|Pile of Ideas|
Pile of Ideas
I, as a game master, subverted a writing technique to prepare role-playing game sessions.
This is a piece of writing advice, let's label it a tool, that I received as a high schooler. I can remember receiving it, well, I remember the setting, the classroom with windows open to the west and the south, and the tall forest encircling us. I must get back to the subject, I must not get trapped by the trees and the fairies...
"Take a draft paper sheet and write the title of the essay, then start writing everything that goes flying in your head. It's an accumulation of ideas", said Mr. Bossel.
The rest of the process then felt obvious, the ideas had been circling around the title of the essay and the essay itself was just the weaving of some of the prominent ideas caught in the sheet of paper.
We were then supposed to use this technique (if it fitted us) for french essays and philosophical dissertations.
I have started using it for scenario writing. Maybe I should say "adventure module" in lieu of "scenario". I'd love to be able to say "web of situations". "Next session preparation" probably conveys a little better what I'd like to write about.
Let's say a session is a three-four hours tabletop roleplaying piece of shared adventure. A situation ties a place, the party, and some opposition.
I am applying the pile of idea, not for the creation of an essay, but for the creation of the web of situations for the next session.
- Write down the initial party situation (outcome of last session)
Then, in no particular order,
- Write down anything that goes flying in your head
- potential leftovers, unresolved things from a past situation
- interesting target or accidental situations
- entry points to situations
- exit points from situations
- Tie a situation to its entry and exit points by circling, linking, basically composing
Recently, there is another piece of advice that's been circling in my head, it's Alex Schoeder's
use every idea as soon as possible. Do not save good ideas for later! Use them now. You will have more good ideas in the future.
I found it in Alex's Halberds and Helmets Referee Guide, via Questing Beast's recommend reading. I am not sure I am using every idea, but I try to write down every idea. The players will navigate the web of situations and encounter or avoid those ideas.
Unused situations can be reused in a later session, or force themselves in into those later sessions.
My session preparation is then almost done, it's a list of loosely linked situations. I need to add some location maps and opposition stats and it's ready. I tend to draft maps on the same sheet, but I list the opposition stats on separate sheets.
web of situations + location maps + opposition stats
Wandering monsters and wilderness encounters are not the result of a throw, they come wrapped in situations, that may be triggered or invoked, or forgotten.
I don't like "adventure module", because I see a situation as a "module" and an adventure is a sum of situation modules. Let's avoid circuits of situation modules.
Yes, I am direcly using the "pile of idea", that draft sheet, as the "scenario" for the next session.