The Plot Engine Manifesto

Background

It is never enough to praise the goods and world-changing view of the Justin Alexander’ Don’t Prep Plots. Such article has enlightened me as one of the best tools any GM must have in his backpack.

God and myself only knows how long I spent in my GM’ youth scripting down each potential plot twist, any plot branch, etc, that the Party might have faced.

I partially reached the concept outlined in the post mentioned above by myself, even though not so sharply as described.

Now I see no more the plots as a sequence from A to Z, for the players to stare and look at while I lay out to them all the pre-scripted events, for them to be railroaded.

Now, I prepare plot chunks, better known as situations.

Now, let’s delve into a bit of theory.

The Plot and its components

The past: definition of Plot

Also called storyline. The plan, scheme, or main story of a literary or dramatic work, as a play, novel, or short story.

Another definition: the Plot Element

Plot elements are the minimum entities that are required to build-up a plot. Each plot element may pertain to one of the following categories:

  • a character
  • a location
  • an item
  • an event
  • a group

Many other categories and/or subcategories may exist (and actually do exist also in my campaigns) but, for the moment, let’s stick to these to keep it simple.

The future: definition of Plot Chunk

A plot chunk is a defined as a set of few plot elements which are connected by a series of relations (definition by myself).

A Plot Chunk can also be called plot element, situation, trope, cool situation, encounter, or node.

Speaking of chemistry, we can see the overall thing as like as:

  • plot element = atom
  • plot chunk = a molecule
  • overall plot = a larger molecule, such as a proteine, etc

So we come to:

The Plot Engine

The Plot Engine is a collection of plot chunks, which can help all the GMs to prepare cool situations for their games. Given the extreme flexibility of the Plot Engine, many plots can be generated or tweaked on the fly using simple plot chunks as building blocks.

When I present a plot chunk, I will write in capital letters all the plot elements; an example is provided herein:

EVIL_MONSTER replaces GOOD_PERSON_A and awaits GOOD_PERSON_B.

Therefore, any plot chunk can be used in several ways, linked and interrelated with other plot chunks.

As an example: you want a small quest to retrieve an ITEM from a dangerous location? Look the Plot engine up for ITEM and search the plot chunck that most fits your needs. Obviously feel free to tweak it to suit your needs. Then, you’ll see that using that particular plot chunk you will have other plot elements pending, which you can use to give more depth to your campaign world.

Also, all the plot elements are given capitalized letter to make them more recognizable from the text. Also, the plot chunks are given as short as possible, to allow you to read and digest them very quickly.

Side note: it is no mistery that the plot chunk can be translated into Little Red Cap:

the wolf has eaten (and replaced) the grandma, and awaits in her bed for Little Red Cap to get to the house (and possibly eat her).

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