• Justin Handlin

Rules for Storytelling

Updated: Aug 17

in us Live: 8/16/20 7pm Est (GMT -4)




In Dungeons and Dragons and tabletop roleplaying games in general, storytelling is a prime focus. Through the stories being woven by the Game Masters, characters created by the players, and their actions a wonderful collaborative story is created.


Crit Academy delves into a collection of core storytelling rules by one of the greatest storytelling business, Pixar. The Disney subsidiary animation studio.


Segment: Let’s talk about Blank!

Chris Perkins Tweeted

Icewind Dale: Rime of the Frostmaiden is full of terrifying secrets, some of which lie buried under ice and snow.



Totally looks like future tech! I think it could be a Githyanki or Githzerai city. It would line up with the Baldur's Gate III game being released by Larian Studios. Which has been to be confirmed to take place after the events in Descent Intro Avernus.



Give Away: Loresmyth: Modular Dungeon Tiles - Arcania

Modular dungeon tiles are an easy way to create your own beautiful digital maps. The Arcania lets you make dark, shadowy dungeon map, rich with the fumes of arcane secrets.

Winner: ryleigh5150

Didn’t win? Np, head to www.critacademy.com/loresmyth a free set of digital terrain and much more.


Segment: Main Topic: Pixar’s 22 Rules of Storytelling


  1. Admire characters for attempting more than what their successes have been.

  2. Keep in mind what’s interesting to you as an audience, not what’s fun to do as a writer. They can be very different.

  3. Trying for theme is important, whoever you won’t see what the story is about until you’re at the end of that story. Got it? Now rewrite.

  4. Once upon a time there was___. Every day, ____. One day___. Because of that,___. Because of that___. Until finnaly___.

  5. Simplify. Focus. Combine characters. Hop over detours. You’ll feel like you're losing valuable stuff but it sets you free.

  6. What is your character good at or comfortable with? Throw the polar opposite at him. Challenge him. How does he deal with it?

  7. Come up with your ending before you figure out your middle. Seriously. Endings are hard. Get yours working up front.

  8. Finish your story. Let go even if it’s not perfect. In an ideal world you have both, but move on. Do better next time.

  9. When you’re stuck, make a list of what wouldn’t happen next. More often than not. The material that gets you unstuck appears.

  10. Pull apart the stories you like. What you like in them is a part of you. Recognize it before you use it.

  11. Why must you tell this toy in particular? What’s the belief burning within you that your story feeds off of? That’s the heart of it.

  12. Discount the 1st thing that comes to mind. And the 2nd, 3rd, 4th, 5th - get the obvious out of the way. Surprise yourself.

  13. Give your characters opinions. A character being passive or malleable is easy for you as a writer, but it’s poison to your audience.

  14. What’s the essence of your story? What’s the most economical way of telling of it? If you know that, you can build out from there.

  15. If you were your character, in this situation, how would you feel? Honesty lends credibility to unbelievable situations.

  16. What are the stakes? Give us reason to root for the character. What happens if he doesn’t succeed? Stack the odds against him.

  17. NO work is ever wasted. And if it’s not working, let go and move on - if it’s useful, it’ll show up again.

  18. You have to know yourself and know the difference between doing your best & being fussy. The story is testing, not refining.

  19. Coincidences that get characters into trouble are great. Coincidences that get them out of it is cheating.

  20. Exercise. Take the building blocks of a movie you dislike. How would you rearrange them into what you DO like?

  21. Identify with your situation/characters. Don’t write “cool.” What would make YOU act that way?

  22. Putting it on paper only allows you to start fixing it. If a perfect idea stays in your head, you’ll never share it with anyone.



Give Away: Jeff Stevens Games: Scourge of the Nightingale: Part 1 A Song of Love

A masked menace terrifies the region, raiding villages to fund her devious plan. Unknowingly, the adventurers stumble into her most recent evil scheme: the kidnapping of a famous performer known as Devon Artis. Their mission is to deliver a ransom and collect Devon. Though, as in most cases, not all goes as planned.

Winner: rslape1992

Didn’t win? Np, head to www.critacademy.com/jeffstevens to get Villains and Lairs III and Encounters on the Savage Seas III Free


Segment: Unearthed Tips and Tricks! (We give you creative content for your next adventure)


Character Concept:

Accidental Hero You are the kind of person who is hailed as a great hero by all and the people of all walks of life speak of your great deeds! People remember when you saved the king from an invisible assassin! You are well regarded for having found the lost Staff of Valor believed to be destroyed! You are praised for even slaying the red dragon that harried the lands! What you don’t tell people is when you were target shooting at a range, missed the target and happened to strike the invisible assassin trying to kill the king. You also don’t mention you happen to trip and face plant onto a wall and by pure dumb luck hitting the stone that opened the secret passage where the staff was hidden. And you also are glad no one saw you flee in terror at the sight of the red dragon but it happened to choke to death on your horse. People assume you are mighty but you are just a coward who happens to always somehow fail upwards and you're too afraid to tell people and just go with it.


