In Hillfolk the GM acts as the custodian of the overall narrative. You mostly do this when calling your own scenes. You use these to heighten tensions, add new fresh developments, and picking up previous ones that got dropped along the way.

Less evidently, you can also intervene during player scenes. This requires utmost subtlety. Be careful that you’re not trying to impose your storyline on the group. Focus on making the emergent story sharper.

I mostly intervene to hint to players that they need to get to the point of the scene, or that the point of the scene has been reached and it’s time to wrap it up.

Recently a new instance of subtle GM contribution came up in our long-running game using the Alma Mater Magica series pitch.

Hard-living Professor of Troll Studies Einar (played by Justin Mohareb) was taking a verbal shellacking from resentful librarian Ann Snooks (Rachel Kahn.) She came at him by accusing him of being no fun any more since he’d stopped drinking. As Justin responded, I could see that he’d momentarily forgotten a telling bit of emotional history. With 28 sessions and counting, there’s a lot of that history to remember, so no shame there. But had this been a written scene in a TV episode, you could be sure that the writers would have had Einar point out that it had been Ann who pushed Einar to quit drinking in the first place. That’s the sort of delicious irony you can’t just leave on the table.

So I stage-whispered that to Justin and he made that his next verbal parry.

My prompt didn’t require him to insert it but he did because why wouldn’t he?

Presumably another player could also have pitched that in from the peanut gallery. As a careful watcher you as GM are more likely to spot an unexploited moment like that.

I take very skeletal notes on each episode, which help me to recall stuff like this. Some of it needs explicating in the pre-action recaps I give at the start of each session. It’s more the paying attention to the note-taking than the notes themselves that make this happen.

I wouldn’t advise looking for memory prompts to give the players. But when the perfect instance arises, consider it part of the DramaSystem GM’s toolkit.


Hillfolk is a game of high-stakes interpersonal conflict by acclaimed designer Robin D. Laws. Using its DramaSystem rules, you and your friends can weave enthralling sagas of Iron Age tribes, Regency socialites, border town drug kingpins, a troubled crime family, posthuman cyberpunks and more. Purchase Hillfolk and its companion volume Blood in the Snow at the Pelgrane Shop.

03 - Honor Among Thieves_350The default DramaSystem setting is Hillfolk, but you can easily play DramaSystem games in a wide variety of settings beyond this. Series Pitches are 2000+ words of setting material, which uses the core DramaSystem rules to enable you to play in completely different worlds, times, and genres.

In Honor Among Thieves, John Wick (Legend of the Five Rings, Seventh Sea, Houses of the Blooded) steps into a world of sorcerers, crowded cities, corrupt nobles, eldritch assassins and big payoffs. In a world where everything is illegal, everything is a crime, and it only pays to be a thief.

Honor Among Thieves is available as a stand-alone product from the store, or as part of the Series Pitch of the Month Collection.

Stock #: PELD06D Author: John Wick
Artist: Pierre Legay Pages: 17pg PDF

Buy

04 - Hold the Chain_350The default DramaSystem setting is Hillfolk, but you can easily play DramaSystem games in a wide variety of settings beyond this. Series Pitches are 2000+ words of setting material, which uses the core DramaSystem rules to enable you to play in completely different worlds, times, and genres.

In Hold the Chain, Matthew McFarland (Mage: The Awakening, Hunter: the Vigil, Chill, curse the darkness) makes you the entertainment in the gladiatorial arena of a steam-powered flying city on the brink of revolution.

Hold the Chain is available as a stand-alone product from the store, or as part of the Series Pitch of the Month Collection.

Stock #: PELD07D Author: Matthew McFarland
Artist: Pierre Legay Pages: 7pg PDF

Buy

05 - Encore_350The default DramaSystem setting is Hillfolk, but you can easily play DramaSystem games in a wide variety of settings beyond this. Series Pitches are 2000+ words of setting material, which uses the core DramaSystem rules to enable you to play in completely different worlds, times, and genres.

In Encore, Rob Wieland (Shadowrun, Star Wars Saga Edition) shows you his jazz hands, following the dreamers, has-beens and never-will-be’s who make up the cast of a touring jukebox musical.

Encore is available as a stand-alone product from the store, or as part of the Series Pitch of the Month Collection.

