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Enhancing Alignment

Enhancing Alignment


In a game centered on mechanics, alignment can be a confusingly abstract concept. It’s a quick-and-dirty way to tell the heroes from the villains, and to provide a vague idea of how characters can be roleplayed, but a lot is left open to interpretation. This Mayday Manual was written to offer up some practical options for getting more out of alignment within your own game. It is not intended...   [click here for more]
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Story Design: Breakout Stories

Story Design: Breakout Stories


Have you ever wanted higher stakes and deeper meaning in your escape adventures? Story Design Volume 5 - A breakout story involves a protagonist trying to escape from a situation that’s not of their choosing, and possibly not of their making. Their captivity can be literal, like being locked in prison or stranded on an island. It may also be figurative, like an abusive...   [click here for more]
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Story Design: Change Stories

Story Design: Change Stories


How can you add more inner conflict, fear or change, and wonder of discovery to your transformation adventures? Story Design Volume 12 - In a change story something upsets the protagonist’s life in a significant way. The character then has to adapt and come to terms with that change. It can be something normal yet tragic, like the death of a loved one or being diagnosed...   [click here for more]
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Story Design: Chase Stories

Story Design: Chase Stories


Have you ever wanted more danger and excitement in your pursuit adventure stories? Story Design Volume 3 - In a chase story, one character is pursuing another. The antagonist may be after the protagonist, or vice versa. The person being chased is often in possession of something valuable or important, has committed a crime and is fleeing justice, or believes...   [click here for more]
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Story Design: Coming of Age Stories

Story Design: Coming of Age Stories


How can you add more character focus and a slice of life to your adventures? Story Design Volume 13 - In a coming of age plot, the protagonist gains maturity. This is often literal as the character moves from one stage of their life to another, like from childhood to adolescence, or young adulthood to middle age. It can be metaphorical as they embark on a new career, learn...   [click here for more]
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Story Design: Curse Stories

Story Design: Curse Stories


Add a sense of alienation to your metamorphosis stories and adventures. Story Design Volume 11 - In a curse story the antagonist feels that the protagonist has done something wrong. Maybe they have, and the antagonist’s actions are justified; maybe they haven’t, and the antagonist’s wrath is misplaced or unfair. As a result of the antagonist’s need...   [click here for more]
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Story Design: Dark Horse Stories

Story Design: Dark Horse Stories


How can you add more heroic struggle and vicarious thrills to your underdog adventures? Story Design Volume 9 - In a dark horse story, the protagonist and antagonist are not evenly matched. The odds are stacked heavily in favor of the antagonist. Initially no one takes the protagonist seriously, but over the course of the story they shake off their underdog status to become...   [click here for more]
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Story Design: Decline-and-Fall Stories

Story Design: Decline-and-Fall Stories


How can you add more empathy and suspense to your story of tragic descent? Story Design Volume 20 - In a decline-and-fall story, the protagonist starts out in a high position, possessed of fortune and glory, having everything they could ever desire. This could be literal or metaphorical; they might have moral or ethical riches rather than money and possessions. The protagonist...   [click here for more]
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Story Design: Duel Stories

Story Design: Duel Stories


How can you add more conflict and suspense to your competitive adventures? Story Design Volume 8 - In a duel story, the protagonist and antagonist are competing against one another. They may be fighting to obtain the same objective, or simply trying to insure that the other doesn’t get what they’re after. The rivalry might be a sports competition, a race to make...   [click here for more]
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Story Design: Journey Stories

Story Design: Journey Stories


How can you put more action and excitement in your traveling adventure stories? Story Design Volume 1 - In the journey plot, the protagonist travels and has an adventure. It’s a simple as that. There’s no deeper meaning or existential crisis underlying the trip. There’s hidden message, or a need for the character to experience personal growth. It’s...   [click here for more]
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Story Design: Mystery Stories

