Your Guide to Being a Better Montage Player

“You walk through the Desolates, the sun beating down on your back. It is montage time! Who wants to start?”
Crickets echo through the room. No one makes eye contact. The Game Master sighs and gestures to the poor soul on their right.
“You go first. What is the first thing you all encounter?”
Player A looks around the group and blurts. “Bandits?”

 

It’s always bandits. Does this sound familiar? Your group encounters the same things every game session. Your players solve the encounters with little difficulty and it’s all rather boring. No one knows the cool things that one character can do because the encounters fall flat. 

If that is familiar, it is time to have a sit down with your players. Whoa! Not to chide or berate them, but to brainstorm together things everyone can have on their montage cheatsheet. 

Sometimes players have a hard time thinking up something to add to the montage. Most people aren’t used to thinking up problems for others to solve on the spot. That’s a GM skill many people have to develop. It is better to encourage the players to co-create lists and options for montages outside of the game. Here are several lists to get your party started. I highly recommend that you create your own lists with your players. They will have a lot of bright ideas, but probably need time to think up the montage. 

13 things to encounter in…

City

  1. Two people are arguing loudly in the street, blocking traffic. 
  2.  Overturned cart of cabbages with the owner bemoaning his loss of profit.
  3.  A gang of street thieves threaten the group. 
  4.  Urchins steal a magical item causing mayhem in the streets.
  5.  A building is burning along your route.
  6.  A child is in a locked cellar.
  7.  Giant rat is chasing villagers.
  8.  Cultists surround the group and demand they sacrifice to the gods.
  9.  A freak wind storm blows over a tall building trapping the group.
  10.  A circus group has set up camp on the entrance to the sewers.
  11.  [Insert your favorite monster here] is following the group.
  12.  The only way through the village is over the rooftops.
  13.  The roads are too confusing to figure out the correct direction and the group continues in circles.

Forest

  1. The sun seems to disappear in the middle of the day.
  2. Howling sounds in the distance as wolves chase the party.
  3. Overgrown bushes create an inescapable maze. 
  4. Thorns scratch the group and poison seeps in.
  5. Stepping on mushrooms on the forest floor releases toxins that cause hallucinations. 
  6. Rainstorms cause flash floods.
  7. Giant mosquitos attack, attempting to drain the group of their blood. 
  8. A magical pond lures the group in and the possibility of drowning is real.
  9. Flying monkeys appear, chattering about the Icons.
  10. Voices echo through the forest, insulting the PCs, causing the group to turn on each other.
  11. A group of bandits hiding in an outcropping ambush the group.
  12. An empty clearing ringed with stones shoots darts at anyone trying to cross the clearing.
  13. Ruins rise up from the ground and most of the group feels a sense of misgiving about it.

Desert

  1. The party runs out of water.
  2. Sand worms! Run!
  3. Raiders appear on the horizon, chasing down the group.
  4. Deep canyons criss-cross the land, blocking the path.
  5. Sandstorm sweeps over the land.
  6. Giant beetles swarm the party.
  7. An oasis mirage causes the group to waste time chasing the fantasy.
  8. Giant dried bones rise up out of the sand, calling out to the group.
  9. A tomb of an undead lord is releasing mummies to chase the group.
  10. Quicksand! It’s everywhere.
  11. Fire sprouts out of the ground.
  12. Sand collapses beneath the party, dropping them into a deep cavern.
  13. Lightning strikes from a clear sky, striking the ground around the party. 

Dungeon/Sewer

  1. Poisonous gas fills the tunnel.
  2. Bioluminescent mushrooms give the party hallucinations.
  3. Deep canyons cut off the path of the party.
  4. Any torches are magically put out and the party is left in darkness.
  5. A sudden earthquake causes a cave-in.
  6. An underground river blocks the party.
  7. A group of dark trolls ambush the party.
  8. Flying bats harass the group.
  9. The tunnels turn into a maze making the group completely lost.
  10. Quicksand tugs at the feet of the party, beginning to drag them down. 
  11. Monstrous rats surround the group.
  12. A dead end blocks the obvious route for the party. 
  13. A pit filled with spikes opens before the group in the path.

We hope this helps! Encourage your party to come up with their own montage ideas, but give help when they need it! If they want to make it random, they can roll on the tables you create. As a GM, it is important that you give your players creative license for their choices. If your players don’t want to roll random numbers, then allow them to choose. Reward their creativity, in problem creation and solving. We believe in giving players rewards in the narrative, allowing them to solve the problems in a way that benefits them more because of their creativity. With any luck, your players will be able to figure out how to best showcase their character’s cool traits, abilities, and one unique thing.

Written by Becca

1 thought on “Your Guide to Being a Better Montage Player

  1. I also think it helps a lot if the GM puts the montage in a framework to help the players. It’s easier to be creative within bounds than unbounded. So what’s the purpose of the montage? For example, the group is travelling from Village A to (elven) Village B through the edges of the Spider Wood. Give a few details about the Spiderwood, then start the montage. That imagery should evoke a few ideas from some players right off the bat. The other players will have time to think. If no one offers anything immediately, continue to provide details of the framework such as active icons in the area, trouble that’s occurred lately, or weather/terrain events to spark ideas. And if someone throws out an idea from left field, that’s fine. It might even spark others to add on with their parts. Event A leads to Event B and so on.

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