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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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How to Create Situations With 5 Room Dungeons

We want to cue up situations, not outcomes. By that, I mean we don’t dictate the actions of the characters. That’s the players’ job. But as storytellers, we have a job to do too. We need to weave good tales from our setting, adventure plans, and gameplay as it happens. How can we do this […]

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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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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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The Unification Event — How To Get The Party Together

Character backgrounds are key tools in your GM Toolbox. Mine them for plots, NPCs, and character motivation. However, it’s a struggle to get useful and game-full backgrounds from players. Often, you just get a couple paragraphs explaining how the PC became an orphan. Or, you might get the inverse. Pages of narcissistic background explaining why […]

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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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Run With The Impressions Technique

Here’s the thing with read-aloud scripts and boxed text you find in published modules…. It’s boring. And it kills the mood. Imagine an actor stopping mid-scene to grab the script and read it aloud to you. A terrible experience for both actor and audience. Likewise, stopping your natural way of describing the action, answering player […]

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