RPG / GMInfo

entry point to get your players involved in the storyline, a development path for the PCs to follow, setbacks, difficulties, plot twists, and a resolution

Plot devices that work well in stories can also be used in campaigns to add flavour. Shifting allegiances, people/monsters turning out to be something than what they originally seemed, and other basic soap-opera type drivers can turn a dull hack-and-slash into a really neat story.

A great way to knit together successive quests (not to mention catch which players are really paying attention) is to lay down bits of foreshadowing of future game elements in benign settings. If the characters are in a pub and are listening to conversations around them, toss in some vague details from a future campaign. Maybe the characters hear a surly group of rough-looking types discussing how much they really hate the ruling lord, because way down the road you're planning to have him assassinated. Maybe they overhear a juicy rumour that turns out to be an important fact a long time from now. Don't make these foreshadowed tidbits obvious, or you'll diminish their eventual impact. On the other hand, don't make them so subtle as to be too cryptic or meaningless to be remembered.

Remember: the point of the game is for players to have fun, not for the GM to grandstand or be a puppet master. Players may have a vision for character development, and a good GM tries to incorporate reasonable elements of that development into the storyline. If you get feedback from a player (and you ought to be asking for it) that they feel like they never get to use a given skill, see if you can find a way to make that skill useful in an upcoming portion of the game. Don't do it just for the sake of doing it and pleasing the player; make it a real part of the story. Consider it a challenge, not a burden or something to just be shoved in somewhere.

Keep it real: Use their characters' names - Don't say, "Dan, what does your character do?" Address the character directly: "Ramghar the Rambunctious, what do you do?"

Keep it real: Stay in the moment - If they're being chased down a corridor by a horde of Orcs and are about to pass a door, keep the urgency in your description. Tell those in the lead, "You see a door on your right! Quickly, do you try it or keep going?" Ask for an immediate answer. If none is given or there is hesitation, they just ran by the door. This will teach them to be prepared.


  • Start each session with the story so far.
  • Have your NPCs tell great stories. Use this to distribute new hooks and clues, lay down false rumours, or encourage more roleplay in a combat-focused group.
Page last modified on August 22, 2010, at 09:03 AM