How To Catch On To Plot Hooks & Follow Up On Them

(Without Needing Big Hot Pink ST Post-Its, or Neon Arrows That Say "PLOT DEVICE HERE!")




  • Have you ever had trouble trying figuring out where a scene is actually going?

  • Do you often not catch on to where you should be going IC, who you should be talking to, or what you're supposed to accomplish?

  • Do you sometimes  have the feeling you just missed the Clue Bus after you finish a scene (or worse, has your ST outright said so)?

  • Do you know what you are supposed to get done, but have no idea how you should get there, and what the things, places or people around you IC are good for?

  • If so, then this guide is for you!


[1] REMEMBER WHY WE RP: The most important thing to remember when role-playing, OOC, at least as far as catching plot devices is concerned, is that the underlying motive behind all IC events in the game is to cause interaction between characters and/or move story and plotlines forward. Also, the ST's are here to support the players' characters in their goals, if you have declared them in your background and we know what they are. If you have a known goal, there will be mechanisms out there IC in the story for you to pursue towards that goal, but you have to find them and earn them. For example, if a character has declared in their background that their long term goal is to become Prince, obviously their interactions will largely be about gaining supporters and allies that can push them along to get a seat of power. So, there will be RP out there that will cause this if you go looking for it.

[2] CHOOSE CONNECTION: This tells you, in a broad sense, that you usually can't go too wrong by choosing IC actions that point you to another character, to an IC venue, or that cause you to need to work together with another PC towards a common goal. Or, occasionally, to compete with others in a rivalry or to complete a goal before someone else does. This also tells you that most choices that lead you down a solo path, or to any activities or actions that aren't really possible to role-play out, are probably barking up the wrong proverbial tree.

[3] EVERYTHING HAS MEANING & RELEVANCE: Though this does remove some of the mystery of a new story, a good role-player always knows that absolutely NOTHING that an ST does is meaningless. Even if it is a false lead, it is there to create some result of some kind. It's not worth our time to set up things that serve no function. Whether it's bringing in an NPC, or describing details of the scene you are in, if we take the time to do it, it could have meaning, or we want you to wonder if it might and investigate. If you find you are not getting anywhere in the scene, go back a few steps and start with the glaringly obvious. You've probably overlooked something simple, and important.

As you get ready to do a scene, ask yourself the following questions in your mind, often more than once, as you go along:

  • [1] Why am I here? To do what? (and keep that goal in mind as you react), and
  • [2] Can I follow up or act on that? (whatever occurs in the scene) and would I care to do so?

When you start a scene, always take a minute, if you don't already have this firmly in your head, to review your background and get clear what your short term and long term goals are. Break them down into steps you can take IC. Be clear what step you are on, and then give thought to the people and places you have encountered IC - will any of them lead you further towards that goal?

[4] LISTEN FOR CLUES: Take note when a PC makes references to anything you may want to act on - a place, a person, an action or an event. The ST's are not going to say, "You need to go to Chinatown and talk to the shop keeper." That's practically playing the character for you. What we would do is insert someone saying, for example, "I hear there's a lot of (blot) in Chinatown," and leave it to you to choose to pursue it. We might leave a note somewhere IC, or a hint may be in a newspaper article from the IC newspaper (there are dozens of unresolved leads in the IC News!)

[5] A NOTE ON SIDE SCENES: These are fine, occasionally, in moderation. If you just need a short side scene with some random NPC (like, for example, the public records clerk or a politician or a cop), that's fine, just ask an ST to run it with you. But do not get into the habit of constantly doing those as a replacement for actual real RP with other players. Excessive side RP will be cut off by the ST's if you do it to excess where you alienate your PC from the story entirely.

[6] WHEN NOT TO FOLLOW UP SOMETHING: If you go down a certain path with the story and you find that you are constantly hitting more and more roadblocks to completing that scene or action, chances are high that it is an OOC ST hint that while your actions are legal game moves, they are a huge waste of time as they don't lead to anything, and we're trying to tell you to back off and get back in the story with everyone else.