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People are Interested in People

Encounters Descriptions Rewards

Location Show dont tell Non monetary
Danger Dont state an attitude show it with Lands / House
High word and deed Services / training
Fast Setting: props, scenery, extras: how can Titles, Status, Epithets, Nick names
Sharp these demonstrate attitude Reputation, name, ego rub
Traps Visualise before you speak Promises, fealty, love or respect
Ambush Take 10 seconds Relationships, servants, marriage offers,
Awkward Think of Movie / Game / Fly through fans and groupies, enemies, patrons, DNPCs
Beauty view Duties
Dont damage the foliage Player specific descriptions based on PC interests Exotic foods
Weather Delay with details in the beginning and middle Meats
Temperature Save the best for last Herbs and spices
6 senses
Wind Drinks
3 details for a glance
Precipitation / fog Treats and sweets
5 details for a look
Weird ball lightening Nuts and berries
Lighting 7 details for inspection Beasts / Monsters / Trophies
Speech: tone, pauses, pacing
Dark / dull / bright / too bright Fur / hides / scales
Unrelated campaign details
Colour Claws and teeth
Current events
Strobing / varying / disappearing Skulls and horns
Random goings on Strange materials
Not so random goings on
Helpful Normal things with cosmetic differences
Hindering Silk not cloth
Flora and fauna
Levels Teak not wood
Props, scenery, extras
Vehicles / moving Bronze not iron
Time Limit Art
Success required before a certain time The Art of Providing Evasive Answers Named items
Failure occurs after a certain time Use appropriately Other monies
Things change after a certain time NPCs Gems
Second challenge Divination and prophecy Poker chips
Cut off escape Not rules, or PCs eyes and ears IOUs / bond certificates / gift certificates
Multiple foes / riot Metaphors and similes Cancelled debts
Mental + physical challenge Direct the king is a plague on the land Spells or info
Props / Extras / Scenery Indirect my sword shall dog my foes Sheet metal (Make sure to vary the metals)
Carrot on a stick reward out of reach Obscure secrecy locks the gate to Tattoos
friendship Clay tablets
Encounters and the Plot + follow it up with a question / greeting / challenge Burned into wood
Answer with a question
Plot development players feel the On the backs of paintings
The answer to this question answers the Rawhide
encounter develops the plot
PCs question
World development reveals something Soft leather
Question is deliberately challenging or Book covers
about the world
Character development reveals something Engraved onto armour
Answer a few steps ahead
about the PCs Glass tablets
Where is this line of questions going
NPC development reveals something Metal tablets/bars
Answer the question a few steps forward
about an NPC Directly on walls
Half answer
Tactics Spot light time
Dont answer run
Motives Not necessarily in the characters speciality
Body language (if the NPC would use it)
Foibles Always roleplaying / developing
Tea with the evil wizards Mum background / character / NPC
Break the mood
Improvisation - Art Cinematic points to be traded in for cinematic stunts
Know the finale
if they yawn, roll initiative Their turn to GM / serendipity / wish list
Let them go off on tangents
Return to main plot when and if able to
Romance Improvisation - Science
Be flexible with time scale. Nick of
Conversation time is when they arrive
Start at the ending Face down the demon
Humour Replant the plot to the new location
Work backwards Magery backfire
Give an encounter more than one purpose illusion of freewill
Investigate mage collecting X
Need to get X themselves
Plant clues in the new tangent Add a twist Hired by demon flunky so PCs
Features of the game Let the heroes lose will cause the backfire
PC skills Steal player ideas if they discuss what could be next Plant clues to the twist
PC classes If youre stuck Give NPCs personalities
Type, goals and plans of villain or enemy Take time out Use averages for stats (maxs for bosses)
Campaign setting terrain Admit you havent planned for this Continuity
The victims, employer, or story catalyst Ask the players what they think you Write stuff down
PC equipment should do from here Go for constant cinematic realism
Rewards, treasure, magic items Its OUR plot not MY plot Balance
NPCs, relationships Encourage and describe feelings dont state them Start small then re-enforce
Nature of missions, jobs, or adventures chill runs down your spine not youre afraid Overkill and have the PCs work out how to
Technology Never force a player action (and if theyre being
back out
mind controlled, allow them to role play it.)
