Monday, June 08, 2009

'The Journey' as plotline

Big Lee wrote this post a little while ago, musing about the significance of 'the journey' in some RP worlds and its virtual absence on others. He used Tolklien's 'Lord of the Rings' as the exemplar story with this motif (fair enough, so did Tolkien). In a comment I said the following:

I think Bilbo Baggins's own book was entitled 'There and Back Again'. The story of the return of the hero is an integral part of 'The Journey' story type. Needs a fairly well developed world for this to be replicated in a game but, when it is, the sense of completion is palpable.

I had some grand adventures in various RP universes where the journey was the thing, but if there was no where you could call home it all eventually began to pale. In my own worlds I always tried to give players a sense of 'place', sometimes this evolved into a fragile sense of 'home'. But, either as player or as GM, the adventures tended to happen away from 'home', most of the emotional charge of the game occurred in the context of 'other' places. The sense of 'home' and a broader community was all rather tenuous.

This is where 'persistent' online universes certainly have something on most other forms of RP experience. If, as in RK/TN, most of your time is spent between adventures, waiting, fishing, farming, drinking at the local, etc, you do develop a sense of home and of place. Returning home from an 'adventure' defines the event in a sense, puts an exclamation mark on the story.

And there's this interesting post over at Zeta Orions (thanks Jeff of the Gameblog for the link). The author seems to be coming from somewhere near my part of the universe in hir approach to the concept of 'the game'.

1 comment:

BigLee said...

First let me say thanks for the Cross post! It’s always good to know people are stimulated (one way or another) by what I’ve written.

I agree making the journey as part of an adventure requires a well developed world in which to travel. From the start I always wanted my players to feel like they were exploring a real place. So even when they spent their first campaign exploring a single city (a journey in its own right) they knew there was a world beyond the city walls. I also think knowing what was out there helped me as a GM and storyteller. It made the people, places and cultures my players encountered feel like they really existed and made their eventual journey beyond the city wall that much easier.