B is for Beginnings.
Stories need to start somewhere, and getting a good beginning is important. To get a real sense of background on a story seed, here are some things to consider when a story begins:
- Give names, and also nationalities, alliances, and consideration of the NPCs prejudice when you create them. An NPC with an odd racial or nationalistic bend can help define them.
- Consider who the npcs are reporting to, and perhaps what is motivating them.
- A tag line or saying can really help keep you on track when playing an npc, and remind you quickly. eg. “an elderly con-man, who fakes a hacking cough, and arthritis.” A “hulk of a man, bounded in rough armor, but a voice like a true tenor.”
- Go digging through google images, using terms like sketch, character, or portrait to find a suitable visual representation of npcs.
- Locations can be treated as much like Npcs as characters, particularly if they are meant to be supernatural or will feature in multiple sessions. The “disused lobby, with refuse in the lift”, or “boarded up well, surrounded by the corpses of small birds”.
- Don’t be afraid to tweak the beginning afterward. As much as a GM’s ideas are important, the beginning ideas of players can be better, and will engage the player in the setting if they are spot on the theme.
- Set some victory and achievement goals when the story begins. Some game systems require this, but even those which do not stipulate it can be helped when you know where the initial story should lean toward.
- Grab maps. Many sample maps exist for isolated encounters, and tabletop rpg games can be usefully focused on a map as an element to hook the players in.
- Draw in players with hooks dedicated for their characters. These can sometimes be sent in advance or separately from the main story threads, and pulled out when needed. If only there was time enough to run a sub-story for each PC.
Part of the Blogging A to Z initiative, is to create an A-Z list of some sort, and I’m posting what ever random thoughts pop into my head for each letter of the alphabet.
So many to do to catch-up to today’s letter!