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Improvisation [Oct. 7th, 2012|12:57 am]
We were down one player for Star Wars tonight, but I guess if we can spend two-thirds of the session on an extemporaneous encounter that I hadn't prepped, I'm doing a pretty good job at that whole open-world choices-matter not-railroading thing.

Sometimes I feel like I spend way too much time on details that don't really matter and won't come up, but I've got this compulsion for having reasons and details that make it all hang together in my brain. Like, even if it doesn't make any difference to the planned gameplay, there are certain bits that I have to get sorted out just to be able to think about the scene. And tonight made me feel really good about that, because I guess this is when it pays off. If you have a player roll a super-critical success and you feel like you have to give him something for it, you can make a sharp left turn and reveal information that leads to an entire improvised scene where they discover that that alien technician was actually a disguised droid and still have it all make sense, because you know what's going on and why, even though before now it was all just scaffolding.

So yeah. That went pretty well. And now I have prepped stuff left over for next time!

(Jason Alexander says "Don't prep plots, prep situations", which is excellent advice. I'm not quite as good at that as I'd like to be. I guess what I do is more like start with the sketchy outline of a plot, but then figure out what the situation must be for it to happen that way. And then I've got a situation, so if (when) the actual plot doesn't go that way, it's fine.)

From: detailbear
2012-10-07 05:19 pm (UTC)
Are you watching TableTop? Board game galore. http://www.youtube.com/results?search_query=tabletop+wil+wheaton

The episode on Fiasco http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WXJxQ0NbFtk would be very pertinent to your interests about plots that build themselves.

Edited at 2012-10-07 05:19 pm (UTC)
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[User Picture]From: goddessdster
2012-10-07 06:22 pm (UTC)
I love that bit of advice about prepping. I think that's unconsciously what I already do, but as I tend to overthink things, I forget sometimes to just trust my gut that the plot will find a way to be a plot if the scenes I write are true.
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From: ajfbs
2012-10-08 11:38 am (UTC)
I just went to a talk given by a writer I love. Or course he got the usual question of where he gets his ideas. In the examples he gave, he started with a scene that came to him (characters, action, location). The rest of the story was a matter of getting to that scene and then the aftermath. I think I've heard a couple of writers start with a character or setting, and the plot comes later. Sometimes the characters end up going off in an unexpected direction. For me, the story/character aspect of RPG was a big part of their appeal.
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