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Roleplaying and Storytelling.

Posted by Andrew on

Greetings and welcome back.

Starting this following Saturday, our normal group is convening to begin trying out the new edition of Dungeons & Dragons. I know a lot of people are curious about the new edition, and though the Player's Handbook has been available for a few weeks now, a good read is no substitute for actual play. As we sink our teeth into this long historied game, I think blog posts are in order. If you don't agree, too bad.

When I run roleplaying games, I tend to view them as a collaborative storytelling more than kicking in doors and leveling up. I love language and am enamored with storytelling in all its facets, this forms a natural progression for me. My games tend to focus on investigation and character more than combative action and high plot, and my preferences in systems have a habit of showing this. Mind you, when I refer to character I'm not addressing the mechanical complexities of player avatars; I'm referring to personalities, actions, and qualities of the characters themselves.

As delving into this topic resembles plumbing the depths of Moria until the Balrog is unleashed, odds are this subject will form numerous blog posts and will be revisited ad nauseum. For now, welcome to Angry Mojos Storytelling 101.

Much of this may seem familiar from your school days, but much bears repeating.

There are six elements to any story; plot, character, setting, point of view, conflict, and theme. It's possible to eliminate any or all of these elements save conflict and still have a story in front of you. While the concept of a plotless story seems a bit odd, I'll reference our intrepid readers to “A Visit from the Goon Squad” by Jennifer Egan. It's not our normal genres of Sci-Fi or Fantasy, but the book won the Pulitzer prize for a damn good reason. An author can jettison characters too, though this is difficult. Both “There Will Come Soft Rains” by Ray Bradbury and “The Ones who Walk Away from Omelas” by Ursula Le Guin arguably do just this. The only real necessity for a story lies in conflict, and the only reason I refer to it as essential is because I have profound difficulty in seeing how it can be done. Maybe it will be one day.

From the standards of roleplaying games, all of these elements will be present in some way shape or form. Point of View is mostly fixed as an odd hybrid of first and third person, so I likely won't go into that particular rabbit hole. The other five are very present in some form whether we realize it or not. Tune in next week for our first play report on the “Tyrrany of Dragons” adventure path, as well as a quick lesson on plot.

Keep gaming, Mojo out.