GM Tips: Giving Your Players A Home Base
Home is where the heart is. Well, that's just a saying but when you are running a TTRPG game you've probably had lots of instances where you want the players to just stay put in a particular region and not travel all over the map. Some campaigns are harder to do that with than others. Maybe you've got an idea for the BBEG in your campaign and they happen to be localized to the mountain range your players have been traveling the past few weeks, or maybe there's something in a nearby town that requires months of reconnaissance and you don't want them to wander off to the next town and then the next and move further and further away from your story/campaign points. One easy fix for any of that, and it's one that will most likely make the PCs happy as well, is to give the party a home base.
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A hometown is something almost everyone wants. What use is the treasure from a dragon's hoard if the players never settle down long enough to enjoy their spoils? How are the PCs going to impress their in-game crushes without buying the tavern from the old, retired adventurer and then throwing lavish, Gatsby-style parties with mead and giant turkey legs galore? A home base can provide a place for the characters to train, to recoup when they're sick or injured, or to spend money on improvements. A home base can also be the center of narrative evolution.
Think of the home base like you would a character. Give it memorable traits (Stephen King's house in Augusta, Maine has bats adorning his property fence), let the characters enjoy their time there, and overall make it a safe place to be. However, to engage the PCs in the story, make sure that the BBEG discovers where they're living once they've foiled their plans enough and wreak havoc, forcing the players to temporarily relocate or spend money and resources to try to make repairs to their home. Throw in some home ownership problems like maybe the fence outside needs repairing, or maybe the barbarian had a bit too much to drink and broke a few windows. All that can lead to more roleplaying opportunities in your TTRPG. Roleplaying things like that will make your players appreciate their own hard work even more.
Give the PCs something to do in town. When I was running a campaign for some first time players, I began with The Lost Mines of Phandelver for 5E and I have to say that it was a very well-designed module. However, I wanted the players to live in Phandalin, so I guided them in that direction and by the time they'd reached level ten they had invested a lot of money into the town and had created several businesses which brought them in lots of coin. The players enjoyed having a home base they could go back to, though they spent a lot of time outside of it. There were many times that Phandalin was threatened, and it created a lot of roleplaying experiences naturally without all that much planning on my part.
Have you centered campaigns around the players having a home base? Let us know in the comments!