Plot points allow players to change the course of the campaign, introduce plot complications, alter the world, and even assume the role of the DM. If your first reaction to reading this optional rule is to worry that your players might abuse it, it’s probably not for you.
Each player starts with 1 plot point. During a session, a player can spend that point for one effect. The effect depends on your group’s approach to this optional rule. Three options are presented below.
A player can spend no more than 1 plot point per session. You can increase this limit if you like, especially if you want the players to drive more of the story. Once every player at the table has spent a plot point, they each gain 1 plot point.
A player who spends a plot point gets to add some element to the setting or situation that the group (including you) must accept as true. For example, a player can spend a plot point and state that his or her character has found a secret door, an NPC appears, or a monster turns out to be a long-lost ally polymorphed into a horrid beast.
A player who wants to spend a plot point in this way should take a minute to discuss his or her idea with everyone else at the table and get feedback before settling on a plot development.
Whenever a player spends a plot point, the player to his or her right must add a complication to the scene. For example, if the player who spends the plot point decides that her character has found a secret door, the player to the right might state that opening the door triggers a magical trap that teleports the party to another part of the dungeon.
With this approach, there is no permanent DM. Everyone makes a character, and one person starts as the DM and runs the game as normal. That person’s character becomes an NPC who can tag along with the group or remain on the sidelines, as the group wishes.
At any time, a player can spend a plot point to become the DM. That player’s character becomes an NPC, and play continues. It’s probably not a good idea to swap roles in the middle of combat, but it can happen if your group allows time for the new DM to settle into his or her role and pick up where the previous DM left off.
Using plot points in this way can make for an exciting campaign as each new DM steers the game in unexpected directions. This approach is also a great way for would-be DMs to try running a game in small, controlled doses.
In a campaign that uses plot points this way, everyone should come to the table with a bit of material prepared or specific encounters in mind. A player who isn’t prepared or who doesn’t feel like DMing can choose to not spend a plot point that session.
For this approach to work, it’s a good idea to establish some shared assumptions about the campaign so that DMs aren’t duplicating efforts or trampling on each other’s plans.