Not Monster, Not Plot - Story
Not Monster, Not Plot … Story
A study in fear
My name is Simon. I am not the Simon you know, nor the other one; No, nor that one. I am a different Simon entirely. You probably don’t know me. This is for the good. I am part of the story team at Odyssey.
I thought, as we enter the last few events of the cycle, that I’d give you a bit of an overview of what this means. There are many really great writers at Odyssey. In the (29) years since I started live action role playing I have not worked with a group of writers like this. Twice a year they put in an incredible amount of effort to come up with amazing, intricate, beautiful, well -crafted and glorious plots.
And you all break them.
My job is to turn around to writers, at 2am, who have not slept for the best part of a week, and who are in a state of shock and blind panic and tell them that it is right and proper that their work of art is lying broken in the corner. They cry. They tear their clothes and weep tears of blood. They beg for a second chance.
I say “No”
They all hate me. That is okay. I am a mean bastard with a shaved head and scars. They do not scare me.
I don’t know who you are. Sure I hear character names, but I have never crossed the hedge (or the ditch) to match names to faces, so even if I did once play with you in another world, a decade or more ago, I don’t know that such-and-such is your character. Even if I did, I would not care. I am truly horrible. Even my best friend considers I am ‘challenging at the best of times.’
This means I can try to be scrupulously fair and even handed. My job is to look at the characters, not the players; to ensure that any perceived benefit that a character gets is through role-play, not through meta-gaming or networking. Some of you hate me. That is okay. I am a mean bastard etc. etc.
As we approach the end game for Odyssey things are going to get difficult. The world you think you know – and by extension the rules that you think govern it – are subject to change. If the game world is going to enter a state of chaos (and it almost certainly is) then nothing IC should be taken for granted from this point on.
So why am I talking about this? Because in order to make this work – a game where player agency always wins over any form of written ‘plot’ - we need the players to trust the OOC elements of the game. There are rules. These rules affect the players, the NPCs, the writers, and even the Gods. And my job is to ensure that these rules are followed.
One of the reasons why I have been excited by working on Odyssey is that the team I am a part of is called ‘Story,’ our job is to create an opportunity for you to be epic.. We are not called ‘monster’ – we are not churning out a series of well-signposted bad guys for you to fight in the dark. We are not called ‘plot’ - we don’t know exactly how this story is going to end. Sure, we have seeded possible endings, but it is always possible that you might come up with something else.
Let me say that again. We do not know exactly how this story is going to end! It is up to you. It has all been up to you. If you think we flanged something, if you think we forced the narrative down a particular path, you probably missed the other players doing something very clever or very dangerous just out of sight.
Now, at last, the end is in sight and we have absolutely no control over the narrative … now I am scared. I am scared of you and what you are going to do.
Bring it on. Just don’t leave it too late to make your move in this, the great game.
It is going to be awesome.
- Simon B