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Thursday, November 10, 2011

Investing in the monomyth's "Ordinary World"

Those who enjoyed Gamasutra's post on the monomyth (Solo RPG Gamer: Gamasutra: Automated Monomyth), may find this post at the Words on Play blog interesting:

Another aspect of RPGs that seems to be at odds with creating a compelling story is the desire to make the player character a blank slate at the beginning of the game. Again, this gives the player the freedom to create whatever character they like, but without an established backstory to work with, it is hard to forge any kind of connection between the player and the world. Yes, it gives us a nice conceit to explain the player’s early unfamiliarity with their world (and run them through the obligatory tutorial quests) but dramatically it leaves the character without any investment in the world.

The solution I’d like to explore is to have a more significant “Ordinary World” (in Campbell’s terms) before the Call to Adventure.

I think the author's thoughts may be relevant to Pen and Paper RPGs as well, even in solo mode. Would play, and the story, be more compelling if a player spent a few scenes interacting with people and places in this "Ordinary World" where he comes from (as the author of the original post suggests)? Or should that just be relegated to a background write up?

Edit: I've decided to put this to the test in this gaming session for Solo Tabletop Gaming Appreciation Month.

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