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Beyond the Plot in D&D

In a game where the game master only presents plot, much of the value of our hobby is lost. The opportunities for players to uncover the likes of forgotten truths, secret trysts, or mysterious locales beyond the scope of the plot(s) are what bring the game to life.

A creature in the foreground holding staff and wearing antlers facing away to a dragon in the background. Fantasy World by ryky

A fully realized and developed world is the apex of making player choice matter. But few of us, if any, have the time or energy to achieve this. Instead, focus on opportunities for your players to get lost beyond the plot in your world and you’ll reap a lot of the benefits of a fully realized one without the cost of building it. If the plot is the path, place interesting hooks just off to the side.

In each example, the players didn’t need to venture far from the main plot to reveal more of the world, making it feel alive. These opportunities are like doors—they can be opened or ignored. The important thing is to offer them.

The easiest way to achieve this is to offer multiple choices for the players to consider.

You don’t need to prepare a lot for each opportunity—a sentence is enough to inspire something interesting.

When we offer choices beyond the main plot, we give a sense of realness to the world. Players begin to feel that their choices matter. These choices don’t need elaborate lore or detailed preparation. They only need something interesting that brings the world to life. Go beyond the plot.

Game on.