Create Plots Easily With This Simple Method

Roleplaying Tips Newsletter #0986

Patrons have access to a cool plot-building PDF called the But Reversal Method. Today, I have a companion plotting technique for all RPT GMs called the Because Twice method, or B2.

Sometimes my plans get convoluted and I literally lose the plot. Too many forks to detail and track, and not enough knives to cut through information overwhelm.

B2 solves that by creating a simple three-step plot for your adventure. With this simplicity you’ll never get mixed up or confused or sidetracked.

Plot logic stays simple and sane for you.

However, the player experience is quite different. Players only see the puzzle you lay out before them. They must adventure through your plot to get to the heart of the story you’re telling. Full-on mystery and curiosity!

How Do You Use the B2 Method To Create Great Plots?

Start with your villain or a major event or actor in your campaign.

Step 1. Have the Villain Take a Big Action

The villain has a plan. He needs resources to accomplish the plan. So the villain takes an action to get closer to his goal.

For example, the villain discovers the secret entrance into a dragon lair. He sends mercenaries into the lair and they steal a bunch of the dragon’s treasure. Perfect. The villain needs the treasure to pay for his evil schemes.

Step 2. Decide One Bad Thing Results From the Action

Create a bad consequence, a Danger, as a direct downstream result of the villain’s action.

For example, the dragon discovers her missing hoard and starts roasting the countryside looking for it. Her minions kidnap people for interrogation. Her senior minions pressure local leaders to find the treasure.

Step 3. Decide a Bad Thing That Results From The Previous Bad Thing

As a result of Step 2, another bad thing happens.

For example, the Baroness hires a group of mercenaries to find the stolen treasure before the dragon eats or kills all her subjects.

And, you guessed it, she hires the same mercenaries who stole the treasure. The mercs are double-dipping!

And it gets even better. The villain tells the mercs to frame the PCs for the theft.

The mercenaries put bits of the stolen treasure in some nearby ruins. In disguise, one of the mercs pretends to be a map merchant with an exciting “new acquisition” — a map sold to him by a ranger who might have just found a legendary site where a crazed hermit was said to have lived and buried the Wand of Heroes.

If the PCs refuse, you can still hook them in other ways. For example, a different merc pretends to be the ranger who worries about the wand falling into the wrong hands and wants the PCs’ help in recovering it first.

Regardless, Bad Thing #2 is the mercenaries are causing havoc and will get more desperate to fulfill the villain’s wishes while avoiding the dragon’s wrath.

What is the B2 Method?

This all boils down into the simple formula of the B2 method:

X happens.

Because X happens Y happens.

Because Y happens Z happens.

That’s it. You create an event. Then create two consequences as fill-in-the-blank because statements.

  1. Villain sends minions to steal dragon’s treasure
  2. Dragon causes destruction and tragedy in search of treasure
  3. Mercenaries frame PCs

This is simple and logical in your mind. Easy to keep straight. Easy to understand and GM.

The secret, however, is in how it all plays out….

How Do You Use the B2 Method To Create Great Gameplay?

You run your adventure in the reverse order.

That’s the trick.

Players encounter Z.

Tangling with Z leads them to Y.

Tangling with Y leads them to X.

And tangling with X leads them to hating your villain even more.

Encounter Z => Y => X => Root Cause

For example, the PCs decide to buy a treasure map. The map leads them to some ruins. The treasure found in the ruins result in the dragon targeting the party. The dragon reveals the robbery, and the robbery leads to the mercenaries who rat out the villain.

Think about the gameplay experience from your players’ perspective.

They have no idea what’s going on. Anything is possible. All they can go on are clues and details they can glean. It’s a series of crazy encounters that seem to reveal a deeper and deeper plot.

They don’t know the map is connected to the villain. They don’t know the mercenaries are connected to the upset dragon.

But as the pieces fall into place, they’ll think you’re a mad storytelling genius.

Create Situations

The simplicity here for you comes from having a clear cause-and-effect backstory. You know exactly what X, Z, and Z are, how they’re connected, and their sequence.

Three simple sentences: X happens. Because X happens Y happens. And because Y happens Z happens.

Players can be chasing all sorts of hypotheses, clues, hooks, and red herrings. Fog of War leads them to speculate and make guesses.

But the main reason I love this approach is it focuses on situations, not railroads.

X, Z, and Z are events and situations. There’s no baked-in solution, per se. There’s no “one way” characters must follow. You are not forced to course-correct to stay on script.

It does not matter what the players do. Good decisions or bad. Crazy ideas or clever tactics. Random or strategic. Characters do what they’re gonna do, and the milieu responds.

The Mistake We Don’t Need to Make Any More

Game masters often plan things in the same order of gameplay.

Either the plot gets written forward along a timeline, or the GM builds it out as their own Fog of War peels back due to character actions.

But when you plot in reverse order, starting with the major triggering event, then you can have a clear plot and just let players complicate things.

You don’t have to stop at two downstream consequences, either.

You can add another Because or several, depending on how deep you want to get. For you, it’s a simple progression to create a 5 Room Dungeon.

A => B => C => D => E

But to players, they’ll take the windy road and everyone will have a blast because of it. Try the B2 method and let me know how it goes.