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Plots are a very important part of an RPG. Without a plot, you get something like this:

  • Character 1: So....
  • Character 2: *waits for Character 1 to do something*
  • Character 3: *attempts to start a plot*
  • Character 1 & 2: *ignores him because he's a noob*
  • Naga: (*kicks character 3's actor because he finds him annoying*)
  • Kris: (*goes to edit the wikia*)
  • Wolf: (This is exactly what I'm talking about!)
  • Bly: *uses the Plot Device button and erases everything that just happened that day*
  • Tourny: (Dang it, Bly!)
  • (Etcetera...)

As I'm sure you can see, not having a plot is often detramental to the RPG experience. You might be thinking that you've RPGed without plots just fine. If so, good for you! Being able to drive a story with pure improvisation takes a lot of skill. Vat and myself were able to do it like once, and it was a wobbly train all the way. For those of you who are wondering, I'm referring to that one SWBF2 RPG on Dagobah where I was the main antagonist.

But for those of us who lack the skill to improvise a story, it would be advantageous to have a plot in mind before you start RPGing.

How do I make a plot?

The plot in its most basic form is the path you wish to take in order to reach the end of your story line. It functions as a sort of guide line for what's supposed to happen and keeps the story from having awkward moments where nobody knows what to do. Take this example story line:

  • Bad Guy invents radioactive lamp.
  • Hero defeats bad guy.

Exciting, right? (Note: If you said yes to the previous question, might I suggest "Fun with Dick and Jane" by William S. Gray and Zerna Sharp. It's a good read, you'll like it.)

A story line like this is all well and good, but it might fail to keep some audiences interested. Why not? It is entirely devoid of plot. We can fix that, though. In the next example, I have added a bit of it:

  • Bad Guy invents radioactive lamp.
  • Hero discovers danger of lamp.'
  • Hero embarks on quest to pacify lamp.
  • Hero defeats bad guy.

It's not earth-shattering, but it's there. Now we actually have some idea of what happens as well as why the Hero might want to defeat the bad guy.

Action

Action is a big part of what keeps people interested these days. Without a little action, a story turns into something like Romeo and Juliet without the sword fights. Adding action is simple:

  • Bad Guy invents radioactive lamp.
  • Hero discovers danger of lamp.
  • Hero embarks on quest to pacify lamp.
  • Hero and Bad Guy have an epic sword fight.
  • Hero defeats bad guy.

Purpose

This may sound silly to mention, but it is important that you let the audience know why things happen. I couldn't just say:

  • Bad Guy invents radioactive lamp.
  • Hero discovers danger of lamp.
  • Hero embarks on quest to pacify lamp.
  • Hero is involved in a car chase.
  • Hero and Bad Guy have an epic sword fight.
  • Hero defeats bad guy.

Or else people will get confused as to whether or not I was kidding. I could rectify the confusion by saying:

  • Bad Guy invents radioactive lamp.
  • Hero discovers danger of lamp.
  • Hero embarks on quest to pacify lamp.
  • Since the lamp is located far away, the Hero rides his trusty hovercar.
  • Bad Guy sends his goons to stop the Hero from pacifying the lamp.
  • A Hovercar chase occurs between the Hero and the Goons, who naturally have their own hovercars.
  • Hero and Bad Guy have an epic sword fight.
  • Hero defeats bad guy.

Now the car chase appears straight forward. Of course the hero would try to get away from the people trying to stop him, and they would chase him.

Character development

Every good plot should have some character development. We could add some to this story like this:

  • Bad Guy invents radioactive lamp.
  • Hero discovers danger of lamp.
  • Hero embarks on quest to pacify lamp.
  • Since the lamp is located far away, the Hero rides his trusty hovercar.
  • Bad Guy sends his goons to stop the Hero from pacifying the lamp.
  • A Hovercar chase occurs between the Hero and the Goons, who naturally have their own hovercars.
  • Over the course of the chase, Hero, who has a dreadful fear of heights, is presented with theopportunity of escaping by performing an extremely dangerous jump.
  • Hero overcomes his fear of heights and performs the jump, escaping the bad guys.
  • Hero and Bad Guy have an epic sword fight.
  • Hero defeats bad guy.

