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Ask The GM: Story Supplementing
Game Master TipsGame Master Tips

Ask The GM: Story Supplementing

They say we stand on the shoulders of giants. That all creative ideas are born from inspiration seen at some point in our life. There is truth to this. Everything’s a remix, a rehash, or a tribute to something in the past. It’s a fatalistic way to look at the creative process. Yet, even the very act of running a campaign is reminiscent of those choose-your-adventure stories we read as kids. It’s basically cops and robbers—with rules.

Unless you are the kind of person to run off and build your own game setting like the folks at Arkieden, it’s worth looking at ways to supplement your storytelling. Even if it’s just to give your mind a break and grab some pre-made content ripe for the picking.

On GM Tips with Satine Phoenix, she has Zak Sabbath on to discuss how to supplement your story with GM tools, past content, and innovative products that exist to help you run a game.

Since the concept of story supplements doesn’t really need explanation, this week’s article will focus on lists of our favorite supplements we’ve found for you guys!

Master Thy World

Fleshing out your world is a vital part of any campaign, but not every town needs to be meticulously mapped out. Hell, I’d even make a case that most side-quests are best generated on the fly. Since I tend to run more narrative campaigns in modern settings, my favorite go-to supplements are crazy occult books. I’ve found entire storylines from reading haunted short stories, or even old folk-lore like The Book of Halloween. Pouring through old Hermetic or Alchemeical texts has given me ample amounts of flavor or custom spells for both Pathfinder games or adding depth to a Tremere-based chronicle. Lastly (and this one will sound odd) I almost always reference old Wraith: The Oblivion books for ANY world I run. Be it D&D, Eclipse Phase, or even Rifts. Paying attention to the lands of the dead, particularly the Haunts book, allows me to build add immense flavor from the dead to the living. They are mostly out of print, so they also make a great find at any used bookstore.

Satine, What’s your favorite world supplement?

“ALL the previous D&D editions, Living Forgotten Realms (I like to rework these adventures and Frankenstein them back together.) Zak Smith’s Books: Vornheim, A Red and Pleasant Land & Mask of the Blue Medusa.

Work Smarter, Not Harder

Online Generators! Digital GM tools work great in a pinch!

Quick! Satine! What are your favorite ones?

Campaign-Logger.com has a great way to keep track of your campaign and John Four has other trackers that are really great. He has a clever list of Random Generators. DMsguild.com and DnDBeyond.com and Roleplayingtips.com have wonderful resources for campaign building.”

For myself: I use Kobold Fightclub for all sorts of rando-monster encounters, DonJon for all sorts of things, including a complete dungeon generator, and The Seventh Sanctum for gods and other random stuff. Onxy Path Studios is launching a Storytellers Vault campaign suite that has my eye. Lastly if I’m ever running a Shadowrun game and I want random commercials, I go to Voices.com. You never know when you need to sell your players auto-insurance mid combat.

Stand On Those Shoulders! Do It!

System Thievery! Every story supplement is drawn from inspiration in a thousand different areas. Media, books, etc. Incorporating them wholesale or doing system mash-ups is a way to supplement stories.

Satine, what system mash-ups or storytelling tools have you borrowed from the most?

“I learned about character immersion through Ivan Van Norman’s Dread game. 10 Candles where the players help create the world, I really like my players to invent parts of the world large scale, and small scale. Over the Edge has you create sentences from words chosen at random from a book instead of rolling dice. It’s a great way for players to have to think their way around situations rather than just roll for success.”

I’m going to reiterate this same thing again: Dread. All the Dread. 10 Candles totally has my eyes as well. I’ve even covered how to incorporate Dread into your campaigns in the past, and 10 Candles can fit in the same way. Satine’s advice on these systems as something to use in your own game as a kicker is so spot on—I’m not going to link anything else. This way you are forced to check out these systems. Muhahaha…. excellent…

So, what systems or tools do you use to enhance your games? Roll20, FantasyGrounds, DnDBeyond, and Realmworks are some of the bigger players… so what fell through the cracks? Share your favorites in the comments below!

Featured Image: Geek & Sundry

Rick Heinz is the author of The Seventh Age: Dawn, and a storyteller with a focus on LARPs, Wraith: The Oblivion, Eclipse Phase, and many more. You can follow game or urban fantasy related thingies on Twitter or Facebook.

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