Adventure & Campaign Building Archives - Roleplaying Tips

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6 Tips On How To Tie Dungeon Encounters Together

Roleplaying Tips Newsletter #1203 Brief Word From Johnn Last night I found a great course on Udemy about video game design. In part, it dives into the tension between player agency versus game designer agenda. Open world games versus plotted story paths. This is old hat for us though. The first moments behind the screen […]

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Tips For Lunch Hour Games + Personal Announcement

Roleplaying Tips Newsletter #1198 Goeiedag Johnn, Big news to share with you this week. I have embarked on a grand adventure. Two adventures, really. The Great Resignation First, I’m going fuller-time with Roleplaying Tips! I’m thrilled but nervous and can’t wait to begin this new journey. I gave notice at my day job last week […]

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How To Make Every Encounter Interesting

By Johnn Four Roleplaying Tips Newsletter #1195 (Join the conversation about today’s tips here.) Here’s an interesting question about encounter building that WorldWibe asks on RPT’s Discord: Is a dungeon-making philosophy that goes: “Every room should have something interesting in it, be it battle, treasure or lore” a good design-methodology? Thanks for the great question! […]

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Wow Your Players With Monster Hunts

5 Room Dungeon Template When I invented the 5 Room Dungeon in 2003, I first thought of it as a physical adventure framework. Five literal encounters. This method still works brilliantly, but we can advance it for great monster hunter storytelling. After reading a bunch of work by American professor Joseph Campbell, who wrote Hero […]

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Encounter Mapping Software – 3 Tips For Choosing The Best One

A great conversation came up in the monthly Wizard of Adventure chat Saturday on what encounter mapping software to choose. (Wizards of Adventure who could not make the call, here’s a link to the recording.) From DungeonFog to HexKit to Campaign Cartographer, and a bunch of others, how do you pick? Because it’s not just […]

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5 Ways To Power Up Your Secret Doors

From JohnnFour Roleplaying Tips Newsletter #1,179 Depending on your system, secret door checks every five feet bog gameplay down and soon get tiresome.This topic came up in the most recent Wizard of Adventure Zoom call: How do you handle secret doors??I’m not a big fan of the passive check, or maybe I’m using it incorrectly.?I […]

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4 Ways To Surprise Players Who Know All The Monster Stats

From Jonathan Hardin, sojournersawake.com Hello Sojourner! My players know all of the stats for every villain I place in their path. Through searching on the internet, hours studying monster manuals, and good old fashioned wits, my players have found a way to circumvent the wonder of being surprised in battle. As GM, I want to […]

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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 Factories

From JohnnFour 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 […]

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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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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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How to Master Your Craft

Sain bainuu Johnn, There’s something they neglect to tell you about writing. Understand this “plot twist” and the whole job changes. Here’s the really cool part. We can apply this new way of looking at things to GMing, as well! And my hope is, it’ll change how to approach mastering your craft, which I call […]

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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 […]

Continue reading

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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