Fudge dice rolls
Let the PCs lose
How Can I Funk With Their Minds Today
How to fix botched encounters Plot Twists - types Plot Twists how to
Take a break Cosmetic changes only Divide into steps and twist each step
Regroup your thoughts Prince kidnapped by evil warlord Encounter make more interesting
Talk to players about options Complete reversal Plot change nature of plot
Dream up ideas Evil princess keeps wizard locked in Campaign change campaign features or
Stream of consciousness tower PC motives
Write How many ?! Change nature of props / scenery / extras
Talk to players about options 10 wizards trying to kidnap 1 princess Appearance / Illusion
Give the encounter something new 1 wizard trying to kidnap 10 princesses Misdirection / misinformation / sabotage
Hook 10 wizards trying to kidnap 10 Systems failure
Give the encounter a purpose princesses but only 1 counts Wrong target
Give the PCs something to fight for Bait and Switch Combine two stories
See table of player wants Someone or ones are not who they Create story line A
See encounters table appear to be (or think they are) Create story line B
Re-enforcement / new dangers Amateurs, Damn Amateurs Work out why for each
Give the NPCS a new feature Because of incompetence somethings Swap the whys and see what emerges
Tactic gone wrong Dont twist too often
Go cinematic Humour weird or funny side effect of plot Twist in PCs favour sometimes
Re describe scenery / props / extras Princess wants to marry rescuer.
lights / camera / action Plot Hooks
Re introduce Clues Grab their attention
State youre going to try to make it more Use of clues Dramatic
interesting Any kind of mystery or secret Threatening
Sudden turn for worse or better Reveal the powers of magic / technology Confrontational
Explainable change of features Reveal special abilities of monsters/ foes Serendipitous
Foreshadowing / Use as warnings Point out theres something in it for them
Things that make a campaign better Use them as plot hooks Healing
Recurring NPCs Turn a plotline into a character-driven Information
Hierarchy of Evil interacting with PCs story: rather than having a bunch of Revenge
Foreshadowing and symbolism scheduled events which lead the PCs Favours from friends, leverage over enemies
PC / NPC / Plot / World development through the adventure, plant clues to A present for a birthday
Relationships generate player interest and desire to Equipment
An overall goal A new skill, spell or tech
Define the secrets to be revealed
Plot Features Job/income
NPC New mystery to explore
Hierarchy of Evil
Background Opportunity to roleplay
How did they get from there to here Call to arms
PC secrets
Good at Direct action towards them
Write down every clue you can think of
Bad at Thrill of the chase
People Places Things
Blind spots Time limit on taking action
Who What Why Where When How
Evil arent all evil Sixth sense fudge
6 senses
Good arent all good Repeat for each sub clue
Give the players options
Mundane arent all mundane Or at least let them work out whats
Work out which are:
Looks / Mannerisms Helpful
happening as their options dry up
Scenes and speeches Adapt your hook so it happens anyway
Boxed text (player passive) Distracting
illusion of free will
Points you must get across Hook can happen to a PC will provoke an action
Divide into:
Hook can happen around a PC provoke a reaction
Good turns of phrase Clear and easy placement
Ideas of how to vary plot for predictable PC Easy to improvise placement
induced alterations Rumour
Dont know
Background Background event
Highlight any essential dont know clues so you
People. Make it about the people Foreground event
remember to look for how to get them in
Whos involved Props / Scenery / Extras
Motivations Choices Grey areas of morality
Interactions with NPCs and PCs Dont render PC choices meaningless Recycle existing game elements
How to and what if they fail or succeed If offered, make it matter
Clues, Leads, Plot hooks If it wont matter, skim over it Conflict Narrow Focus Lens
Flexibility Point out there is a choice Fight direct confrontation / traps / capture
Duplication and repetition Change the nature of the choices Hide avoid / divert attention / infiltrate
Where When Why What Who How / Cost Run escape / buy time / chase
/ Reward Deal negotiate / bluff / intimidate (blackmail)
Improvised Encounters / Available choices
When an improvised encounter is needed the players Link to another encounter/NPC/PC Conflict Wide Focus Lens
are bored, or have done something unexpected, imagine De-link to another encounter/ Mislead activities / goals / other interactions
Most Obvious Change how the choice affects the party Investigate dig up dirt / discover plot
Most Surprising (mess with their goals Change who in the party the choice Competition for influence with third party
Most Challenging /identity/worldview) affects Taking Hostages people / things / information
Most Pleasing Choice directly vs indirectly affects the Call in the cavalry
And choose the one that will best please those involved party
