Tuesday, October 17, 2006

Narrative Explained

Narrative in gameplay is something people seem to have a lot of trouble with. Now, here’s the thing: it is DEATHLY important for your GM (if you’re still using one of those outmoded devices) to have everyone use narrative in your gameplay. That means YOU have control of the setting. Say you’re playing some (presumably exploratory thematic) sword and sorcery type of game, and the GM has told you there’s a castle corridor with a guard at the end. Now, in a game for the “normals”, you might be constrained as to what is in that hallway by the limits or boundaries of the game. But using narrative, you can describe ANYTHING! You don’t have to sneak up on that guard and brain him with your club—you can have the floor be rotten and fall out underneath him, have him undergo a flashback to childhood abuse and collapse in a sobbing heap, or even decide that a falling sperm whale crushes him! That’s the sort of serious flexibility that your mundane “mainstream” gaming just can’t deliver! Remember though, eventually bring everything around to dealing with some sort of childhood trauma. I love to explore issues like that and then include all the details on my online actual play threads.

3 Comments:

Blogger Zweihander said...

As a daily reader, and avid disciple of your site, I understand where you're going with this, but I cannot help but disagree. Doesn't narrative work best when it fits the reality of the story? Deus ex machina maybe a legit tool for the lazy writer, but with a RPG group that has a collective of finely tuned and creative minds like mine, and I'm sure yours, an utterly fantastic denoument to a dramatic situation can be just as banal as making someone roll a lame skill check.

12:22 PM  
Anonymous Unscrambled Mage said...

Very wise insight re the value of childhood trauma. In my own youth, I played dozens of game-session of "Vampire: The Masquerade" and suffered considerably from its incoherency and outright cruel, teasing lies.

Today, when crafting an intensive theme-exploring story with my fellows, I can dig down deep and tap into that trauma, and spill forth with emotion and reality the likes of which leave me trembling, sometimes even sobbing on the shoulder of a friend.

8:08 PM  
Blogger Cornell Richardson said...

Zweihander: Where does this fit in to your early childhood issues?

9:01 AM  

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