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Narrative Control


May 5, 2011

Welcome back to Narrative Control. As season two winds down Fattig and I are doing our last standard show (66 will be a bloopers and a discussion of the future).  This episode we’re talking about unconventional conflicts, like chases, heists, and escapes.  How to make those kick ass in RPGs as much as they do in fiction.

Hosts: Sean Nittner and Eric Fattig

Length 45:56

Show Notes

[00:30] Intro to the Show: Unconventional Conflicts.
[01:04] In a movie unconventional conflicts are awesome, but many RPGs don’t do it well.
[01:49] Inspired by a recent episode of Sharkbone, episode 48 with Leonard Balsera.

Examples of awesome conflicts to bring into your game.

[04:52] Escape – Running out of the collapsing temple
[06:19] Heist – Steeling the scroll of Anuba
[07:13] Environmental – Surviving the Fire Swamp
[08:49] Chase Scene – The Fugitive fleeing from the law.
[10:56] Fighting the Unbeatable Monster – Fighting the T-Rex or the Zombie Apocalypse

Why don’t these unconventional conflicts work in RPGs

[13:04] Poor mechanical support for non-fight conflicts
[16:52] When the table doesn’t agree on what the conflict really is
[19:39] The challenge that only engages one of the player characters

Systems, components and Idea that help to bring the awesome…and how they work

[22:16] System: FATE/Dresden – Unified Conflict System
[25:33] System: Mouse Guard – Conflict System with changing skill sets and teamwork
[26:31] Setting: Mouse Guard – The environment is the enemy!
[28:19] System: Dungeons & Dragons 4th Edition – Skill Challenges
[30:19] System: Smallville – Stress in many forms (anger, exhaustion, etc) and raising tension.
[33:27] System: Wushu – Principle of Narrative Truth and constant threats.

Principles to derive from these games.

[36:39] Teamwork – Making every player an integral part of the conflict.
[37:35] A Hit Point system – Given every conflict a granular win/lose condition.
[39:50] Both sides must threaten each other – The lock is messing with you!
[40:58] Offering Variety – changing up the conflict and changing the mechanics to suit.
[42:11] Cool losing conditions - Sean’s tribute to an actor who is great a losing conflicts.

[44:06] Last regular episode of Season 2. Bloopers up next.

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