For your consideration as we close the book on 2006, a possible new year’s resolution for GMs:
In your next campaign, don’t use any plotlines or major encounters that you’ve used before.
With the New Plot Pledge, I’m riffing off of yesterday’s post about overused and clichéd plots in RPGs. There seems to be a consensus that clichéd plots are OK in RPGs (I’m in agreement) — but that doesn’t mean it’s not a good idea to get out of your GMing comfort zone.
As a GMing goal, it’s similar to the haiku approach and its spiritual predecessor, the 20% rule. If you’re not in the mood for something as potentially work-intensive as the New Plot Pledge, one of those might be more your cup of tea.
How does the New Plot Pledge sound to you?
I won’t be taking this pledge. Not because it isn’t a noble idea, but because I don’t think it is a realistic expectation.
I’m a firm believer that plots are pretty well explored territory, and that GMs should invest more time in developing unique settings and characters instead of new plots.
GMs should also practice abandoning a plot when the players take the session in an uncharted direction, but should not put a lot of energy into developing a new and original plot. Your players may take actions that will ruin the plot, and all of that work will have gone to waste.
Instead take simple well known plots and get the ball rolling with them, but be ready to let the players take over where the session is going. I’d be willing to say that more interesting plot lines will develop via that approach then to take the burden upon yourself.
Still, I can see the benefit of this personal challenge and I would be interested in hearing how it works for others who decide to take the pledge.
I’m still adding to my knowledgebase of d20, so this should be fairly easy for me.
However, there are certain themes I tend to follow in my encounters: hostile environments that the critters don’t mind (salamanders in a lava pit), synergistic critter party builds, reliance on ‘prepping the battlefield’, encouraging the gathering of intel before lurching off into the unknown, etc.
I don’t think I’ll be forsaking those, but I do think the “mad cultists out to bring back their dark god” horse has been well beaten.
I’m pretty much with VV_GM, at least insofar as I see “Plot” as story abstracted away from characters and setting. MMORPGs like World of Warcraft and its ilk, which don’t have NPCs to speak of or any persistent interactivity with the setting, have shown that pretty much every story abstracted from those elements can be boiled down to being a courier or being a guardsman. Since players are inevitably going to blindside you it is definitely more important to know your NPCs and their goals so you can adjust on the fly.
My father was always fond of saying that there are really only 12 diferent plots for all types of stories–even true ones. Everything is just a variation.
S. John Ross had a neat page of “all” of the RPG plots in pdf from. Interesting and depressingly true piece.
if i took this pledge, it’d be a short, short campaign. =)
I might take a modified version of this pledge, i.e. not to use major plot elements I’ve used before. I always tend to have a main villain from a secret society, or lots of inter world politics. I’ll try to branch out and give my players different experiences, unless of course secret societies and deep politics are what they want me to give them.
It is always a good idea to get out of your Gming comfort zone.
I game with such shocking irregularity that I’d have to actually use some plots before I could re-use them.
As always, if anyone decides to try this out, I’d love to hear about it here in the comments — or as a guest post. 🙂