thread: 2005-04-21 : Planned Endings

On 2005-04-21, Victor Gijsbers wrote:

I believe that ending games is very, very important.

Think about what it means when a game just 'peters out'. It means that the last few sessions were boring, unexciting, nobody was committed to them. You wish to avoid that.

So the real question is whether you wish to have games that work toward a decisive end, or games that go on forever. Now, in a game where your character slowly improves over time - read, the vast majority of mainstream games - the benefits of the second variant are obvious. But if you wish to tell a story, it is far more satisfying to have climaxes in which all or at least most of the plot threads are wrapt up.

Also, having an explicitely recognised meta-structure for the game puts everything you do in much sharper focus, ensures that people do this thing _now_ (instead of hoping it will come along sometime in the indefinite future), and makes sure that people escalate, escalate, escalate. These are all good things.

And it is better for diversity too.

I have just started playing a game of Universalis with my group, and almost the first things we agreed on was that:
1) We wanted the story to be clearly defined in scope; that is, with a clearly recognisable ending which we can work toward. (We decided playing the corruption and fall of an idealistic hippy community.)
2) We will state at the start of each session what goals, in broad terms, we wish to achieve in the session. (Not goals that the characters wish to achieve; story-goals, that we, the players wish to achieve. "Introduce the setting; introduce the first cracks in the dream; end with a vision of doom.")
3) Anyone who starts a scene must say what purpose he wishes the scene to serve. (Introduction, escalation, intermezzo, overview, thematic flashback, ... - not, 'Mary and John will get married')
Abstract story-structure is your friend.


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