Saturday, April 23, 2011

Well, I Guess I Could... No. Maybe? No, Not That Either...

A Look At The Wondrous Joy That Is Writer's Block

All of us have run into it at some point, be it in gaming or that mythical thing known as "real life". You're sitting down to get your next adventure or scenario ready. You've got your drink, a snack, your notebook or computer. Everything you need to just sit down and crank out the next great piece of the story. The last session was a blast with a lot of really close moments in there so its time to add the next chapter to this epic thing that you are a part of! All you have to do is sit down and start writing it up.

It sounds so easy doesn't it? To just tap into that vast sea of creative knowledge and let the inspiration spring forth. The only problem is that sometimes the spring runs dry and you are left with nothing but dust. So now the question is, what do you do?


These words are just as true for you as they are for the average intergalactic hitchhiker. There are lots of sources of inspiration right at your finger tips. All you have to do is look for them.

Looking Backward To Walk Forward

One of the first things to consider is what you've done so far in your game. Was there some point where the party went right instead of left? Some contact that they either dismissed or maybe didn't even encounter? Tapping into one of these ideas does require more work than some of the other options but they have the advantage of already being part of your overall campaign which should make them easier to weave into the story.

Another thing to keep in mind is to keep the adventure hook challenging. Maybe you had this idea jotted down early in the campaign but now your players are more experienced. If this is the case make sure you buff up any encounters they might have so that it isn't a cakewalk for them. An easy encounter every now and then isn't a bad thing but there is such a thing as too easy.

Ripping From The Media

Another great source of inspiration is the one that bombards us on a daily basis. Be it books, movies, TV shows or even current events, there are millions of ideas out there just waiting for you to tap into. The only trick with this one is making sure its not too obvious to your players.

For example, let's say you are playing a World of Darkness game and the latest episode of Supernatural really caught your eye. Wouldn't it be awesome to see what your players would do if they were in that situation? Sure it would... as long as they didn't just watch the same episode you did.

If you are going to rip an idea from the media, it is always a good idea to find some way to tweak it, preferably early on in the session. This will keep the players that might be familiar with your inspiration from zoning out and just following the script of the episode to solve the challenge. By revealing your twist early in the session it lets them know right away that you've not just spitting out exactly the same material which should also keep them from mentally checking out of the session.

Prepackaged Goodness For Your Enjoyment

Yet another option is grab one of the many prepackaged adventures of your shelf and crack it open. Sure, it might not be the Shakespearean level of adventure that your accustomed to running but if you're tapped out at the moment it doesn't mean its a bad idea.

With everything laid out in front of you it gives your creative juices a chance to recharge some and it might even inspire you in new directions. Maybe there's a character in the adventure that really strikes your fancy and you decide to bring him back in again in the future. Could be your characters really like some part of the setting and decide to spend some more time there exploring their options.

Just how easy these are to find really depends on what system you are running but if you search around a bit you might be surprised at what you find.

Hey! I'm Talkin' Ta All Y'all Out There!

By now any miniature gamers who are reading this might be thinking "Man, more RPG stuff?" but these ideas can apply to mini games just as much as role playing games. Most people that I talk to prefer the idea of a story based campaign over just throwing their minis on the board to see who can kill who first. Porting these ideas over to a mini game might require a little more effort but it doesn't mean that it can't be done. One of the big changes would be in the form of prepackaged adventures as most mini games don't have access to these kinds of resources available... or do they?

Instead of looking for an book, look at the minis you own instead. Maybe there's one figure that you've been dying to get onto the table or some piece of terrain that you built but have never had a chance to use. Stop and think about what you already have and you might be surprised at what you can come up with.

The Parting Shot...

Well, that wraps up my post for this week but be sure to come back and see what SpacerGal and I are up to. If you have any comments or questions, feel free to leave them here on the blog or send them to Feedback is always welcome! Until next time...

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