Where Ideas Come From

campaigns, DM Tips, writing -

Where Ideas Come From

Where do ideas come from? If you are like me, you struggle to think up interesting and challenging adventures for your gaming table. Even though there are over 100 ideas on the  Critical Dice Instagram page they had to come from somewhere. Honestly, I still get stuck sometimes. 

Maybe you’re out of ideas today, maybe not, or maybe you’ll get stuck next week. Whatever creative place you’re in, I hope you’ll love these 3 ways to get your creative juices flowing and get your gaming group jumping again.

1) Books (non-fantasy)
Yep. Books. Paper. E-books. Audio books. No matter how you read them, books are packed with ideas. My kids are younger, and I read out loud to them a lot. I find a lot of inspiration in older books like The Happy Hollisters and The Hardy Boys. These books have been pitting their group of adventurers against interesting problems since the 1930s. You don’t have to steal borrow the whole plot; maybe you can rework a villain’s motivations or the strange incident that put the heroes on the case in the first chapter.

2) Old Movies and TV
Everyone has seen the Avengers and the Matrix, and when you work them in, people pick up those plots pretty quickly. To keep your group on their toes you need to go back further to when pop culture was just called culture…you know: “Back in my day…”.  It might really build your game when you make things obscure by borrowing some plot lines from Magnum P.I. or watching “The Singing Bone” from 1962. It’s an adaptation of a Brother’s Grimm tale where a ghost seeks revenge via one of his bones that was accidentally turned into a flute (this is a real plot summary).  

3) History
Truth is so often stranger than fiction and history is full of amazing stories that can inspire you. Take a minute to stop in on the Wikipedia entry for the  War of the Roses, it’s got more drama than Game of Thrones. Royal intrigue aside, military history is filled with bold ideas. I really enjoyed a history book of unusual military strategies called Turn Around And Run Like Hell I’ll refer back to it when I’m running battle scenarios or to change things up. 

Ok, those are my big 3 sources of inspiration. The take away here is that one of the best ways to change up your game is by finding things off the beaten path that are old and out of genre. This can really remove DM pressure. You don’t have to be a genius that pulls a brand new idea out of thin air; you just need an interesting idea so you can have fun telling this new story while you roll some dice with friends.

Ok friends, that’s it for this week. See  you next Friday and until then, 

May the dice be ever in your favor, 

Jason.


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