Game Master Tips n' Tricks: Creating a Story

Posted by Brian Anthony on

So you’ve decided you want to run a Role-Playing Game? How do you decide to pick what you want to play? How to write a good story that will make everyone feel involved? These are questions that we will cover through the next few posts to give you a good start.

I will address the first topic: How do I decide what I want to play?

Tip #1: Discuss what you want to play and why you want to play it.

Example: You want to play some sort of investigation game. Rachel loves puzzles in video games. Tom really likes horror games. Zack loves to use magic. These are all different elements to bring together. Now, the first thing you need to do is find a story.

Tip #2:  Don’t make it all up on your own. Find a storyline you REALLY like.

Let’s take an already well known film, It’s a Wonderful Life (1946) and strip it down to the main plot. Protagonist (George Bailey) is fighting with the Big Evil Rich Guy (Mr. Potter) from buying out the town.

Tip #3: Expand upon that original plot idea, make it your own.

The film tells us that George inherited his business from his father. So, we take these well defined elements, and expand on them. Maybe George’s father was a defender against the Occult in the town. Mr. Potter wants nothing more than money and power. Ask questions like, “How did Mr. Potter get this power?”.

Tip #4: Your players matter. They are the tipping point of the story. Mr. Bailey is doing his best, but Mr. Potter has hired a thug to put Mr. Bailey behind bars! Your players can stop this from happening. Rachel has stopped the thief from shooting. Zack chases after the guy while Tom obtains information from Mr. Bailey.

Tip #5: Use the story to match the interests of what the players want out of the game.

For the last few months, homeless people have been disappearing from around town. Mr. Potter has set up a homeless shelter in the nasty side of town. People don’t complain because the streets are nicer, and there’s less crime now because of the shelter.

Why are the disappearing? What does Mr. Potter want with these people? (Investigation)  

The players raid the shelter, only to find it deserted. Rachel finds a trapdoor that leads to a cellar. A rancid smell comes from below. (HORROR!) As they go down, they see a monster stealing the souls of the homeless. There is a ritual book discarded in the room. The players can use it to reverse the monster and turn it onto Mr. Potter, or send it back to where it came from. (Magic and Puzzles!)

So far we have:

#1: Find what you like to play

#2: Get a plot that already interests you

#3: Make it yours, add and take away things

#4: How do your players fit into it?

#5: Create a story that matches those interests.

Resource Link:

TV Tropes is a site that lists all the elements in media and literature. A group of kids going into The Old Dark House at the end of the street. The Old Dark House is a trope that has been used commonly when telling horror stories.

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