A Story is Made or Broken by its Villain
Villains Villain Tactics Interesting Villains
Goal Answering questions The villain has a different view of good and evil
Motivation Answer a question with a question Things the party does wrong, the villain does right
Background to motivation Villains can lie Makes allies
Method (and then follow up with a question) Sides with the law when the party dont
Look the part Ask a question then be silent. Fixes the problems the players create => popular
Resources He who speaks first looses Gathers intelligence
Ending Be on the PCs side but Gets there first
Dont tell them everything Weakens PC / NPC relationships
Writing Effective Villains Lie about objectives or outcomes Strengthens their own
Dont hold back My enemys enemy is my enemy Romantic attachment to party
Dont overdo it Give the PCs (bad) choices not ultimatums Villain is the source of
As evil as needed for the story + assume the thing you want to be done will be Services the players need
True to type, plots and ideas done, and give choices about how to do it
Dont steal the limelight Manipulate the PCs
Not all bad still human foibles Family
Blind spots Occupation
Fatal flaws Relationships
Likeable characteristics Money
Order of villainy
Followers are expendable Seducer
Have a line of reasoning behind methods
Plan the villains demise Treasure Corrupter
If the NPC has cool stuff, use it Merchant
Especially if it has shots Torturer
Quick and Dirty Villains
Thinking Murderer
Give the a % chance of success
Strengths and weaknesses Monsters can use clever tactics
Maybe be nice to the players for a change
Behavioural (intimidating stare, flinches easily) May figure out PCs tactics
Reputation for being wonderful
Physical (incredible strength, poor vision) Can Bluff
Be a thorn in PCs side just to be malicious
Mental (always cool, genius, fear of snakes) Home field advantage / tactics
Political (Emperor is ally, merchants are enemies) Entrances
Economic (healthy bank account, poor credit) Escape routes NPC Goals
Social (people never suspect, shy around ladies) Alarm systems Army (or avoid it)
Military (large, well-trained army, poor general) Barricades Avoid attracting attention
Family (mother is Queen, must protect his sons) And traps on the barricades Avoid becoming scapegoat
Special (spells, the force, delusions of intuition) Traps Attract Attention
Point form plan Deliberately misleading trails Be as passive aggressive as possible
Start at goal Ambushes Build a better mousetrap
Work back to achievable Guerrilla tactics Defend against political enemies
Now you have a plot Split the PCs up Dig up dirt on enemies
Create a number of the above Secret passages allow the PCs to be Family man
Mesh the plots together surrounded Fix specific family problem
If winning push on Get a better job
Hierarchy of Evil Run away, revenge later Gossip either do or avoid
Decide on goal If the PCs retreat, make them pay Impress people
Has to be something to interest the PCs Goals Impress superiors
Doesnt have to be all bad or all selfish Power and conquest Impress the Joneses
Can choose a good goal that will twist later Safety / Self Defence Keep my job
Arch villain Greed and money Make a little extra cash
No single PC should able to defeat them Achievement and prestige Marriage
PCs dont have to know / recognise them Seeking (forbidden) knowledge Marry off children
Chief Lieutenants Food (+ little effort) Marry up
Personal goal / motivation Revenge Money / Land
Link to Arch Villain Cubs Obsession with hobby / job / person / goal
Can be tougher to deal with than the Villain Sympathy / love Pass on my wisdom
Arch Villains last line of defence Compassion and conversation Political standing
Complex relationship with Arch Villain Survival Power
Cannon Fodder Get the job done no matter what Reputation
Eyes / Ears Religious Mania Social Climb
Mouth / Hands Twisted code of honour Social standing
Lead PCs to the Lieutenants Sheer Malevolence Use job to get time for hobbies
If they become a recurring NPC, This will define what the monsters are willing to Wishing was in an alternate career
make them a Lieutenant sacrifice, and how they act.
Relationships Goals may change mid encounter Improvising NPC personas
Cannon fodder want to become Lieutenants Give any NPC a characteristic line or two. Even
Lieutenants want to further own goals Antagonists if you never use this piece of prepared dialogue, it
/ become a power in their own right Noble will help flesh out the character, and give you a
Arch villain have complex relations with Lts Likeable framework for their dialogue.
Can be weaknesses the PCs can exploit Friends Give NPCs a (single) personality trait (list below)
Evil flunkies make their masters look bad Can help heroes Cast an Actor or book character to play the NPC
PCs may hate the villains because of their Can save heroes Dont use a persona youll regret when they
flunkies evil behaviour Goals differ from heroes (inevitably) become a recurring character.
