Thursday, July 7, 2016

RPG and Story Scenes: Writing and RPG methods

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 RPG and Story Writing Methods of managing Time Modes

In the last section concerning time modes, I introduced several techniques used in both fiction writing and in RPG gaming. In this section, I will delve a little more deeper into those techniques. I will also reference an important free book called RPG Design Patterns by. Whitson John Kirk III.

I'll follow a similar timeless and time focused grouping for first RPG gaming and then story writing.

After discussing this section, the bridge from one media to the other should begin to become more crossable.

RPG gaming

Timeless modes.

Time vague skill comparison
For this type of action, the controlling player has some indicator to compare to something that represents difficulty. Many games use as an indicator a roll or draw of a card plus or minus any modifiers due to skill, condition, attributes, powers, environment, or position. What actually happens might be interpreted by taking into account the degree of the success or failure

In the book RPG Design Patterns, they are called Generalized Contests.

Series of sequence rolls vs target or each other
For this type of contest a player does repeated tasks. Each task adds progression on to proceeding progression. The final result is compared to either a target or a competing result in order to find out the success of the series of actions. The purpose is to create a sense of tension building up do competition. It works best when the two or more parties are nearly equally matched. What success or failure means should be establish before the series is begun.

In the book RPG Design Patterns, they are called Contest Trees or sometimes Last Man Standing.

Story element rolls
For this type of series of action, entire sections of a story can be resolved with as little as one roll. This type of technique is good to get past more boring material - almost trivial - but important to be in the game or story. It can be used when those involved are obviously outmatched. Important is discussing ahead of time what the actual successes or failures mean.

In the book RPG Design Patterns, they are called Negotiated Contests.

Time focused moments
The time focused material is normally governed by some time keeping system such as rounds or cycles. Some like Powered by the Apocalypse (PbtA) use triggered moves, which are sort of like scripts.

Simultaneous rolls
This type of action can either help decided action and reaction at the same time. Some systems use only one indicator which is either a roll, card, or pool of points. An upper value results to mean that the actor succeeds and the target fails. The middle value might mean ties or both act. The lower value might mean the target succeeds and the actor fails.

Some simultaneous roll systems use one roll of each party both as the active base and the reactive base - just apply two sets of modifiers to the same roll, however deriving two different numbers for comparison. One is offensive and the other is defensive.

Either technique might be best when medium importance is attached to the actions.

Alternating rolls
This is the most time consuming and detailed of the techniques. Sometimes the rounds are subdivided into different phases, steps, or stages such as surprise, initiative, declaration, resolution, and reaction sections. Normally the purpose is to have on person or one team remain in the end - which are the winners or successful side.

In the book RPG Design Patters, both types Simultaneous and alternating are normally called Last Man Standing

Time specific skill rolls
Time specific skills are rolled and based in action round time such as during combat. It uses the similar mechanism as timeless moments except a duration of time will probably be attached to the skill action. Most of the time it will be whatever the standard action is. Sometimes, more difficult or time consuming actions might expand into several time units. A few times, they may be rapid or hurried actions skills.

In the book RPG Design Patterns, they are called Generalized Contests.

Dialogue isn't something really emphasized in RPG core rules nor expansion material. It only seems to become important when characters need to interact with the NPCs or each other. Some GMs seem to get into character easier when trying to mimic NPC voices. I think that it makes the game more fun and interesting, as long as the conversations stay somewhat near towards the plot of the game story. Certainly, much like writing, character dialogue can create unwanted tangents leading to nowhere. One thing that it does noticeably do is it helps to connect the players to their characters more directly. It has very similar use in story writing to help connect readers with the characters directly.

Time based narration

Time based narration all happen within a time frame of rounds, moves, cycles, or other time-unit based system. The time units keep track of time more closely and accurately. Narrative however summarizes what is going on and around the characters. It can describe what the other NPCs are doing and reacting.

Story writing

Timeless moments

Narrative summary
This is 'telling' what happened, 'not showing' what happened. It is static description and sometimes called exposition that normally has explanatory information interwoven. It can summarize a set of facts for actions, dialogue, feelings, thoughts, and descriptions. For static description techniques it might describe a thing, the scene, or a person.

This type of summary is good before and after an intensely detailed scene. Before a scene, it helps to explain the important and needed information for the conflicts that will be shortly faced. When used after a scene it gives the reader or player a chance to recover without getting those involved bogged down in unnecessary details..

Transitional scenes
When quickly moving from one important moment to the next - when details don't matter as much, transition sentences can transcend time, space, and even characters. In very brief summaries, you can take a character or group from once action and important scene to another one, thus bypassing travel, trivial scenes, and unimportant content that's not really related to the plot.

Time focused moments

Action within a scene normally means that someone is trying to go somewhere, get something, solve an issue, or move forward progressing the plot. There is a scene goal from the point of view character and a series of obstacles or challenges that may represent the antagonist, which when the two interact in conflict they create outcomes.

Descriptions of supporting character actions
Emotions can't normally described the same way with non-POV characters as POV. With non-POV, a writer can describe external behavior that gives clues to the psychological state of the character. Instead of saying that another character is 'happy', describe how the characters smiles, sighs, or laughs joyously. Maybe they hum a happy tune. Although you can't see inside the head of those characters, external clues let the reader guess what is going on in their heads.

Dialogue is one of the fastest methods to improve fiction. As long as the dialogue is related to the plot and not too wordy. Dialogue can reveal character, advance the plot, and discus the theme. It is one of the ways we can understand how the characters think and act about what's going on in the story plot. It can reveal and show conflict. Dialogue should be written from the character's perspective, not the author's perspective. It should include personality and relationship subtext.

Story writing has better and more established advice, techniques, and methods for helping to write better character dialogue.

Interior monologue
Interior monologue is a tool to reveal what a POV character really thinks. It is the most direct method to understanding the character's internal workings. Using internal monologue that differs from external dialogue can create conflict within a character where they say something different than they actually think or believe.

Inner emotions 
Inner emotions and instinctual reactions can reveal things that not even the POV character knows or understands about themself. Whereas monologue is a direct connection to the POV mind, emotions are a direct connection to the POV unconscious mind, emotions, and heart.

Interior monologue and emotions are something that a RPG lacks because it uses the player's as proxy to feel for the characters.

RPG gaming techniques do physical action better than story writing. Story writing has better dialogue, interior monologue & emotions techniques. Both RPGs and story writing deal with time using similar methods though they are called different things.

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