“Know thyself” is an old adage that’s a lot easier for players to live by than for you.
If I’m playing one character, it’s easy to think about what that one character would do and how he or she would approach the world and react to situations.
Be a DM and suddenly knowing what one character would do becomes knowing what dozens or hundreds would do.
But it’s still not as hard as it sounds. Simply make sure that you know what the NPCs – especially villains – in your world want and why. Everything after that gets a lot easier.
I’ll give you an example. In my current campaign, my players are working through Princes of the Apocalypse. Jolliver Grimjaw has deflected their attentions twice so far, diverting them to other locations and objectives. Now, however, the water cultists have captured a friend of the party’s and are holding her ransom in exchange for a magical item (which the players of course no longer have). The players are on their way to the keep hoping to exchange around 2000gp for their friend.
What to do?
It’s hard to figure out unless you know what Grimjaw wants. In this case, he wants the magical item. He also wants to get rid of these adventurers, since they’re a liability and a half. In the words of Admiral Ackbar: it’s a trap!
DDAL08-01 The Map with No Names (DMsGuild – $4.99) (other AL modules are now released as well!)
Now get out there and tell a story (and if you need one to tell, check out my work on DMsGuild)!