Props - Scenery - Extras
City numbers Plain Mountain Cave Ocean
Town of 10,000 Crops Alp Catacomb Sea(side)
90 people per acre Down Bluff Cavern Deeps
mile diameter Field Cliff Chamber Main
3d mins to cross Grassland Crag Grotto Shallows
Heath Divide Labyr(inth) Strait
3 deaths, 3 births per week
Meadow Escarpment Maze Surf
Moor (Foot)Hill Network Bay
Town types Pasture Height Coast(line)
College town Prairie Highland River Beach
Agriculture / Fishing / Mining Savannah Peak Aqueduct (Fore)Shore
Market / Trading / On a trade route Steppe Pinnacle Arroyo Waterfront
Defence / Military / Tactical Tundra Range Brook
Secondary industry Ridge Canal City
Religion / Politics Swamp Slope Channel Burg
Tourist / Historical by-product Bayou Table Land Creek Hamlet
Bog Fjord Metropolis
Town features and Buildings Delta Valley Flow Parish
Estuary Basin Rill Port
College, School, Academy, University
Fen Canyon Runnel Settlement
Library, Museum, Art Gallery, Historic Site
Mangrove Chasm Sound Shire
Church, Monastery, Temple, Graveyard, Shrine Marsh Cleft Torrent Suburb
Prison, Stocks, Cages, Police station, Law Courts Morass Crevasse Tributary Town(ship)
Palace, Mansion, Residence, Stately Home Mudflat Dale Wadi Village
Ancient relic (known or unknown), Ruins (Quag)Mire Dell Wash
Monument to Monarch, Conqueror, God, Hero Quicksand Fissure Watercourse Castle
Aqueduct, Viaduct, Sewers, Storm drains Slough Glen (Well)Spring Barracks
Bridge (long, tall, pylons), Arches, Tunnels Wash Gorge (Water)Fall Bastion
Subterranean Labyrinth (natural?) Wetland Gully Cascade Citadel
Spring, Fountain, River, Lake, Dam Hollow Estate
Gardens, Fields, Arenas, Playgrounds, Parks Forest Pass Lake Fastness
Inn, Tavern, Cafe, Saloon, Way house Brush Precipice (Mill)Pond Fort(ress)
Whorehouse, Gambling Dens, Seedy sections Copse Ravine Dam Fortification
Crossroads, Town square, Town Hall Glade Rift Lough Garrison
Warehouses, Docks, Ports, Quays, Factories Grove Vale Lock Keep
Jungle Mere Lodge
Shops, Merchants, Markets, Bazaars
Rainforest Desert Overflow Manor
Cafs, Restaurants, Food Halls, Roadside Vendors
Scrub Badlands Pool Motte and Bailey
Guilds, Meeting halls, Council Chambers Taiga Desolation Lagoon Outpost
City walls, Gates, other Defence structures Thicket Waste(land) Reservoir Palace
Watchtowers, Lighthouse, Beacons Wood(land) Wilderness Tarn (Strong)Hold
Entertainment, Play houses, Theatres, Buskers Dunes Waterhole (Watch)Tower

Personality Traits
absent-minded defiant gullible paranoid slothful
accommodating dependent happy-go-lucky perky smug
ambitious diplomatic histrionic petulant soft-spoken
angry dissolute honest pious stammering
argumentative distrustful icy plain-spoken stoic
authoritative dithering ideological pretentious stubborn
awkward down-to-earth ignorant puritanical submissive
bad tempered dull incapable quiet superstitious
bland eager intimidating rational surly
blithe easy-going inventive rebellious swaggering
blunt eloquent irresponsible reckless taciturn
broad-minded emotional joyous resourceful uncouth
bureaucratic energetic kind respectable unfazeable
cautious enigmatic licentious responsible unfriendly
charming excited loud retiring unkempt
childish fearful lustful rugged unpredictable
cold flamboyant malicious rustic vacuous
conceited foolish mean sacrificing violent
confident forgiving meek sarcastic vivacious
conservative friendly menacing seductive voracious
contrary generous miserly seething wary
controlling gossipy mournful self-effacing weird
corrupt graceful narcissistic selfish whiny
courageous greedy officious self-righteous wily
curious gregarious overbearing sleepy wise
deceitful gruff overconfident slick witty