Story Design: Mystery Stories


Add more thrills and dramatic tension to your mystery adventures! Story Design Volume 7 - The word mystery carries a lot of cultural baggage. From a genre point of view, it’s typically associated with murder. The story goal is to discover who did it, although more modern variations focus on figuring out how it was done, in order to prove who did it. A mystery doesn’t...   [click here for more]
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Story Design: Obsession Stories

Story Design: Obsession Stories


How can you add more danger and tragedy to your story of wretched excess? Story Design Volume 18 - In an obsession story the protagonist goes too far with something, and bad things happen as a result. The object of their excess can be an actual physical or psychological problem like alcoholism or drug addiction; it could also be an unhealthy fascination with a goal, a person,...   [click here for more]
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Story Design: Payback Stories

Story Design: Payback Stories


How can you add more retribution and gratification to your revenge adventures? Story Design Volume 6 - In a payback story the protagonist, or someone close to them, has somehow been wronged by the antagonist. Seeking to balance the scales or settle the score, the protagonist goes on a mission of revenge. It’s a story about a person seeking justice by taking the law...   [click here for more]
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Story Design: Rags-to-Riches Stories

Story Design: Rags-to-Riches Stories


How can you add more hope and excitement to your story of dreams and aspirations? Story Design Volume 19 - In a rags-to-riches story the protagonist starts out poor, unknown, and without any power or authority. This could be literal or metaphorical; they may be intellectually or spiritually poor, rather than without material wealth. Over the course of the story they rise...   [click here for more]
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Story Design: Rescue Stories

Story Design: Rescue Stories


Have you ever wanted more suspense and peril in your rescue adventures? Story Design Volume 4 - A rescue plot is an action-heavy structure where a supporting character (the victim) is being held against their will by the antagonist. The protagonist’s job is to locate the victim and escort them back to safety. There are variations possible, but the core of a rescue story...   [click here for more]
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Story Design: Revelation Stories

Story Design: Revelation Stories


How can you add more action and conflict to your story of discovery? Story Design Volume 17 - In a revelation plot something is discovered that has serious implications for the protagonist. It may mean also have a serious impact on a supporting character, or the world. The actual discover could be something good or something bad, but it is startling and disruptive to the...   [click here for more]
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Story Design: Romance Stories

Story Design: Romance Stories


How can you add more conflict and characterization to your love story? Story Design Volume 14 - A romance plot features the protagonist falling in love with a supporting character or even a co-protagonist. The antagonist doesn’t want this to happen, and conspires to keep the lover apart. There is often some misunderstanding or miscommunication that creates a rift in...   [click here for more]
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Story Design: Sacrifice Stories

Story Design: Sacrifice Stories


How can you add more drama and pathos to your story of selfless heroism? Story Design Volume 16 - A sacrifice story finds the protagonist pursuing some noble cause or higher purpose. In order to accomplish their objective, they will need to give up something of great personal value. This might be other goals, a close relationship, or even their own life. They may survive,...   [click here for more]
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Story Design: Search Stories

Story Design: Search Stories


How can you add more emotional resonance to your quest adventure story? Story Design Volume 2 - In the search plot, the protagonist is looking for something. It might be an object, a person, or a piece of information. The thing they’re searching for might be real, or it could be metaphorical. It doesn’t actually matter, because this is really a character-driven...   [click here for more]
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Story Design: Seduction Stories

Story Design: Seduction Stories


How can you add more dark danger and wicked fun to your temptation adventures? Story Design Volume 10 - A seduction story has the protagonist trying to avoid doing something they know they aren’t supposed to do. It could be lying, cheating, stealing, breaking an oath, succumbing to addiction, or anything that has serious consequences. The thing that the protagonist...   [click here for more]
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Story Design: Taboo Stories

Story Design: Taboo Stories


How can you add more intrigue and danger to your forbidden love story? Story Design Volume 15 - In a taboo plot, the protagonist becomes involved in a forbidden romance. From the start everyone knows that the affair will fail because social forces don’t approve of the pairing; what makes the relationship unacceptable will vary with the genre, place, and time of the...   [click here for more]
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Worldbuilding Power: Aberrations

