Seize the GM
Seize the GM
Episode 141: Impromptu GMing

Main Topic

We have all been there. You check your notes for the game that is supposed to start in 30 minutes and realize you haven’t got anything written down. Oh No, what do you do? You sit back and take notes of some of the things we have on tap for those moments. 

Zendead’s list

  • Keep lists of names on hand all the time with note cards
  • The Seize the GM site for all the statblocks we have done. 
  • I also try to keep ideas for short things in games in one place that I can grab something if I need to. 

Guard-a-Manger’s List

  • Keep a backup list of plot hooks – La Boheme/Rent/Empire Records; Fetch Quest for the Cute Orphans; Cyrano de Bergerac – and have those squibs ready to roll whenever you don’t have another game idea ready.
  • Check the Seize the GM episodes about NPC notes and have those notes in your game folder/binder/rolodex for names & relevant stats 
  • Stoke Intraparty tension and drama, but not Drama. Use the above to create space for the players to have moments of roleplaying and extended self examinations to take up the gaming time. 
  • Have one Dramatic or Tragic Plot Thread for each PC if you want to pull the trigger on starting a new campaign or direction – long-lost parents; secret royal lineage; archeological treasure – whatever will motivate them to take the Agency and run with it.
  • Don’t forget your GM Go-Bag. See Episode 83 of Seize the GM for more info. 

Joules’s list

  • Use a few “war stories” from whenever I played and pull a few engaging ideas from whatever made it super fun.
  • Have a few plot hooks that are not 100% fleshed out and see what the players gravitate toward.  See if they may flesh something out.  They may ask a question that takes the game in a strange yet fun direction
  • Use my extensive database of mythology/legends and steal liberally.
  • Don’t be afraid to kludge some monsters or monster stats to come up with something. Redcap to baby langolier type of thing.
  • There’s nothing wrong with going to stereotype.  Dungeon with a Dragon.  Basic datasteal.  Save the princess.  Train Heist.  But do what you can to keep it a short experience.  

Stat Blocks


Delilah McGaven 

Sitting on an old tree stump at the crossroads was a young woman with a beat up old guitar. The dark started to stretch its fingers across the landscape of the old deserted stretch of road. Impatiently she kept spinning the small leather pouch on a cord. As the moon rose over the old growth treetops she walked out into the center of the crossroads and dug a hole with the heel of her stained and worn cowboy boots. Once the hole was deep enough she knelt down and gently laid the pouch inside and covered it. 

Once the clouds started to roll in and speckle the sky she seemed to think the time was right. She reached around and grabbed the neck of that relic and pulled it into position and started to play a blues riff. Rich and deep and full of soul, she played for a long while.  Playing for the mosquitos and the other animals nearby. She played as if her life was on the line, and maybe it was.

Then the night creatures went silent but she was so engrossed in the music she didn’t notice. Well until she felt the heat of the stage lights on her. Which just made her reach even deeper into the well of the music. The crunch of the tires on the gravel crawling slowly forward almost became a subtle part of the music. Then the lights were out and standing at the edge of the four way crossroads stood a man in a suit. The mist rolling in covered him to the waist. Then she stopped and took notice of him for a second. 

Almost at the moment he started to move into the center within arms reach she slammed down a chord on her guitar and the sky opened with a flash and struck the man standing so close to her. The strike was so fast he didn’t have time to react. Once the dust started to settle she stepped back to the edge of the road and faded into the mist. 

How to Use Delilah McGaven in Game:

Who is she? Maybe a guardian angel or maybe a warrior for the light. But she is always known for her beat up old guitar and dusty cowboy boots even if it just rained. 


Modern Sirens

It’s been milenia since the sirens sang to lure Odysseus and his crew to certain death.  It was so easy to sing a spell to bewitch humans with promises of love and riches.  But as time went on, the sirens noticed that their song held less and less sway over humanity, but the reason eluded them.  A few hundred years later, they found their answer.  They happened upon a group of pirates talking with their captive, one Gaius Julius Caesar.  And they realized that their song and their promises no longer resonated with humanity.  Humanity had grown greedier.  Riches and love were only fleetingly tempting.  Humanity hungered for more.  Hungered for the impossible, the abstract, the unobtainable.  They hungered to conquer what was once exclusive to the gods themselves.  

