The Practical DM – Drama-Bomb The Synopsis
Just as I had posted yesterday, filling out the “non-technical” aspects of a campaign can sometimes be more difficult than dealing with the technical aspects.
It’s relatively easy to put together an encounter: you know the level of the group, and there’s actual rules about the composition of the opposing party. Add it all to a tactical map, compose the intro and finale, and when you string these encounters together, you get a “story light” dungeon crawl.
But come on! That’s OK once in a while, like when your players want to play, but maybe don’t have a lot of time (or want to put in the effort). The rest of the time, you need something with meat on it…you need a story, and as compelling as one as you can muster.
In the process of putting together “Taking Back The Vale” (a continuation of Adventure Co.’s ill-fated attempt to shut down Keep on the Borderlands), I had an idea of what I wanted for a plot, but after reflection (and a lot of work), I realized that the intro was pretty lame. So it was back to the mental drawing board, but this time, I fired up the Background tab of Masterplan and started adding the synopsis to my notes so I would remember things when the time came.
Helpful? Sure! But I think it’s the way in which I was writing it that mattered more than the act of writing them down. Each segment received one or two sentences written in dramatic fashion:
The players find themselves caught between a rock and a hard place: on one side, an earth elemental. On the other, an army of orcs.
Not actually part of my story, but you get the idea. Initially, I thought it would help to raise the dramatic bar and energize the scene, but what happened was that I found myself writing in things that I hadn’t thought of before, or changing other ideas to be more dramatic, more flexible, and potentially more interesting for both me and the players. Now, I not only have the outline of most of the story, but hooks for side-stories as well, all because it seemed like putting it down in dramatic, dust-cover-blurb fashion required more than just the “off the top of the head” synopsis I started with.
- The Practical DM – Resource Repository
- The Practical DM: Wizards’ Virtual Table Lives On
- The Practical DM: Masterplan
- The Practical DM: Getting Organized #RPG #DnD
- The Shadowfell Cometh–A Post-Mortem
- Crowdsourcing Your Imagination #D&D
- Our Fantasy (Stomping) Grounds: A vTabletop Update
- Don’t Call It A Comeback
- Think About It: Putting the RPG Back In MMOs