Game Mastering
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December 5, 2007, 3:33 pm

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Chaosmark (6x)

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Get a Plot


Sometimes, you just need a new plot.

After a while, most gaming plots tend to be quite cliche and tired.  You know the ones, "rescue the princess (whoever) who has been kidnapped (charmed/ trapped/ enslaved) by the evil (fill in blank), something has been killing people- can you stop it?, or… well you all know what I am talkinga bout.  These are stock gamer cliche plots that we have all experienced. 

After a while, you start looking for something new or fresh.  A new source of inspiration, or at least stuff to "borrow". 

In fact there are thousands of great, fresh adventure ideas at your very finger tips. Where? Your local bookstore, or better yet, library! Okay, so avoid the library, if you hare having such emotional issues. The books I am suggesting are not the standard plot cliche books for fantasy fans (LotR or Brook’s Shannara come right to mind).  The books I am suggesting are in the literature section of the library or even science fiction section if you have a good bookstore that realizes that Vernes, Borroughs, and such are really sci-fi authors.  

Check these out…

An ancient parchment is found, supposedly written by a well-known and long-dead scholar. It contains a simple map and a single cryptic note: "Descend into the crater and you will reach the center of the earth. I have done this." (Jules Verne, "Journey to the Centre of the Earth")

The rightful heir to the throne is locked in prison
his identity unknown even to himself, while his twin brother rules with an iron fist. (Alexandre Dumas - "The Man in the Iron Mask")

The party accepts a challenge to deliver an important message to a very distant location and to do it in less than 80 days. (Jules Verne’ "Around the World in 80 Days").

The players are hired to help an obsessed warrior slay a terrible beast (ship optional)  (Herman Melville’s "Moby Dick")

Characters are stranded on a deserted isle and must learn to survive, as well as try to find a way home. (Daniel Defoe’s "Robinson Crusoe")

The characters find a map that shows the location of buried treasure on an island. They set off to find their fortune, hiring a ship and crew, not suspecting that the ship’s crew are the very pirates that buried the treasure. (Robert Lewis Stevenson - "Treasure Island")

A murderer is plaguing a small, remote town. Only through detective work do the characters begin to uncover the murders are linked to the lunar cycle. (Stephen King’s - "Cycle of the Werewolf" also known as Silver Bullet)

A plot from any action/ adventure, mystery, and even horror novel, should be adaptable to most campaigns.  It will take some work to make it a challange for your players and adapt it to your world. The key is to use the basic plot and idea to form the basis of an original and unusual adventure; your goal is not to simply turn the novel into an adventure. 

So check out some great classics (or at least their cliff notes).  They were the genesis of fiction as we know and like it. Take great books from other authors that you normally would not think of (King, Lackey, Dunn).  From these seeds will mighty plots grow. 

What is that?  Some of you sniffing and saying, "I never borrow plots".  Well face it, you have. You have just dressed it up in a different setting or characters.  It is okay to borrow plots, characters, and even world background material, from stories/ shows/ movies. Take them and make them your own.

Remember: the story of Romeo and Juliet was not new and original when Shakespeare wrote his version. It had been done a dozens of times before, just not as well.

Now it go do it.

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Comments ( 12 )
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January 9, 2006, 17:15
Some Links you might find useful in this quest...
A great amount of information and whole books online for you to read.
The Internet Movie Database is handy to have bookmarked.
Pulp stories information, which are most applicable to adventure games
Campaign Suggestions based on old TV shows. Plot Lines/ Story Lines can all be inspired by old TV plots. Choose the kind of plot you want, find the right kind of show, and peruse the show.
A TV information page, along the same lines as above. Has info on almost every sci-fi/ fantasy/ cartoon show. The content is good, the html on the pages is poor.
This database is filled with 20,000 cartoons. These cartoon can be used for plot inspirations, character inspirations, and a walk down memory lane. The Herculoids is great for a monster d'jur. Johnny Quest is great for spy plots. And the list goes on.
January 9, 2006, 17:15
A specific one from one of Moon's links. The twilight zone is full of great little ideas that can be expanded on or just taken outright.

The X-files...well, duh!?

Oui, brain fry overload looking at all the different shows on that site.
Voted Mourngrymn
January 9, 2006, 17:48
This is a nice handy little list of get out of plot free cards. I will read more when I get a chance but I proofed it and it had a lot of nice information.
Voted Pariah
January 9, 2006, 22:12
YEAH! Go Moon.
January 11, 2006, 11:14
I HoHed this only because it is a great idea and it helps those who are slack on doing their own plot work. Which I have been guilty of myself. Keep it coming and add more so I can pilfer through them. :D
Voted Chaosmark
March 10, 2006, 11:18
This is definitely something that is useful and that every GM should read through, even if they don't have a problem with plots at the moment. We all hit snags, and this will help to break those stopping points to bits.
September 22, 2007, 21:25
Bumpage. Woo for the Random sidebar.
September 23, 2007, 20:00
Updated: Updated for odd character removal
December 3, 2007, 18:57
Check out "The Pit and the Pendulum" by Edgar Allen Poe
December 5, 2007, 15:38
Actually googling plot summaries, classic novel summaries, or going to the internet movie database ( ) hit some random movies and check their plot summaries.
Voted Moonlake
February 9, 2009, 17:53
Very useful submission
Voted valadaar
February 13, 2015, 13:23
This is a great one - I think we could add lot more here!

Random Idea Seed View All Idea Seeds

       By: ephemeralstability

The Nomin gypsies have a fiddling competition every year, known as the Danse de Velose. Beaters hit out the rhythm on taut drums and the competitors start to play, slowly at first. Youngsters can compete, but are soon pulled away by worried mothers, before the competition becomes too dangerous. After two hours the haunting tune has become dazzlingly fast. You can resign at any time, but the moment you make a mistake you receive an arrow through the neck. Strings may snap, but the players must play on. The whole affair never lasts much longer than three hours, and the last fiddler playing is crowned king of the gypsies.

Ideas  ( NPCs ) | June 9, 2003 | View | UpVote 0xp

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