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Good evening, afternoon, or whatever time it happens to be there, ladies and gents! I happen to be Andy, who happens to be a freelance web designer, musician, writer, and whatnot.

Roman Catholic, student of tabletop gaming, and someday soon I'll have my own designs in the field!

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Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Plotting and Paradigm: Shaking It Up

The First Post

Well, I'm here, continuing the post from last week that I called "How to Open a Story". Mainly because I like doing series, and relating one idea to other parts...and because it's nice to have pieces on opening, continuing, and ending a story. So, this time around, I'm approaching the idea of the middle of a story from what I call the "paradigm" perspective.

A Paradigm Isn't As Much As a Quarter...
Okay, incredibly lame pun is over.

The "paradigm" perspective is what I somewhat touched on last post...I just didn't mention it by name. A paradigm, more or less, is "the way things are", the status quo. The first post discussed exploring a plan or a system as a paradigm. The story starts when there's a chink in the paradigm, something slightly awry with how things are (or how things are supposed to go).

That's not where the paradigm ends, though. See, once there's a crack in the system, the main characters tend to start to bust open the crack. Which means that they have now pitted themselves against the paradigm itself. The rest of the story now focuses around whether they can topple the paradigm. Generally speaking, once the paradigm has been struck, it regroups like a sentient pudding, globbing apart into smaller but still dangerous pieces.

Sometimes, people will try to re-establish the paradigm; others, even antagonists, will try and change the paradigm to something that they prefer. Once the protagonists enter the picture and deal that first blow, it's more or less a free-for-all.

The Paradigm Hydra
Of course, paradigms are rather impersonal things. That's not very exciting or interesting, is it? We prefer to have our stories be about people. For an RPG, that means memorable NPCs. (Which, by the way, I have a nifty method for quickly creating vibrant characters, which I'll share in a future post.) This gives rise to a very vivid image: the Paradigm Hydra.

The Hydra, as you no doubt know, is a mythological beast with a heck of a lot of heads. That's kinda what a paradigm is like. It's one organization/structure/system, but it has many, many faces. Those faces can be people or smaller organizations; things that PCs can interact with. The other funny thing about a hydra is that when you chop off one head, two more grow back in its place.

When an NPC falls, it gets replaced by another memorable NPC, who slots into the paradigm in a different way.

Wresting the Hydra
So, the PCs confront this Paradigm Hydra, fight its various heads, and eventually manage to make their way closer to the very heart of the best. But once they know what they have to do to slay the monster, that's when the ending kicks in.

Stay tuned.

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