D&D General World Building Theme and idea theft

Oofta

Legend
The primary thing I do is take notes and have a who's-who list that I add to. Then as I go along, I kind of just throw some random things in there that the group may find interesting or may be nothing at all. But the kicker is that while I may have an overall high level outline of things going on and where things might head, it's not set in stone until it's confirmed by the players. Even then, sometimes what is confirmed could just be subterfuge.

So if I don't plan details ahead, then how do I drop "hints"? I cheat. Remember that vendor you met back in session 3 with the purple hat? Well, it turns out that was really the head of the rogues guild, a polymorphed black dragon! Did I have any clue that the vendor was in the rogues guild, much less that the head of the rogues guild was a black dragon? Heck no. I'm just reusing what turned out to be a memorable/interesting PC, one of many PCs I've thrown out there.

In other cases when direction changes on my I'll make ties in the new campaign that just happen to connect. The group was initially hired as an escort/guard for a researcher who mentioned a mysterious benefactor funding his expedition. I had no clue who the benefactor was, but now that they're in the city, it can be one of heads of one of the handful of evil organizations I'm setting up.
 

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Laurefindel

Legend
Okay, so wind up to question 5: How do you foreshadow and hint

As other said, it isn't easy to use foreshadowing in RPG, but it is doable and can bring some of the most memorable moments around the table.

First, in order to be foreshadowed, it needs to have happen (or be hinted at) before. That much is obvious. It can be done with enough forethought from the DM's part, but it can also happen almost accidentally.

Because of the very nature of RPG, the former is particularly hard, but the latter happens more often than we think (only, we don't notice). As a DM, I often throw hints and hooks in the early stages of the game and keep notes (or mental track) of them, not really knowing if anything will come out of any. Then, depending how the game takes shape, I can use some of these previously introduced elements. Some will never happen, some will be dead ends, but if i'm lucky I can pull a good trick out of one or two.

The other way is through proper planning, but one needs to learn when to doubledown on planned events, and when to let go and move on with the flow of the (anamorphic by nature) game.

And is it cheating to have things that are set to a theme that can only be realized by finding out of game information? Like the characters never saw SG1 or Atlantis, so the players realizing it and saying "Hey, I bet that means there is an Atlantis type thing around here somewhere that could help us!" that seems to boarder on meta gaming… BUT on the other hand playing into themes and tropes from the show seems less so.
Not only is it not cheating, it's a gamestyle of its own. Be careful about bait-and-switching however; the new themes introduced as the game unfolds shouldn't go against those announced or advertised in the beginning of the campaign.

Also, we're often told that metagaming is BAD(!) but really, not all of it is. At the very least, one player understanding that this character is another PC (rather than a random NPC) and adjust their play accordingly is good metagaming IMO. My one rule zero I really insist on is "don't be a jerk", but it helps when players adjust their character's roleplay to work together. Conversly, players making an effort to play into the themes and tropes of the game isn't bad metagaming, but assuming very specific secrets might ruin the fun.
 

As other said, it isn't easy to use foreshadowing in RPG, but it is doable and can bring some of the most memorable moments around the table.
right, and like most things I am sure luck and skill go hand in hand... but if you lay 12 seeds you may only get 1 sprout.
First, in order to be foreshadowed, it needs to have happen (or be hinted at) before. That much is obvious. It can be done with enough forethought from the DM's part, but it can also happen almost accidentally.
As I have looked back over the last 5 years of gaming more and more of the best stuff DMs did I wonder if it was by accident or maybe coincidence?
The other way is through proper planning, but one needs to learn when to doubledown on planned events, and when to let go and move on with the flow of the (anamorphic by nature) game.
what I am thinking is I have 10 or so "planned events" and as the players move through the world I adjust them until I can use them. I have already been warned If I use half of them it is a miracle
Not only is it not cheating, it's a gamestyle of its own. Be careful about bait-and-switching however; the new themes introduced as the game unfolds shouldn't go against those announced or advertised in the beginning of the campaign.
good one
Also, we're often told that metagaming is BAD(!) but really, not all of it is. At the very least, one player understanding that this character is another PC (rather than a random NPC) and adjust their play accordingly is good metagaming IMO. My one rule zero I really insist on is "don't be a jerk", but it helps when players adjust their character's roleplay to work together. Conversly, players making an effort to play into the themes and tropes of the game isn't bad metagaming, but assuming very specific secrets might ruin the fun.
awesome insight here
 

right, and like most things I am sure luck and skill go hand in hand... but if you lay 12 seeds you may only get 1 sprout.
Seeds are cheap and easy to plant :) Let the players water the ones they are interested in :)
As I have looked back over the last 5 years of gaming more and more of the best stuff DMs did I wonder if it was by accident or maybe coincidence?
There are many that believe you make your own luck. By preparing situations in which fortuitous events can happen, you allow coincidences to happen. Planned happenstance per se!
 

Do what the Venture Brothers did and just make up a bunch of vague ideas and concepts at the start. Later on, you can focus and develop the ideas that most need exploration.

Like how the Clone Wars was a throw away line in episode 4 and later became an entire plot in the prequels.
 

overgeeked

B/X Known World
I can obviously say (and I am) just right off the jump "I am taking from stargate a lot for this game" but what if I wanted to make it not obviusly? What if I wanted a session to happen where it dawns on a player mid game "Hey, this is like star gate?" is there a good way to do that?
It's far more art than science and some people simply will not pick up on any level of subtlety. At all. Either you flat out say "this is like Star Gate" or they will never get it. Others will think it's exactly like Star Gate the second you mention anything even remotely Star Gate adjacent. Likely you have both in your group, so good luck.
And is it cheating to have things that are set to a theme that can only be realized by finding out of game information? Like the characters never saw SG1 or Atlantis, so the players realizing it and saying "Hey, I bet that means there is an Atlantis type thing around here somewhere that could help us!" that seems to boarder on meta gaming… BUT on the other hand playing into themes and tropes from the show seems less so.
Good artists borrow, great artists steal. Do what you want. It's your game.

It's only cheating if you railroad the players and deny them agency.
 

aco175

Legend
I like to have a few shorter arcs in the campaign where each story can be tied up and completed, or mostly until I need to open it again. These tend to be 3-5 levels long. I find the game may sputter out or break up at some point, so I do not detail a lot of down the road stuff. I usually make a level 1-5 start where there may be a big world event, but the PCs are dealing with a local town event that may or may not be directly tied to the bigger threat. There is generally a local bad guy that works for the bigger bad guy- think Sheriff of Nottingham. At the end of this part of the campaign the PC finally defeat the 'sheriff' and find out that the Duke who hired him is doing XYZ. This starts the next arc.

At this point the players can come to me and want to go there or may want to explore another thread never developed. I do not have much planned and could go either way for a few levels before coming back to this point or deciding to stop the campaign. At some point though, the super bad guy does something as his plans have been going forward if the players chose to explore other things and now the PCs are looped back.
 

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