Worldbuilding Power: Aberrations


Use strange beings and alien creatures in character development, worldbuilding, and adventures! People frequently want to add Lovecraftian horrors to their fantasy games, but they’ve been there since the beginning. Thing that are beyond the day-to-day existence of a standard high fantasy setting. Creatures so strange that their aims and desires are unfathomable. Beings that are so unlike...   [click here for more]
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Worldbuilding Power: Abjuration

Worldbuilding Power: Abjuration


Use Protective Magic in Character Development, Adventure Design, and Worldbuilding Abjuration comes from the Latin word abjurare, which translates as “to forswear”. As a category of magic, its purpose is protection and defense. The definition of abjuration magic has expanded over time to include spells that act as armor, prevent magical intrusion, and banish...   [click here for more]
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Worldbuilding Power: Alteration

Worldbuilding Power: Alteration


Use transmutation magic in character development, worldbuilding, and adventures! The magnum opus, or Great Work, of alchemy is the transmutation of base metals like lead into precious metals like gold. This is arguably the foundation of alteration and transmutation magic in fantasy roleplaying. The ability to turn one thing into another, even temporarily, can be both useful and frightening....   [click here for more]
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Worldbuilding Power: Beasts

Worldbuilding Power: Beasts


Use Ordinary Animals in Character Development, Adventure Design, and Worldbuilding Let’s be honest and admit that ordinary animals don’t get the love they deserve in fantasy roleplaying games. In fiction, as in real life, we love a cute cat or a precocious dog. They’ve got personality. Other beasts, like horses, rabbits, and monkeys, get a lot of affection. At the table,...   [click here for more]
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Worldbuilding Power: Celestials

Worldbuilding Power: Celestials


Use the highest order of good beings in character development, worldbuilding, and adventures! Divine beings don’t get the attention they deserve in fantasy roleplaying games. They should somehow play a larger role than they do in the cosmology of our favorite fictional universes, given that they are the extraplanar exemplars of all that is right and good in the multiverse....   [click here for more]
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Worldbuilding Power: Cities

Worldbuilding Power: Cities


Use centers of trade and culture in character development, worldbuilding, and adventures! A city can be a lot of things. It might be a crossroads, the place where trade routes converge and merchants ply their trade. Some see it as a place of opportunity, to gain wealth and power, politically and otherwise. Others find it to be center of culture and the arts. It can be a refuge, where those...   [click here for more]
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Worldbuilding Power: Conjuration

Worldbuilding Power: Conjuration


Use the ability to call forth and command forces in character development, worldbuilding, and adventures! The word conjure stems from the Latin coniurare, to swear together or conspire. It means to command an oath, as in a pledge of duty or loyalty. Around the 14th century it took on the magical connotation of constraining a demon or spirit, forcing it to do that caster’s bidding....   [click here for more]
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Worldbuilding Power: Constructs

Worldbuilding Power: Constructs


Use artificial creatures in character development, worldbuilding, and adventures! Constructs are artificially created creatures. Typically mindless, they are programmed to obey their creator. Because they are technically not living, they lack the weaknesses of hired henchmen and mortal monsters. They are unfeeling, relentless, and can be virtually unstoppable. That’s what makes constructs...   [click here for more]
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Worldbuilding Power: Deserts

Worldbuilding Power: Deserts


Use dry and barren terrain in character development, worldbuilding, and adventures! We think of the desert as a barren, hostile environment. It’s become synonymous with heat and sand. There is precious little water to be found, which results in a dearth of plant and animal life. What does live there is adapted for the climate, which often means it’s as dangerous as its environment....   [click here for more]
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Worldbuilding Power: Divination

Worldbuilding Power: Divination


Use Magical Insight in Character Development, Adventure Design, and Worldbuilding Divination comes from the Latin word divinare, which translates as “to be inspired by God”. As a category of magic, its purpose is to help the caster gain insight, if not direct answers, to a wide variety of situations. The definition of divination magic has expanded over time to include...   [click here for more]
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Worldbuilding Power: Dragons

