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LOCK your D&D scenes

Written by Expy - Published on September 1, 2007

Instant Campaign Builder Part V: LOCKing scenes

This article is part of the Instant Campaign Builder Project.

The LOCK technique

I read about the LOCK system in a fiction writing book and quickly figured that it would be useful for my D&D game planning. According to this system here are the 4 elements of a scene:

  • Lead
    • In a roleplaying game the leads are the PCs. Rich, well-fleshed out PCs can trigger great scenes. If you plan a scene around the characters in the group, chances are your players will enjoy it. The lead can also be an interesting NPC, a strange location or a special object like a precious artifact.
    • Anything that grabs your players attention is a good lead. When planning a scene just ask yourself Why would my players or their characters care? A lead has to be interesting enough to make everyone in the party care.
  • Objective
    • Once you have a strong foundation for your scene (the lead) you can work on an objective. What will the characters want to do? If there is no clear course of action stemming from the lead, it might be a good idea to plant clues in earlier scenes that will allow your players to react to the scene and decide on an objective.
    • Note that the objective should not be set by the DM, but rather by the characters.
  • Conflict
    • Having set an objective, the characters move on, but something opposes them. An NPC, a monstrous creature, their environment, themselves, anything. As long as the PCs face a challenge their reach their goal you’re all set.
  • Knockout (or Kick ass)

    • Your players were intrigued, decided on a course of action, and their characters overcame obstacles to reach their goal. What’s next? The knock out! The end of the scene has to be memorable. No matter what the scene is about, there is always a way to spice it up. Even if the PCs just vanquished an uber-villain they can stumble upon some mysterious fact or witness a strange event that leaves them wondering.
    • The knockout can also consist of resolution. Your PCs have just achieved one of the main goals of the campaign? Reward them accordingly and it should make the scene memorable. Let the characters bask in their own glory. But even if you choose this option you can squeeze an unexpected twist in the celebration.

I hope this system helps you create engaging adventures that your players will love. Have fun DMing!

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Written by Expy

Meet Expy The Red Dragon

Expy is the mascot for DungeonMastering.com and the real mastermind behind Expy Games. He likes to hoard treasure, terrorize neighbors, burn down villages, and tell white dragon jokes..

No matter how fearful the legends claim dragons are, they always end up being defeated in 5 rounds by adventuring parties they encounter. That’s what dragons are – experience points for the heroes in your Dungeons & Dragon party. And this mascot is no different, hence the name Expy.

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5 Responses to “LOCK your D&D scenes”

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  1. Pal Mercy Says:

    Thanks for the tips. I think it will help me solve one of my biggest problems of campaign building: where do I start?

  2. Dungeon Mastering » D&D Instant Campaign Builder Project Says:

    […] Instant Campaign Builder #5: LOCKing scenes Like this website? Subscribe by e-mail or RSS feed. Like this article?  Email it to a friend! August 20, 2007 | Posted in News, Campaigns & Adventures | Post a comment « D&D Monday morning speedlinking Instant Campaign Builder – Part I: Knowledge » […]

  3. Stûnibu Says:

    hmmm, most of that basic but its good to be reminded because its importain to keep it freash. I also had a thought that when my PC’s finish the adventure they r on i should have them at a celerpartion that gets crashed by the NPC that they banwished (i plan for him 2 escape)


  4. Dungeon Mastering » My first D&D4E campaign Says:

    […] the PCs might choose to participate in or not. Examples of how I try to build my campaign events: LOCK your D&D scenes, Parallel Adventure #1. I’ll also try to prepare a few 5 room […]

  5. Are your players always prepared, pumped, and focused? Says:

    […] a close second. If you know what the characters want to do or what they remember, planning a scene that won’t fizzle is much […]

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