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Blogger's Roundtable of Doom: The Montage

It's time again for the Blogger's Roundtable of Doom! Last time we talked about how to encourage roleplaying. This time our question is: What is a favorite mechanic or idea you've encountered in an RPG that you think would work well in other games? Please explain the mechanic/idea, tell us a bit about the game it comes from, and give some ideas of how it could be used in other games.


I'm going with the montage. I first encountered the montage in 13th Age's Organized Play adventures. At the start of every session, the GM tells the players where they are going, and then has the players go around the table, each player describing a challenge the group encountered, and the next player describing how their character overcame the challenge. No dice, just pure roleplaying.

So the players tell the story of how they get to an important scene, and then the normal 13th Age rules take over and everyone plays out that scene. I love this, as it gets everyone's creative juices flowing and creates an exciting shared story that is part of the adventure.

Art by Reece Ambrose

Here is an excerpt from my Numenera adventure The Sun Below: City on the Edge. The goal of the montage is to narrate a prison break by the PCs. Since they have lost all their equipment, I let them pick up cyphers as they go around the table. After the montage, they may encounter a hostile patrol, so I want them to gear up appropriately.

City on the Edge Cover

Prison Break

For the escape, the goal is not to go into details with maps and die rolling, but to give a sense of time passing as the characters make their getaway.

The characters are fleeing in an underground labyrinth of tunnels full of ancient machinery. In this scene, the players will help decide what obstacles they face, and what they must do to overcome them.

If the characters search for weapons at any point, they find pipes and bits of metal they can use as clubs.

Pick a player to start with, then go around the table. Each player will describe an exciting problem the group encounters. The next player will describe how their character solves the problem in a cinematic fashion. The GM narrates the solution back to the group, with the character as the hero, and has the hero find a cypher in the process. The player then comes up with a new problem and the next player in turn comes up with the solution. Keep going until every player has created and solved a problem.

For example, the first player says, “We run around a corner and find a bottomless chasm blocking our way.”

The next player describes how their character got the group past the difficulty. (No die rolls needed.)

For example, the player could say, “We find a storeroom full of long transparent tubes, wide enough to crawl through. We lay one over the chasm and go on.”

You then narrate that back to the group, making the character the hero and add a cypher.

Amazing. What looked like just part of the wall turned out to be the door to a storeroom, and you found it. You single-handedly lift a long clear tube up and place it across the chasm. You even find some machinery on both sides to brace it with, so it won’t roll. All the other characters get across.

You go last. As you crawl across the chasm in the clear tube, and notice something glittering on a shelf three feet below the far ledge. It’s a cypher.

Then give them a cypher. Consider cyphers that might help the characters escape from a patrol, such as a force screen projector.

Now the player who described the solution and found the cypher describes a new obstacle to the party’s escape. You keep going around the table. Once every player has had a chance to make up a challenge to overcome and a solution, the montage is over.

What are the other Blogger's of DOOM stealing from other roleplaying games? Let's see!

James Walls takes on the Player Turn from Mouseguard. I love Mouseguard, and this is an excellent post!

Marc Plourde is such a showoff, he blogs about 5 things to steal, and then adds 2 more. Great stuff.

Scott Robinson steals location aspects from FATE. Hmmm, I'm going to have to try this myself...

Lex Starwalker is behind all this madness: Now, he's taken the Cypher System's GM Intrusion, and intruded it into D&D 5th edition. Is nothing sacred?

John Clayton finds backstories that have fallen off the back of a lorry. Prince of Shadows aproved!

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GM Excuses: Audition Your Lead NPC