Time for a change of tactics and perspective.  And as the rumors go, a strategic alliance with the muses.

Sirens would assist in inspiring humanity.  Specifically inspiring humanity to take great leaps and risks; allowing them to feast on the failures.  The whole space program was probably their most well known venture.  So many accidents and failures litter the path of humanity’s stellar odyssey.  Although a meal wasn’t always a foregone conclusion (think the Apollo XIII mission).

The sirens no longer sing of wealth and love.  They whisper promises of achievement and discovery.  A step towards ascension.  Where just making the attempt, regardless of the success, creates a legend.

How to Use Modern Sirens in Game:

Sometimes a player has a totally off the wall idea.  That’s really crazy.  And it doesn’t end well.  Maybe having an external inspirational force may relieve some of the party’s anger.  Also, noting that this exists, it can inspire the players to come up with the most outlandish idea, that they normally wouldn’t try.


Videri Codex

“I don’t really care about whether you did it or not. It doesn’t matter to me if that really is you. I get paid for the bounty no matter what when I bring you in.”

What is happening, you ask yourself, as one of the preeminent bounty hunters of the area shows up on your doorstep and wants to take you in for a hefty sum. The sweat that starts running down the back of your neck, caught unprepared for any sort of fight, feels cold and paralyzing unlike every other sweat that has ever dripped down your skin. There is a very real danger here. 

You feign ignorance .. well, not really feign it since you have no idea what is going on and ask for the professional courtesy to see the bounty itself – what have you done to earn a price on your head? It’s as incomprehensible as the entire situation – you’ve been deemed an enemy of the state for, well, that isn’t entirely clear. At the same time, the bounty itself isn’t entirely clear either, which gives you an in for this situation. You poke at the professionalism and the specifics of the bounty to get yourself time. It works.

You’ve managed to buy yourself time, with a little help coming along in your new best friend, to figure out why your name is at the top of the Videri Codex.

The Videri Codex is a legend. It doesn’t exist, at least not in the form that you are seeing here. It was an ancient list of enemies of the crown from centuries ago; a relic of the bygone days of the Oculus Occultus and their fanatical drive to control all dissidents. It had faded from use when the OO fell apart. Right?

Why does the OO look like like that … like an 8 turned on its side. Maybe shifted slightly, and like the builders sigil on the foundation of your home … And in the library you frequent . . .

How to Use Videri Codex in Game:

The Videri Codex is a great way to add a mystery to the game, and one that you may not even have an answer to. Something has singled out the character or characters as the subject of a conspiracy theory, or maybe a real conspiracy. Foucault’s Pendulum at a slightly less dizzying pace. 


Insouciance noun in·​sou·​ci·​ance | \ in-ˈsü-sē-ən(t)s  , aⁿ-süs-ˈyäⁿs  \

Definition of insouciance

: lighthearted unconcern : NONCHALANCE

First Known Use of insouciance

1799, in the meaning defined above

History and Etymology for insouciance

French, from in- + soucier to trouble, disturb, from Old French, from Latin sollicitare 

Look-up Popularity

Top 2% of words

Closing remarks 

Zendead – Raised By Wolves Season 2

Joules – Outer Wilds.  Explore space with a loop mechanic and a musical/sound theming

Guard-a-Manger – Legend of Vox Machina cartoon on Amazon Prime. Critical Role became the 800lb gorilla in the room when discussing role playing games in the last 5 years, and this cartoon distilling some of the memorable moments and an arc from the streaming D & D Campaign 1 is part of why there has been a renaissance of the games. 

Music is courtesy of Sim on Twitter you can find him at @TheSimulacrae

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And Thanks to Merriam-Webster  and Online Etymology Dictionary for our Lexicon segment

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