Building Better Bases

Awesome bases through collaboration

By MARK WILSON

Many D&D groups end up with a “home base.” It could be a seedy tavern, an actual castle, a starship in orbit, or any number of other locales. And once players have a base, they like to make it their own. This is one of the cooler aspects of not only some D&D campaigns, but many other forms of media like videos games that often include similar options. What you base is like is a reflection of your character, your party, and quite likely you as a person. And that’s a great thing.

So how do you as a DM give your players the right tools to make their dream base. I think the answer is actually quite simple…

You ask them.

I talk with a gentleman online frequently who Dms a number of games. And his games are ridiculously collaborative. He’ll engage in discussion with his players about villain motivations, setting details, plot hooks…anything! And it works for him because he’s able to deliver the experience that they want.

I shy away from that level of total collaboration; I’ve found that I enjoy it best when the DM does retain aspects of control over large chunks of the plot and setting. But I also can’t say one is the “right” way to handle it. It’s also illuminating to realize just how much of an open dialogue can occur at the table about the adventure without anything detrimental coming from it.

“It’s also illuminating to realize just how much of an open dialogue can occur at the table about the adventure without anything detrimental coming from it.”

Bases, however, are an area where I would take that advice in full. It’s not my base as DM. It’s the players’. Since it’s (likely) not going meaningfully affect the story, the sky can and should be the limit.

So, just ask them what they want. Then, ideally, provide ways for them to get those things. Hired help? A gladitorial arena? A personal chef? Frogs that juggle? An airship with a massage parlor? Some may be beyond their current means, but even then, you’re gathering information about what is motivating the players and their characters, and it can allow you to provide opportunities for them down the road.

If you’re a player and you’re reading this, the opposite is true: ask your DM. “Hey, if I wanted to hire a 5-star chef to work at our restaurant, where would I go about doing that?” Hopefully, you start a discussion that leads to some interesting roleplaying and – eventually – your awesome chef.

The home base is a time-honored tradition in D&D. Everyone likes nesting a little bit. So ask your party what would make their dream home/bar/castle/keep/wagon/etc., and watch the ideas fly!

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