Worldbuilding Power: Dragons


Use iconic monsters in character development, worldbuilding, and adventures! Dragons exist in folklore as far back as ancient Mesopotamia. Massive, serpent-like creatures can be found in the legends and mythologies of Egypt, Greece, and Northern Europe. In Western cultures, the image of the fearsome, fire-breathing dragon first appeared in the Middle Ages, an amalgam of the various traditions...   [click here for more]
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Worldbuilding Power: Elementals

Worldbuilding Power: Elementals


Use primordial creatures in your worldbuilding, character development, and storytelling! Elementals are the embodiment of the four classical elements, air, earth, fire, and water. The modern conception dates back to ancient Greece, but similar ideas existed in Babylonia, India, and Japan. The notion was that everything in the world was comprised of these elements. By the...   [click here for more]
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Worldbuilding Power: Enchantment

Worldbuilding Power: Enchantment


Use mind-affecting magic in character development, worldbuilding, and adventures! Enchantment, also known as charm spells, is magic the affects the mind of the target. A talented enchanter can alter attitudes and emotions, convince them to change their opinions and behaviors, and even compel them to do things they normally would not do. Antagonists will seek to leverage the same effects,...   [click here for more]
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Worldbuilding Power: Evocation

Worldbuilding Power: Evocation


Use energy-harnessing magic in character development, worldbuilding, and adventures! To evoke is to call forth and manipulate various types of energies and forces. These include fire, electricity, heat and cold, light and darkness, and even eldritch energy itself. It is the magic of raw power. Unlike other categories of magic, evocation comes with no innate moral and ethical considerations...   [click here for more]
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Worldbuilding Power: Fey

Worldbuilding Power: Fey


Use faerie folk in character development, worldbuilding, and adventures! The fey, also called faerie folk or fairies, originate in European folklore. In pre-Christian traditions they were often cast as minor deities, household spirits, or even the souls of the dead. Some tales saw them as demoted (rather than fallen) angels, or even a category of demons, after the spread of Christianity....   [click here for more]
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Worldbuilding Power: Fiends

Worldbuilding Power: Fiends


Use malevolent outsiders in your worldbuilding, character development, and storytelling! History and mythology present us with many devils: Satan, Lucifer, Beelzebub, and Mephistopheles, for example. While modern religion often presents them as aspects of a singular, ultimate evil, they were originally separate and unique beings. Demons likewise have many real-world counterparts,...   [click here for more]
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Worldbuilding Power: Forests

Worldbuilding Power: Forests


Use the woodlands in character development, worldbuilding, and adventures! In the real world forests are the dominant ecosystem, covering around 30% of the Earth’s landmass. They hold most of the species of plant life, and can exist across a broad range of climates and habitats. There are boreal forests, or “snow forests”, near the poles comprised mainly of conifers like...   [click here for more]
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Worldbuilding Power: Giants

Worldbuilding Power: Giants


There is something universally appealing about giants. Some form of them appear in Norse, Greek, and Welsh mythologies. They’re found in the Old Testament. Popular culture reflects our fascination, for good or ill, with genetic gigantism and acromegaly, and those who have the disorder. Something about very large people resonates with us. Dungeons & Dragons codified...   [click here for more]
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Worldbuilding Power: Illusion

Worldbuilding Power: Illusion


Use arcane deception in character development, worldbuilding, and adventures! Illusion is the tricking of the mind, and the distorting of the senses. As a category of magic, its purpose is to alter the target’s perception of reality. The definition of illusion magic has expanded over time to include spells that act as disguises, defenses, and forms of attack. Illusion allows casters...   [click here for more]
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Worldbuilding Power: Mountains

