Maybe it’s the gamer in me but when I first read the post title “The 5×5 Method” I immediately visualized a grid. When I read Dave’s post, I got that feeling but it seemed more like a tree than a grid with branches flowing from one another and even sometimes intersecting.
I tried plotting out our campaign that way but so many of our plot sources had no connection to each other that it felt forced. Dave’s idea is terrific if your campaign is new or your brainstorming the next one but what if you’re like me and already in the thick of the stories? Intersecting plot threads are terrific but can be difficult to write or plan so I came up with this variation on the method for my game.
First, I made a 6×6 grid. I used 6 because I used one column and row for titles. You can use graph paper, a spreadsheet, html tables – whatever works for you.
Then along the top and bottom, I labeled the major plot threads we currently have going. I only used one word. This table is a reminder to me, not a thesis. You just want to toss something in the slot that’s going to jog your memory.
Then in each intersection, I started brainstorming ideas for how these plots would interact. Start jotting down notes in each space. Again, I didn’t want to write a lot at this point, just put down some reminders for later.
Do this for each intersection and you’ve got 25 adventure ideas that pull all your threads together into related stories.
If you’re like me, and in the middle of an ongoing campaign, you can include some of the adventures you’ve run already and just cross them out. This let’s you fill in squares and see how things are working together.
You can see my example here:
The trick is coming up with 2 ideas for each intersection. In the grid, each plot intersects twice – once from each direction. I suggest looking at that from 2 different points of view.
For example, “Invasion” and “Sewers” were my hardest to brainstorm in this example. I just tried to keep the emphasis on “Sewers” for one intersection and on “Invasion” for the second one.
Don’t try to force the ideas. If they don’t flow, just leave a square blank. You can always come back and fill it in later and players are great at providing inspiration.
The real advantage here is that no matter what plot your players want to pursue, you’ve got some ideas to develop in that direction.
My next grid will be using Chatty’s idea and coming up with 25 rumors!