For Awesome Campaigns Build A Player Campaign Book — RPT#517
From: Kit Reshawn
As I’ve gotten older, I’ve run into a bit of a problem when it comes to running campaigns. Getting people together for a session becomes more and more difficult, so players often forget details about previous sessions.
I’ve played with GMs who have a rule that can be reduced to, “If you cannot remember then your character cannot.” However, I’ve never found this satisfying, especially when people are trying to recall events that would only be a couple days old in game time, but which happened in a session 6 months ago.
By the same token, continually trying to remember what players know and answering questions can take up a lot of game time.
My solution is the Player Campaign Book. I fill it with notes and details players can reference to refresh their memories about previous sessions and plot details. I use a 3 ring binder.
What started out as a simple book has since grown into what I think is a powerful tool.
1. Game Session Summary
This is what the Player Campaign Book started out as, and honestly there are a lot of ways to make it work.
The most important thing is it needs to be organized in a way that players can quickly look up information about what has happened during the course of the campaign and refresh their memories about previous sessions.
This also happens to be a handy tool for players to use if they missed a session, letting them read up on what happened while they were away.
I like to handle this myself. Since I take notes during a session anyway, I simply write-up a summary of the session right after and put it in the notebook. I try to keep things down to 1 page while still touching on major events that happened.
For reference, I also note:
- Date the game session took place
- Game date(s) that passed during the session
- Locations visited
- Who was physically present for the session
The session summary could just as easily be done by a player, and maybe even take the form of a player’s journal entries. In this case, things that go unrecorded would need to be remembered by the players or the information is stuff their characters have forgotten, which can be an interesting twist.
This particular method could be a powerful planning tool as well, letting you know what players think is interesting, and informing you if they are overlooking details you expected them to pick up on.
A blend of the two above methods would also be possible. In this case each session would have an official GM written log followed by a second section that includes the thoughts one or more players have about the game events.
Regardless of which method is chosen, the important thing is you want players to have something to look over to refresh their memories.
By making this available to players, I was actually able to shorten the necessary recap time while also having to stop less often to answer questions about previous events. People with questions could simply pop open the session summary and look it up for themselves.
This resulted in a surprising net increase in available game time.
2. NPC Log
This section naturally grew out of the previous one. Sometimes players would have questions about a specific NPC instead of a session. In this case, it could be quite troublesome to find the details they wanted to know about, so I created this new section.
To solve the problem I added a new section to the binder that kept information about important NPCs players encountered.
What exactly constitutes an important NPC depends, but my rule of thumb is that any character my players want to go into this section is put in, and any character they want removed is taken out. Typically, these adjustments are made at the end of a session, with players telling me if they want someone taken out or put in after a session.
Usually people get added faster than they are taken out, but there is a certain state of flux, and every so often the section gets a major culling.
Every character that gets added starts out with just pretty basic information: a description and what information the players know about the character, such as reputation.
Players are encouraged to leave their own notes as well, which can be as simple as their thoughts on their ability to trust the NPC to as complex as a running history of their interactions (in effect, a log of their encounters).
I find this section especially helpful when planning. Any character that ends up in this section is, by its very nature, interesting to my players. As such, I know who to develop more and try to pull back into the plot (players often even help with this as they may try to go back and talk to the NPC again on their own).
Player notes on the characters also often provide a source of plot ideas.
I’ve seen a minor throwaway character that caught the interest of my players (because of his beard, of all things) end up getting developed and expanded upon until he ended up being a key player in a quest. All because of players showing interest in him and me having a window into their thoughts on possible ways he could be involved in the plot.
This was an experiment that started shortly after I added the NPC section. It is a collection of the current rumors the players have heard. The definition of current is rather loose, basically coming down to my own judgment.
I try to keep it down to either ongoing events (updating rumors as new information is heard) and taking rumors out once they can no longer impact the campaign or have been resolved.
Although this section sees a lot less use than others, it has important effects.
Most importantly, it gives players a ready-made set of possible plot hooks to investigate if they are wanting to take a break from the main quest or need to earn money fast.
It also allows me to give players a place to find out about current events elsewhere in the world (for example, I used this section to have them learn about a war going on in another country).
Again, players may take notes on the rumors section if they wish. Sometimes they have used it to take notes speculating about how this event might impact what they are currently doing. Every so often, this gives me wonderful plot ideas or makes me notice potential connections I had overlooked.
