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Choose Your Way to Better RPG Session Prep

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The Dragon Age, Mass Effect, and The Witcher video game series have all made names for themselves by forcing players to make important choices throughout the game. Although decision points in tabletop roleplaying games aren’t bound by a studio’s limitations the way video games are, many game masters (myself included) don’t capitalize on our medium because we don’t consciously consider giving players meaningful choices while we plan a campaign.

Instead of preparing an adventure by assembling a series of encounters, game masters can design their narratives around meaningful choices the player characters must make. The rest of their adventure prep will entail creating the groundwork for the PCs to run headlong into those choices as well as the consequences the PCs will suffer as a result. This might feel like working backward to GMs used to more traditional prep, especially since we subconsciously give our players choices all the time. But by making decision points our foundation, GMs can grant the players real agency. Agency means the players will be emotionally invested in the game, which will make their sessions truly memorable.

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