One oft-neglected part of setting up your roleplaying scenarios is to ensure there is a decent hook. Now a lot of the Storytellers' attention is often put into how to hook the characters into the particular investigation / assault / dungeon but really that's more of a lure. You put cash on the ground or have their wife disappear and the character trundles off and risks life and limb to get what they came for.
The hooks I'm going to be talking about in a series of three short articles use the more literary definition. Basically, how to hook your audience -- the players. After all, it's quite easy to dream up a perfect lure that will have the entire cast of characters running headlong into danger while simultaneously boring the hell out of your players. After all, receiving a diary prop of 40 pages and being briefed for two real time hours on an investigation into your wife's disappearance at the start of a new adventure / campaign may reel the character in but it's not going to be doing much to capture your players' attention.
And when your players aren't paying attention ... boy, does it show!
So make it easier on yourself. Put a little bit of thought into your campaign / adventure / session's introduction. Yeah, you have no idea where they'll take it. That bit of action you'd planned may turn into a 2 hour briefing and that's perfect because your players have just engaged themselves by taking command of the events.
So what does a good hook entail? There are three key ingredients to a good hook. It should do things a little differently, it should clue them into the general mood, and it should tweak the player's curiosity. Basically, it should leave them thinking: "I must get involved in this to find out more." That way they'll be eager to drive the plot themselves.
I'll go into more detail about different types of hooks on a weekly basis (because this post is long enough as it is). The three hooks are:
The Slow Reveal
The Sudden Grasp
The Bizarre Mystery
See you all on Mondays for the next few articles on this!