I would like to know how to help a new GM build story as a player.


I am playing a campaign with some friends and our GM is a new GM and we have been playing for about a month now.

He has designed a large world and many towns and a grand quest for us (which involves finding all the mythical pieces of an artifact from around the world) however there is no fine detail in the world. When we come to a new town we are told "This is a large city with walls surrounding it. There are 3 inns, 2 weapon shops, 3 armorers and a castle in the middle." however that is the most detail we can get. When we visit individual places we're told "You visit the inn" and if we try to talk about the artifact we're hunting with nameless NPC #27 who we found on the street we're constantly told "That artifact is from children's stories" and we must have visited every library searching for information on this artifact but there is nothing as it's been "lost to time". There is very little direction given and as a result, we spend a lot of wasted time just trying to figure out something to do.

I have spoken to the GM OOC and given some advice and tips. This is from lack of experience GMing not from a desire not to add the detail.


My question is what are some things that I as a player can take action to do to help flesh out some finer details of the campaign? I can't just provide details on my back story and hope the GM integrates it into his story. I need things I can actively do as a player.

For example, one of my plans is to "try and hunt out a secret society that I believe is also looking for the mythical artifact" this gives me something to do in the towns while still allowing the GM to decide whether that secret society exists or it's all in my head.

Edit: For clarity. I would like some examples of things that I can do as a player to drive and develop story. Things that I can begin and have the GM react to rather than have the GM plan and execute it before hand.


DO stuff... sounds strange right? But, actually it's the fastest way to immersion. When he says "you enter the inn," you make a whole bunch of assumptions about the inn right away: "I saunter up to the bar, slap down a gold piece and leer at the most attractive barmaid." You just fleshed out his inn. Maybe the next player says, "Not me, I pull a chair up to the fire pit and try to get warm." THAT player just fleshed it out.

When the DM gives you a generic setting, just make a lot of assumptions about what SHOULD be there and utilize your surroundings. Wait for him to correct you, "Oh, this inn doesn't have a bar- just tables and a small door leading to the kitchen," well... now he's just fleshed out his inn himself.

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    \$\begingroup\$ This is good advice but I am also looking for a little more information in how I can help build the story of the world not just the settings. If I get the GM to explain how to Inn looks that's okay but if I can force a story out of the interaction with the barmaid that gives me something to do in the game that is what I want to achieve. Now I'm not an expert player so that's why I am here looking for those "things" to do because if I could just do them I would. \$\endgroup\$ – Kasuko Jun 4 '16 at 22:59

In all honesty it sounds like your GM is a bit in over his head. There are 2 things that you should do there. As stated already by Z.MOE you can help him by formulating out your actions with details imposed there and try to get him to react.

Although as it sounds it could very probably be that your GM is not experienced enough for that approach. In this case it could be more helpful if you go down a second route by giving him fleshed out adventures. Either homemade or bought and help him convert these to the setting you have.

The why for this step is easy: Most adventures are fully fleshed out and thus he sees examples of how locations can be built and how NPCs can be built. This can also help him to build up sort of a NPC or archetype library of his own by showing him different types of NPCs and how they are built.

Also if YOU help him there don't just focus on the adventures from the gaming system you are playing, but instead also try adventures from different systems that can be used without too much conversion necessary (only mechanical aspects conversions not "uhm ok the main antanogist is a wizard but we have no wizards in our setting).

This would be a good first step as it is sort of guided and shows him how NPCS, settings and also locations can be built and gives him the opportunity to reuse them then for his own adventures.

Then after a few of such adventures (I would advice no less than 5-10 so that he gains enough experience) return to homemade adventures, as he should then have some ideas what he can do to formualte them out.

As a note though The formulating your actions our appropriately as stated by Z.MOE can support very nicely in this step and even later when you then switch back to homemade adventures, until he is sure enough that he doesn't need the additional help any longer (although even experienced GMs like players formulating things out, only players adding NPCs by themselves to scenes is often frowned upon by experienced gms thus I would advice stopping that then as soon as he has enough experience).

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    \$\begingroup\$ Thanks, as I mentioned I have tried to give some tips and advice outside of the game and I don't think he is interested in running any other campaign than the one he designed. I'm not really close to the GM and I fear if I go to him asking him to stop our current adventure and run a premade one will come off as hostile. I really just wanted some examples of story I could drive as a player and make the GM react to me instead of me reacting to the GM. \$\endgroup\$ – Kasuko Jun 5 '16 at 15:20

The "Do Stuff" approach is probably your best option. But build on it in the direction that you want... First, decide to play your character like it is all in your head and then let him decide if it is or not. Don't even tell your DM that you have decided this, just go with it. That way if he is never going to stick to his campaign, it doesn't matter. It still adds flavor to your character, gives him opportunities for stories, forces interactions with NPCs based on something that is important to you, allows your fellow players to have fun with it in whatever way they decide, etc. On the other hand he also doesn't have the out of - "I thought you said it was all in your head so I just didn't do anything."

So for example, if your character already thinks there is a secret society out there (hint: he does) you should have a parchment where you keep a log of the various sigils, glyphs, etc that you come across that aren't explained with someone's successful lore check. If someone asks why, you are taking a note to look into it later. Every now and then check for them in any libraries you get access to, add some points into appropriate skills, etc.

So now when you go into that inn and saunter up to the bar and order a drink, you also might decide to pester the barkeep about a symbol or two. Maybe you absentmindedly trace one into the condensation ring from your mug. Etc etc.

Maybe it turns into what you hope for, maybe it doesn't and you just add a bit of color to the character and game, or maybe everyone starts automatically succeeding in every single roll to identify signs and sigils and glyphs after your GM gets annoyed and doesn't want to give you any more ammo... hopefully it isn't the last one! Though if it is... it was probably orchestrated by that secret society to throw you off their trail... They are undoubtedly sneaky like that! ;)


Another way to flesh things out is to work up some background for your character, that isn't immediately relevant to the plot, so as not to interfere with the GM's control and annoy him, but gradually make it available to him.

It's not quite clear from the starting post if the characters are in an area they know, or are already far from home. If you are in an area your character has connections with, it's worth deciding you have a cousin in the next town, and going to visit him when you get there. Don't try to make this automatic help, or force the GM to play an NPC he doesn't know anything about; just make the cousin someone you can visit socially, and have some idea of why he's in that town and what he does there.

At this point, the GM has someone who you know and have some trust in, who can tell you things. GMs need those, so he may well take it up. Ideally, he'd use the cousin to supply some piece of information that's widely known in the town, but has some additional meaning to the PCs, but don't pressurise him: he's probably somewhat uncertain and feeling his way. If this works, other players may join in.


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