Stock #: PELD08D Author: Rob Wieland
Artist: Jonathan Wyke Pages: 7pg PDF

Buy

06 - Iron Tsar_350The default DramaSystem setting is Hillfolk, but you can easily play DramaSystem games in a wide variety of settings beyond this. Series Pitches are 2000+ words of setting material, which uses the core DramaSystem rules to enable you to play in completely different worlds, times, and genres.

In Iron Tsar, ASH LAW (The Reliquary, Shards of the Broken Sky) cranks up a magical 1920s Russia, in which engineers battle zombies in the Imperial court.

Iron Tsar is available as a stand-alone product from the store, or as part of the Series Pitch of the Month Collection.

Stock #: PELD09D Author: ASH LAW
Artist: Rachel A. Kahn Pages: 7pg PDF

Buy

07 - Sheeps Clothing_350The default DramaSystem setting is Hillfolk, but you can easily play DramaSystem games in a wide variety of settings beyond this. Series Pitches are 2000+ words of setting material, which uses the core DramaSystem rules to enable you to play in completely different worlds, times, and genres.

In Sheep’s Clothing, Jérôme Larré (Qin, Tenga) takes you inside a tranquil bedroom community for cops—as a massive Internal Affairs bust threatens dozens of its key citizens.

Sheep’s Clothing is available as a stand-alone product from the store, or as part of the Series Pitch of the Month Collection.

Stock #: PELD10D Author: Jérôme Larré
Artist: Jonathan Wyke Pages: 7pg PDF

Buy

08 - Art and Murder_350The default DramaSystem setting is Hillfolk, but you can easily play DramaSystem games in a wide variety of settings beyond this. Series Pitches are 2000+ words of setting material, which uses the core DramaSystem rules to enable you to play in completely different worlds, times, and genres.

In Art and Murder, Robin D. Laws draws you into a post-scarcity economy, where only two routes to status remain: Art and Murder. As guardians of the Great Museum, you struggle to protect the world’s cultural patrimony from outside marauders—and your own ambitions.

Art and Murder is available as a stand-alone product from the store, or as part of the Series Pitch of the Month Collection.

Stock #: PELD11D Author: Robin D. Laws
Artist: Rachel A. Kahn Pages: 7pg PDF

Buy

09 - Niflgap_350The default DramaSystem setting is Hillfolk, but you can easily play DramaSystem games in a wide variety of settings beyond this. Series Pitches are 2000+ words of setting material, which uses the core DramaSystem rules to enable you to play in completely different worlds, times, and genres.

In Niflgap, Raven Daegmorgan (Orx) invites you to sail the black tides of the cosmos. As the universe dies, you, the fractious Norse gods, set forth in starships from lonesome Midgaard, hoping to find salvation in the void where armies of the hungry dead writhe endless beneath black suns

Niflgap is available as a stand-alone product from the store, or as part of the Series Pitch of the Month Collection.

Stock #: PELD12D Author: Raven Daegmorgan
Artist: Jan Pospíšil Pages: 7pg PDF

Buy

10 - Promised Land_350The default DramaSystem setting is Hillfolk, but you can easily play DramaSystem games in a wide variety of settings beyond this. Series Pitches are 2000+ words of setting material, which uses the core DramaSystem rules to enable you to play in completely different worlds, times, and genres.

In Promised Land, Caias Ward (Strike Force 7, Noumenon) takes you a far-future religion based on enlightenment through genetic engineering and organic technology, where a squad of young cadets struggles with their commanders, their fellow cadets, the outside universe and crises of faith.

Promised Land is available as a stand-alone product from the store, or as part of the Series Pitch of the Month Collection.

Stock #: PELD13D Author: Caias Ward
Artist: Rachel A. Kahn Pages: 7pg PDF

Buy

11 - Terminal X_350The default DramaSystem setting is Hillfolk, but you can easily play DramaSystem games in a wide variety of settings beyond this. Series Pitches are 2000+ words of setting material, which uses the core DramaSystem rules to enable you to play in completely different worlds, times, and genres.

In Terminal X, Hal Mangold (Atomic Overmind, Green Ronin) loses your luggage as a fractious circle of modern sorcerers wage a subtle turf war within one of the world’s busiest airports, while fending off occult forces threatening to erode the very source of their power.

Terminal X is available as a stand-alone product from the store, or as part of the Series Pitch of the Month Collection.

Stock #: PELD14D Author: Hal Mangold
Artist: Rachel A. Kahn Pages: 7pg PDF

Buy

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