November 16, 2016

Campfire Stories

This week in the DM's Corner, I want to very briefly talk about one variant rule that I'm considering for my next campaign: campfire stories. This rule was adapted from another game system and ported into my friend's 5e game, and I'll adapt it one more time for consideration in your campaign.

By the Fire

Along their journeys, the heroes will often stop, light a campfire, and rest. Such a respite isn't just to rest the body, but to alleviate the mind. Dungeoneering is dangerous, stressful work, after all, and spending some time relaxing among their allies goes a long way to keeping the heroes healthy and sane.

But what do they talk about around the fire? If there's a bard, they might sing songs or listen to his music, but I imagine that the heroes in a game probably do something very similar to the players; they tell stories. They might spread legends that they've heard, or talk about news of the day, but very likely, our storied heroes will recount memorable tales from their own pasts.

Variant Rule: Campfire Stories

When the characters take a long rest, the DM can call for campfire stories. One of the players can opt to tell a story from the character's past (the story must be told from the character's perspective) to the other players at the table. Other players can choose to respond to this story with a story from their own character's pasts. Each character which reveals more information about their backstory gains inspiration. If the character already has inspiration, it regains all expended hit dice instead.

Note for DMs

Use your judgment for when to present campfire stories. This event shouldn't break the flow of play or interrupt an inappropriate rest, but it can provide a lot of substance and give some great roleplay opportunities when things are slower. As a rule of thumb, if there's a campfire being lit, or a warm hearth at an inn, it might be an appropriate time to call for stories.

Set the mood. It might be time to turn down the lights around the table and put some ambient campfire sounds in the background. It's not a time for players to be digging through their character sheets or looking on their phones. It's an optional but meaningful roleplay experience, which might be best employed near the end of the session.


  1. I really like this rule. It provides a simple and effective method of encouraging players to roleplay and think in character.

  2. This would work great with Rory's Story Cubes!