Nefarious Plots

WISH 46: Plot, Plot, Plot

How do you define the word ?plot? in a roleplaying game? What is plot and how does it come about? What is the GM?s role in developing plot? What is the players? role? Are the answers different for different genres?

This one’s pretty simple.

The Plot is what the bad guys are up to.
Story is what happens with the players encounter the Plot.

Hmm, that’s rather facile. Accurate, but facile. Let’s be a little more detailed.
“Plot” is what I have sketched out as ‘what is going to happen to the world, absent any intervention from the players,’ so by definition the final version of the game, once the players have been introduced, MUST be different from the original plot.
On the meta-level, plot can also be the broad ‘concept’ that stretches from one end of a campaign to another — I don’t always have these but I enjoy it when I do… generally, these aren’t as drastically altered by player interaction because they assume it to begin with. I usually refer to these concepts as “Story arcs” instead of “plot”.

Example: In TiHE (which example I use because folks are most likely to be familiar with it and because I don’t want to give away any major plot ideas from current games), there were two main story arcs/concepts. The short(er) one was “What if Corwin had guns during his first attack? Explore.” — That was meant basically to get everyone introduced and took about fifteen sessions to play out. The Main arc, hinted at by the title of the campaign, was: “There are (many) things in the cosmos that even (or especially) Amberites don’t know — the world is not what they assume it to be, and the Older Order wants to resume it’s proper place. The player’s investigation into the Great Mysteries will probably facilitate this, but even when it’s all said and done, innumerable Mysteries remain.”

Plot = Climate. Story = Weather.
Climate is what you expect, weather is what you get.

One comment

  1. It’s interesting that this isn’t how most DnD-style games do their modules. Where I have defined plot as “what will happen if the players aren’t there”, most of those types of modules would probably define it as “what’s going to happen to the PC’s”.
    Profound difference. Probably explains why the d20 modules I write always run long.

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