5 Ways to Make Plot Hooks – Game Master Tips – GM Tips

June 19, 2020

We take a look at how to make plot hooks in your RPG games, and to get your players to engage and partake in your plot hooks.

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All Comments

  • Did you know we release Plot Hooks every week on Facebook? Join our facebook community and discover a world of adventure! You can also get awesome adventure ideas at www.rpgtablefinder.com which randomly generate stories for you!

    How to be a Great Game Master June 19, 2020 12:21 am Reply
  • i be damend another gm like me that actualy also thinks hard on this 😉 nice adwises

    lord of sacred gold June 19, 2020 12:21 am Reply
  • In Harmonquest (spoilers). The don't save the world due to incompetence. They miss every clue and basically become worse than the villain. Then the DM reset the world with temporal magic. He tried to make them realize how horrid they were… and they still didn't save the world. They are horrible if hilarious, and the DM Spencer really tried, but some parties are meant to not be heroes.. even if serendipity does all it can, they're still going to screw up the plot completely. It's a great example of how insane a game can get, especially with weekly guest comedians. I like it better than the other RP shows, even if they are horrible at the mechanics, they're great at pretending. All the other practiced actors are boring. I like The games on here better than anything on tv.

    Onro June 19, 2020 12:21 am Reply
  • The illusion of choice helps the trains run on time. 😂

    Onro June 19, 2020 12:21 am Reply
  • Just go with animal abuse and u pretty much have a hook line sinker effect. I used it like 3 or 4 times to get ppl to where I need them and man it wasn’t even something to worry about they all were like “oh hell nah we murdering bitches today”

    victor cass June 19, 2020 12:21 am Reply
  • I tend to create plot hooks (in my WoD game) based on what the players throw at me. I usually have a set of plot starters ready that can be tacked onto something they do. If they gather information in some way, be it that they ask someone or that they read the paper, the plot hook for "the players gather information" is in there. If there is something shady going on somewhere, it happens where the players go. If they decide to go into a bar, it is going on in one of the back rooms. If they take a walk through the park, it will happen there in a dark corner. If they go to a high class reception, the "political deal" hook gets played.

    The players get the idea that everything is created just for them, when in the end, all those hooks eventually lead to the same adventure I had planned. All the hooks eventually lead to a drug smuggling ring, where the information hook was just a small dealer running his mouth, the shady dealings in the back alley were some dealers getting mugged because they have no drugs anymore but tell their clients that the next big shipment is about to arrive and the political hook is the big drug lords conspiring.

    In a nutshell, I let the hook follow the players, not dangle it in front of them and hope that they grasp it. It is far more convincing to them if they think they discovered it, and far more satisfying too because not only do they get the feeling that they laid all the groundwork and they "worked" for it, but they think that it's completely sandbox-y and that they decide where the adventure is going.

    My players also know that there is exactly one thing that is ALWAYS the wrong thing to do and that's to do nothing. ANYTHING they could do is better than not doing anything, and as long as you establish this, your players will follow the plot hooks, knowing that things can only get worse if they don't. This could be seen as some sort of "punishment for not following my lead", personally I just think of it as the world acting if you don't. If you decide to ignore that you know the lich's plan to destroy the world, the lich will destroy the world.

    0x777 June 19, 2020 12:21 am Reply
  • Another way to present a plot hook, i believe is by creating a common need for th players. For example, not having money to do anything, or by having a very tough mission you "guide" them to a resting place only for it to reveal itself as a trap by a killing guild etc.

    Xiono June 19, 2020 12:21 am Reply
  • Thank you!

    Amorphous Karon June 19, 2020 12:21 am Reply
  • No one complains about railroading on a computer game, though and it’s still fun…
    I think it’s okay to railroad a little
    Just a little

    Goat Surgeon June 19, 2020 12:21 am Reply
  • You knowingly went into a one-shot and made the deliberate choice to be difficult?

    hangarflying June 19, 2020 12:21 am Reply
  • Top way to freak your players out: Everything is perfectly fine. Nothing wrong here.
    Never seen them so paranoid.

    Nathan Laube June 19, 2020 12:21 am Reply
  • Let them g on some one-off. When they get back t town, the players hear how much worse it got because they ignored the original plot. After a few repetitions, the evil has started to over-run the town and their favorite inn is ashes.

    F Huber June 19, 2020 12:21 am Reply
  • A train shouldn't have hooks on it, silly

    Dolphinboi - Play Monster Rancher June 19, 2020 12:21 am Reply
  • For my part I am a Noob as GM, so in my intoduction of the Storyline.I already set the group up to get started right into the adventure
    So when the session begins, they already are on the Way to the "roumorous tower in the east" to gather the Magic scoll 4 the dusky wissard they "ingame" never met, but met in my intoStory, thisway we get into the action quick. The "free story part" to run free inside a city to do mearly nothing is morelikely to be at the end of the session. so, if some guys need to leave early, they wont miss the epic boss encounter or the lootgathering, but the path towards the next Plothooks.
    When the players in the end find or discover unplanned funny thinks, those can be linked to the next plot….
    in short: At the End of a story the Rod is thrown in the water, but the Hookbite is offscreen in my adventurelab

    Atze Tatze June 19, 2020 12:21 am Reply
  • I'm really struggling with my group, they have no valid reason to stick together because they keep swapping characters. The main plot hook I threw worked but now when I go to continue the main plot they dont care anymore.. I'm really stuck on what to do

    Le Virtuoso June 19, 2020 12:21 am Reply
  • This is my first Campign, but it has seemed to work out. I started campaign with a simple treasuring hunting dungeon crawl, only for that to lead into a confrontation with the minions of the big bad. Ten levels later, the big bad presence looms over the entire world, and the party made it their mission to stop him, dude too the personal interaction with his minions in the very first dungeon (which resulted in a PC death incidentally). Since then, I have been mostly in the business of side quests, with few necessary plot hooks needed.

