Story Games Guidelines

Follow these guidelines to get the most out of our games. If you’re new - don’t get too overwhelmed by all these tips. Practice them one at a time - pick one principle you’d like to get better at, and focus on that one thing for the duration of the game. When GMing, try to encourage players to follow these principles.

Brainstorm what’s hard to improvise

During the brainstorming part, try to make sure we have prepared everything that would be hard to improvise on the spot, but no more.

Take inspiration

If you’re struggling to come up with a creative idea - use one from your favorite Movie, Game, or a TV show.

Mix and match tropes. Combine two different ideas. Try to add an unusual unexpected twist. Change a key element of the idea, switch the genre, setting, goal, important character traits, etc. What makes it different from what we’ve seen before?

Play to find out what happens

Do things that result in a good story, optimize for fun instead of “winning”.

Yes, and

Treat the ideas suggested by other players as awesome (even when they may seem silly). Don’t shut down people’s ideas - embrace them, help them succeed. Adopt ideas, build on top of them, add something new, find a way to make them work, make them better. Help other players be awesome. Actively help others to have cool moments and achieve their goals, create opportunities for other characters to shine. When GMing, listen to players and “yes and” their ideas. Build off of the details they contribute.

Share the Spotlight

Try to make sure that all players have enough opportunities to participate in the story. Avoid talking over other players and dominating the conversation, but don’t be afraid to speak up when you have something fun to contribute. Help quiet/shy players - ask their opinion or what they would like to do next. If you notice someone being interrupted - ask them what they were about to say.

Keep the scenes short

Shorter scenes are better than longer ones. Start scenes as close to the action as possible, end them as soon as the interesting part over.

Keep up good pace

Please help me keep track of time. We’re aiming for a 2-hour game. That’s 30 minutes for brainstorming and creating characters, and two 10-minute scenes per Plot Point (or one big 20-minute scene). Adventure hook and resolution can be shorter, Climax can be longer. If you notice we’re falling behind - let everyone know so we can wrap up the scene and move the story along.

Advance the Plot

Help the GM to move the story along. If you notice that players are stuck talking to each other and going nowhere - make a decision, conclude this scene, and move on to the next one.

Contribute to the story

Don’t be afraid to add information to the story. Help the GM to establish the scene, point out interesting details in the world around you. Answer unsolved questions, come up with explanations for things that seems inconsistent, fill in the gaps, help to create a story that makes sense.

Be an active player

Don’t wait for others to entertain you, assume the responsibility for making the story more fun for yourself and others, try to actively contribute ideas to the story, enhance everyone’s experience. Positive energy and enthusiasm are always welcome.

Stay in character

Try to immerse yourself in playing your character, like an actor. Try playing characters with real feelings and believable motivations. Try to make other people love and care about your character. Think about your character’s distinctive features, quirks, unique speech patterns. Don’t be shy to act it out, do a silly voice.

Develop your Character

What are their values and ideals? What do they fear? What flaws/weaknesses do they need to overcome? What is their backstory, significant events that shaped them? What is their deep dark secret? Do they have a strong opinion about what’s going on? What’s going through their head at this moment?

Goals and Motivations

Figure out what your character wants, form your own goals, pursue them, creatively overcome obstacles on your way. What does your character want from life? What is their current goal? What do they want from this quest?

Explore the Relationships

How does your character feel about the other party members? Establish a connection. How do you know each other? What do you think about them?

Create interesting tension, conflict dynamics between the characters in the party (while still collaborating as players). What does your character need from another PC? Why do they refuse to give it to you? Could your goals be at odds with each other? As the story goes on, how can your characters resolve the conflict?

Ask Questions

When GMing, draw players into the story by asking questions “How does your character feel about x?”, “What’s going through their head as they do y?”, “Describe how you want to do z.”

Grounded Story, Funny Roleplay

When brainstorming/GMing, focus on creating a good, interesting story with a solid plot. Don’t try to make it funny, let the comedy come from interactions between players. Aim to create a grounded story that makes sense.

Prompts App
A large collection of prompts that will help you to write or improvise adventures. Adventure ideas, antagonists, settings, challenges - everything you need!
Adventure Writer's Room
We are a group of GMs who meet in the discord voice chat, and challenge ourselves to improvise a one-shot adventure in 2 hours. Our goal is to have fun brainstorming ideas in a chill, lighthearted, no-pressure environment. We’re looking for some friendly and creative people to join us!
A rules-light game for people who love storytelling, improvisation, and freeform roleplay. Go on imaginary adventures, play out fun stories in a lighthearted atmosphere with other friendly and creative people. Come play with us!
Get notified when we publish a new adventure or a useful GM guide: