Keeper Advice:Sketching out your plot

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A Few Ideas on Writing a Short Scenario or Campaign

Some ideas for a Keeper who wishes simply to write a scenario for his own gaming table:

1. Start with the one thing the Keeper can control, the Villain. The one character whose movements the Keeper can always predict is the villain, so one can start here, and settle three questions. Who is the villain? What is the goal of the villain? What are the steps he needs to accomplish in order to achieve that goal? The goal might be personal and modest, like resurrecting a dead loved one, or it might be global and overarching, like summoning the Big Bad.

2. Once the Keeper knows the villain and the goal, work out the evil scheme. The details of those steps to reach the goal can be filled out further. What order must the steps be in? For each step, what clues are generated? What assistants or opponents does the main villain need? Are these important actors in their own right (so that fuller NPC stats might be wanted) or are they bit players?

3. The investigators can now be considered. Do the investigators have to thwart each step, or is it enough to thwart just one step? How much time do the investigators have to thwart any given step? How will they find out about it. It is often said that there ought to be three paths to reach any given clue or decision point. That may be a bit too formulaic, but certainly there ought to be many paths into aspects of the problem, and more than one possible solution.

4. While the game is a horror game, the players and their characters see it as a mystery. The Keeper/author has all the facts and details at his fingertips and knows how the story comes out without interaction by the investigators. Thus the Keeper has a horror story. The players have only a few facts, and a very cloudy idea at best. Thus, the players have a mystery story. As a result, a lot of the rules for writing a good mystery story can be drawn upon and played with. The horror can come from the slow and dawning realization that the natural explanations of the facts don't fit and only the supernatural one remains.

5. Write what you need to run the game, but don't write more than you need. Not every NPC needs a full character sheet. Not every clue needs to be written out in full, sometimes a summary will do. BUT if something precise is needed then that certainly is something that could be better written in full.