Monday, February 19, 2007

Half-Complete Musings

It occurs to me that the dramatic/iconic distinction could be a powerful GM tool. Because when I'm GMing, everything becomes a powerful GM tool. Video games, old GURPS books, random poems -- my first thought is always, "How can I game with that?"

But, basically, treating player characters as iconic characters would be an interesting way to marry traditional storytelling principles with the wild and woolly world of tabletop gaming.

Definition time: Theme is revealed through the interaction between world and character. A dramatic character reveals theme by changing in response to the world. An iconic character reveals theme by the changes their actions cause in the world. (I really need to find a better phrase for this, because a character can have the property I'm describing without being an icon.)

Okay, so those are more like theses than definitions. Anyway, the point is that, since a GM controls the world rather than the characters, it's easier for a GM to build a story on iconic principles than on dramatic principles. (Watch me stretch the definitions past their breaking point!) If the player characters are the main characters, anyway. If an NPC is the main character, then using dramatic principles are a piece of cake, but PCs tend to get snippy if they figure out they've been relegated to supporting character status.

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