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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, February 28, 2012

Spoilers! (Plot Twists, Redux)

To those of you who recognize the picture: you are cooler than fezzes. You'll probably also have a bigger handle on the concepts I'm about to approach, but that isn't to say that the rest of you won't be able to grasp it. So! I'm going to approach the topic of plot twists again; this time, I'm talking about "secrets"...

Withheld Information
In my browsing of free RPGs, I've come across a rather interesting little work called A Strange Charm, written in 24 hours. It's an exploration of the story dynamics of Doctor Who, in game form. There's a lot of very interesting ideas in it, and those of you who are not Who fans will have to forgive me, I'm picking up a good lot of storytelling technique from the show.

One of the most pivotal ideas in this RPG, one which shines through in Doctor Who itself, is the idea of withheld information. The game has the concept of Secrets, powerful bits of information which have the ability to drastically shape the outcome of events. A Secret is something not known by the other characters, which then stays true once it is revealed. For instance, "I know that the people on this starship are doomed." could be a Secret, and so could "I'm in love with the Doctor."

Connections, Connections
So, the question is, why are secrets important? They're important, because any plot twist (and plot point, even) can be seen as a "secret". Secrets exist, and they make sense in the framework of the story, because they were already there. They've been there the whole time, it just took the proper circumstance to bring them into being. Of course, when you're writing a story or a game, you can't have all of these "secrets" planned out. Instead, you need to ensure that every secret you reveal is something which could have logically existed in the already-established reality of the story.

The best way to do this is by seeing secrets as connections. One of the most common types of secrets is a connection between Plot Element A and Plot Element B, both of which had never been connected before. This keys back into something I said in the previous post, about viewing plot elements as items that had more than one purpose. You can connect any number of plot elements together, and it's only up to your creativity how they align.

So, get out there, prep some secrets, and spoilers ahoy!

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