The Idea Factory – by Contributor Temujin

Contribution piece today, courtesy of a Twitter compadre Temujin aka @temmogen . He crafts a nice little step by step below for writing your own adventure!  Thanks for the contribution sah’! -Melvs

Many GMs will find themselves either wanting to at least write an adventure once, or maybe you have been coming up with your own material all along. Now for the first time, you’re starting to find it more difficult to come up with new ideas for games. I won’t be giving you the ideas, more along the lines of trying to teach you to how to develop a process to generate ideas.

Start with a word. I tend to look for words that sound exotic to me. Google the word, and go to last page of the search results. Start scanning the links, occasionally you’ll run across a link to a story or article that will spark an idea if you’re open to it. Try translating the word into a different language. I’ve found the names for magic items by doing that. Maybe you picked an object. Try thinking of putting that object to use for a purpose totally different from its normal use. Imagine the object in someplace you don’t have ready access to, now think of how you would get it. Follow the line of thinking all the way to the logical end. Now break down each of the steps along that line. You might be able to get a few adventure seeds from the breakdown of events.

I can’t stress this next thing enough. READ, read everything that interests you, and some things that don’t. The more information you take in, the more your brain has to work with. Going along with reading is writing. Write down everything. Every fragment of an idea, every scrap of paper you save for later is an idea waiting for the right place to come along. This may sound a bit farfetched, however you will begin to create a reservoir of small ideas that you can eventually tie together into a coherent whole.

When I was younger, I used to watch foreign language movies muted, and make up my own dialog. Now this usually doesn’t generate ideas by itself, but sometimes you’ll be able to discern a plot or plot device you can use. And you get to have a bit of a laugh in the process.

This leads me to let you know that plagiarism in pursuit of a game plot is ok. It’s a time honored technique among GMs to steal ideas. We’ve all done it. As long as you don’t try and get money from a stolen idea, who cares?

Here’s one I use a lot. Watch a movie. Now, as you watch there will be points in the movie where you think to yourself “I wouldn’t do that, I’d do ________.” Now sit back and think what would happen in the movie if what you would do actually happened. You’re bound to come across a few ideas you can use.

Biggest thing of all: Imagination is a muscle. If you don’t exercise it once in a while, it atrophies. Let your mind wander once in a while. It’s almost like meditation. Most of us don’t have time to just sit and brainstorm. But there are plenty of opportunities to think. While you’re driving, during a bus ride, when you’re getting a haircut.

It doesn’t matter what game you think of, always think Game.

Happy gaming! Ω


1 thought on “The Idea Factory – by Contributor Temujin

  1. Good work Temujin!
    I can relate to all these points. I took a long stretch off from writing campaign material and when I picked it back up it was a painfully slow procrastination process. I finally broke the mental block and ideas now snowball as Melvin himself saw one Monday game night. 😉
    But I agree, write everything down. Something that doesn’t seem useful then may come back to you later. I also never discredit others ideas. I just like to sit on them a while until THEY forget what they told me and it becomes a surprise.


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