Hey everyone. This is my first post here, so be gentle
And excuse me if it'll be a bit long-winded.
Skip all of this if you don't care about how I got to the idea presented below
So I often find myself in the Game/Dungeon Master / Storyteller / Narrator (I'll just use ST from now on) role and it's something that I enjoy very much. I like coming up with cool ideas and throwing them at my players to see what they come up with. And to see what kind of cool ideas they throw back. However coming up with cool ideas can be hard, but I have enough experience with the creative parts of my brain to know how they work...
So the thing is that my imagination needs some help. I do consider myself creative enough for the job of ST but when I work with a blank canvas I sometimes find myself having trouble to come up with cool ideas. I'm pretty sure that I'm not the only one and through my education I've generally come to the wisdom that it helps to put some constraints on your blank canvas to focus/lead your imagination. These things might be random or based on some other facts - like technical limitations for example. They can also come from a wide variety of sources: Self-imposed, from other people or just due to the target "medium".
Now having learned what my creative juices need to do the flowin' I've until recently always tried to self-impose some constraints on myself. For example if I had a campaign arc of sorts planned, then I might have the constraint "Introduce the influence of the BBEG". Or if we've done some rural/wilderness stories I might come up with something like "urban scenario". That's already a good start to somehow start funnel my ideas. That's all good and well but somehow it just wasn't enough. I needed more.
Now add to that something I recently re-learned from a Video Game Designer. It came up in the context of general brainstorming techniques but the idea is that even the most random things can be of use, even if they don't look like it at first glance. They get you to think in ways you wouldn't normally. So I went out and tried that. I'll explain how in a second. Granted the process was generally based more on gut feeling than on rational thought but still.
For the last couple of games I've asked my players for "two things" each. With things I mean basically anything they could come up with: A location, setting, scene, character, environment, whatever. This was motivated by reading games such as PTA, because if I need some inspiration, why not at the same time provide my players with a way to give some input.
Now with these "constraints" from my players I set out and tried to come up with a cool plot/setting/situation/whatsit. I have to add that I didn't try to force all the "things" into the next session. I didn't give a guarantee that they would be used at all but if they were the player in question got a reward when the suggestion came up.
(For Houses of the Blooded I handed out a Style Point. For my current One Roll Exalted test game I'm considering giving out "variable dice" to the players that they can use to add to a roll when they want.)
This technique has worked really nicely for me so far. Even one time when I had to hastily come up with a SOTC session out of nowhere. Given a few constraints and some time to order my thoughts I was able to get a game going that was interesting and fun. I also think this somewhat involves the players more and gives them a bit more of a feeling of authorship.
(Note that most of my players are "traditional players" - that is they believe in the GM/player divide - but playing HotB for a while has started to warm them towards the idea of narrative authority in the hands of the players. Something I generally want to encourage.)
Alright, so that's it. Sorry if this post is a confusing mess but I hope at least the technique is interesting. I'd love to hear your guys' thoughts on this. Especially on the reward mechanic I have there. I had no complaints yet from my players but it is a bit arbitrary since it's the reward is determined by "GM Fiat". The idea is to encourage my players to submit things, and to make it worth if they put some effort into coming up with interesting and thematic things.
Okay. So now that's it. For real this time.