Monday, June 27, 2016

RPG and Story Scenes: RPG scenes

For the last series on  Character & Society see those posts.

RPG and Story Scene Series
RPG and Story Scenes: RPG scenes
RPG and Story Scenes: Writing and RPG methods
RPG vs Story Sequel: Reaction

The last part was primarily from a story writing perspective. In this part, I wanted to look into a RPG perspective of scenes.

In most games time comes in two major forms. They may not even name these two forms, but they become more evident when looked at more closely. These two time forms have corresponding story writing forms of time.

The purpose of both forms is to focus on the exciting stuff and quickly pass by the boring stuff. And stuff that is trivial to character development can be brushed aside.

A. Timeless

The first form is when major action is not occurring. In this time mode, time itself is less relevant. Things occur in a very vague sense of time using broad terms. Because action is not being focused on, thus accurate game time is not important. Time can easily slip from minutes to hours to days all in a few moments of gaming time.

In gaming, this might be while at a town or village not at any specific location, travelling to a location, or some introductory overview.

The party enters the village of Shattered Teeth. You make your way towards the citadel located on a medium sized hill.

An interesting mechanic that uses this form is a series of two or more competing characters rolling in succession which represents several events or actions over a long period of time to try reaching a target or goal. Many skill rolls use this time mode. The two main edition of Fudge even have a combat option called Story Element, where vague story units use one or taking-the-median-of-three rolls can sum up an entire combat, skill, or social interaction sequence. HeroQuest has a similar summary mechanism. In this time mode, time isn't really kept accurately.

[You roll some great success result] 
Not only do you destroy all of the foes around you, you even kill the ones trying to escape.

In writing all of these mechanics represent this type of time is called narrative summary and transitional scenes.

If timelessness is one form of time, then time focused is the other form.

B. Time Focused - Rounds

The second form is when major action is occurring. During these types of time mode, time itself becomes very important.

Many games use specific increments called rounds, which divide time into set increments. Another form is to use moves where actions are triggered by descriptions of actions within the discussion of the game. Some mechanisms are simultaneously resolved such as some Fudge and Dungeon World conflicts. Most use alternating resolution where some sort of turn-taking method is employed. Indicators of this type of time in gaming is dialogue between the characters, rolling for specific action and results, and time based skill rolls such as combat.

[Roll to see if your surprised]
[Roll for initiative]
Q: What do you do?
A: Since I have first action, I ....

In writing, this is the main content to proactive action scenes and reactive reaction sequels - writing the scenes that describe action, reaction, emotions, thoughts, dialogue, and real-time conflict.

What is similar between the two media types?

Similarities between RPGs and Story Writing Time Modes

Both RPGs use two major types of time modes. They use vague timeless scenes and sequels where time and action are less important. They also uses more exact time for those scenes where time and action are very important. How they do so is by using various methods.

The RPG and Story Writing Methods of managing Time Modes

RPG gaming uses time vague skill rolls, a series of sequence rolls vs target or each other, and story element rolls for timeless modes. For time focused moments they use simultaneous rolls, alternating rolls, dialogue, time specific skill rolls, and time based narration all within a time frame of rounds, moves, or other time-unit based system. The time units keep track of time more closely and accurately.

Story writing uses narrative summary and transitional scenes for timeless moments when quickly moving from one important moment to the next - when details don't matter as much. For those time focused moments, they use dialogue, action, vivid descriptions of supporting character actions, interior monologue, and inner thoughts from the POV character.

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