Do You Plot Stories Or Dungeon Crawlers?
Roleplaying Tips Newsletter #1122
I just came back from vacation. We camped out in beautiful British Columbia.
We have a camping trailer, so we were able to be self-sufficient and remain in isolation while enjoying nature and recouping our energy.
I read a bunch and otherwise just tried to sit around and resist the impulse to be productive.
While I was away, I received this question in my inbox: Do you plot stories or dungeon crawlers?
If someone put a d20 to my head and said, “Plan a game now or I’ll melt all your minis!” I’d do the following:
- Mine characters for plot seeds.
- List out each potential plot seed in Campaign Logger and update as I perform subsequent steps below
- Envision the best possible end state for each plot seed — that’s my tentative goal line to work towards each session
- Review each plot seed. Is it worth of a Campaign Arc?
No: Make a potential character side plot
Yes: Use it as my Campaign Arc
- Create a villain
- Create three factions
- Create at least three milestones for the Campaign Arc and each Character Plot
- Make each Milestone an adventure Site or a Situation
- Draw maps
- Create tables of challenges (monsters and hazards tuned to characters and plots)
- Create a table of rewards
- Create a Knowledge Table
- Create several 3 Line NPCs that feed into one or more plots
- Build first encounter
- Build d3 back pocket encounters / 5RDs
- Improv the first session (a Session Zero as the kids call it these days) using the tables and lists and ideas logged for inspiration
- Do Loopy Planning between sessions to increment plot progress and identify new Sites and Situations for potential gaming next session
Did I save my minis there? Hard to say. But Step 9: Draw Maps is where I’d plot crawlers.
The rest would be story plotting.
Unless you are running a pure boot and loot campaign, you need a story to hang your sessions on.
You need a continual narrative to provide context and meaning.
Else, the game is a bunch of rando encounters.
In truth, without the harsh deadline and my minis at stake, I’d go deeper into creating a Campaign Outline and then dig into homebrewing adventures.
Even dungeon crawls would get factions, character hooks, and a campaign tie-in.
But overall, the list above reveals I’m a plotter. What about you? I posted this question at my forum. Drop by and share your approach.