I am careful about folding player ideas into the story and don’t use most of them. Even when I do use their ideas, they are often modified. However, when something especially clever comes along, I will use it as is. This ends up being a sort of reward for the player who thought it up. Everyone likes to have the “I knew it!” feeling every so often.
4. Player Handouts
The player handouts section happened on its own and was completely unplanned. I love making use of player handouts, especially cool things I’ve made to add to the game setting.
I also hate throwing handouts away, so I began to keep them in the binder with everything else. Eventually there grew to be so many they needed to be organized, and they earned their own section.
It is a nice place to store things characters would have kept, such as maps, pages from a book, or artwork I’ve found for them. Player drawn maps also end up in here, along with any DM maps I hand out.
For mystery type quests where evidence is given to them, this section makes sure the things PCs have collected will always be there to be reexamined in light of new information.
People spend a lot of time looking here, partly because it helps them get into the game more. We all agreed, though, that notes should not be placed on the actual handouts, to keep things nice. Instead, a new piece of paper is placed into the binder for notes and simply kept with the handout it refers to.
Beyond just the handouts, I also have this end up being sort of a trophy room for the players. When they take down a major villain that has been getting in their way, the NPC’s character sheet is placed in this section as well.
Likewise, if something major is accomplished, they will often get something to place in here (for example, a letter of thanks from the King).
5. Player Notes
Last section, but possibly the second most important. Some of my players like to take their own notes but aren’t very good at keeping track of them. Because of this I would offer to keep them in the notebook so they wouldn’t get lost. Consequently, the character sheets ended up here as well because it made sense.
The player notes section stores anything the players make for their own use. This is a good spot to get a feel for how the players like your game and what they are thinking about it.
Because my players know I look at their notes (I’ve told them I do) sometimes I actually find messages for myself there as well, either something they don’t want the other players to know they are communicating to me (in the case of the secret evil character) to any gripes about how things have gone or how other players are behaving.
As it can act as a suggestion box, I have found this has helped head off potential problems for me. In one case, by a couple players letting me know that things were boring and not what they wanted to play, it gave me a chance to adjust things to be more fun. In another instance, it helped me resolve a budding player dispute.
Riddleport Session 20 – Showdown at the Gold Goblin
This session ended up being a multi-wave combat with a bit of great roleplaying. The PCs caught up with their enemy Scab, a renegade gang member who screwed them out of a lot of money last session, and tried to tie up this nasty loose end.
Session 19 finished on a cliffhanger with the PCs buying a Scry scroll and using it to locate where Scab was hiding. Turns out he was living large – and spending all the PCs’ guilders (gold pieces) – at the Gold Goblin tavern just down the block.
I had the map already drawn and laid out for the players when they arrived for session #20. We had dinner and chatted, then got down to business.
The first thing the Chalice Bastards (PCs’ party name in Riddleport) did was send Thorne to the Gold Goblin to scout things out and have a conversation with Saul, the tavern’s owner.
Thorne came in aggressive. Riddleport is all about respect. Weakness loses respect fast in this pirate town, so it was a good approach. Unfortunately, Saul is an ex-pirate hardened tavern owner used to running a business in the bad part of town. He was having none of Thorne’s intimidation tactics.
However, he did receive the party’s message loud and clear: they were coming after Scab in the tavern and nobody was gonna stop’em.
Thorne asked Saul to trick Scab into going outside where the PCs could deal with him and spare the Gold Goblin property damage and worse. Saul opted to remain neutral and refused, but he did not utter any counter threats forbidding the PCs to enter and handle Scab inside.
Pleasantries out of the way, the Chalice Bastards made a grand entrance. Crixus the pit fighter drank a potion of fire breath outside the tavern, then slammed open the doors and let rip a large blast of fire. People started screaming and running. Scab was caught off-guard. The rest of the PCs stormed into the tavern bristling with weapons, spells, and menace.
Poor Scab was standing at the south hearth regaling a large audience with tales of his valiant fight and narrow escape from the clutches of the evil Chalice Bastards. The murderers killed his friends, cost him his job, and now aim to steal his life savings. Buying rounds of drinks for the house, and delivering a few compelling tales of the PCs’ misdeeds, he had assembled a large and sympathetic audience by the time the PCs charged in.
