rogue with birds

The Art of the Steal

Today I’m here to talk about one of my favorite topics to discuss about GMing (and playing) RPGs: stealing ideas from literally everywhere!

STEALING!? Isn’t that unethical?

Why thanks for asking! And it’s a good point. Stealing someone’s work is not a cool move. If someone is creating things and putting hard work, blood, sweat, and tears into it – pay for it. Full stop. BUT…that’s not what we’re talking about here! What we’re talking about here is the WEALTH, the ABUNDANCE, the sheer MULTIVERSE of ideas that are out there that you can use! Ripe for the plucking and ready to be dropped straight into your campaign! (Including on this very website!) Why do all the hard work yourself when someone else already has!

We are not advocating that you steal people’s things. What we are advocating is that you take ideas and inspiration from wherever you can! If you’ve purchased a published adventure from someone like Wizards of the Coast, Kobold Press, or even here at the Arcanery, you’ve probably seen some tips on how to blend it into your home game. This is just another approach to that same idea.

So, what can I steal?

Well, there lies the rub eh? Here are a few suggestions based on what I find myself adapting for my games.


Do you need a battle map for your next session? r/battlemaps on Reddit has a whole host of them that you can grab for free! Many of which have even been optimized for use in the VTT (Virtual Table Top) of your choice. If you find one you like, and have the ability, check out the artist and see if they have a tip jar or Patreon! Supporting artists in this way is a great way to ensure that you’ll have EVEN MORE maps to drop into your campaign when you need them! And keep an eye out for our soon-to-be-open Patreon where you’ll be able to get a new map set every month!

Traps and Puzzles

d&d mock fightDo you love traps and puzzles but struggle to come up with interesting ones? Once again the world is your friend! There are a ton of clever traps and puzzles from all throughout history a mere web search away (try searching for ancient riddles, it’s a hoot). I personally am terrible at making puzzles, so I grab them all the time! Some of my favorite resources are the Puzzles, Predicaments, and Perplexities books and the Book of Challenges from D&D 3e. These serve as inspiration for me to expand upon, and I’ve used things from each of them in multiple different game systems.

 NPCsdnd fighter

These are everywhere! Need an NPC? Why not grab a character from a book you just read? Or a movie you love? They come fully formed and you already know how they’d react to things! You can also find lists of them on Reddit, Pinterest, and here on our site!


Feeling stuck trying to come up with the next phase of your campaign? Grab a one-shot! Most of them can easily be dropped into any campaign, and even if it can’t it can serve as great inspiration to get your creativity flowing. Or you can flip through one of the campaign books for any game out there! Some things you’ll be able to nab whole cloth and drop right in, others may inspire a whole new storyline for your game. Check out the large collection of adventures on Reddit, Patreon, the DMs Guild/DriveThru RPG, and check back here in March for The Arcanery’s first adventure! If real life rears its ugly head at you and you find yourself unable to prep for your session, you can even find a bunch of low to no prep adventures and encounters. 


Truly, if there’s something you feel like you can’t come up with for this week’s session, or just a part of running the game that isn’t your strong suit (curse you puuuuuuzzles!), take a look at what you’ve got lying around, skim the internet, and check out what we’ve got here at The Arcanery. Eventually you’ll end up like me, with whole folders of documents, images, and wicked ideas that other people have come up with that you can repurpose. We create these things so they’ll be used, and nothing makes us happier than when you find a way to adapt them for your own games.

So remember, don’t steal work, steal ideas and use them for inspiration. If someone is creating something that you love, use it! If it was free, and you have the means, toss a coin to the creator. And next time in the Art of the Steal we’ll talk about my favorite place to steal ideas from: the PLAYERS.

What types of things do you find yourself looking for the most? Who do you love to get inspiration or content from? Let me know below!

Posted in DM Tips.

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