Monday, July 22, 2013

Where Do RP Ideas Come From?

Hey everyone,

So, last weekend was a very fun filled weekend in the offices of Black Hat Writing. Two of our staff members ran demo games, both with players that were entirely new to the world of tabletop roleplaying.

This started to get us thinking a bit about where GM ideas come from. For one of the GMs over the weekend, it depends on what system she is running the game in and the makeup of the party. This particular game was based on a podcast that one of the players loved, but sometimes she draws influence from ideas from the game books. Usually the more rules a system has, the more game ideas get drawn from the system and not from other influences, such as pop culture. Where do you all tend to get your GM ideas? How do you get new ideas for campaigns or one-shots?

On that note, as players, is it more interesting when a GM is basing a story around a cool or unique mechanic in a system, or when they pull from a widely known aspect of pop culture for story? Or do you prefer it when all of these elements are melded together so you, as a player, can’t tell the obvious inspiration behind a session.

As a player, all three approaches are interesting, but yield a different type of story and game. The mechanic-based game often is better for experienced players familiar with a system, especially if that mechanic has never been used by that player group before. This approach often spurs new ideas and actions of characters that would not ordinarily happen with those rules.  The pop culture based game is often really fun for players, but it hard to separate the game from the source material. Games when players can’t tell the source material often tend to be story focused and best for character-driven games.

If this discussion about inspiration has spurred new ideas, perhaps you want to playtest GM Theatre Noir. 

If you have any questions or would like to help us in any way, email us at

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