Beginnings, Middle & Ends

25 10 2010

Never let it be said that I’m not consistent. I’ve made the point before that GM’s should learn from authors – and this time is no different.
Rather than an in-depth review of a given subject, I’ve decided to offer a few ‘lite’ offerings – and I’ve decided to start with a title that I adore. It’s a Nancy Kress title and just like good RPG’s, it extols the virtues of a story having a good beginning, middle and end.
So, how do you need to tackle beginnings?
Well, just like a great novel, a great adventure or campaign needs a captivating opening scene. Don’t wait to hook your players…get them gripped from the outset.
The real trick to great beginnings is the second scene. Too many writers pour their heart and should into the opening and then drop the standard. The second ‘scene’ must be as awesome as the first.
And so on to middles. The key to the middle is to ensure it keeps the reader/players on track. The next aspect of the middle is that sit is typically the time that your characters really develop. Early on the players are just getting to grips with their characters. They are starting to use the skills the PCs will have been developing for their entire life. Once the story picks up, the players can really allow their characters to develop. Those skills are now second nature for the players and this is the time to acquire new ones.
The best endings do one simple thing…they deliver. Players should be allowed to do whatever it was they started the adventure for. Don’t cheat them with a clever ending – unless you really know the players and it’s a one-off. Alfred Hitchcock never cheated on film-watchers. As he regularly said, if you show the film-goer a loaded gun, it had better be fired by the end of the movie.
So there you have it – the recipe for a great adventure. Or at very least the recommendation for a great read for any GM that takes writing adventures seriously.




4 responses

26 10 2010
Patrick Thunstrom

This is a good introduction to a very complex idea. I think learning from fiction is a great idea, but you need to look at fictions with ensemble casts of characters and strong interrelationship between their actions. Unfortunately, good fiction of this type is fairly rare, as strong single character stories are often what sells in the world of fiction.

That all said, the idea of ‘hook’, ‘development’, ‘conclusion’ is a strong basis for any sub-unit of role playing, be it a single encounter, an adventure, a campaign, or a series of linked campaigns.

17 11 2010
20 11 2010
Evil Machinations » Blog Archive » Setting an Example: Using Adventure Seeds/Hooks/Starts/Ideas, pt. 3

[…] Beginnings, Middle & Ends ( […]

27 12 2010
Writing the Adventure: Begin at the Beginning :

[…] Beginnings, Middle & Ends ( […]

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