2015-07-30 Game mastering, and making stories

Some years ago I enjoyed being game master in a pen-and-paper role playing game. A game master is the one takes care of the world, and builds the stories that the players interact with. This taught me a lot about making stories. Here are some of approaches that I used:

  • Random clues. Include rumours, unreadable letters, random meetings, special items etc. I do not know where they lead yet, or how to use them, but I’ll create the story if the players starts to investigate them more (which makes the unverse seem huge, with many clues, and stories behind all of them), – or I’ll use them later in the storyline which makes it feel like it was very prepared/thought through, – oh, the key you picked up three months ago, has the same engraving as the entrance on this door 😉
  • Non-trivial conflict. Role playing games is often about good and evil: Slaughter the the evil necromancer, and catch the bandits and restore law and order, – but what if the necromancer went into the dark arts to save her love, and the bandits are actually freedom fighter believing that the government is repressing them? This forces the player to think through morals, and have more challenging discussions.
  • Character! A main building plot in role playing games are the NPC – non-player characters – giving the internal motives and agendas both makes easier as a game master to determine what they are going to do, and also makes the story more interesting for the players. I believe that really giving the NPCs character, is one of the key ingredients in making interesting game sessions.
  • Think about scenes. Who are there, and what is happening?
  • Real mythology. One of the best sources for inspiration is the real mythology, – if you need inspiration for the game, just go back in time. Also look at stories around you, and archetypes.
  • Research, – a very good resource when making games, is tvtropes, – which is actually a collection of fiction writing tips,. This is very applicable to role playing games, as it is actually interactive fiction creation. So if you want to know more about how plot lines are created etc. this is a good place to go.

Making and playing role playing games is a lot of fun, and I am tempted to do it more, – maybe I’ll make a session later in the year, if you are interested to join, let me know 🙂

The combination of daily writing, and thinking about building stories, is makes it tempting to write some fiction some day, – just for the fun of it, – as I guess it could be similar to hosting role playing games, except that you do not get as much feedback / input.