Character Hooks

The text of this blog is copyright 2012. Have fun with the content but don’t pass it off as your own or try to sell it, Okay.

One of the key challenges in scenario design is finding ways to help the characters by into the story.

This is my take on adapting the advice of Wolfgang Baur in “Writing your first adventure” ( to Pulp Adventure design.

Before you begin running a scenario, consider your player’s back stories and see if there is a way to tie them in.
Is the scenario about the kidnapping of an eminent scientist? If so, is it possible that one of the Academics knows the victim? Or perhaps one of the Adventurers or Mystics is a relative?
Is the aid of a key member of the police required? If so, does one of the characters have a past that saw them come into conflict with this individual?
Character hooks are those things which allow the characters to become personally invested in the story.

A pulp adventure is peopled with adventurers, mystics, and academics. It is important to try and give your players a relatively balanced play experience where they each get to have their moment in the sun.
Plan encounters and situations that allow them to play to their strengths.
Create approx. 22 encounters that will allow the players to shine. If possible prepare them with your specific players in mind.
Create 5 each for the general archetypes, 5 general combat and roleplaying encounters, at least one place that will provide the players with aid and that they can recover safely in, and 1 climactic encoutner with the “big bad” villain.

Adventurer obstacles
2 x stealth obstacles (break into the safe, sneak past the guards)
2 x physical challenges (crossing a tightrope, scaling a wall, swimming a significant distance under water)
1 x dexterity challenge (firing a bow and arrow at a target)

Academic obstacles
2 x Mechanics, Technology, Science obstacles (get the grounded airplane flying)
2 x puzzle or trap
1 x medical challenge (provide first aid to the dying scientist)

Mystical obstacles
2 x Magical challenges (safely manipulating a magical item, or lock)
2 x Research or occult knowledge challenge (decyphering hieroglyphs etc)
1 x Artefact recovery (An gold challice with restorative powers that must be understood correctly to be used)

1 x Safe haven for recovery etc.

Generic obstacles
2 x roleplaying obstacles (situations requiring negotiation and effective communication)
2 x Mook encounters (straight fights)
1 x Lieutenant encounter

1 x Big bad guy encounter

A written list keyed to each of my characters can help me ensure that everyone get’s their moment in the sun.

Categories: Game Mastering, Scenario Design | Tags: , , , | 1 Comment

Post navigation

One thought on “Character Hooks

  1. I just found your blog and I have gone back and read several of the articles so far. I just wanted to say thank you for putting these ideas down. I can see that you are not currently writing here but I wanted to encourage and again thank you for these design ideas. I hope you have another current outlet for your creativity.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s

Blog at

%d bloggers like this: