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HelplessBystander

How do you write scenarios for Call of Cthulhu?

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HelplessBystander

Coming up with your own material always takes more time than using pre-written adventures, but (for me) writing my own stuff is half the fun.

 

My method doesn't necessarily take any more GM time than other methods used by people who write their own adventures, though. It requires more upfront work, but less ongoing work as parties go from encounter to encounter, adventure to adventure. Regardless of the game system, it usually takes a couple of months to build the sandbox. Then I can run sessions with limited before-game prep for a couple of years.

 

It plays to my strengths, as well. I have GMed that way since I was 13 (I'm 50 now), and am a semi-professional storyteller in real life, both as a children's librarian and on a volunteer and paid basis in my free time. Since I never know what type of audience will show up, I have become really good at learning to improv things to best match the audience at hand. I also do a lot of interactive storytelling with kids where they come up with certain elements of the stories and I fill things in on the fly.

It sounds great. But again, writing TRPG Scenarios are a skill that you get better at. These days, I can safely say that 95% of my design might time are wasted on making realistic props (self-folding telegrams a-la HPLHS; damaged R'lyheian text; the yellow sign, etc.) and that was something I genuinely enjoy. :)

 

Thanks for everyone offering tips and advice!

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DAR

I tend towards a more sandboxy style if I'm not using a published scenorio, but when I'm writing my own I usually start with the monster or cult that I want to use and then start figuring out the ways that they would likely interect with the investigators. That leads me to encounters, which leads me to clues for solutions and information. Occasionally I've started with "a mystery" (usually after reading or watching something inspirational, the mystery is usually an artifact of some kind) which then leads me to either the cult/monster or a major ally, but the process after that is usually the same.

 

D.

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HelplessBystander

These days, I tend to 'open up' my plots a bit. Even though my players haven't complained to me about railroads (yet), I can tell that a few of them weren't as eager to narrate their character's actions and I would have to take over sometimes to elaborate a bit more. But yeah, I'm trying to make my plots more interactive and personal so that they could get IC more.

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yronimoswhateley

I feel quite a bit out of my league answering this, since there's a lot of folks above and on this site who have written published scenarios - I think there's an art to writing professional-quality scenarios for public consumption that is separate and apart from just making something up for a few friends, and I think the skill sets are very different and the bar set much higher for professional writing.

 

In any case, I borrow a lot from movie plots, and do a lot of improv and making things up as I go along; I rarely have the luxury of being able to prep for a game ahead of time, so making things up as I go along are more or less a requirement for me.

 

I don't think improv is all that much work - I kind of break things down into familiar pieces, such as stock characters, stock hooks, stock locations, stock plot twists, and so on, and I can usually put a few modular pieces together that'll work well enough without having to think about it too hard; where it seems appropriate, I'll change things just a bit from a cliche or familiar story that it hopefully doesn't seem too obvious; if i see a place where I can insert something from a nightmare or dream, I'll do so.

 

I'm not very imaginative, so that sort of thing works out pretty well for me; I find that some of my most imaginative-sounding and unsettling ideas are the result of improvisation - I'm usually come back to improvised details again later on, and they rarely sound like my own ideas, and I have to wonder where/how I came up with such a thing; improv seems to force me to produce better ideas than I would normally come up with using careful planning and analysis, and for that reason, I have a feeling that professional writing, with lots of careful planning, revision, and so on, would fail pretty badly if I were to try it.

.  .

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HelplessBystander

I feel you, YronimosWhateley, that happen to me as well every once in a while. Sometimes, in the heat of the moment, you get good ideas and sometimes, even after months of planning, your own ideas end up falling a bit flat. It happens regardless of context.

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