No Plot? No Problem! is a great little book that describes itself as ‘a low-stress, high-velocity guide to writing a novel in 30 days’. It’s written by Chris Baty, the guy behind Nanowrimo, which I’m participating in this month for the fifth year running. Writing a novel in 30 days requires at least some improvisation. GMing often requires a lot. I’ve read this book each year but I figured looking at it from a different angle it may have some hidden insights into gamemastery. And I think I’ve found some.
The book talks about, among many other things, making two lists: one with all the things you like in novels and one with all the things you don’t. It’s not quite a pros and cons list, but close. It’s sort of a list of cues or reminders for yourself. I realised that doing the same thing for RPGs could keep us GMs on track, especially for on-the-fly or improv-heavy GMing.
I thought this idea was too simplistic at first to bother posting about, but I think it has legs. The Nanowrimo lists are supposed to help you identify what you like (and don’t) and write to that (or avoid it, respectively). If you have a theme for your game or just some goals (or pitfalls you’re prone to) you could make similar lists. I’ll give it a quick go now and see what we get.
- Interesting NPCs with human motivations
- Cinematic fight scenes
- Fight scenes incorporating the environment
- Situations where all answers creates interesting situations
- Drawn out conversations without a story purpose
- Lengthy, boring combat
- Rolls where failure is boring
- NPCs hogging the spotlight
- Exciting, swashbuckling high-seas adventure!
- Demonic touches and twists to pirate tales
- High adventure world, but with real and gritty consequences
- Generic pirate adventures (remember there are demons too!)
- Having everyone heavily involved with demons; make it subtle
- The different cultures ending up just the same in roleplaying