Wednesday, July 13, 2016

RPG vs Story Sequel: Reaction

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

In the last section concerned mostly scenes though some of the techniques may be used to describe sequels. In this section we can look at the specific details and techniques needed in many reaction sequels. RPGs and story writing differ in focus and techniques.

Reactive Reaction Sequel

RPG reaction scene indicators
While the action scene mechanics are very defined in RPGs, the reactions or sequels is something that is less specified in RPG gaming.

It normally begins when the gamemaster (GM) tells the group about something majorly important. RPGs normally divide the game into player character (PC) reactions and non-player character (NPC) reactions. The GM controls the NPC reactions which may offer hints into the game story plot. The players experience the PC reactions and offer reactions.

What a GM says naturally creates a reaction in the players. First the players may feel something inside if the players feel connected to their characters. These feelings may or may not be expressed verbally or non-verbally. But sometimes they are expressed.

One code sentence that may indicate that the GM said something that might invoke a reaction is, "What do you do?" It means that they think that they have just finished telling enough background and setting material invoke some reaction in the player characters - maybe having dropped some hints here and there.

A few times, one mechanical technique used to indicate a character's reaction may be a resistance roll. These type of reactions are mechanical reactions to forces aimed towards the character. Several different mechanical examples can illustrate reactions. Sometimes before combat a roll to see if the characters are surprised or aware is rolled. An offensive attack may be reacted to with a defensive roll. A magic attack may be reacted to with a magical resistance roll. Some skill rolls have reactive counter rolls to test awareness. Another might be opportunity attack rules for when another enemy character or creature moves near another in combat. Some games even have lists of reactions, as actions.

Whereas the GMs control the NPC reactions and the players control the PC reactions, in story writing authors control both the point of view and non point of view character reactions.

Story Writing reaction scene indicators
In writing, authors must harness the point of view character's individual emotional reaction towards important events. The author may have to think and feel at times like the character, especially a point of view character. For non-point of view characters, they may have to think and feel in addition to imagining how those characters physically react. The character's emotional reactions must be sprinkled throughout the scene. If they don't react at least sometimes, the writing will loose the deeper emotional connection that readers may enjoy and connect with. The characters may seem wooden or robotic. That means that sequels are more defined in story writing than in RPGs.

Indicators begin with emotional and instinctive reactions - immediately following the event or awareness of information. The characters feel something. What they feel may be flavored and seen from the perspective. What does the cause character to feel? After initial instinctive reaction, thinking will begin. They then may think and talk about their possible actions. What can they do about the cause? Then they will come to some decision about their next action.

Story writing offers these specific detailed techniques of emotional reaction, analysis of dilemma, and making a decision, whereas RPGs only have hints and rolls. Looking into the story writing technique is more beneficial for exploring reaction sequels. Let's look at each story writing reaction step and evaluate them from a point of view and non-point of view perspective.

1) Emotional Reaction

The first part of the reaction sequel is an emotional reaction to something that occurred, is learned, or comes to surface. The characters have instinctual physiological descriptions and knee jerk reactions. Emotions may be described. What does this mean to the characters?.

Maybe the event startles the character - they feel tingling on theirs skin, their heartbeat races, and they fill a sudden rush of adrenaline.

Maybe they feel worry - they feel a loss of appetite or sick stomach, brings their hand up to massage their neck, and takes a few deep breaths.

For point of view characters, you can describe these emotional reactions in terms of physiological responses rather than adjectives describing general feelings. Don't just say happy, sad, angry, frightened, etc.. Describe how those emotions feel. Maybe the character doesn't know what they are feeling means and will rapidly try to change that instinct emotion when they think about it in a moment. Or maybe the reaction is tied to some subconscious thought.

For non-point of view characters, you have to describe the emotions in terms of viewable markers, facial expressions, instinctive behavior, and body language. Knowledge of some body language can help.

As awareness kicks in, the characters must analyse and think up options to turn what this means to them into some sort of new action..

2) Analysis of Dilemma

The next part of the reaction sequel is for the characters to come up with possible actions and figure out what to do. They may use different methods of evaluation based on their character personality, motivation, emotion, needs, lies, and ethics.

In the earlier example, maybe a startled character realizes that they are caught off guard. They may begin to think about how they need to control themself. Maybe they realize that their biggest fear has come true, and a depth of terror sets in. 

A worried character may speak with someone else about their discomfort. Maybe in speaking, another character reassures the worried character. But in their conversation, they discover something else which may lead to another worry.

There is the problem and then the possible solutions. Most of the solutions should be bad if the conflict is strong enough. The character(s) probably will choose the least bad solution.

For point of view characters, you can have internal dialogue of the actual thinking. They may also speak with other characters. Subtext can be wonderful. When characters may not directly speak exactly what they are thinking, and their body language and hints say otherwise.

For non-point of view character, you may just use descriptive text describing body language and dialogue to hint at what they are thinking.

The analysis of possible solutions, probably two or three, will lead to a decision.

3) Decision

This choice should be the next scene goal. The goal itself should be something simple, real, valuable, possible, and challenging. The reaction scene will then transition into a proactive action scene. Once a decision has been made, the sequel can change into an action scene.

For RPGs, the GM can continue to describe details leading to the next sequence of actions.

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