25 July, 2013

New mechanisms

The mechanism for player driven foreshadowing seems to have drawn a bit of interest. It's certainly one of the more popular topics I've started over on Story Games.

That's got me thinking about sharing the other mechanisms that I've developed for simulating narrative techniques.

Walkabout isn't just a game about wandering into town, solving the puzzles and moving on. That might be the grounding for the adventures, but the game is more about the stories that develop between the characters as they do these things. It's like the difference between watching a TV show one episode at a time as it comes out week by week, or even just catching a single episode of a TV show...compared to mainlining a TV show, with the entire season flashing before your eyes, getting a better feeling for the story arcs that build up over the season. A single episode of "Castle" or "NCIS" is about solving the case, a season of the show allows the relationship between characters to develop in a new direction and the specific cases start to lose their significance. You get lured in by the core premise, you stay around because the characters are interesting. There's less need to up the ante, or jump the shark, when there's an emotional investment in the characters.

Arguably this is one of the issues with early RPGs like D&D, and a lot of games that follow the "levelling up" model of play. These games are all about the core premise, as such these games think that the only way to keep players interested is to keep up the challenges, pushing characters further and further according to their numbers and stats rather than seeing how they might evolve organically and socially.

I'm more interested in telling good stories rather than confronting new monsters.

Some of the other narrative mechanisms I've been thinking of...

The Flashback (in which a single character considers the past and this makes an impact on the present)

The Montage (in which one or more characters go through a rapid sequence of scenes in the build-up to a climactic event)

The Internal Monologue (in which a character is allowed to go against their typical course of action as long as their player can justify it through a series of vocalised thoughts)

The Cutaway and the Splitscreen (in which provide formal mechanisms for splitting the party)

There are plenty of other narrative tools that authors and scriptwriters use, but these were the first few I thought of and thus the first few I've formalised in the rules.
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