, and then think of a way to make it original enough to make it interesting and fun (and not get you hit by copyright laws). Once you have this step down, you are ready to move on up to...
Now, you've gotten an idea from something. Good work, you can pick out diamonds from the towering piles of steaming manure that make up the majority of movies, books and music. Now, your first inclination would be to now expand on this idea, right? Make up the rest of the campaign around it, right?
WRONG, FUCK YOU. You get the idea, then you make a tiny, itsy bitsy body out of straws and duct tape and RUN THE GAME.
You would be surprised (or not) how many prospective DMs find an idea they like and then waste days and weeks and months or even fucking years making it into a fully-formed and thought out world. This is a bad thing to do for 2 fucking reasons.
First, chances are you'll give up eventually and never do anything with it. This is where most people go wrong. You just wasted an awesome idea for no reason at all, you fuckwit, good job ignoring my advice above.
Second, you complete the awesome plot, world and everything else. AWESOME, right? WRONG, FUCK YOU. The second you start running this game, you'll notice something: The Players don't fit in. They ruin everything. This isn't how your AWESOME PLOT AND STORY were supposed to go! That's because players aren't characters in a storybook. They are living and breathing people who roleplay elves and dwarves and cops and spacemen and futanari maid catgirls. No PnP Game should become a novel, because those two things are mutually exclusive. Novels are not fun to play, and Players ruin novels.
So to restate, you get the idea, spend a few hours at most adding a few details, and then start rolling. You can make up the rest as you actually run the game. "Oh god blax what are those few details i am so confused?" you may ask. If you do, you should learn how to talk, but i'll humor you. Let's move on.
NPCs. Non-Player Characters. These guys can either be great additions to a game, or make the players unhappy. The problem is that sometimes it's hard to tell which NPCs are which. This part, I can't help you with, but some good advice is "Use your fucking brain, fuckwit!"
But, I can help you in some other parts. Namely, what NPCs TO make. Now, for the most part, like I said, don't go into too much detail. Most NPCs can be made up on the spot, and the players won't mind. In fact, most improvised NPCs become the shit that the Players remember the most. Just having no-name characters to have their characters bounce off of makes Players jizz in their pants, and if they become like and get enough liking to get a name? Holy shit, players will bounce off the fucking walls.
...well, now that I think about it, only one person needs to be thought of ahead of time, the BBEG. This is it, the big bad evil guy. The main Antagonist. The Head-Honcho of evil. The Archduke of dickery. Whatever you want to call him, he is absolutely needed. What's the point of a game if the players don't have a big baddy to kill? You can bullshit questgivers, you can bullshit peasants, you can bullshit kings, but you're fucked if you don't have even some tiny details about the BBEG. Vampire Lord, Illithid, Cthulu, Space-Worm from Hari-Kiri rock, doesn't matter (Except that it should make some sense to the campaign and be awesome), but you need at least something.
Now, in my opinion, this is the most important step. Players make and break the game almost as much as you, the DM do. The difference between a good player and a bad player is the difference between an awesome campaign and no campaign. The obvious choice is to choose just people you like who you've gamed with before (This is why most people reading will never have played with me, I haven't played with new people since before the IRC client was added), but this isn't always an option. What if it's your first time running? What if your usual players don't want to play?
That's when you ask around. Ask other DMs. Believe me, they'll know about almost anyone in the IRC and how well (or not) they can play in games. The best people to ask would be those who run alot, like PurpleXVI, for example. But really, just ask people other than the players themselves.
Then, you pin down certain facts with the players. Can they be there consistently when you plan on running is pretty much the most important, but feel free to ask whatever criteria you need to know.
And then lastly, you cross you're fingers. I've run games where i've succeeded in every above step, and still things fall apart for unknown reasons. Just hope for the best, and if you've done all the above, things should work out. If so, move on to...
This is it. This is happening, bro. This is when you get down the the brass tacks. This is when everything usually comes together or falls apart. Once you've gotten past this step, that's when you're on your own to stray from my teachings or stay true to them as you see fit.
Some tips i'll give are to keep improvising. If you've followed my list, you'll pretty much have too. You can plan a bit ahead of each session, but if you're like me, most of each game will be mostly improvised with only the basic flow of the plot and the whims of the players to keep it coherent. Don't go flying off into nowhere, of course. You should have some idea of what is going to happen when, what you want to see happen in the game, and when you want it to end, but don't build a transcontinental railroad.
Players will love being able to steer the game a bit, and in the end, that's what running a PnP game is all about, the players having fun. Of course, you should have fun too, but don't expect to have fun all the time. There is a lot of times when being the DM will make you hate everything and want to quit, but when you make it past those hurtles, you become the envy of every man to ever set foot in sup/tg/: To be a fucking awesome DM. Like Blax.