By Jason Campbell
You’ve got a really cool idea for a TTRPG one-shot or campaign, now all you need are players. Whether you find your players through an online group, a bulletin board at your friendly local game store, or a text to your buddies, you need to write a short description to “sell” your potential players on your idea. It doesn’t seem like an important piece of writing, but since this could determine whether your game happens, it’s as important as anything you write.
The brief you write about your game is often called a “pitch.” There are some basic principles of writing that apply, but some advice is more valuable for this task than others. Here’s a few tips in writing a pitch.
- Keep it short. Whether we like it or not, the length of your pitch can determine whether anyone actually reads it. If your post on the bulletin boards consumes nearly a full page, or your post on Discord has a scroll bar on the side, many potential players may not even begin to read it. Write as much as you need to, but then edit it with the proverbial “fine toothed comb.” Remove anything that isn’t absolutely necessary to understand the basic goals and theme of your game. This can be painful (“Kill your darlings!”) but remember that it’s all in service to making your game happen.
- Order is everything. Even though you’ve eliminated unnecessary details, what’s left is still not ideal. You’ve got people to read it now, but once they start reading how can you ensure they finish? The rule that you should put the best parts first is your friend. Look for the most interesting thing about your game idea and put that in the first sentence, preferably at the beginning of your first sentence. You don’t need to put your scenario in the order it will unfold, especially if it’s a slow crawl. Grab the most exciting part and put that first, you can always flash back later. For instance;
“The dragon’s fiery breath is all around you, your companions trapped in lava on either side. This is your last chance, brave warrior! The game starts in the crumbling kingdom of <something> which is besieged by dragons…”
Go for the stuff that will grab players first.
- Offer cool stuff for the players. Your idea may create a good story but it won’t without the players’ contributions. Think about unique opportunities the players will have in your game that will inspire them to create a character. Are there additional spells, sub classes, or a wide variety of species available? Do their backgrounds offer unique options? Are there ancient and powerful artifacts around? Appeal to things your players will find enticing. You don’t have to give the characters huge advantages, just keep in mind the things players like for their characters.
What do you think? Have you written any epic game briefs? Let us know in the comments below.