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Old 09-23-2007, 08:27 PM   #1
Burrytar
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Point of view and conflict. Stories and muds.

In modern storytelling, you rarely see a conflict involving more than two people, the protagonist and one antagonist. There may be other key characters present, but they are usually in the background. The story may even cut to one of these characters, but it's usually as a scene-within-a-scene or a new scene altogether.

What's at stake is losing sight of...well, what's at stake. At the heart of every scene is a single conflict; anything not utterly relevant to that conflict is just noise, diluting the story as a whole.

In a mud, everyone wants their own story to be told. How can this be reconciled (or brought to heel) with good storytelling?

I'd be interested in hearing how you approach this on a mechanical level.

***

As a related matter, I'm wondering if anyone has tried allowing characters to claim the right to be the protagonist for a particular time and/or place? For example, they could create a conflict by specifying their antagonist and possibly a goal, then they could seek out the antagonist, and when they find them the conflict could trigger as being active (or possibly enter a queue if the antagonist is already in an active conflict).

One thing that interests me about this possible approach is that you could then introduce a hierarchy of viewpoint. Within a conflict space, the protagonist's thoughts and feelings could be made visible to other player characters, who are in effect simply part of the background. It also would allow each character to have the spotlight now and then, and could put a focus on story even for muds with many tactics-based features. For a PK mud, the conflict is often a fight. In an RP mud, the conflict is often a dialogue. But there is a conflict worth spotlighting either way.

One issue in designing such a mechanic is determining when the conflict is over. If spotlight time is a worthy incentive, then PCs will be loath to give it up voluntarily. For a good story, the conflict usually ends the second we know whether a character will achieve their goal or not, and with some turn of events that is disastrous for the protagonist. So maybe some impending mechanical disaster gives the protagonist a limited amount of time to achieve their goal? This makes the mechanic a trade off. By invoking it, you get the spotlight, but you also invite some disaster upon yourself.

But what would be the right sort of disaster mechanic? How do you relate it to the story? That's the most difficult question, I think. I'm not sure how to answer it.

Last edited by Burrytar : 09-23-2007 at 08:33 PM.
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Old 09-23-2007, 11:27 PM   #2
Ide
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Re: Point of view and conflict. Stories and muds.

Quote:
As a related matter, I'm wondering if anyone has tried allowing characters to claim the right to be the protagonist for a particular time and/or place? For example, they could create a conflict by specifying their antagonist and possibly a goal, then they could seek out the antagonist, and when they find them the conflict could trigger as being active (or possibly enter a queue if the antagonist is already in an active conflict).
I think it might be a good idea if you gave a very specific example of what you're talking about, because I'm not sure I understand what you are talking about.
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