His plan might’ve worked except for Thorne. As people started to react to the characters, Thorne stepped up and delivered an impressive short speech, calling out Scab and intimidating any potential supporters. What was to be Scab protected by hired bodyguards and drunken pirates won over to Scab’s cause, turned into Scab and five defenders thanks to Thorne’s oratory and Crixus’s impressive exhalation.
As the battle heated up, Saul and his staff watched from behind cover. Panicked patrons bottlenecked the exit, clawing to get out lest they be dragged into the deadly conflict.
Arrows flew, swords and weapons cleaved, and a certain bardiche swung two-handed with 10′ reach. The characters soon mowed down the five remaining defenders. Just as the last mercenary was falling to the ground, Scab made a break for it and fled to the kitchen.
A few opportune attacks later and the party spotted that Scab was actually an imposter! The real Scab had switched with a hired double at some point between the crying and the fight.
The PCs pursued Fake-Scab with a vengeance, determined to clobber answers out of the vicious fighter.
This took the battle through the kitchen, past the scullery, and into the back alley. Unfortunately, this seemed to be part of Real-Scab’s plan too, for disguised as beggars in the alley were a quartet of crazy kukri-wielding assassins.
Blades dripping with poison, the assassins struck hard with amazing speed, catching the heroes off guard. This battle ended quickly, however, and three assassins died fast, with one escaping.
The ploy worked though. The group studied the spot where Fake-Scab was last seen in the alley moments before. A pair of tracks lead from a covered spot against the tavern straight to Fake-Scab, then both sets of prints just end there, in a standing position. Thorne figured teleport.
The battle ended in frustration. Real-Scab escaped. Fake- Scab escaped. Saul threatened to take the costs of the battle out of the PCs’ hides. The players are frustrated and their characters are as well.
Dejected, the party returned to the Silver Chalice and we ended the session there with a few actions queued up. The group wants to speak with a few NPCs to get more intel, and Velare the wizard will visit his guild, though I’m not sure what he is up to.
Thanks goes to Mike Bourke, Gerald, and Stephen Yeardley for ideas that I used in whole or in part this session. Reader ideas and feedback on my campaign is always welcome!
The PCs were expecting duplicity from Scab. However, I think they were counting on illusion instead of a physically disguised NPC.
Also, the timing of the late reveal was perfect, making the twist much better. I offered a couple of clues at the start about Fake-Scab and then we dove into battle. By having Scab revealed as a deadly stunt double near the end of the combat, the players were caught more off-guard than if the disguise had been revealed right away. This was mostly luck, on my part, as I was thinking Fake-Scab would be unmasked fast.
The bad news was I forgot all the active feats of Scab’s hired guns! I could not believe it when, late in the battle in the tavern common room, I realized I was not using any active feats for the foes. I even exclaimed out loud and hung my head, though my players did not know what had happened.
I think this is the first time it has ever happened. I have forgotten key foe abilities during games before, but never the whole array. Perhaps I was too full of myself, pleased by how well the bait-and-switch was working out, and I became distracted from good, tactical GMing.
However, I think part of the problem was I used pre-generated NPCs, and I was getting used to new GMing software in-game.
I used Hero Lab to generate foes for the session. The software works slick, but it means I did not go over feat selection and thinking. I was less attuned to my NPCs because of this, so their abilities were not top of-mind as I GM’d.
In addition, I used Hero Lab as reference for all the NPC information during the combat. While the software is excellent, it has GUI challenges, and I think I was just not used to seeing NPCs presented in a new way and forgot to check for feat options during play.
Just excuses though. It was mostly a mental lapse on my part. The good news is the combat was fun and interesting even though the NPCs were poorly managed.
“I am frustrated, Johnn”
At the end of the combat, the players told me they were frustrated at the outcome. The foes had slipped away again. I was happy with this result. It might seem odd that I was glad the players were upset, so let me explain.
One of my goals as GM is to provoke an emotional response during play. Happy, sad, curious, mad – it is all good in my books. While being frustrated is not a positive emotion, it is only temporary and it sets up an even better and more emotionally charged confrontation with Scab in the future.
You have heard about good stress versus bad stress?
Good stress happens when you push yourself, and it means you are improving in some way because learning or new environmental factors are causing change in you.
Bad stress is destructive and is caused by negative stimulus eating away at you.
