Writing an “as-you-go” story…

As you may know, I’m involved in a RPG set in the world of the Dresden Files, and recently I was asked bullied talked into running a game for one of the current players, the GM (who misses being able to run around and cause havoc), and another friend who hasn’t played many RPGs.

I started thinking about it, and almost deliberately chose to operate it in a very different way to the longer game that our GM is currently running. He has opted for a plot-based scenario: something happens, and we have to follow the clues to solve the puzzle, with an appropriate amount of twists and options. But there is one answer, one solution, and we are steered towards that. I can see why he’s chosen that, and for a longer game, it does work well – there’s an over-arching plot and smaller plots, and they all fit in together. We’re steered enough that we find our way around the world, but also given enough options to make the game interesting for us, and it makes it easier for him to plot and plan for the next sessions and our choices.

But for my one-off game, I’ve instead opted for an open-ended scenario: you are in this place, and something happens – what do you want to do? I’ve written notes for myself for the various options – I’ve got characters that can come into play, things that can take place, locations that can be used…but there’s no solution, no magical ending. The game runs how they want it to, stops when they wish it to. Options that I’ve planned for include run away, visit the Faeries, sit in a pub, attack several buildings or just generally set fire to Swindon – any of which are possible!

It’s going to be interesting to see how the story plays out. In many ways it’s similar to how I write: I have characters, and a situation, and I just let them interact. The GM’s way of playing is also similar to how he writes – he tends to have an end in sight, and weaves everything into that as he goes. I suppose it’s a reflection of how our minds work and how we find it easiest to plot (or in my case, not plot), but in this case, I get to play with other characters than those in my own head!

On a side note, my system – I think – works slightly better for the RPG world. The current GM has to take character motivation into account for his scenarios, and he had a slight surprise recently when my character flatly refused to be part of his planned ending…but I suppose it keeps him on his toes! I suspect that my scenario and way of playing will also have issues, but I’m going to have to wait to find out what they are: it’ll be a good evaluation opportunity.

So that should be coming up shortly: I’ll let you know how it goes.

Author: kate

Kate Coe is an editor, book reviewer and writer of fiction & fantasy. She writes the sparkpunk GreenSky series and blogs at writingandcoe.co.uk. When she's not working, she fills her spare time in between writing with web design, gaming, geeky cross-stitch and DIY (which may or may not involve destroying things). She also reads far fewer books that she would like to, but possibly more than she really has time for.