Here is a simple way of laying out and tracking plot, based on a post I saw on a Facebook group about writing and planning out structure for novels. Continue reading “GM Tips: Plot planning – Excel method”
As is often the case with my campaigns I’ve found the notes for my Jadepunk game (and this post is mainly about Star Wars so stay with me here) getting more and more expansive, necessitating more time to update them and making them a little bit more unwieldy to use; as someone who has a fairly poor memory notes are pretty much a must have for me when it comes to running RP campaigns, in order to maintain any level of internal consistency. I’m always looking for new/more efficient ways to store my notes and have moved from hard-copies to storing them in a tiddlywiki to help with this.
When it comes to planning out roleplaying games, particularly if you’re running a long-term campaign then the search for inspiration is never-ending, after all, you don’t want your game to become stale and boring. For the past few days I’ve been updating my plot notes for my Jadepunk game Skyless City, and I’m always on search for things to inspire me; my mind wandered back to some of the games (not all of them successful) that i’ve run in the past and I thought about several campaigns i’d started that seemed to be going well and then ran out of steam and ended up either just fizzling out or being bought to an unsatisfactory conclusion because I ran out of interest in them.
I’m more prepared for campaigns nowadays and rarely have dedicated games that go this way, so I thought that I’d jot down a few helpful pointers for people running campaign games to keep your interest in the game up and hopefully help inspire you during your games.
- When you start your campaign, set clear beginning and end goals.
If a campaign is allowed to drift with no real goal then it can be difficult to sustain enthusiasm, i’m not saying that you should have the entirety of a campaign scripted out, but having a rough idea of where it’s going and when it will end can help a lot.
- Look for sources of inspiration everywhere.
Read books, comics, watch films, anything that has even a vague connection to your game could spark an idea in your head and fire your enthusiasm for incorporating it into a game.For example: In the Jadepunk session I’m running this evening I have taken inspiration from the Babylon 5 episode Day of the Dead.
- Try to set aside some time for thinking about plot and writing your notes down.
Whilst it’s posssible to train yourself to produce material in a very short space of time (and some folks even thrive under that kind of pressure) most of us need a little bit more time, so give yourself time to mull things over and really think about them, after all, why add pressure if you don’t have to?
- Write your campaign notes and any ideas down somewhere you can easily access.
It can be helpful to go back through your old notes and refresh yourself on what has happened in your game so far, maybe there was an old plot thread not resolved or an NPC who could show up again that you’ve not used for a while. I store the notes for my Jadepunk game on a Tiddlywiki in my dropbox, but you don’t have to go to these lengths, a notepad and a trusty pen can do just fine.
- Talk to your players and other GMs.
Most GMs are in the same boat they’re always looking for inspiration or getting ready for that next great session, talk to them and bounce ideas off each other (there are several social media based communities that are great for this).
So there you are, a few ideas to help keep your enthusiasm going and get inspiration whilst running a campaign, don’t forget to write all your ideas down, no matter how wacky they may seem, after all, you never know when that idea is going to become the next great plotline in your game.
Happy gaming all 🙂
I’m sure we’ve all been in this situation at one point or another in our lives, you’ve got a game to prepare for the end of the week, you’ve been staring at your notes while the seconds tick by and waiting for some sort of inspiration to strike; given all the other pressures in life that can pile up and demand our attention it can be sometimes very difficult to get over that initial hurdle and get the ideas flowing to create a session. I’m a big fan of anything that either jump starts this process or helps give the GM a little creative boost to get the mind working.
- Coming up with adventure ideas
- Herd animals are dying across the world in a deadly plague that is spreading in an unknown fashion, leaving animals twisted and mutilated, people have begun to whisper that perhaps more than a simple disease is behind the deaths.
- A strange mask has been discovered locked in a seal compartment within the fortress of an ancient and noble race whom no longer walk the world, all those who discovered the mask died in mysterious circumstances shortly afterwards.
- An ailing noble has discovered a reference amongst some ancient papers that he purchased at auction to a wizard having unlocked the secret of immortality, he now seeks people brave (or foolhardy) enough to venture to the desert ruins of the sorceror’s previous lair to recover the elixir of life.
- World Events
- Strange creatures that hunt only by the dark of night have been hunting along stretches of river that supply several kingdoms with water.
- The unsolved murders of several prominant citizens, all reputedly linked to the founding families of the kingdom has lead to an increasing city guard presence and further draconian laws being introduced in the kingdom.
- Seismic activity amongst a local mountain range has caused several herds of animals and more dangerous denizens to venture down into populated areas, panicked town authorities are currently looking for a way to deal with the unwanted animals whilst fearfully eyeing the smoking mountain tops.
Action – “Oh I was just here looking for a friend of mine.”Occupation – Scout.
Action – Looking for someone to stash something important.Occupation – Builder.
Action – Travelling to a nearby well to fetch water.Occupation – Alchemist or apothecary.