Behind the Screen: Swimming in a sea of half-ideas…

2007 October 26
by Dante

Whenever I sit down to plan the next session, I find that I have often collected a bumper crop of half-ideas. Sometimes these ideas are formed up enough to become a new content episode, however sometimes they are a result of inspiration from other media, movies, or just random thoughts that have bounced into my head in the past week.

Crafting halves into wholes

As I have mentioned in previous Behind the Screen articles, crafting a good hook is paramount to being able to use these half-ideas. I have found that often, the right hook cannot be engineered and it must be left to chance. My process is to take my half-ideas, put as much meat as I possibly can to them without a setup and file them away.

I usually let my players help set me up with hooks, and many times they deliver. Unfortunately though, I do have a fairly sizable backlog of ideas that just don’t quite fit my current storyline or plot but could very easily be repurposed for immediate use should the opportunity arise.

A great example of this would be a situation where I would come up with a few nautical themed plot elements, but I’m on a “travel across the countryside” point in my campaign. Our characters eventually came across a seaport and decided to try to commission a boat to help speed them to their next location, and BAM! out came the nautical elements even though I had not planned them before.

One of my favorite sayings: Just go with it.

This method of preparation works fairly well for me, however sometimes the ol’ gears get ground to a halt when I have nothing but half-ideas to go off of and no obvious hooks. Does anyone else use a similar approach, and if so how do you get past this stumbling block?

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