We could develop someone besides the hero by making a character-based sub-plot!

  • Bad Guy, who holds a grudge against humanity, invents radioactive lamp to destroy it.
  • Hero discovers danger of lamp.
  • Hero embarks on quest to pacify lamp.
  • Since the lamp is located far away, the Hero rides his trusty hovercar.
  • Bad Guy sends his goons to stop the Hero from pacifying the lamp.
  • A Hovercar chase occurs between the Hero and the Goons, who naturally have their own hovercars.
  • Over the course of the chase, Hero, who has a dreadful fear of heights, is presented with theopportunity of escaping by performing an extremely dangerous jump.
  • Hero overcomes his fear of heights and performs the jump, escaping the bad guys.
  • Hero and Bad Guy have an epic sword fight.
  • Hero defeats bad guy, and convinces him not to have a grudge against humanity.

Now we have a fairly decent plot that we could RPG with.

Chicks

This is not necessarily and essential part of a storyline, however, you want to try to appeal to as many audiences as possible. If you add some chicks, you will by default have those guys in the theatre that came to the movie for the sole purpose of waching the chicks.

  • Bad Guy, who has a grudge against humanity, invents radioactive lamp to destroy it.
  • Girl falls in love with Hero.
  • Hero discovers danger of lamp.
  • Hero, unaware of Girl's love, embarks on quest to pacify lamp.
  • Girl, unable to cope with Hero putting himself in harm's way, embarks on a quest to help Hero.
  • Since the lamp is located far away, the Hero rides his trusty hovercar.
  • Bad Guy sends his goons to stop the Hero from pacifying the lamp.
  • A Hovercar chase occurs between the Hero and the Goons, who naturally have their own hovercars.
  • Over the course of the chase, Hero, who has a dreadful fear of heights, is presented with theopportunity of escaping by performing an extremely dangerous jump.
  • Hero overcomes his fear of heights and performs the jump, escaping the bad guys.
  • Hero and Bad Guy have an epic sword fight.
  • Just as Bad Guy is about to defeat Hero, Girl shows up, and together, Hero and Girl completely own Bad Guy.
  • Hero and Girl convince Bad Guy that he shouldn't have a grudge against humanity.

Humor

Now, there are two ways we could go portray this plot. We could

  1. Make it completely serious with no humor whatsoever.
  2. Make everyone the comic relief, and have the Goons be entirely stupid and inept at their job.
  3. Make Hero have this sort of grim sense of humor and the Goons sinister, yet funny to watch lose.

Option 1 will quickly get boring and people will turn off their TV sets. Option 2 will get old and cheesy real fast. Option 3 is a good choice because it allows the story to be serious, but still make people laugh.

Multiplayer storylines

A plot is easy enough to execute on your own, however, this is a multiplayer RPG, and when RPGing cooperatively a certain amount of respect is involved between all parties.

Often when more than one person does a storyline together, one person's plot sort of takes priority. It's usually the one that's the most delicate, or the one created by the person who said, "Hey, guys, wanna RPG? I have an idea for a story."

When someone invites you to join their story line, you have to respect that story line. This usually involves becoming a secondary role in the story, and waiting for openings in the host's plot to insert your own.

Very rarely, two storylines can coexist together. It can be done by having one sort of predominant story line with lots of open space and flexibility and another storyline that has only very loose guide lines. It's sort of like... when you play one of those video games where there's a set story that happens but you play your own story that just happens to follow along with it, and occasionally when you fight a boss battle, there's someone from the actual story there to help (see Wikipedia:The Lord of the Rings: The Third Age for an example).

What's really epic is when two storylines intertwine themselves so much that it actually seems like it's one story line. You can do this by leaving loose ends in your plot that other people can add their plots onto. Like:

  • Character 1: *drops a wrench*
  • *later*
  • Character 2: *picks up a wrench that someone must've dropped*
  • (Oh gosh! A Tie-in!)

Conclusion

A plot is a guide line, meant to be smooth and flowing like a river. If you wouldn't want to raft on your plot, you're doing something wrong.

A plot is also like a highway. You must slow down to allow traffic to merge, or you get a ticket.

DR. Tourny TalkContribs 20:53, July 16, 2011

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