Monster Variant:

Inspiration from Crit Nation Community Facebook Group. - Charles Koonts

The Prowling King or TPK for short?

Origin: Chimera

Lost Features: fly, fire breath, horns


New Features:

Keen Smell. The prowling king has advantage on Wisdom (Perception) checks that rely on smell.

Pounce. If the prowling king moves at least 15 feet straight toward a creature and then hits it with a claw attack on the same turn, that target must succeed on a DC 15 Strength saving throw or be knocked prone. If the target is prone, the prowling king makes one claw attack against it as a bonus action.


Sentinel. When the prowling king hits a creature with an opportunity attack, the creature’s speed becomes 0 for the rest of the turn.


Claws. Melee Weapon Attack: +7 to hit, reach 5 ft., one target. Hit: 11 (2d6 +4) slashing damage. The target is grappled (escape DC 15) if it is a Large or smaller creature and the prowling king doesn’t have four other creatures grappled.


Encounter:

The Master’s Amulet

The characters are hired by Shamil Stumbleduck (F, LG, gnome mage). Her shield guardian seems to have started malfunctioning, a result of damage during an attack on her tower. The attack came from a group of elite drow. While she was able to fend off the assault, a drow mage escaped. She needs to get the magical amulet that she uses to control the construct repaired, unfortunately she is missing three key spell components, one of which, the amulet, was stolen in the attack. The characters must track and hunt down the drow mage and retrieve the damaged amulet. The second item the characters need is a hemispherical piece of clear crystal and finally a matching hemispherical piece of gum arabic.

A character who succeeds on a DC 21 Intelligence (Arcana) check or if they know the spell otiluke’s resilient sphere identifies these materials as key components for that particular spell. One designed to imprison creatures. A character who succeeds on a DC 19 Wisdom (Survival) check, recalls trekking through a cavern at the base of a waterfall and seeing clear crystal stalactites.

A character who succeeds on a DC 19 Wisdom (Nature) check recalls that arabic gum is a favored treat of treants. Likely they can locate a treant and ask for some of the hardened sap-like material.

Lastly, the characters will have to get each material cut into two hemispherical shapes. If a character has proficiency with a set of Artisan’s tools such as Carpenter’s tools or similar, they can craft and shape the material themselves with a successful DC 16 check. Likewise, if they have access to the fabricate spell or similar magical effect, they can also create it. If not they need to seek out a smithy or similar npc and have the work done for a fee of 250 gold pieces, taking a 10 day.


Magic Item:

Arrow of the Monk

Weapon (arrow), uncommon

Monastery monks created the arrow of the monk to repel intruders from their home. They imbued them with their own ki energy. These sleek arrows have a small wooden fist carved into their end that stores the energy, releasing its power on impact.

Make a ranged weapon attack against a target. On a hit, the target takes 1d10 force damage. Hit or miss, the arrow explodes. The target and each creature within 5 feet of it must succeed on a Constitution saving throw or take 2d6 force damage and be knocked back 10 feet.


Dungeon Master Tip:

Loot Freely

Loot freely. For instance. you don't have to be running a game set in the world of Eberron to find something worth using in the Eberron Rising of the Last War setting book. Maybe the idea of characters with dragon marks tide to a mysterious prophecy fits in with the ideas you have for your own campaign. Letting your characters take dragonmark feats-and then pitting them against agents of the Chamber and the Lords of Dust - makes everyone at the table happy.

- James Wyatt



Player Tip: Don’t be a Dick

Martial Training - Uber Sneak Attack

One of the defining abilities of a rogue, without question, is sneak attack. As potent as it is on its own, there are ways to get more mileage out of it, a great way is by combining it with other effects that stack with it. Most notably are the effects of the cantrips Green Flame Blade or Booming Blade both of which use a regular weapon attack.


You can easily gain access to these features in a number of ways. Such as the Arcane Trickster archetype, or choosing the HIgh elf race or grabbing the Magic Initiate feat. Increase the odds of even more damage by remembering that Sneak Attacks can be only used once per turn, including other creatures' turns on top of your turn which means you can also use it with the reaction attack of opportunity.


If you have any feedback, unearthed tips and tricks or topics you would like us to discuss, please send them to us. You can email them to us at critacademy@gmail.com or find us on twitter and Facebook @critacademy.

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