d6 Ways to Spice Up Next Session
Roleplaying Tips Newsletter #1032
Sometimes things get dull, predictable, and stale.
Your players get into the same old rut of “break down the door, kill the monster, take the loot.”
Or if your group is more into roleplaying, perhaps it’s “meet the NPC, kill the NPC, Speak With Dead.” lol.
Next session, let’s mix it up. Let’s inject a chilli pepper or two. Let’s make things more fun for ourselves and our players.
Open Campaign Logger or your tool of choice and get ready to brainstorm.
Create a Log Entry called *”Session Chilli Peppers”.
Roll a d6.
Go to the item you rolled on the list below.
Write all ideas you get from reading the item.
Don’t self-judge. You can cut, tweak, and combo ideas later! Cast feeblemind on your inner critic and just brainstorm.
Add A Character Goal
In Hobo Princes the druid has been cursed. He now quests for the remedy. We decided on a ritual based on the wizard’s research and several ingredients he must gather.
Character goals work well because they’re personal. They get a player more invested in your game. They give you more grist for your plot mill.
d6 Example Character Goals
- A terrible family secret PC must fix, cover up, or deal with consequences.
- Villain jeopardizes family, friend, mentor, or NPC important to character.
- Rumours of a guide to mastery surface that would improve a character’s skill. [D6] 1. Book, 2. Magic Item, 3. Knowledgeable Monster, 4. Secret Location With Mural/Inscriptions, 5. Please a God/Demon to Get Divine Insight, 6. Serve a Devil to Get Infernal Insight.
- Friends or family start a war with each other. How can the characters stop it before there’s more bloodshed?
- A contest or way to get recognition for a craft, skill, or knowledge.
- Accused of a crime they did not commit. How can the character clear their name and restore their tarnished reputation?
Cause A World Event
Your milieu does not wait on the PCs like some meagre servant. Villains, kings, and powers pursue their own goals with major downstream effects. Mother nature also casts a die into the mix from time to time.
Create an event to shake-up the PCs and then create three clues or warning signs to make it feel like players are part of a deep, dynamic setting.
d6 Event Ideas
- Rebellion. A group of dissatisfied NPCs try a coup, cause a riot, or besiege their enemy. PCs might get caught in the middle, or receive a request for help, or have their plot progress blocked.
- Mysterious Beast. Here’s your chance to bring bucket list monster into your campaign.
- Menacing Discovery. Rivals or enemies happen upon something with sinister consequences.
- Pirate Raids. Bandits, rogues, or pirates attack and steal goods with bad consequences. Perhaps they stole medicine or important supplies. Maybe they stole a dangerous weapon or critical information.
- War! Armies clash or multiple factions fight for some prize, such as a throne.
- Refugees. Plague, war, pirates, or terrible event brings survivors needing care into the PCs’ community.
- Intensify The Conflict
Remember the Intensify Encounter tip sent out a while ago? You can use this technique to intensify your plots too. And as the doomsday clock ticks closer to midnight, players are sure to switch gears and quest for a remedy.
d6 Intensify Ideas
- Fallen Foes Rise Again. An enemy the PCs thought defeated comes back even stronger — and with a grudge.
- Divide & Conquer. Split the party. This makes them more vulnerable and foils synergies they might rely upon too much.
- Three-Way Standoff. Another faction enters the conflict.
- Surprise Hazards. An event or complication arises that makes plot progress more difficult. Perhaps a cult turns bystanders into zombies or an earthquake blocks an entrance while stirring the guardian.
- Fog of War. Jeopardize the party’s plans by obstructing information they were counting on. Perhaps their map has an error, putting the whole thing in doubt. Or divination spells stop working in this area.
- Foes Get Smarter. How can enemies think ahead and get some kind of advantage next session?
Launch A Sub-Plot
In my Riddleport campaign the PCs tried to stop several villains from reaching godhood. But between the heavy roleplaying and crazy combat scenes they operated the Silver Chalice Inn.
The characters learned one of their staff was being abused, so the PCs paid the boyfriend a visit. That visit turned into an improvised CSI murder scene with hooks back into the main plot.
When things get stale, launch a new plot. Base it on something minor and personal and then see what life it can breathe into your game. If it grows, it grows. If it’s resolved fast, then you’ve switched things up, introduced new NPCs, and added potential campaign depth for later re-use.
d6 Sub-Plot Ideas
- Invited to a party or feast and something terrible happens.
- Challenged to a duel. (Hint: the best gameplay happens before the fight, during the build-up. Include moral dilemmas and plot complications.)
- A craftsperson wants to honour the characters by crafting something in their name, but something goes awry.
- Someone claims to be a relative and shows up to complicate things.
- A strange new law puts the PCs at a disadvantage.
- A priest declares an inquisition on one or more PCs.
Add A Twist
The best and easiest approach? Give all the important things a secret. That way you also have something stunning to reveal and make the session memorable.
d6 Example Revelations
- A character learns an enemy is a relative.
- The Big Obstacle is actually a diversion or red herring.
- The awesome treasure? Now in the hands of a foe.
- A murderer or villain is actually innocent.
- Players discovers an even bigger threat or a villain behind the villain.
- Monsters are polymorphed
End On a Cliffhanger
Get into the practice of hanging sessions. This makes players excited to game again and keeps them thinking about your game.
Cliffhangers get you two great wins. They make session endings exciting, and they make session starts exciting!
d6 Example Cliffhangers
- A Mask Comes Off. The identity of a mysterious foe or other NPCs is revealed.
- A Critical Hit. Foes land a terrible blow mid-combat and you delay the damage roll until next session.
- You Open the Door And…. The party gets to an important portal or has the right key to reveal information.
- The Haul. The PCs defeat their foe but you will announce the loot next game.
- And the Murderer Is…. A major plot point about to be resolved.
- Roll Initiative! The party tracks down an enemy but combat (and its outcome) will start next game.
If you feel your game is flagging, or you have some extra moments to plan how next session could be even more thrilling, try using one of the approaches above to spice up your game.
Log all ideas that come to mind.
Pick your favourite three.
Develop them further by journaling your thoughts or building some Lego pieces for them.
And when the moment strikes, blast the table with your chilli pepper!