Likewise, I believe there are two kinds of negative player emotions. The good kind of negative emotion comes from in-game events, and challenging and interesting gameplay. It is good the PCs had a frustrating battle because of the skill of their opponents.
The bad kind of negative emotion comes from nasty meta-game issues. Players do not have fun because of inter-party conflicts, or my GMing is ugly and heavy-handed, or there is perceived unfairness.
So, while frustration is not fun in the moment, when it is caused by interesting gameplay and from character interactions in-game with foes and their environment, it is fun at the session level. The frustration just encourages good players to game more to resolve things or to get their emotional victory.
I would rather have frustrated players than bored or jaded ones – as long as the frustration is momentary.
The true test will be next session and seeing if anyone shows up. 🙂
Mike Bourke suggested I mention what aids and tools I use in game sessions and before for planning. I’ll list these below – let me know if you want more information about the GMing resources I use, and whether you found this information interesting.
- Laptop, real dice (I do not like digital dice if I can use the real thing)
- Hero Lab Software
- Pathfinder Core Rules book (and one of my players used my Pathfinder APG)
- D20 PFSRD
- Google Spreadsheet – to manage combat on a second monitor so players can see initiative and what’s going on
- Laminated 1″ square graph paper and dry erase markers
- Numbered poker chips to track wounds
- Regular poker chips to use as pocket points
- My Info for campaign organization
- Pathfinder #13 module — Second Darkness Chapter 1: “Shadow in the Sky”
- Red laser pointer
- D&D minis
- Digital map of Riddleport
- My three lucky d20s
- You – thanks again for everyone who wrote in with ideas on how to handle Scab
Mike also suggested finishing off with any advice I have based on my session’s GMing experience.
The multi-wave combat (starting with the main fight and carrying it out into the alley) works well once in a while. The time was right for Session 20 because a major foe was involved. It also was realistic based on the foe’s abilities (the NPC was smart enough to hire help and think one step ahead).
I prefer to GM every NPC as a standalone entity, with flaws and strengths. Not every NPC is tricky. Most are not smart. Almost all will do anything to live.
So, NPCs in my games do dumb things and make non-optimal choices. This sometimes means they are easier to defeat. I think the variation is worth it though.
So my advice is to play to your NPCs’ traits, and to not superimpose your own tactical expertise onto them.
I originally roleplayed Scab and his fellow gang-member Grim Fang last session as stupid. The PCs just killed their boss, so these two NPCs decided to play dumb until the characters made their intentions known. In this case, it worked out very well because it allowed a great game twist.
As for me forgetting to use NPCs’ abilities in combat – that’s GM stupidity, not NPC stupidity, and I do not recommend it. 🙂
Another tip, though not a new one, is to draw big maps and important maps ahead of time. Having the Gold Goblin already mapped out let us jump into gameplay right after dinner without delay.
Game Master Tips & Tricks
Do you have a game mastering tip to share? E-mail [email protected] – thanks!
1. Hot Pursuit Tips
From: Mark of the Pixie
How you GM a pursuit depends a little on what sort of pursuit it is.
The enemy is always within sight, and you need to try every trick you can to get away. This includes cinematic chases with shooting and dodging, but can also include the more subtle psychological pressure of having a foe just on the edge of radar, following but not engaging.
Getting away is often a matter of doing something your foe can’t or won’t do (navigate a minefield, jump to hyperspace, hide in a gas giant).
All other types of pursuit can become hot pursuits when the enemy catches sight of you, and hot pursuit can go cool to a trailing pursuit if they lose sight of you for more than a few moments.
The other ending to a hot pursuit is engaging the enemy, whether you crash, they catch you, or you turn and face them.
The enemy is not within sight but is following your trail. This becomes more a game of how to confuse or eliminate your trail, depriving the pursuer of clues to your location. You can also lay traps and ambushes to weaken your pursuers.
The trail can be footprints, ion trail, credit card purchases, talking to witnesses, and so on.
Trailing pursuit can heat up and become hot pursuit, or the trail can “go cold” and the pursuers must give up and try a different method (hunting or forced).
If a trailing pursuit goes to engaging the enemy, then one side will normally have surprise (depending whether they catch you napping or you ambush them).
The pursuer tries to predict where you will go next and waits there for you. They need to know you for this to work. If you are injured or your ship damaged, then hospitals and repair yards will be staked out.
