How To Create Your Own Plot Factory – Part II

Roleplaying Tips Newsletter #0835

We add more NPCS to your campaign to create more gameplay options and interesting situations (you don’t jealously cling to and railroad NPCs when you have a wonderful abundance of them).

We should add more plots or storylines for the same reason.

Imagine if every session a plot thread was about to reach an exciting climactic finale? The amazing player engagement, focus, and enthusiasm it would create!

The Plot Factory Three Part Recipe

So how do we go about making this possible in our campaigns? How do we make plot factories?

At the core, we just need three basic ingredients:

  • A fast way to create short adventures
  • A way to keep all your plots and details well-sorted
  • Robust hooks for those plots so characters get involved

Shorter Adventures

You want multiple plots running at once.

You might have a central story arc. Then a side-plot for each PC. And plots triggered by consequences of party actions. And plots triggered by factions. And plots triggered by villains.

With more plots running, you have a greater chance of one hitting the climax stage each session.

And if you create shorter adventures, you have an even greater chance of reaching that pace.

Imagine an adventure that lasts a few encounters over the course of 2-5 sessions. And you have several of those in play at any given time so multiple plot threads move forward each session.

As players make choices that trigger various encounters, adventures will naturally expire at different times. This creates a self-fulfilling staggered timeline where each session offers players a good chance of a climactic encounter or a major milestone encounter.

You Have More Control, Less Stress

Shorter adventures mean your risk goes way down.

If an adventure goes awry, who cares? More await in the wings right away.

If an adventure gets abandoned, who cares? You’ve got more cooking, causing your players all kinds of dilemmas and drama.

If you run out of prep time, who cares? You’ve already got several adventures in-play, so game those forward.

And if you consider each short adventure an opportunity to learn, to feed the major plot arc, and to get a specific player or character involved, then you can see how running more adventures that are shorter gives you more control and less stress.

A Fast Way To Create Short Adventures

I would go with 5 Room Dungeons. Baked into their structure are self-contained, complete adventures.

Connect 5RDs together to make bigger adventures when you want.

5RDs can be any kind of adventure, not just dungeons. It’s their inherent story structure we care about.

5RDs are fast to create.

And remember that the final room is about opening up new gameplay with hooks and secrets revealed.

If you are an Adventure Building Workshop member, review the lessons on the Adventure EcoCycle (Regions of Mystery => Blank Map to Explore => Story => repeat), Missions, and Spikes of Danger for even more ideas on how to build short adventures and string them together into an awesome campaign. Next week we’ll dig into the final two parts of this topic, which go deeper into the Plot Factory recipe.