Nobody Expected That!

Nobody Expected That!

Keeping an experienced party on their toes can require extreme measures!

And finding new ways to surprise and enthrall your players can be a challenge - particularly if you aim to reinvigorate your sessions.

As a GM, try throwing completely unexpected (or even outrageous) situations their way. At virtually any point in an adventure series, these pocket plots can provide the twists needed to enliven the session and your players.

The Handicap

Whether through natural, medical or magical means, a significant handicap is imposed upon one or more party members for a time. 

This could be a lost bet or dare or it could be that the party upset the wrong mage with some careless talk. The party must immediately focus on removing/repairing the issue before they can return to their previous mission.

Some possibilities include:

  • Loss of Voice - non verbal communication only permitted both in game and between players out of it
  • Truth Speaker - one or more party members must always vocalize their unfiltered thoughts and opinions
  • Clothing - an item of distinctive and possibly inappropriate clothing must be worn for a specified length of time
  • Charisma Modifier - up or down - both have distinct possibilities and you can be creative about what form this modifier takes!


Sometimes, the local populace thinks that a god or goddess walks among them!

Pick the most unlikely candidate from your party for maximum effect and consider what disadvantages might accompany this. They will be riding high until they are expected to fix something beyond their abilities!

Similarly, as font of god-like wisdom, they will be expected to arbitrate and advise on all manner of issues.  This can be a positive minefield.

Deification can throw a wrench in your players' plans if the party is trying to stay under the radar, since their cover will be completely blown.  They will have to juggle quite a few new demands in addition to their core mission.

Persona Non Grata

The opposite of deification is to inadvertently commit a taboo level social faux pas.  All social support and interaction is abruptly shut down while vigilantes patrol the area in search of the offending group.

If you have a player you want to bring out of themselves and encourage to participate more, exempt them from this stigma.

That player is now the only socially acceptable member of the group and will necessarily step up - under direction - to complete aspects of their task normally carried out by others.

The Zenda Effect

Also known as mistaken identity, the Zenda effect is where one of the party happens to resemble someone very well known in the locality.

The party really has only one opportunity to avoid this; full disclosure at the outset.

If they play along, even for a while, they quickly find themselves in over their heads and unable to get out with their dignity, belongings and limbs in tact.

Impersonating this individual may be blasphemous or a capital offense, while the locals have massive and demanding expectations of what this individual is capable of. Failure to meet those expectations is also not an option!

Happy Gaming!
-Stolph (Ed)

PS: If you decide to try any of these out, or indeed something similar of your own, I’d love to hear the results!  Just reply to this email!

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