Plot depth

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Pardum
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Plot depth

Postby Pardum » Wed Oct 23, 2013 7:08 pm

I am a new GM just getting into M&M3. This is the first time that I will be a GM of any game and the first time any of my players or myself have played M&M. My question is about planning out the plot of your campaign before hand.

I have the background of my story planned out and what I want the general arc to be, but I don't know how much detail I should go into so my players don't completely ruin what I have planed. Do you guys think it is better to make a very specific plot with most of the story plan out or is it better to make a general plot with only the major events planed out and add to it as you play?

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Re: Plot depth

Postby saint_matthew » Sun Oct 27, 2013 4:35 pm

A general plot is better than going into specifics. If you build specifics you'll be disappointed when your players go left, rather than right. Just have a general plot, some specific inevitable elements built (such as preordained fight locations) & then just wing most of the rest of it: Just make sure you know what your villains motivations are & you should be fine.
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Re: Plot depth

Postby Pardum » Sun Oct 27, 2013 6:58 pm

Thank you! Do you also happen to have any tips on how to tie individual adventures into one major plot?

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Re: Plot depth

Postby saint_matthew » Mon Oct 28, 2013 2:50 am

Pardum wrote:Thank you! Do you also happen to have any tips on how to tie individual adventures into one major plot?


For me it always comes back to villain motivation: Give them a motivation, allow them to try to enact that motivaiton, let the players try to stop them, but start the PC's 10 steps behind the 8 ball & allow them to play catch up. Allow the villain to succeed at the time to increase the threat level, while also allowing the PC's to minimalise the risk... Its a bit of a balancing act, but it makes for interesting story. For example the PC's figure out the villains plan & realise he needs a particular science doo-hickey that is at Star Labs. So they case out Star Labs & stop the villains minions from getting it, while saving countless lives from the minions... Unbeknownest to the players across town his minions have stolen a compatible piece of technology, so now the villain has everything he needs to "TAKE OVER THE WORLD, MWAHAAHAHAHAHAHAHA." Your players discover the deception via police, or news broadcast, or contact & Now your players need to track down the villain for one final showdown (maybe even using what they learnt from the earlier encounter to track the devices energy signature).

I refer to this as the Watchmen method of storytelling. If you need an example of how to run a game, hire out the watchmen movie, its a perfect example of how you CAN run a superhero game.

All genre fiction at its simplest is the following formula: Invent status-quo, disrupt status-quo, allow protagonist to deal with disruption of status-quo... Everything else is just details.
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Re: Plot depth

Postby mrdent12 » Wed Oct 30, 2013 6:54 pm

I just want to second saint_matthew about giving the main villains an end goal. I like to treat the NPC's as having their own motivation and goals for the players to react to. This doesn't mean players can't control the game flow. If a player goes nuclear in a city(it has happened in game I was playing), it is going to throw off the villain NPC's a bit.

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Re: Plot depth

Postby saint_matthew » Wed Oct 30, 2013 8:45 pm

mrdent12 wrote:I just want to second saint_matthew about giving the main villains an end goal.


Yep, an as an extra aside i would say this: Make villains act logiclally.

The amont of times i've seen GM's have the villains stand around for a pointless fist fight is astounding. The villain should not be stupid.
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Re: Plot depth

Postby Beleriphon » Fri Nov 15, 2013 3:55 pm

saint_matthew wrote:
mrdent12 wrote:I just want to second saint_matthew about giving the main villains an end goal.


Yep, an as an extra aside i would say this: Make villains act logiclally.

The amont of times i've seen GM's have the villains stand around for a pointless fist fight is astounding. The villain should not be stupid.


Unless the villain is stupid. Then by all means have them going down in a punch-fest. There's really only one day to deal with The Rhino after all.

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Re: Plot depth

Postby Emerald Flame » Mon Nov 18, 2013 3:54 pm

Pardum wrote:Thank you! Do you also happen to have any tips on how to tie individual adventures into one major plot?


As far as linking the adventures together.. I personally do that by having common threads that are consistent. The same NPC showing up... the same locations. I like to think of the games like a television series. Each game would be like a separate show...they can stand alone if needed... but the good series have links to other shows. Leave some open-ended issues that the heroes can run into again. These things help to create a cohesive feeling.

As far as running villians goes...

I agree with the others. Give the villian a motive and make them a normal person. Just because they are the "villian" does not make them cookie-cutter characters. Most of the time, the villain is well under into their plan by the time the heroes get involved. I ran a game in Champions: TNG that worked out well...

A character named Foxbat had fallen in love with one of our player-characters. She had black skin (think Drow Elf) His major plan was to give everybody a tan so that everybody looked like her. (He was crazy by the way). Over the series of a few adventures, I littered the game with odd crimes and random acts of weirdness. All these acts culminated in a major adventure that brought all thinks to light.

One thing that I did that seemed to work well was to generate a newspaper scream-sheet that I could use to seed adventures and also provide information. I even worked in a reporter that was very antagonistic towards the heroes. She always wrote her articles in a negative light towards the heroes. Again, this is a game aid that can just add some fun.

Hopefully something I said can help.
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Re: Plot depth

Postby Pardum » Fri Nov 22, 2013 6:26 am

Yes you were a lot of help. I really like the idea of a fake newspaper to set up adventures. I might have to start using that myself. For leaving the threads throughout the campaign, would the same company name popping often work, or would that be to subtle and I should go with the reoccurring NPC theme?

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Re: Plot depth

Postby mrdent12 » Fri Nov 22, 2013 8:26 pm

I would do a recurring NPC and same company name. The NPC can be the obvious hint and the company a more subtle approach. That way you appeal to both the people who want a simpler game and those who want a richer subtext.

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Re: Plot depth

Postby Emerald Flame » Mon Nov 25, 2013 5:21 pm

Using the same company can set up a common theme. It could tie all the adventures together and give you a strong bond that would allow you to drift a little at times but be able to return to the core campaign.

Let me(us) know things go.
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Re: Plot depth

Postby biggmcg » Tue Nov 26, 2013 6:29 am

I don't know what your setup is, but I use a projector to show photos behind me as we play. They help to set the tone, and you can throw in some different ones to provide clues as to the plot and current events. I'm about to start adding newspaper headlines, both referring to current events, and things the players have been involved in before. I'm also learning to use Windows Movie Maker, so I can put an intro movie together each week, just to really set the mood of the game.

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Re: Plot depth

Postby Emerald Flame » Tue Nov 26, 2013 6:43 am

biggmcg wrote:I don't know what your setup is, but I use a projector to show photos behind me as we play. They help to set the tone, and you can throw in some different ones to provide clues as to the plot and current events. I'm about to start adding newspaper headlines, both referring to current events, and things the players have been involved in before. I'm also learning to use Windows Movie Maker, so I can put an intro movie together each week, just to really set the mood of the game.


Wow... And here I thought the newspaper was innovative. ;).

I liked the newspaper because the players could be left with the copy and allow them to refer back. I also used it as street trash once. I printed out an "alternate reality" edition and had it found blowing around on the street. As I previous stated about working in a reporter that was very antagonistic towards the heroes, this can add some flavor. This female reporter was like the "Anti Lois Lane" of our game world. No matter how successful or "heroic" the heroes were.... she would point out the negative. It was fun to see the players get annoyed at the reporter... One of our characters/players even decided to track down the reporter and "set her straight"! If used correctly... these small things can have a significant impact.
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