How To Make Each Encounter Fascinating

By Johnn 4

Roleplaying Suggestions E-newsletter #1195

(Be part of the dialog about right this moment’s ideas right here.)

Right here’s an attention-grabbing query about encounter constructing that WorldWibe asks on RPT’s Discord:

Is a dungeon-making philosophy that goes: “Each room ought to have one thing attention-grabbing in it, be it battle, treasure or lore” design-methodology?

Thanks for the nice query!

Loads depends upon your GMing fashion and participant expectations.

However let me clarify my strategy within the hopes half or all of it would go well with you.

Hold a Good Tempo

First, think about your required pacing.

Would you like the get together sniffing, scratching, and tapping in each floorboard, nook, and cranny?

If we put one thing attention-grabbing in all places, then we encourage gamers to look in all places.

That quickly creates Snoozeville.

So I desire a sprinkling of attention-grabbing issues all through an journey as an alternative of a carpet.

And my encounter design targets more often than not contain:

  • Reward gamers who listen
  • Reward good concepts, good roleplay, and taking motion
  • Sustain a brisk tempo
  • If motion, present an attention-grabbing CombatScape
  • If roleplay, present attention-grabbing 3 Line NPCs
  • If puzzle, present readability intimately and replies
  • Hook as a lot element to world, marketing campaign, journey, or Loop

Notice these are encounter stage targets. Adventures contain totally different goals. Likewise marketing campaign and world tiers of GM pondering.

My encounter targets are additionally impartial of how a lot I improvise.

If an encounter is 100% pre-planned, I nonetheless wish to reward concepts, roleplay, and motion.

I nonetheless need as fast a tempo as potential by default (and slower for impact).

And I nonetheless need attention-grabbing environments, NPCs, and particulars.

The identical is true with 100% improvised encounters.

However total, I favour gameplay with , fast tempo so numerous story emerges.

In my expertise, we are able to flub plenty of our GMing throughout a session.

However guaranteeing the plot advances and getting that storytelling in helps everybody really feel higher a couple of session no matter its GMing disasters.

So design (and reply your query WorldWibe) with tempo in thoughts.

Present Clear Indicators

The 5 Room Dungeon construction means I must make a minimum of 5 encounters attention-grabbing.

They kind a Vital Story Path by your journey, no matter whether or not your journey is 5 encounters or a megadungeon.

Every Room within the 5RD framework has a particular story objective in order that, when mixed, turns you into Spielberg, Tolkein, Shakespeare.

So we’re actually speaking simply non-5RD encounters.

The very first thing I’ll do when gamers encounter a barren space is clearly describe that.

I’ll finish my description with one thing like, “And you are feeling fairly assured there’s nothing of curiosity right here.”

And I hold my phrase on that.

I clarify to my gamers that I’ll let their characters routinely discover the plain and considerably occluded stuff except the PCs are underneath duress.

I give out the issues I would like characters to seek out. There’s no level obfuscating that.

Then I give out particulars on considerably hidden stuff to extremely perceptive characters if these PCs aren’t distracted.

This lets my group calm down about looking each 5 ft. They know I’ll inform them the plain stuff and delicate issue detection sort stuff.

For well-hidden particulars I’ll await motion to disclose these. Detect or set off. Both end result is comfortable with me.

So my gamers know the place to not waste time and have belief I received’t screw them.

Observant gamers understand when the get together’s distracted and can resolve whether or not to pause and search.

This speeds tempo up rather a lot.

It additionally makes the sport extra about discovery by making it simpler for characters to get attention-grabbing particulars, which we would like.

Present clear indicators on if there’s doubtlessly attention-grabbing stuff to seek out and also you’ll enhance tempo and enjoyable on the similar time.

However Wait, Let Me Contradict Myself

In true villain trend, my last reply is sure, make each encounter attention-grabbing.

Let me clarify the contradiction.

Since I made this 4 half video collection with Sly Flourish (watch the primary video right here) I’ve given the idea of Conditions much more effort.

At this time, I deal with each journey like a Rube Golderg mechanism or Mouse Lure sport.

Additionally as Sim Dungeon meets Spielberg.

Which means there’s a better context we are able to inherit so as to add decisions, motion, and story to each uninteresting encounter.

An empty room would possibly actually don’t have anything of curiosity.

However what if it’s a option to slam a door within the face of harmful pursuers, add extra distance one should cowl whereas bleeding out, or provide an space of reprieve?

Each second of gameplay ought to replicate the get together’s present Dramatic Scenario.

I name GMs who’re life-long learners and have a powerful want to enhance their craft Wizards of Journey.

And a part of being a Wizard of Journey is about mastering the second.

By analyzing and synthesizing many particulars, we decide a present second of motion.

That is what I name the Dramatic Scenario.

We harvest our information of the sport guidelines, our sport world, the present journey, our marketing campaign, and different knowledge sources.

We then fuse particulars these into our narrative of what’s occurring now.

Then we discover out what gamers do to see what occurs subsequent.

Take a second to consider that.


We GMs are fairly superior, eh?

It’s fairly the factor to ask of an individual.

“Hey individual.

“Why don’t you recollect particulars about a complete fictional world you made up, the story that’s been informed for the final two years, 5 distinct protagonists and all their enemies and all different folks within the space, and 546 pages of guidelines all of sudden?

“Too simple? No downside. You could be a grasp of technique and ways too.

“Nonetheless too simple? No downside. There’s no script. You make it up as you go alongside!

“That’s proper. You gotta combine guidelines, and cube math, and technique, and creativeness, and lore collectively to weave a unbelievable story on-the-fly.”

You might be wonderful. We GMs are wonderful.

I urge you to take a look at the video above the place Mike and I discuss extra about the right way to flip 5 Room Dungeons into Conditions to get extra context on what I’m happening about right here.

My Remaining Reply

Intention to GM with brisk pacing.

Enable computerized element detection to provide gamers good expectations and confidence whereas they discover.

And suppose by way of conditions, not remoted encounters.

Mix these three approaches to maintain gameplay attention-grabbing with out having to make each room attention-grabbing.

I hope this helps, WorldWibe.

Talk about these sport grasp ideas on this thread on the official Roleplaying Suggestions group discussion board.


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