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Role Playing Tips - By Johnn Four

10 Ways To Find Inspiration

Guest Article By Kate Manchester:


As an administrator of an RPG, be your title Dungeon Master, Game Master, Story Teller or what have you, perhaps one of the most difficult tasks you will face is coming up with adventures for your player characters. While pre-made adventures can be terrific aids, they are not necessarily conducive to maintaining the continuity of an extended campaign and players can read the material in advance and know how to solve it. In addition, these adventures can be rather pricey. Not to mention you can only go through "The Keep on the Borderlands" or "The Succubus Club" so many times and still make it interesting for your players. So just where do you look for ideas for adventures? Here are ten suggestions, in no particular order, which can be applied to virtually any sort of RPG.


Read, Read, Read

Read books not just in the genre of your game but also any other books that look interesting. With a little work, a plot from a book can provide an adventure for your players. Better yet, combine elements from more than one book to confuse your players that might have read the book in question. (Of course, I'm certainly NOT suggesting you plagiarize and use something exactly as written in the book. If you do that, be sure you mention after the scene is over what book it's from. After all, you don't want to tell the players beforehand, so they can read the book and find out all the twists and turns of your plot)

For example, you might read a story of a prophecy and tailor it to the background of one or more of the characters. Make sure the prophecy is repeated, and the adventure is afoot. This method can of course, also be applied to movies.


Keep Up On Current Events

Perhaps not as useful for a fantasy setting, but read the newspaper for interesting news articles that can either be used as part of your story or subjected to a What If? analysis. News is being written every day, so you have a virtually endless source of possible plot lines. For example, a story of a cure for a disease could be turned into a story of danger and intrigue as rival groups vie for control of the source of the drug, a rare plant found only in a government protected forest. Perhaps the characters are assigned to a team to find new locales for the plant, and accidentally stumble on someone's illegal 'plantation'.


What If?

This is a question frequently asked by science-fiction writers. Ask yourself what if? and create an adventure around it. For example: What if Fantasy Literature were outlawed? That is the premise of Ray Bradbury's classic Fahrenheit 451.


Get Personal

This is not as easy. Take your personal experiences and let your imagination expand on them. For example, say you're walking to class or hanging out with your friends. Extrapolate upon this. Perhaps on your way you witness a murder and the dying victim hands you a film container. Then present this scenario to your players.

Another way to get personal: Take your darker thoughts or feelings and turn them into an adventure. For example, after a particularly nasty breakup, I felt jealous towards women who had a boyfriend. Instead of continuing this negative thought pattern, I decided to create an adventure for my game where a female serial killer targets young couples, killing only the male, and leaving the woman alive to grieve. As a further twist, I looked for the PC that the killer would be the most jealous of, and framed that character for the murders.

It was a very successful scenario and helped in the healing process.


Character Involvement

Insist that your players create backgrounds for their characters. Then look for possible adventures. Is the character being pursued by an old enemy? Have the enemy periodically show up and taunt the character. Was their lover/mentor/parent/dog killed by someone? Give them a chance at getting revenge.

Or look for common threads in the characters such as similar ability levels, skills, what have you. In one campaign I ran, all the female characters had fairly high appearance levels, so I created a story of a 'beauty pageant by gunpoint' with the 'winner' becoming the bad guy's girlfriend for a year.


Check Out The Locale

If you are setting your game in a more modern setting or one based on specific fiction works, research the locale for places of interest that can serve as a springboard for adventures. For example, if your campaign is set in the Star Wars milieu, you could have your characters visit the Mos Eisley Cantina, get caught up in a bar fight, and then have the losing Imperial officers send stormtroopers to come in and arrest them.


Go To The Source Material

Read those pre-made adventures and use those as stepping stones for your own campaign. For example, one scenario may involve a reporter who decides to investigate the character(s). In my scenario, I had the reporter work for the bad guys, and he asks the characters to help him write an 'expose' of the director of a local battered women's shelter, who he accuses of embezzlement, in an attempt to discredit her.



There are websites that can provide you with inspiration for plots. One need only look for them. Just make sure that you let the website's creator know what you're doing if they specify that all the material is copyrighted and NOT to be used without their permission. Hit search engines that are tailored to RPGs or if possible, the specific game you're interested in and you should be able to come up with some usable web sites.


Use Your Imagination

If you can recall your dreams in detail, by all means use them if you can. If your friends talk about dreams they have, try to use them. For example, if you have a dream of being chased, try to analyze it. Who was chasing you and why? If you dream about a monster that scares you, try to remember what it looks like, what it does, and then spring the creature on your unsuspecting players.



If you notice a particular locale or NPC that the players enjoy, by all means, continue using it. Maybe that annoying thief, that made off with the party's treasure while they were sleeping, bumps into the party while trying to elude the local authorities. Will the party attempt to detain him and turn him over to them? Or will they use this opportunity to get even? Besides, if some of your adventures are connected, your campaign has the illusion of being well planned way in advance, even if it's not.

To conclude, inspiration for adventures can be found just about anywhere.

The only limit is your own imagination.

Have more fun at every game!

Johnn Four

* Coat of Arms 1.2a
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* World of Phaos 0.9.2
Is Magic Armor Lighter Than Standard Armor of the Same Type?
Yes indeed
No, never!
In 1E yes, in 2E no
Only for encumbrance
Of course it is
Not in my world
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