GM Resource: 20 Master Plots

Roleplaying Tips Newsletter #0940

Today RPT Game Master Pierre Parent shares with us a great source of plotting inspiration.

Hi Johnn,

You sent out an email with a reader tip extolling the usefulness of the book:

45 Master Characters. I have this book and I would agree with its value.

Another book that I’ve found to be a good resource for creating adventures is 20 Master Plots (And How to Build Them) by Ronald B. Tobias.

The book is aimed at writers. However, much of it can be used for adventures.

It starts with a general discussion of what plot is and how it differs from a story.

Next it outlines eight lowest common denominators — what plots need to have to be successful.  These range from 1) Make Tension Fuel Your Plot to 3) Make Tension Grow as Opposition Increase to 8) Make Sure Your Central Character Performs the Central Action of the Climax.

In this section is also a discussion of the three acts of the plot — Setup, Complications, Resolution — which could map in well with 5 Room Dungeons.

The heart of the book starts with the exploration of the two main types of plots: the action plot and plots of the mind.

While it seems action plots would be more appropriate for adventure building, plots of the mind can also work well.

Each subsequent chapter delves into one of the 20 master plot types starting with what makes this plot unique. Often this includes a discussion of the main characters (antagonist, protagonist, and victim if applicable) and details about what happens in each act of the plot.

Examples are often given to bring the plot to life before the chapter concludes with a checklist of key points to remember in crafting the plot.

A sampling of the plot types include: Quest, Escape, Rivalry, Temptation, Forbidden Love, Discovery, and Ascension and Descension.

All in all the book can provide ideas for new plots and help a GM hone an existing plot. I hope you find it useful as well.

Best regards and keep up the good work!