Part 2: Planning a Minimal Viable Product

Running the Table



In Part 1 we defined, collaboratively with our players, the campaign vision. This section covers translating that vision into an actionable plan with as little waste as possible. We will focus on what the needs of our players are based on their character personas, insights and campaign vision.

The minimal viable product we create will detail the building blocks of the campaign. These blocks will guide our game creation process in Part 3: Running Games as Lean Sprints.

Organize Vision Ideas

We are going to utilize all of the personas, insights and ideas generated in Part 1: Defining a Vision for your Campaign

Lay out all of the ideas generated by your players, as well as any ideas you have as a dungeon master. See if there is any overlap. Can any of these ideas, or ‘features’, be combined into a single idea? We’re trying to reduce the number of ideas through categorization to simplify and streamline the MVP.

With a trimmed-down number of ideas, we’re going to see if they satisfy the needs and wants of our players. One by one, evaluate the ideas against the character personas, insights, and campaign vision. Does this idea fulfil any of those 3 things? If so, keep it. These are features we want in our campaign.

Steps, Leaps, and Bounds

In UX and Product design we will break a product’s features down into 3 groups:
Steps – What features are required to get the product running?
Leaps – What features can wait for a second release?
Bounds – What are features that aren’t possible, or not required, until an undefined future time?

For Dungeons & Dragons our steps, leaps, and bounds are player levels:

  • Steps – What is needed for levels 1 – 5?
  • Leaps – What can wait until levels 6 – 10?
  • Bounds – Where might this campaign be headed for levels 11+?

We’re going to take all of the features we have and place them into one of these three groups, thinking about the following:

  • What is appropriate and what is needed for levels 1-5, getting people hooked and invested in the game?
  • What can we throw in at levels 6-10 to keep them interested and excited?
  • What epic things are way in the future, only appropriate for levels 11 and up?

Planning the First Steps

All features in the “Steps” group are going to be the foundation for our campaign. Levels 1 – 5 will take several, if not a dozen, game sessions. Focusing on the “Steps” will allow us to plan efficient early games, or sprints.

In these early sprints we can reference our “Leaps” and “Bounds” to plant the seeds of future adventures, known as hooks. This sprint process is described in Part 3: Running Games as Lean Sprints.