Spider-man's stories have been deeply personal. Peter Parker is always dealing with real life situations and mundane problems that we can all relate to. The villains are also uniquely personal to Pete's' life. His story is universal. Today I want to talk about the Spider-Man 2 movie, with Tobey McGuire, and how to make a story more personal.
As a dungeon master you will want to tell the story with a villain that has a personal relationship to one of the players characters. In Spider-Man 2, we don't have a random monster-of-the week. We have a person that Peter looks up to, A scientific genius that Peter idolized.
make it personal
Every encounter Pete has with Doc Ock is also part of his personal story. When our villain decides to rob a bank, he doesn't just go to a random bank in the city. It's at the bank where Pete and Aunt May are visiting. This bring two plot lines together with them trying to get a loan.
Give your villain a plan, and put your players in the villains path or vise versa. Once the players find out about the villain and are directly in their path, they can decide what to do about the baddie.
This is my favorite way of introducing the big bad and easily moves the plot forward. This is also a good way to set up the baddies in a way that the players see it directly. The players should not know the full extent of the bad guys plans right away, but they'll get a taste of it.
Spider-Man tries to stop Doc Ock, and when he grabs a meat shield, it's not just a random citizen at the bank, it is, of course Aunt May. This is a great example of raising the stakes. It's not just a nameless NPC who could get hurt, but someone your players should care about.
In the spirit of keeping things personal, we have another plot thread about Harry. He blames Spidey for his fathers death and is out to seek justice.
Every person in Peters life is affected by the story. Keeping things personal.
Doc Ock and Harry end up working together, and theirs plans involve Peter. Once the villain meets your players, they need to start anticipating the players moves if they know the heroes will try to get in their way.
keep Your story moving forward
Just as Peter and MJ start patching things together and things might start going well, is the exact moment that Doc Ock attacks, interrupting their almost kiss.
This is hard to plan as a DM, because the players can be unpredictable. You can always interrupt the players when they are trying to rest or shop.
Don't interrupt too often though because the players will get sick of it and they'll stop having fun if they can't catch a break.
This continually raises the stakes if our hero doesn't seem to get a break. In the end, Doc Ock keeps MJ as a prisoner so she doesn't go to the police. Our villain doesn't know that she has a connection to Spidey, but we do, and of course you as the DM will know how to make it personal.
Raising The Stakes
The final battle in Spider-Man 2 is a great example of crafting an exciting and memorable encounter.
Just defeating the bad guy isn't enough, especially in a boss battle. Spidey has to fight Doc Ock, save Mary Jane, and turn off the reactor all at the same time.
The stakes are raised again because not only is MJ in danger but the entire city could be destroyed. Give your players lots to do in a boss battle and it will be a lot more interesting.
You can also create a time limit to put pressure on your players. Deactivate the reactor (magic item, demon summoning etc.) so nobody dies. Spidey is also fighting someone who he knows and respected.
To make things more exciting, the building they are fighting in is falling down all around them, adding more risk to MJ and our players. Adding danger in the location itself builds a more epic encounter.
Add traps, puzzles, magic items that could do damage, rough terrain and anything else you can think of to make it more interesting.
Allow Role-Play During Battle
I also love this because they continue to tell the story during battle. Peter takes a turn to try to talk to Ock. He reveals himself and makes it personal to the villain and ultimately MJ. Peter talks Doc Ock out of fighting and it works.
Give your players chances to talk and role play during their turns instead of just fighting. The bad guys can do this too. They will seem much more realistic and add depth to characters and battles.
Remember to have big plans for the bad guys and put the players in their path. Make sure the bad guys are connected to a player or players in some way.
Use NPC's that the players care about so we can toy with their emotions by putting them in danger. Add more than one goal to a boss battle.
Insert something dangerous in the environment for the players to deal with. Encourage players and enemies to role play during battle.
Be adaptable to your players.
And above all, have fun!
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