Running an RPG is like learning to cook

The journey of running an RPG is a lot like the one we experience had with cooking. You can pick up a recipe online the same way you would a published adventure, or just create everything yourself. As always you need to know who’s advice to take.

Making everything up yourself is hard at the beginning, you drow from your imagination, from what you have at your disposal and from movies and books you enjoyed. But it’s hard putting it all together. Should the pasta be boiled in a covered pot or an open pot? Does that even matter?

It takes a lot of time to learn what works, and even more time, to learn what works best. Which side dishes go with which mains? How to expand from thinking about making one dish to thinking in meals? first, mains and desserts. The BBEG isn’t much without a build-up leading to them. Suddenly you understand why some of your old adventures failed. 

You start experimenting with some high-end ideas:  Which wine should go with this meal? Should I replace the ingredients with their more expensive counterparts? What is the diffrence between vanilla and vanilla extract?

Experimentation leads you to understandings. You get that stereotypes are useful to create a quick outline for a character, pasta should be cooked in an uncovered pot. But in both cases, you’re not sure why. You only know that it works. 

As time passes, you connect dots you’ve ignored before. Which plates will best feature this food? The color of the plates, does the silverware matter? Isn’t any fork as good as any other fork? Some of the answers are contradictory but they still hold true. Weird.

Events click into place and become understandings. if you don’t add on to the stereotypes the characters are forgettable and uninspiring because they lack depth and uniqueness, the closed lid causes the pasta water to foam with a danger of spilling over.

Your mind expands and you start thinking in terms of experiences. What will enhance the experience of this meal? Changing to the good set of plates will not change the functionality of the plates but will create a sense of anticipation when the guests will see them laid out. 

The introduction of each serving is given consideration. Words choice and word order, hand gestures and facial expressions, all enhance the moment before the actual taste. Causing your players to focus and pay more attention so they could appreciate each and every nuance of the experience.

Today you find yourself preparing a three-course meal for tonight’s session, you already set up the starter that leads to the main dish, knows which side dishes will complement the encounter difficulty, the wine is your group’s usual blindspots. For the dessert, you select something new. Because you want to experiment with new mechanics for magical artifacts. It’s going to be one hell of a night.


The Stairwell System

(or “How to remember everything that happened in the session”) In episode 18 of On the Shoulders of Dwarves I’ve briefly mentioned how I use