Plotting a game

When I’m not writing or blogging I like play various tabletop and RPG games and sometimes – as the GM – it is my job begin plotting a game.

As I said before, running a game is not so different to writing a story. And it is this idea that has driven my latest efforts. Mostly towards creating a sandbox adventure that is as much fun for me as it is for the players.

I have been asked to run a game for six players some of whom are veterans of many games and others have hardly played at all. One or two of these players remember another game I ran which got off to a rocky start, took all sorts of crazy twists and turns and then sort of faded out when the characters got to overpowered for me to be able to threaten them properly. Given that was my first time running a Pathfinder game single-handedly, I think I did pretty well. However, this time – I want to do better.

These are my thoughts as I get ready to run this epic game. Thoughts, that I should add, I will be careful to keep spoiler free as I know some of the players read this blog.

Master Plot

This idea comes from Great Game Master which is a blog (of sorts) all about how to be an awesome GM. So Mr GGM says that he runs a master plot which ticks along regardless of how involved the players wish to get with the story. Side quests, Mr GGM tries to tie back into the plot so that players can, when they are good and ready, take part in the larger story.

Instead of plotting the game and trying to get the players to trigger moments, which was my mistake the first time, I will plot the villain’s plan and just let it unfold in reaction to what the players are doing.

This was, to an extent, what I was trying to do with the game I am trying to eclipse (my first one). However, this time I am going to work out the master plot before I start. Then run a story that is just for me to know. I am going to do this because (a) Mr GGM suggests it and (b) because it sounds like a great idea.

Factions and not plot

This is where I disagree with Mr GGM. A grand plot is too easy to derail and a waste of time of the players decide to go off and run a farm or something. Given the group, this is not beyond possibility.

Instead, my plan is to simply be aware of a number of factions and players (villains and allies alike) that will be unfolding slowly in the background. That’s the story I, as GM, will be telling to myself. I will be giving the players every opportunity to stumble onto parts of it and take part in the grand story but the journey of their adventures will depend on the players.

So rather than plotting a game, I will be plotting a plot and letting my players jump in when they are ready.

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