We’re back and we’re continuing our analysis of the structure of roleplaying games. RPG scenarios are similar in form to stories, even if they become more chaotic in play! While they don’t necessarily follow a three or four-act structure, they do have beginnings, middles and ends. There are different techniques involved in presenting these, so we have devoted separate episodes to each one. We covered beginnings in episode 91, so this time it’s the turn of middles. You may be able to guess what’s coming in episode 93.
These three episodes came out of a recent chat with our Patreon backers where we asked for episode topics they wanted to hear. The ideas they suggested included pacing and building dread in games, as well as the three-act structure. Maintaining pace and building atmosphere are the GM’s main jobs in the middle portion of a horror game, so we give them a good, hard look in this episode.
The middle part of a game is probably the hardest to pin down. Beginnings and ends are pretty self-explanatory, so we defined the middle as everything else. As well as pace and atmosphere, we talk about handling spotlight time, the importance of improvisation and whether big plot twists risk alienating some players.
In the introduction, I blatantly abuse the podcast to promote a new publication. I shall do so again here with the excuse of providing the promised link. A few years ago, I wrote a convention scenario for Tim Gray’s excellent sword-and-sorcery RPG, Jaws of the Six Serpents. The scenario, titled, The Blizzard’s Teeth, centres on a mismatched group of characters who find themselves stranded in a keep while an unnatural storm filled with howling demons rages outside. Like much sword-and-sorcery fiction, it straddles the line between fantasy and horror. Tim has recently published The Blizzard’s Teeth as a PDF, and it is available on DriveThruRPG.
We recorded some singing to go into this episode, to thank a new $5 Patreon backer, but Paul’s computer decided to spare you all. Somehow it turned the file into something that sounds like R2D2 orgasming. While many would argue that this is an improvement, we have decided to re-record instead, so our thanks will have to wait for the next episode.