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Visual Aid Session Prep with the Five Room Dungeon

Hello Sojourner! The goal of Visual Game Session Prep is to have a quick glance reference that reminds me of notes and plans I made before the session. This keeps paperwork to a minimum. Rather than referencing your notes within a large document during the game, you can simply look at a simple visual diagram […]

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Use This Clever Tool To Herd Your Cats

Plot Factory Tips When something automagically generates valuable plot hooks within your System, Story, or Setting, I call that a Plot Factory. Plot Factories have been mentioned before here and here. And to help you worry less about your plot hooks and adventure seeds, I want to show you today how to craft Plot Factories […]

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Ripping Up Adventure Drama With A Saw Blade

Make your adventures wondrous with terrific drama. We want tension in our plots and gameplay that escalates as players get close to the climactic ending. To increase drama we raise the Stakes (what’s in it for the characters) and toughen the Conflicts (foes, hazards, obstacles, challenges). However, we shouldn’t make every encounter even more tense […]

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Weaponize Your Villain’s Secret

RPT GM Dale S asked me for help with his adventure’s bad guy and plot: Hi Johnn, Would you mind wading in with any thoughts on my villain’s objective? The local gnoll clan and their unusual allies are attacking a small walled human frontier settlement. This is a nighttime ‘storming the barricades’ kind of assault […]

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Starting a West Marches Campaign – Step By Step

By Jochen Linnemann Starting a West Marches Campaign (Part 1) Some time ago, I decided to start a West Marches type campaign with the idea of an episodic, easy-to-prep game for a group changing players in mind. So, I started to research the topic. Reading Tips Google was a good jump off point, and I […]

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My 7 Keys to a Great Sandbox Game

New RPT GM Eddie asked for advice on homebrewing adventures: I love that a campaign can be going strong that long. The one I’m running is like 6 months old. Even though I’m pretty new to the game (less than a year) I’ve been looking more into old school revival and alternative materials because although […]

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Story Sparks — A Way To Improv Better

Ever make a fire from scratch, without matches or gasoline? Every material has an ignition temperature where a spark lights it up. The shirt you’re wearing probably ignites around 267°C or 513°F. Wood is about 300°C / 572°F. And what about our encounters? What ignites them? More on that in a sec. To start a […]

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My Monsters Sucked Until I Discovered This Special Approach

I realized last month I’ve been in a rut slinging boring monsters. This troubled me because boring foes = boring games (h/t to Slapchop). In my Terror in the Badlands campaign, for example, we had a crazy battle in a ruined underground city against a white dragon. It was tricksy with its moves, actions, and […]

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Celebrate Your Encounter Locations This Way

Make your locations memorable. And incorporate the story. Do those two things to make encounters even better. Here’s how: Features => Twist => Secret Let’s see what to do for each part: Figure Out The Special Features First, give your location a Purpose. Sometimes the game role for the location differs from the Purpose. This […]

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Power Your Plots With Simple Rumour Tables

The Keep is a monthly D&D campaign, just three sessions old, where the PCs have been shipwrecked on the mysterious jungle island of Barbossa. In session one, I used a rumour table to drop several plot hooks into play to give the sandbox immediate direction. Each player rolled a d20 and received their own rumour. […]

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Storymastery: More Examples of Bad Reveal Timings

Last Musing, we talked about how to stage your prophecies for maximum effect. Reveal your prophecy too soon, and players won’t be invested. They won’t care because they have not bonded with your campaign yet. And then even the best prophecy destined to hit your table will feel like a gimmick. There are other campaign […]

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Your Campaign Agenda => Best Campaign Ever Part II

There’s a moment mid-campaign when my inner voice screams out: “I’ve lost the plot! What the #@$% is going on? What the #@$% do I do now?” (Sorry, in-skull Johnn has a potty mouth.) When I’m off the rails as a GM it’s panic time. …Everything feels like it’s crap. …The campaign’s falling to pieces. […]

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The Four Levers That Inevitably Pull Players Through Your Adventures

I’m writing right now in my Guide to 5 Room Dungeons about Push versus Pull. Push GMing means forcing players in a certain direction. But players are their own beings. They think and act independent of your wishes. You cannot control another person. Therefore, you cannot control your players. If you try, everyone just gets […]

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