Worldbuilding Power: Mountains


Use perilous peaks in character development, worldbuilding, and adventures! Mountains are places of mystery. Rising above the surrounding landscape, they are seen by all but only known to few. Myth and legend names them as the home of the gods. Rivers and streams originate there. Dangerous creatures dwell there. The terrain is often steep, and cold, and sometimes even volcanic. The perfect...   [click here for more]
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Worldbuilding Power: Necromancy

Worldbuilding Power: Necromancy


Use black magic in character development, worldbuilding, and adventures! Necromancy is magic that deals with the dead. That covers a lot of ground. It includes communicating with spirits as a form of divination. The unliving can be summoned, and usually commanded, by the caster. Raising the dead, as skeletons, zombies, or fully resurrected living beings is included in this category as well....   [click here for more]
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Worldbuilding Power: Underground

Worldbuilding Power: Underground


Use Underground Realms in Character Development, Adventure Design, and Worldbuilding The concept of an underground world comes straight out of the classic hero’s journey. The hero leaves home, descends into the underworld to be tested, and returns a changed person. It’s the part of the story where the challenges are faced, the glory is earned, and the treasures are acquired. Other...   [click here for more]
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Worldbuilding Power: Underwater

Worldbuilding Power: Underwater


Use aquatic realms in character development, worldbuilding, and adventures! When we think of underwater realms, we often think of Atlantis. The fictional island, first mentioned by Plato, sank deep beneath the sea following a series of violent earthquakes. It’s only in relatively modern times that we’ve imagined survivors, adapting to life beneath the seas and rebuilding their...   [click here for more]
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A Study in Storytelling: Volume 1

A Study in Storytelling: Volume 1


A collection of short fiction, plot hooks, and adventure seeds for you to remix and reimagine for your tabletop campaign. A Study in Storytelling breaks down works of short fiction into plot hooks and story goals usable in your tabletop roleplaying game. Using classic Sherlock Holmes tales by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, these elements can be used with any system, any setting, and any genre. Enjoy...   [click here for more]
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A Study in Storytelling: Volume 2

A Study in Storytelling: Volume 2


A collection of short fiction, plot hooks, and adventure seeds for you to remix and reimagine for your tabletop campaign. A Study in Storytelling breaks down works of short fiction into plot hooks and story goals usable in your tabletop roleplaying game. Using classic Sherlock Holmes tales by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, these elements can be used with any system, any setting, and any genre. Enjoy...   [click here for more]
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A Study in Storytelling: Volume 3

A Study in Storytelling: Volume 3


A collection of short fiction, plot hooks, and adventure seeds for you to remix and reimagine for your tabletop campaign. A Study in Storytelling breaks down works of short fiction into plot hooks and story goals usable in your tabletop roleplaying game. Using classic Sherlock Holmes tales by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, these elements can be used with any system, any setting, and any genre. Enjoy...   [click here for more]
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A Study in Storytelling: Volume 4

A Study in Storytelling: Volume 4


A collection of short fiction, plot hooks, and adventure seeds for you to remix and reimagine for your tabletop campaign. A Study in Storytelling breaks down works of short fiction into plot hooks and story goals usable in your tabletop roleplaying game. Using classic Sherlock Holmes tales by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, these elements can be used with any system, any setting, and any genre. Enjoy...   [click here for more]
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A Study in Storytelling: Volume 5

A Study in Storytelling: Volume 5


A collection of short fiction, plot hooks, and adventure seeds for you to remix and reimagine for your tabletop campaign. A Study in Storytelling breaks down works of short fiction into plot hooks and story goals usable in your tabletop roleplaying game. Using classic Sherlock Holmes tales by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, these elements can be used with any system, any setting, and any genre. Enjoy...   [click here for more]
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A Study in Storytelling: Volume 6

A Study in Storytelling: Volume 6


A collection of short fiction, plot hooks, and adventure seeds for you to remix and reimagine for your tabletop campaign. A Study in Storytelling breaks down works of short fiction into plot hooks and story goals usable in your tabletop roleplaying game. Using classic Sherlock Holmes tales by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, these elements can be used with any system, any setting, and any genre. Enjoy...   [click here for more]
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