Roleplaying Suggestions Publication #1207

By Jonathan Hardin,

[Comment from Johnn: this is part two of a series Jonathan started here with How to Hook Players Easily Into Your Adventures.]

The Energy of a Motive

Start your recreation by highlighting why the participant characters select to journey. Is it for glory and fame? Wealth and Riches? Absolution? Figuring out the motivation of the participant characters helps you design quests and encounters that talk on to what gamers need. Watch your video games run with extra group engagement while you construct character motivations and make these a part of your quests and encounters.

The place Do You Place the Motivation?

Activate motivation every session by hinting at it in your narrative introduction. Do you keep in mind how one can write up an introduction to begin off your periods? Place the motivation there.

For instance, a personality’s motivation is to be taught the celebs. Bringing to mild the motivation might look one thing like this recreation:

GM: The week drones on because the warrior carries buckets of sand for the lizard overlords. Warrior, your physique begins to interrupt below the stress and you should succeed with a power take a look at or take a degree of exhaustion. Nonetheless, roll with benefit since you’ll be able to see the celebs at evening.

Participant: That is smart, as a result of at some point my character desires to be taught the magic of the celebs!

Bake the Motivation Into the Quest

Assign motivations to participant characters with none. This helps these gamers deal with taking part in quite than writing up backstories, and ensures each PC has one thing to battle for.

Your encounters and quests is not going to go to waste now since you may construct them to completely swimsuit the PCs. This methodology works particularly effectively with new gamers who’re nonetheless grappling with the foundations.


Gamers in a brand new sci-fi recreation present up with characters generated however with out motivations. So the GM assigns motives:

  • House Marine Alex desires to uncover new life within the galaxy
  • House Marine Jordan desires to receive rank within the empire
  • Officer Blake needs to collect data for a secret group
  • Medic Max needs to discover a remedy for an sickness

Every participant character can benefit from the recreation whereas the sport grasp assigns the motivations outright after which builds the encounters round them.

On this instance, we create a quest to go to an deserted house colony and return mysterious cargo to the outpost. This quest gives encounter rewards that uncover new life, serve the empire loyally, receive data to promote, and discover a clue to curing Max’s sickness.

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Collaboration is Welcome

Collect your group to take part within the growth of every character’s motivations. To do that, ask every participant to decide on an individual, place, or factor to anchor of their character. This ensures, with the creativity of your gamers, that motivations nonetheless drive the search.

Particular person

NPCs are sometimes the simplest anchor as a result of linking a PC to this individual fosters empathy and hooks them into the search. Whether or not this individual is a sufferer or a villain, they both want one thing or are inflicting issues. They make nice quest givers and quest makers.


Places in peace will not be a great anchor. They need to be threatened with battle. As soon as a battle arises, the place can anchor participant characters to the search. Additionally, locations but to be found present a superb lure for a personality to get out and journey.


Jewellery, relics, tomes, and different particular objects, if desired by the participant characters, can maintain the cube rolling because the occasion searches for no matter is lacking. Improve the dynamic of this anchor by one other faction wanting the identical factor.

Motives are the Promise of Reward

Every motivation powers the sport. The reward is reaching the purpose of that motivation. If the participant character serves a good friend, the reward is the continued friendship. In the event that they defend a land, the reward is that land. In the event that they need a factor, as soon as discovered, that factor is the reward.

Motivations are just like the covers of a guide. From open to shut, they supply construction so we are able to inform the story. Might your story proceed!

RPT GM Suggestions

Suggestions from and for our fellow Roleplaying Suggestions GMs to assist us have extra enjoyable at each recreation.

One Sentence Character Motivator

From Gold Wizard of Journey Will S

Hello Johnn, nice article as all the time!

One thing on this jogged my memory of the “one-sentence motivator” which I’ve discovered to be a reasonably helpful shortcut to creating fascinating characters by placing some emotional weight behind their objectives:

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Simply Do Stuff

From RPT GM Terry Road, DM since 1980

I like new gamers and I actively try and recruit as many as doable. To me it’s daunting the quantity of stuff you could throw at a brand new participant, so I speak to them early on and I inform them a number of of the belongings you’ve listed.

Then I inform them you’re going to overlook 90% of this, so the primary factor so that you can keep in mind is DO STUFF! You possibly can’t do it unsuitable if you’re doing stuff! The foundations, desk etiquette, and so forth. will seep in as you proceed to play with us.

Love this article and your recommendation, thanks for the work.

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How one can Measure Map Distance

RPT GM Sarah requested me:

“…how one can translate distance on the Breath of the Wild map. Clearly there’s a set period of time it takes to journey in dnd with numerous sorts of transportation and actions whereas touring.

“I can’t fairly determine how decide how lengthy it might take to journey on common, say to The Nice Plateau, then apply that to the remainder of the map. I’d simply order an enormous poster of the map from the sport and say each inch is three miles or one thing simply to begin.”

Thanks for the query, Sarah. Three belongings you may strive:

1. Put a distance legend in your digital map. I’m sort of an “ish” GM in terms of journey. So I’m comfortable to take a look at the marker and estimate utilizing it with me outdated eyeballs.

2. Open the picture file in Chrome or browser of selection that helps add-ons. Discover a “ruler” add-on. Internet builders use these on a regular basis for picture dimensions and whatnot. With such an add-on, you may drag and draw momentary ruler traces and also you’ll get a readout of the size in numerous models. You may say, for instance, 100 px = 1 mile at 100% zoom stage.

3. Use a free VTT like Roll20. Add your map and allow the grid/hex overlay. That’ll allow you to rely hexes or squares between factors.

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Multi-GM Campaigns

RPT GM Max asks:

We’re operating some sort of experiment. We simply began a brand new marketing campaign free roaming round Westgate in Faerun in D&D 5e. Since all of us have little time however excessive spirit we thought of a technique to cut up the GM duty by 3. We’re all roughly skilled so we thought it might work out.

Each GM will get some sort of arc one after one other. 4-10 periods, then the subsequent GM begins. All in the identical group. GMs who will not be GMing turn out to be PCs. Perhaps you will have heard about related initiatives and have some ideas for me and my fellow GMs concerning the organisation, wealth distribution and so forth.?

Cool beans, Max. Thanks for the query. I’ve run solely a few co-GM’d or shared world campaigns. Most notably, the Ars Magica RPG (superior btw) has this baked in with their “Troupe” system. Every participant takes a flip GMing a “season” of gameplay. There are three tiers of PCs:

  • Magi => every participant will get their very own highly effective PC
  • Companions => gamers share a pool of extra typical heroic characters
  • Grogs => gamers share a pool of commoners who function hirelings, plot gadgets, and so forth

There are additionally meta objectives referred to as Covenants. All gamers work collectively to guard and develop their group’s Covenant over many years or centuries.

It seems like you will get Ars Magica 4E free by subscribing to the writer’s e-newsletter. Take a look at the sidebar right here:

I’m not saying to change to Ars Magica. However as an alternative to take a look at the troupe play part and see if there’s something there you may scoop on your marketing campaign.

You may additionally be keen on trying out RPT#273 » 5 Suggestions For Co-GMing Video games. These are my preliminary ideas. Hope they’re of curiosity, Max.

That’s it for this week’s e-newsletter.

If you wish to chat with fellow RPT GMs about at this time’s ideas or ask me questions, be part of the dialog right here at my discussion board.

Johnn 4

Have extra enjoyable at each recreation!


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