Blog Notes

What Constitutes a Metaplot in Role-Playing Games?

A “metaplot” is an overarching story within a role-playing game that spans across several modules, or supplements, or across multiple media formats which collectively tells a story within the context of the game world. Examples of metaplots from the early days of Advanced Dungeons and Dragons (AD&D 1e) include such adventures as the super module Queen of Spiders [combines Against the Slavers modules A1- 4, Against the Giants modules G1 – 3, and the Drow modules D1-3] (published in 1986), The Dragonlance Series of modules [DL1-14] (published from 1984 – 1988), and the entirety of the Forgotten Realms since it first appeared in Dragon Magazine #30 in 1979.

Metaplots are found throughout the role-playing hobby and appear in such games as Warhammer Fantasy Role-Play, RIFTS, Palladium Fantasy Role-Play, Shadowrun, Earthdawn, Paranoia, Pathfinder, Savage Worlds, Numenera, Werewolf, et al. and have been present since the earliest days of the hobby when campaigns formed and players clamored to play in the shared worlds of Gary Gygax’s Greyhawk (first published in 1980) and Dave Arneson’s Blackmoor (first published in 1975).


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