Gw Temp


Article - 'Guide to a Greater RPG Story' by FatFreeJelloPimp

An item about Plots/Characters posted on Jan 14, 2004


FatFreeJelloPimp (Crazy, huh?) gives a solid, nicely-written guide to RPG creators on writing and improving storylines for their games.


This guide will hopefully help you in the overall construction of your RPG. The storyline is arguably the one factor that can make or break an RPG, and as has been many times in the RPG world, an obtuse story will ruin even the best programming.

The first thing to be noted... GRAMMAR!! Really, sometimes I wonder if these people graduated the 3rd grade. I can understand typos, but in an RPG, that should be no problem. That's what test play is for. I'm sorry, I don't mean to be rude, but I'm sure everyone here can appreciate what I'm saying. So please, heed my warning, lest you wish to appear on the wall of shame (currently renting space).

Now to the theme. This will be the backbone of your RPG. Sometimes this can be hard to do for people... To some it comes naturally. To help you get started, I'll list a few.

-Apocalypse: As the name implies, the antagonist is trying to cause the end of the world... By some means, for some reason... and the protagonist tries to prevent it. That can be decided later. This theme is usually very epic, and can be very dramatic.

-Revenge: Ever watch those old kung-fu movies? "Aha you kill my father for this you must die." That's basically what this is. The hero's father/mother/brother/sister/whatever dies, town is burnt down, ect. Whatever it is, your hero's party hates the enemy, and that's what drives this theme.

-A Game Of Q&A: Your hero has amnesia, or just really confused... His quest for answers somehow gets him caught up in something big. Eventually he may be saving the world.

Okay, now that you have that done, you can start to sketch out your story. I always start with motives, because I've noticed that some of the best plots suffer from "lack of purpose". In other words, there's this unique story with some nice twists, but WHY is it happening? Why did the enemy burn down your hometown? Why did he kill your father? Why does the world have to end? Why would your hero care? Now I don't know about you, but if some demon was threatening our world, trying to collect the crystals of power, I wouldn't whip out my sword and go to stop him! I'd curl into a fetal position and whimper! Take note that there's no shame in 'borrowing' ideas. Just make sure they're only bits and pieces. If the player, on several occasions, relates your game to another, they'll lose all respect they may have for you and your game.

Okay, so the enemy is attempting to destroy all life on earth except two of every species, so that the impure world may be restored to it's ancient beauty, and your hero believes that the human race can repent for their mistakes. By the way, feel free to use that. In any case, that may be good, but you're going to need more. You've figured out that the hero will somehow stumble across this plot, and be obliged to stop it. As you can see there are already holes in this story. How does the hero find out about this cataclysm? Why in the world should he do anything about it? Let your creativity run amock at this point. The hero is going to another town to visit his cousin, and in the forest he meets up with 2 demons talking. He goes to his cousins to find that the demons have destroyed that village. His cousin is dead. Enraged, he picks up his cousin's old sword and vows that with that sword he will slay the demons. This sounds cliche, I know, but that's good at this point. At least you know it sound like something that's been used. Something that's been accepted.

Ah, the fun part. Make a storyboard. Pretty much what I said above, divided into bullet holes. Be more specific around big scenes, such as the intro, twist points, and the ending. Those require the most thought, and should hold the gamers' interest the most. Try to build up the excitement and anticipation the gamer feels throughout the game. Give them questions with no answers, ones that need answers. Make them guess what's gonna happen next, but attempt to prove them wrong. Just remember... Everything you do must relate to your theme, it HAS to be relavent. If it is not, your game will lose its power. That theme is what gives you power.

So you have a storyline! Congrats! This is the part where you need to make any tweaks. Really, focus on the intro the most. It will be harder to change what you've already done in the game. Remember when I said cliche was good? Well this is where it turns bad. I know, it's kinda far into the process, but believe me, this will be easy. If your intro sounds a little cheesy, maybe sounds too common, just change a few things. Maybe you don't meet some demons in the forest, maybe you are already at your cousins when they attack. Eventually I'm sure your story will be a unique piece of work, staying near to the RPG roots.