Thursday, March 1, 2018

A short entry on RPG story development

TriShula from India
Early art by: Zachary Viola
Art from: The Steel Road

If you have been playing role-playing games for any length of time, you are aware that there are many genres, game systems, and settings available for your enjoyment. Regardless of what type of game you are enjoying, an important component to any campaign is the story being created by interactions between the player characters and the plot points presented by the game master.

When you are developing a story for your RPG session keep in mind that it will likely NOT proceed in a manner exactly as you expect it to.  Player actions will often change the narrative with unforeseen results. Player interactions with NPCs can go awry, take on more in-depth properties, or the players may choose not to interact at all.  As the player characters interact with your plot points, you should be flexible enough to adapt the story's progression to a logical consistency with your overall plot and how the player characters have affected it.  This is not to say you should rely entirely upon improvisation, but to encourage you to help your stories grow organically from player participation.

To prepare a story that is adaptable you should flesh out the motivations of the NPCs.  This will help you conceive how those characters would react. This makes your story more dynamic and flexible.  Remember that the NPCs should react according to their character.

Address your story elements with attention to the interests of the players and their characters.  The story hook, grabs the attention of the players and Player characters, and should draw them into the story.  The antagonist(s) oppose your players/PCs and provide conflict.  Create antagonists that are interesting and that fit with the story.  Give them motivations that drive them to act and react.  Good stories have an ending of some kind.  Whether your ending is a springboard into the next adventure or not, make sure that your ending concludes or at least staves off the conflict created by the antagonists.  Wiley antagonists might escape to oppose the the players and PCs again, their plots only foiled for the time being.

Game sessions where the story unfolds are certainly more memorable, and generally far more enjoyable.  For your story, you'll want challenges for your player characters to confront that appeal to your players as well.  Use the challenges to move the story along, as well as to reveal new twists in the plot upon resolution of those plot points.  As an example, if your group is chasing bandits who have been terrorizing the countryside, then confronted and defeated the villains. How will they feel when they discover that the bandits were in the employ of a neighboring lord who sent them to stir up trouble?  Something like that may need to be looked into and the local lord should, perhaps, be notified as well.  Use these points to inspire your players to action and they will narrate the tale of what their characters do, and the story shall unfold in a more natural way.

Create stories that grab the attention of your players, that will facilitate the involvement of the player characters, and be flexible enough to adapt the reaction of the NPCs as the story unfolds.  When you are writing and designing your story, look for classic conflict themes for inspiration, or from real life.  Do you have conflict in your life that plays a huge role in your real life story?  If so it can certainly be a source of material for your game.

Thank you for joining me today on my New Adventure into writing, self-publishing and game design.  As always, I do hope to see you next times.

I saw a kickstarter campaign that I thought was really cool.  So in addition to "I am the Greatest, Hero Edition I also leave you with the link to a neat wooden dice case.  Check them out and support the ones you like.


Thank you for sharing your thoughts.