DM Advice


  1. language
  2. story
  3. plot
  4. character

Provide Options: For example if the PCs have just captured a major villain the DM would provide the following choices (#chooseyourownadventure):

  • Surrender the villain to the local magistrate where he will be punished for his crimes.
  • Interrogate the villain themselves to learn more and then turn him over.
  • Bind the villain up for someone else to find, the PCs need to hunt down the various henchmen that have escaped.

Food&Supplies/Light/Encumbrance/Weather/Spending Treasure

High Adventure/Exploration

Things Man Was Not Meant to Know

Too Much Power
Power Corrupts

I’m sticking with the same terminology used in film.
“Genre” is the overall style, such as sci-fi, western, or fantasy.
“Theme” is the moral, the one word or phrase that resonates throughout the entire story.
Some good themes are anger, the cost of freedom, what makes someone an individual, faith, etc.
“Mood” is the overall feel, like a game being heroic, horror-y(horrendous?), epic, etc.
“Setting” is the world the game is set in, and even further it’s political climate, the period in its history, and the general laws of the universe, everything that exists and is in that world that has some bearing on the characters is the setting.
“Plot” is the string of events that tie the characters to the world and each other. Whether these are player generated (their characters goals and how they interact with the antagonists/existing plot threads/setting), or they ar generated by the GM (such as events that cannot be stopped, or occurences that would affect the characters that have happened, or will happen.)
“Antagonists” are the NPCs or non-NPC challengers (like the Tempest, in… That play.) The antagonists serve to be put up against the NPCs in direct or indirect ways, and are often the sources of conflict.
“System” is the word for the rules of play.


  • Villains (Evil)
  • Enemies (Someone you want to hurt in some way. May be a villain too, but doesn’t have to be.)
  • Antagonists (Have opposing goals. May be villains or enemies too.)
  • Rivals (A subset of antagonists. They want the same thing you want and you can’t both have it.)


  • (Potential) victims. (Make you go on adventures because you feel sorry for/ like them or as revenge for their death)
  • Clients/Sponsors (Give you stuff if you’ll go on adventures)
  • Superiors (Order or guilt you into going on adventures)
  • Love interests (Make you go on adventures for all kinds of reasons)


  • Mentors (People who give you sage advice and/or training.)
  • Sidekicks (Provide an ability you don’t have, make you look good by being less competent overall and/or brave than you.)
  • Allies (Provide serious amounts of help in all kinds of ways)


  • Foil (Someone you talk with about stuff.)
  • Comic relief (provides amusement

A plot hook is a sentence (that starts with a verb) that lays out what needs to be done.


Escort the Duchess of Tropia through Orc-infested lands so she can sign peace treaty with the Kingdom of Clee-Shay.

Find the lost tomb/lair of El-Veess the Lich-Bard and stop the enchantment-infused music that is driving the whole continent mad!

Enter the cave, kill the Dragon and fence his hoard

Prevent the marriage of the warrior daughter of the Barbarian King to the half-human scion of the Ophidian Empire.

A simple plot hook makes it easier to players (who aren’t privy to your adventure plan) to know what is expected of their characters. It will gave them a clear point of reference to base their first actions on.

Of course, you have to ensure to convey this plot hook in a straightforward manner to your players (or their characters) as early as conveniently possible in the adventure.

Laws mentions that the plot hook must clearly set out the adventure’s ‘victory’ condition that defines a clear ending. Once those conditions are met, the adventure is over (except maybe for a last epilogue scene).

Even in fantasy, you can set different tones. You can go the classic Heroic, PCs-are-Badasses path (which D&D 4e is embracing at full speed), or you may decide to go for a darker, grittier game using the same system.

You may also decide to explore a key emotion/feeling for your campaign like, for example, a pervading sense of Paranoia.

DM Advice

Seeds of Despair Greipr