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275647 Posts in 27717 Topics by 4285 Members Latest Member: - Jason DAngelo Most online today: 211 - most online ever: 565 (October 17, 2020, 02:08:06 PM)
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Author Topic: Metaplots: Creative Inspiration or Creative Limitation?  (Read 5534 times)
Dauntless
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Posts: 139


« on: March 03, 2005, 04:14:21 PM »

I tend to like the idea of a game having a metaplot running through it.  From a purely business standpoint, it's an excellent way to get people to buy more books to see what happens next.  I also tend to see metaplots as a playpen that helps encourage creativity rather than stifle it.  It gives you ideas and a sense of direction for where the game is going.

On the downside, metaplots can feel restrictive.  You can never do world shaking actions, because these may conflict with the game designers cannon.  Because of this, either you go ahead with your world-altering plans and just live in an "alternate" game world, or you restrict your players in such a way that it can fit in.  Me personally though, I generally don't like Epics in which the players have the potential to be the movers and shakers of the world, so I'm biased in that sense.

Are there other pros and cons to having metaplots?
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xenopulse
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Heretic Forgite


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« Reply #1 on: March 03, 2005, 04:28:08 PM »

Pro: It can add to the players' immersion by establishing that things happen even when their characters are not involved. That only works when the characters are not the movers and shakers, as you said.

Con: You have to keep up with it. Some people enjoy this. I find it a hassle, especially as a newcomer, that I don't feel adequate unless I have read 5 core books and 15 supplements and manage to memorize all that...
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TonyLB
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« Reply #2 on: March 03, 2005, 07:53:28 PM »

Which of the three definitions for "Metaplot" that are listed in the Provisional Glossary are we using here?
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Dauntless
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Posts: 139


« Reply #3 on: March 03, 2005, 08:27:10 PM »

Whoa, that definition lost me after the second one because of the grammar.

I was referring to an overarching plot embedded within the game world.  In essence, the long term future is already planned out and doled out slowly and methodically to the gamers.  Hints and foreshadowing of future events are dropped here and there, and a later supplement or game book will introduce these new plot elements.  An example of what I was thinking of was FASA's old Battletech game line and its concurrent series of novels (which were considered official cannon).  In Battletech, FASA was always redrawing the lines of where each House's territories were, who was warring with whom, and new enemies (the Clans).

So I guess it's closest to definition #2, however, I don't see how a company or designer can force or restrict the gamers to follow their vision of the metaplot.  The gamers simply won't buy any more of their product line if it goes against what they want.
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TonyLB
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« Reply #4 on: March 03, 2005, 08:49:02 PM »

Well, I'm not real keen on buying new books.  I like definition #1 though, inasmuch as it provides a job (beyond "make us more money without forcing us to work hard") for the metaplot:  produce and accentuate conflict.

Bill White's game Ganakagok, for instance, has multiple clear-cut phases of the plot, with the sun slowly rising over icey lands.  But it's up to the players (by way of their characters) to change the world in ways that define what those phases mean in a particular game.

So, by the end of the game, you may know that the rising of the sun is a great new opportunity for your village.  Or that it is a doom you must escape.  And all of that is player-driven, even though the rising of the sun itself is inevitable.

My Life With Master also does this with tremendous artistry.

Is this the sort of thing you're looking at?
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Just published: Capes
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