The pursuer forces you to come to them. This is most commonly done by threatening to destroy something you hold dear, but may also be by more subtle means such as buying up all of your medication (or fuel or parts), so you can only get it from them.
This is not really a pursuit as such, and it often ends with a break and enter style infiltration into where the goods (or hostages) are held, or with a type of hostage exchange ploy.
Fear and paranoia
In all of these, generating a feeling of fear and paranoia requires the foe to be a credible threat. If they feel they can turn and fight with a good chance of victory, then there is nothing to be afraid of.
You need to demonstrate the threat level they are facing (i.e. have PCs find the debris of the foe’s last victim – someone the PCs feared or respected).
Some fear comes from uncertainty. The PCs should know the enemy is nearby, but you can’t see them. They should know his name but not what he looks like. The formula “you know X, but not Y” is a useful one, especially when X indicates a threat (i.e. there is a bomb in a school), and Y is what you need to know before you can act (which school).
Some fear comes from threat. The PCs should feel the foe can hurt them in ways that matter. Physical harm is just one way. A foe to be feared should have several. They can hurt your friends, ruin your reputation, steal your stuff, frame you for crimes, strand you in space, imprison you, blackmail you, insult you.
The important thing is hitting the PCs where it hurts. If the PCs are loners, hitting their friends is pointless. If they value their reputation, besmirching it is something to fear.
Paranoia comes from not knowing who to trust. Create this by having an ally refuse to help, telling the PCs the foe has contacted him and tried to get him to help catch you. This ally refused, but the foe has threatened him if he helps you, so he is staying out of it. He doesn’t know how many other allies the foe has contacted, but he warns the PCs to be careful.
Then you just have the character’s notice things around them. The custom officials have unofficial “wanted” pictures up in the office. Their waitress makes a phone call as they leave the cafe. The same homeless guy who was outside the spaceport is outside their hotel.
These may just be random chance: the waitress was calling her girlfriend, the homeless guy got a big handout from a business man, so he followed him to this hotel, the customs official tries to remember everyone’s names so he keeps photos of current ships crews in the office. However, they could also be part of the insidious web that is tightening around the PCs.
Overall, fear and paranoia are tricky in RPGs, because PCs are almost defined as brave and independent people. They are fearless and do not need others to help them, so fear and paranoia do not come naturally to them.
It may help to ask, “How is your character feeling?” or even more bluntly, “Are you trusting them?” This normally makes the player double-check, and can remind them their character should really be feeling somewhat cautious and suspicious in this situation.
2. Free Heists Deck Helps You Run Awesome Heists
In RPT#512, Robert Corrina offered us a tip about using a special heists deck. to add more fun to heist adventures. The idea was to offer additional inspiration for story twists and turns in your game using a deck of cards. http://www.roleplayingtips.com/readissue.php?number=512#tips
Well, Robert now offers us his deck of cards you can use for any game system or genre, downloadable for free care of GoDeckYourself.com.
Download the Heist Deck
First, download the heist deck cards so you have them in front of you as we explain the rules. http://www.roleplayingtips.com/url/heistdeck
Each card contains a description of its effects.
There are two types of cards: GM cards and Player cards.
- GM cards are marked as GM in the lower corner.
- Player cards are marked as P in the lower corner.
The hyphen D (— D) in the lower corner on some cards means the card stays in play for the rest of the heist once laid down.
A D+ in the lower corner means the effect not only lasts for the entire heist, but also becomes part of the game once the heist is over.
The Cost is explained below, but the cost value shown on a card is basically how much you must pay to play that card on your turn.
(Victory condition x of x) If the GM can play all four cards before the players win the heist, the players fail.
Create game locations
The setting of the heist is very important. Traditionally, the heist takes in an urban area. The setting and map you use should include the following locations so certain deck cards make sense and are usable:
- Characters temporary base of operations. (Note that the base cannot be targeted unless a card states otherwise.)
- Heist target
- At least two other key locations of your design
Decide heist target
There are three categories Treasure, Technology and Evidence.
The GM picks the starting target but should be prepared for the players to change the category.
How to Play
The cards are designed to play simultaneously with your RPG – in-game.
The GM or player may only play a card or cards on their turn.
