Just One Spike In The Ground Gets You Started

Roleplaying Tips Newsletter #0833

A friend sent me this interesting article on how inmates make dice to play D&D in prison.

“We made dice out of card stock, toothpaste, and toilet paper. Rigorously tested, rolled right 85% of the time.”

Necessity is the mother of invention.

Which brings me to a short bit of advice for rolling a crit against writer’s block.

I get 2-3 emails a month asking the same question: “How do I get started writing an adventure?” Or “How do I plan something for a game session?”

I have a bootstrap answer for you.

What do you like to design the most?

Do you love drawing maps? Building NPCs? Crafting monsters? Thinking up weird ideas for worlds?

Whatever you love to do, start with that.

Build one of those.

Then put it in contention.

Depending on what it is:

  1. There’s treasure hidden near it, or it’s blocking access to the treasure.
  2. It needs help from a dangerous threat.
  3. It is the dangerous threat and is menacing innocent people or something the PCs care about.
  4. It is mysterious and has done things to make others curious about it or fearful of it.

In my experience, this is enough to kickstart an adventure plot or session plan.

You start asking questions like, where is it, how’d it get there, does this relate to the barbarian’s spirit quest, and so on.

To escape the prison of your own mind, just create something. A single spike.

Once you have a tangible idea in front of you, chances are the ideas will begin to flow at last. Necessity — and just one spike in the ground — is the mother of invention.