Cheesecake Stakes

Roleplaying Tips Newsletter #0828

My favourite Blizzard from Dairy Queen is strawberry cheesecake. Sweet berry flavour with soft-serve ice cream lovingly delivered to my screaming taste buds on a red spoon.

It’s my fave because of the soft, chewy chunks suspended in the dessert. In a salad, they’d just be croutons. But in a Blizzard, their marvellous texture makes my steering wheel magically turn into the drive-thru when it should be looking for a broccoli stand.

I’m chatting by email with Roleplaying Tips reader Gabriel from Brazil, and he’s asked me what I mean by stakes in plots.

Stakes are like cheesecake chunks in your stories.

For every Loopy Plot and encounter, ask yourself three questions:

  • What happens if the PCs win?
  • What happens if the PCs lose?
  • What happens if it’s a draw?

Grab an encounter you have planned for next session, and answer those three questions.

Then step back and consider your answers.

Note the last question. It wants you to make the status quo undesirable. It wants the PCs to be change agents. A draw should make things worse for someone. If the PCs don’t take action, someone else will.

So, are your answers interesting? Do they open up new gameplay? Will they draw cool new obstacles and challenges towards the PCs? If your encounter or plot sucks, add more cheesecake.