    With that being said, I occasionally throw out a plot hook just to keep things fresh.

    HeimdallsDottir June 19, 2020 12:21 am Reply
  • A friend of mine likes to go looking for plot hooks buy going into the local shady bar and "looking for anyone suspicious" lmao

    LightningInvoker June 19, 2020 12:21 am Reply
  • Paradoxically, plot denying is one of the best techniques out there. It creates foreshadowing while players don't feel like they being guided. =]]
    Thank you for those tips on plot!

    amphetamine hamster June 19, 2020 12:21 am Reply
  • Can I just say:
    GM: "So, P1, you see this person, he's across the room.(P2)"
    P1: "I ask, 'what's your name?'."
    P2: "Sorry, I can't say."
    P1: "I punch him."

    The Mitochondria is the Powerhouse of the Cell June 19, 2020 12:21 am Reply
  • I’m always amazed by people who dont cut their youtube videos. First of all the amount of takes it would take me would drive me insane so allot of skill of memory and focus here. Second, I heard that cutting videos is a tactic to keep the veiwers eyes constantly moving so theyre less borde but this is honestly so satisfying and relaxisg to watch withought the cuts.

    Pajamboy June 19, 2020 12:21 am Reply
  • can you make a video on how to make overpowered characters

    C&D Productions June 19, 2020 12:21 am Reply
  • Can you hear the train coming? You'd better run down the tracks.

    Daniel Polm June 19, 2020 12:21 am Reply
  • Wow, Guy. Looking spiffy, my man. Classy GM for the win.

    Anna The Teal June 19, 2020 12:21 am Reply
  • This guy looks just like my doctor

    McB12329 June 19, 2020 12:21 am Reply
  • Steal from them.
    Can't do it more than once, but goddamn , will players chase down thieves.

    Trevor P June 19, 2020 12:21 am Reply
  • I only have problems with plothooks on experienced players I don't yet know a lot. With Players I already know well, it is easy to give them what they want. And "newbies", rpg unexperienced players are absolutely happy with the most obvious plothooks like "you are in a tavern. Somebody comes through the door crying for help". More experienced players value more subtle plothooks but newbies don't need it. My experience. (mostly playing the german "the black eye")

    terenzo hügel June 19, 2020 12:21 am Reply
  • 'Is almost as effective is throwing out a plot hook… And watching it sink to the bottom of the river…'

    Tierney Gibbs June 19, 2020 12:21 am Reply
  • I don't tend to use plot hooks. In my stories, the event that I want to happen, happens where the party is. I never worry about location, as the event can happen almost anywhere and ,at least to the players, at any time. I still drop hints about what is going on. Though when I feel it is time for the story to move on, event X happens where they are or where they are near. This has generally always worked. Though it does require a lot more thinking on the go. I generally have a starting, pre-middle point, middle, pre-climax, climax, pre-ending, and then an ending point. My players can goo and do whatever they like. The story will come to them when needed. My group of players had changed from time to time, but they have all loved my stories.

    Jason Hardin June 19, 2020 12:21 am Reply
  • I kinda do a sort of sandbox situation where there are several plot threads out there, and the party is free to, as they are on the current plot, find these other plotlines and inklings of other things. Once the adventure they are currently on ends, and I have been paying attention to which threads the party has been thinking about or latching onto, I then know what content to prepare next. Many times on an adventure, the party might come across several hooks to the same thread. Sometimes the players end up thinking their current adventure is in some way related to the hook(s), and I make sure to let them think that as long as it isn't completely derailing their current progress. Sometimes crazy conclusions my players come up with in-game really do inspire me to either take their crazy ideas and run with them or better, to subvert them in some way. Either way, they are invested in their own ideas, so I like to string them along. Either into existing threads and plots or into its own new thing entirely that they've had a hand in inspiring.
    If I have multiple hooks going on at once, obviously the players can't do everything at the same time, so I like to show the world changing and progressing. Unexplored plot hooks end up developing on their own. If the party chose to help a mage uncover a relic in his quest to cure his wife of lycanthropy, but decided to leave the purification of a desecrated temple for another day, then the events in the temple happen, and the hook takes on a new level of difficulty. More undead, maybe now the zombies in the temple graveyard have begun marching on the nearby town because the necromancer finished his ritual without the party stopping them. Now it becomes a different hook: Save the town from the hoard and stop the necromancer's tyranny. I love evolving hooks so much.
    For specific types of hooks themselves: I love leaving notes, having important looking people doing things or having conversations near them but not at them, having the players stumble upon seals/crests/magical or societally important items. The players I run for are generally very curious and just stumbling onto or into things they only half-understand urges them to want to understand it. Especially if those plots they don't have all the information for revolve around things the players have told me are important to their characters. If something doesn't have a specific "go here and figure it out" to it, then I know based on my own understanding of my world, that "Okay they will have to go here, it's the only place nearby with a person who knows about the thing they found." and having players with character who have skills and knowledge of the area, helps reaffirm that for them as players. To "go here" without me having to tell them in the hook directly.

    Schaly June 19, 2020 12:21 am Reply
  • Our GM discourages us from thinking our way out of consequences instead of applauding us. He killed off one of our characters and when I found a way to bring him back to life he told me to just follow the original plotline and that actions have consequences and that we should just accept that. It's why I'm learning to be a GM now. I want to be a fair GM.

    Fought a Pidgeon June 19, 2020 12:21 am Reply

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