So lately, from where I’m at in the story of Tale of the Manticore, even though it’s early days, I can envision a middle campaign and I can even envision the late campaign - although that’s pretty hazy, admittedly, at the moment. Anyway, I’ve been wondering: does a podcast like TOTM need to have an over arcing story? Does it need to have symmetry and perfect resolution? In other words, does it need an arc? I think common wisdom would say, "Yes, it does. Stories need arcs." Everybody’s familiar with the plot graph and a story that doesn’t resolve it's inciting incident/conflict might feel very dissatisfying. Think about a movie like Shawshank Redemption. It is immensely satisfying by the end, and that’s because it has a wonderfully constructed plot graph. King put in the time at the beginning to plant seeds that grow to fruition later on and result in this incredibly satisfying outcome.
However, there are stories that don’t have such an arc, and yet they are still satisfying. Consider for example Star Wars, which is definitely a story with an arc, even if they arguably wrecked it at the end. Compare that with Star Trek, which is just an endless series of episodes that doesn’t really go anywhere. (I’m sure somebody will tell me that there is an arc and the characters do develop and that may be true - I’m not a trekky by any stretch - but generally Star Trek is kind of in the James Bond mode of storytelling. It’s episodic. So, lately I’m wondering if TOTM should be a Star Wars or Star Trek. James Bond or Shawshank Redemption? I’m going for a sense of real old-school DND - those games aren’t always masterplots, are they?
They're often small modular adventures that may or may not all link together in a way that completes a picture by the end. I'm leaning toward episodic, but with rich continuity, logic and lore that binds everything together. The more I struggle with the idea, the more I feel that a carefully constructed arc must necessitate a story on rails, which is the opposite to what I'd like to achieve.
Deep thoughts this time, hey?
A thought from later in the day... "is this why there's no good D&D movie? It seems like there should be one, but nothing has come close to even watchable, let alone good."ReplyDelete
I'd say the *Mythica* movies are pretty good. Low-budget but pretty good.Delete
I'd never even heard of these. Will def check it out. Thx!Delete
The story arc built into the *D&D* game (and its many imitators) is the 'zero-to-hero' story, or bildungsroman. The player characters level up. Of course, sometimes they die instead but that can be a tragic inversion of the bildungsroman. Ron Edwards made some comments, in his game *Sorcerer*, about the possible stories generated by that game (a game in which the player characters transgress in some way). He breaks the possible endings down into four types.ReplyDelete
- Retribution. The hero fails totally, losing control of the methods and accomplishing nothing but disaster for all concerned.
- Remorse. The hero achieves the goal, but it is an empty victory for the methods have blighted the results beyond recognition.
- The Outlaw Prevails. The hero achieves the goal, but the methods were kept under control and not permitted to spoil the vision;
- Redemption. The hero achieves the goal only by putting aside the
methods and trying another way entirely.
TL;DR I think you should let the dice dictate where the story goes.
Thanks for your reply. Shot in the dark here... English teacher? (I am). Anyway, it's for sure that there's an arc baked the zero-to-hero/Master-of-Two-Worlds. I was referring to plot cohesion. A series of unrelated events vs a construct in which no scene is wasted and details return later to justify their inclusion/existence. End of the day, I'm with you. I'm just handing the reins to the dice. I'll interpret them as best I can.ReplyDelete
Not an English teacher but a Christian priest. I suspect the trick to creating cohesion is to keep bringing back pre-established story elements. The GMless RPG *Capes* has a mechanic for that but, with *D&D*, you probably just have to do it yourself.ReplyDelete
Makes sense; you've obviously got an education - or at least an interest - in literature. Gonna check of Capes - thanks very much for the comment. After much thought, I think I'm going to continue with 'emergent' story. If it weren't for isolation/COVID, I'd be too busy to even consider anything else. I don't want to ruin my story by overthinking it.ReplyDelete
Capes is a great game for at least three players (you really can't play it with fewer than three because it's based on competing with the other players for the other players' approval). If you are interested in it, I'd strongly recommend reading some of the archived discussion of it at http://indie-rpgs.com/archive/index.php?board=52.0Delete