Need an adventure idea for an upcoming roleplaying game scenario? Check out S. John Ross’s Big List of RPG Plots for free at his Blue Room website. It’s been available for a while, but remains one of the most time-tested, useful gamemaster tools ever devised.
S. John has assembled more than 30 basic plot tropes distilled from 40 years of roleplaying game scenarios, though all of them have worked as literary/media themes through the ages. Each includes a simple summary of the set-up and goals for the characters, usually in one or two concise sentences. Gamemasters can port these system-neutral adventure ideas into any game or setting. Each also contains notes on “Common Twists & Themes” providing options elaborating on the core adventure concept. Several “Tips & Tricks” round out the list with additional strategies for implementing plots in your game.
The Big List of RPG Plots stands as an essential component in any gamemaster’s library, one to keep handy as a launching point for an impromptu game session, for general ideas when players run far off a planned scenario’s course, or for inspiration when a new adventure idea remains elusive. The list also provides a challenge for gamemasters: pick one plot (possibly at random) and develop an entire scenario for your game based on its premise.
Read The Big List of RPG Plots online or get a printer-friendly PDF file through a zipped download at S. John’s Cumberland Games & Diversions free downloads page (way down at the bottom, under “Random Toys”). While you’re there, check out his treasure trove of free offerings, from original fonts and samplers of products for sale to entire games like the innovative Risus: The Anything RPG, Encounter Critical, and the brilliantly twisted Pokethulhu Adventure Game.