The Dungeon Master and Schrodinger's cat
The Dungeon Master and Schrodinger's cat: About how to keep many scenes ready. And how they only become real when played.

The DM and Schrödinger's cat


Schrödinger's cat

Erwin Schrödinger was an Austrian physicist and author of the "Schrödinger's cat". Schrödinger's cat is a thought experiment. It represents the state of quantum superposition. A scenario where many states can be true. (The cat may be both alive and dead).


Now let’s apply this to tabletop RPG:

Schoonover's Kobold

“Schoonover's Kobold” is a term coined by @ethanschoonover. It's a variant of Schrödinger's cat: 'Peak Dungeon Mastering occurs when you as the DM can maintain many potential world states simultaneously and only collapse these into a single experienced event based on player action and observation.'

In essence, this means you prepare a wide range of optional scenes for your players to choose from. Once chosen its content and consequences become real in your world.


This has the benefit that your players choose the adventure(s) they want to play. This also means that you, as the DM will prepare a lot of scenes/options that will never be played.

How to pull it off

To pull this off I recommend you learn the ways of “The lazy dungeon master” by @SlyFlourish. Which is the best book with the worst title ever written on DMing any tabletop RPG. In essence you Tweet a scene (keeping it below 280 characters). Packing it with as much inspiration as possible yet spending no more than 10 minutes on it. Also, my friendly advice:

Floating scenes:

Try to make your scenes float. Meaning you write the what but keep the who, where, and when undefined as long as possible. It’s not always possible but 'At high noon Ricky the goblin messenger delivers the message to the party on the city square' is a lot harder to pull off as 'a messenger delivers the message'. The lack of detail and emotion might be counter-intuitive for a writer but when writing a tabletop RPG you only write the what. Your players will fill out the who, where, and when, not you the DM. (Do take notes on who delivered what, where, when as it happens. Because once played it’s ‘real’ and might have consequences. Keep a diary)

They move slow:

Don’t tell them (because you want them to feel epic) but the average group doesn’t play more than 5 to 6 scenes in a night. So give them a few (preferably floating) options in the now. Scenes that might happen in the far future are useless. And the further in the future, the less likely they are to ever to happen at all. In contrast, you’re sure where they’ll start. So invest in what @SlyFlourish calls a 'strong start'. Which can be specific on the when, where, and who. Your chance to tell a story without having to railroad.

3 Parts

This is part two of a three part article:


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Author(s): Gregory Vangilbergen - (Updated:Jan 25, 2022)