Creating Friction from Fiction: Taking a Page from Books

Today is Sunday, and I’m persisting with continuing the Razorwise Report non-stop. You may or may not know how I like to take a break on Sundays, but I do, in case you were wondering, so today’s report is going to be short and sweet.

The Scenario: You are going to kick off a new campaign or are going to run a one shot, or short series, and you’re coming up blank on ideas. What do you do? You’re not trying to create high art. You’re wanting to create a fun experience for you and your friends.

The Solution: Grab an old book you’ve read and enjoyed, and flip through it for ideas. The story can be a tried and true classic like Romeo & Juliet or even something less expected for RPGs, such as Huckleberry Finn. Flip throw those pages, look at those scenes, and mine them for inspiration.

What to Look for: Following is some key things to jot down as you run across them.

1. Main characters.

2. Locations.

3. Plot line.

4. Themes

5. Challenges.

Naturally, you can do this in any order, and you can put them on note cards, in your word doc, wherever you need to, and this isn’t for a class report. These are ideas to stimulate you and help you get your game together.

What to Do With the Info: Once you have this information together, here’s what you do.

1. Decide what your story will be.

2. Decide the PCs roles in the story, especially the angle you’re approaching the story from.

3. Change the names of the NPCs to make them appropriate for the setting.

4. Decide the challenges the characters face.

5. Mechanically transform all the necessary information into game form.

6. Make it your own.

Conclusion: By the time you’ve gone through these stages, which don’t have to take as long as you might think, you’ll often end up with something very different from the source material as your own ideas and inspiration shall certainly have taken hold. The key is to not try to do a literal translation–this is for fun, and what you’ve learned by going through this process shall serve you in good stead every time you get stymied.

Now go, grab one of your favorite books, and see if you can work a little magic. Leaving you to your own devices, I turn to mine, and bid you, dear reader, adieu!

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