To play a card one must discard a card of equal value. For example: discard a Cost: 3 card to play three Cost: 1 one cards.
A GM can only use the effects of GM cards. Players can only use the effects of a Player (P) card. However, GMs and players can discard cards of either type from their hand to pay for a played card.
For example, you as GM want to play Red Herring, with Cost: 4. You can pay by discarding P and GM cards that combined total four or more (say, Earthquake (P): 2 + Trust (P): 1 + Made (GM): 1).
The GM has a hand size of seven cards and draws one card at start of his turn.
Players each have a hand size of three and draw up to their hand limit at the start of their turn.
Draw and play cards according to whose turn it is. Game out the results.
For example, if you play Contacts, roleplay acquiring and using the contacts.
How to win
Winning requires the players to play out the heist, taking into account all cards they play. Cards should be roleplayed and handled through in-game terms and the mechanics of your game system.
The GM “wins” if he can play all four cards before the players win the heist, the players fail.
The PDF is free
You are free to print out the PDF, send it to friends, or do whatever you like with it. Robert has chosen not to add any copyrights to the deck. Thanks Robert! Great job on the Heists Deck. http://www.roleplayingtips.com/url/heistdeck
3. How To Be Organized If You Are A Blind Game Master
This one isn’t for everybody, but as a blind GM it has helped me immensely. It’s very time intensive though.
I established a directory on my computer for each game I play (in this case it’s D&D 3.5, d20 modern, and True 20). Under each directory I have subdirectories for each campaign setting that I run, then general subdirectories for equipment, feats, skills, spells, psionics, organizations, and various other things that need quick categorization.
Whenever I get a book electronically I take the PDF file and, if it is not protected, copy and paste it into a Word file. I then break down the book according to my categories. Each major category has several subheadings.
So, for instance, I break feats out by their most useful situation or most applicable key word: magic, metamagic, melee, ranged, racial, skills, saves.
I’ve done this for almost all of the books I have, at least 90% of the main books for the systems and perhaps 15 to 20% of the campaign specific books.
The advantage is this: since I’m blind and use an electronic dice roller anyway, I have to have a computer. With all of this material on the computer, I simply run from the computer. If I need a rule, I go to the proper directory.
A friend who uses this system actually uses Windows’ search feature to find things by keyword in the proper directory, but I can usually find the material just as fast or faster using the categories and going to the right place.
It’s essentially taking the SRD concept and expanding it to all books, but I even broke down the SRD into smaller fragments.
4. Gaming with Casual Players
Mark of the Pixie had the tip about DMing casual players. Something I tried once and intend to do again, was I made up one character for each base class. I gave each an interesting backstory, equipment, etc.
Then I presented my players with a summary sheet. Each session, assuming we weren’t in the middle of an adventure, they could choose to play any member of the group.
If four were involved in an adventure, the other 6 or 7 were off doing their own thing. At the end of an adventure, I levelled up all the PC’s divided the loot fairly, gave the non-played characters a comparable amount of gold and magic, and levelled them if necessary.
My players liked being able to switch. One player switched every time, one played the same character every time, and others did a little of both.
It broke up the monotony, they weren’t responsible for character sheets and could just show up with dice. I love playing around with characters, so I got a little extra enjoyment.
We only managed to continue this to about 3rd level because we started a new campaign at that point, but we used this format as a break, and it could have been picked up again.
It was completely episodic. As a way to break up a long running campaign, or to do something else it’s worth trying.
How-To Game Master Books
In addition to doing this newsletter, I have written several GMing books to inspire your games and make GMing easier and more fun:
Critically acclaimed and multiple award-winning guide to crafting, roleplaying, and GMing three dimensional NPCs for any game system and genre. This book will make a difference to your GMing.
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Filling the Empty Chair
How to find great gamers fast and easy online with my list of the best gamer registries and player finder websites. Recruit offline quickly with 28 new and easy ideas to find gamers in your local area. And attract the best players with my tips and advice on how to create the right kind of ads.
Inns, Taverns, and Restaurants
How to design, map, and GM fresh encounters for RPG’s most popular locales. Includes campaign and NPC advice, plus several generators and tables: http://www.roleplayingtips.com/url/taverns
Adventure Essentials: Holidays
Advice and tips f or designing compelling holidays that not only expand your game world but provide endless natural encounter, adventure, and campaign hooks.