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Narrative Control


May 21, 2009

This week Justin and I are talking about timelines in games (flashbacks and flash forwards) and out (campaign length, how to end games, etc).

Hosts: Sean Nittner and Justin Evans

Length: 28:26

[00:27] Intro to the show. Talking about timelines in game and out.
[00:49] Telling stories about our characters.
[01:50] One way to tell stories in game is to use flash backs or flash forwards
[2:00] Justin pains me with a discussion of Lost
[03:10] Talking about timelines on two levels.

Flashing back and flashing forward

[03:30] We display our ignorance to games who incorporate time manipulation in their games.
[03:58] A LARP that flashed back and flashed forward throughout.  They worked from the far future and past closer to the present.
[06:15] This allows you to start on a very dramatic note.  Starting with tension in the present by using Flashbacks to explain how you got there.
[06:52] Flashbacks are very useful for fleshing out the backstory.
[07:14] Starting with a normal scene and flashing back (or forward) to a very tense one.
[08:06] Allows the group to ask a really specific question about the characters or the story.
[08:52] Potential pitfall of a flashback:  Plot immunity.   Opportunity to create relationships or beliefs.
[10:13] Flash forwards can tell us what scene we should be building towards.
[11:28] Potential pitfalls of flash forward: Players working against the story you are presenting.
[11:56] Something that you want to look to your group for buy in.

Structure of games

[13:02] Asking the question. How long to I want this game to run?  How should it end?
[13:29] An awkward Highlander reference.
[14:22] Prime Time Adventures uses a 5 or 9 episode season.  This works really well with the spotlight dynamic.
[15:24] Some games don’t pace the number of game sessions but they do work strongly towards and end game.
[15:54] The Shadow of Yesterday: Transcendence – Your character is written out of the story.
[16:35] Burning Wheel: Emotional Attributes force characters to leave the world in different ways.
[17:39] Dust Devils uses  harm  to push towards “The End”.
[18:29] My Life with Master constantly pushes towards the end of the game (and consequently the end of the characters).
[20:32] Creating a good end game… we don’t want to let the fun end.
[22:27] Taking away the sting of games ending.  Talking about the game afterwards.
[24:00] Building in time to debrief games at the end.
[25:10] Most LARPS end with all the players sharing their plotlines with each other.
[25:39] End long running games with a discussion of what the group will do next.  Removes some of the fear of the “cool” part ending.
[27:28] Ending this podcast with an assurance that there will be more cool ones to come, and you can remove the sting by coming to the forums.

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