If you’ve been GMing for any amount of time or if you’ve watched a lot of “How to GM” videos you’ve heard the advice that you should run a “Session Zero” before the start of a new campaign. A Session Zero is a preparatory session where the players make characters and discuss and agree on some ground rules for the campaign going forward. The GM would also give some introductory information about the campaign setting and potential plot lines.
This is all good advice but I suggest that you start the campaign even before Session Zero. Even if you require the players wait to create their characters until the Session Zero they will inevitably start creating an idea for a character ahead of time. This is why I suggest a “Session -1”.
The Session -1 isn’t an actual meeting, but usually takes the form of an email, or maybe text messages or phone calls. I suggest starting with giving all players the “elevator pitch” for your campaign. An elevator pitch is a description of the setting and plots that you could give in a elevator ride, so the description should be a short paragraph. If you use more than that it’s likely the players won’t read it as they are anxious to get to character creation. The pitch will let them know what sort of characters might be a good fit and which types won’t. At this time you should also note any restrictions on characters in your campaign setting, such as “tieflings don’t exist in this world” or “warlocks are viewed as evil and illegal by society.” This prevents issues that come up during character creation.