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Node-based Scenario Design

IAmTheOneTrueGinger

Member
Wizard of Combat
I've been using Justin Alexander's Node-Based Scenario Design for over a decade and really enjoy it. It works great for mysteries. Or really just anything that's non-linear and also not 100% sandbox play. Just recently I started turning the larger nodes into 5-room dungeons rather than just scenes. either they're lying or the players enjoyed it. I know I definitely did. Especially when I stole 5RD's from other, more creative, GMs. :D
 

ExileInParadise

RPG Therapist
Staff member
Platinum WoA
Wizard of Story
I've been using Justin Alexander's Node-Based Scenario Design for over a decade and really enjoy it. It works great for mysteries. Or really just anything that's non-linear and also not 100% sandbox play. Just recently I started turning the larger nodes into 5-room dungeons rather than just scenes. either they're lying or the players enjoyed it. I know I definitely did. Especially when I stole 5RD's from other, more creative, GMs. :D
Computers and graph theory for the win!

Node trees like this always remind me of the old Wing Commander video game mission tree (below)

Essentially, each mission has at least two possible outcomes (success or fail) and leads to the next mission.

Players wander over the map ultimately ending up at one of several possible final outcomes.

Totally agree this can work well for tabletop, especially when used as a high level framework over 5RDs and such.

For GM plotting - imagine the left side of the graph below is "the PCs triumphant" - the middle "win some lose some" and the right side missions are "its all swirling around the drain"

The most interesting gaming seems to be in the middle, win some or lose some ... and the edges are when you know maybe to ease up a bit (if its all fail) or ramp up the difficulty a bit (if the PCs are having an easy walk)

The best part is that you don't hhave to draw the entire map at once - you can dip in and out of this as PCs move around a sandbox, encounter spikes of danger, or anything else - this is just a way to plan for multiple outcomes of each "mission" or "adventure" and have some signposts of what might be next to prep.

I really like seeing the RPG specific version linked above since that's a much more concrete and usable how-to than my example.

Great stuff!

 
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