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Your plot’s in the way of my character

We often write about the advantages of simple RPG plots, mostly because I suck at elaborate mysteries. Thankfully, I’ve discovered a lot of reasons why my style isn’t just garbage, and seen my games come out successful again and again. Obviously, something is working. But as I was writing another post, I began considering those simple plots from the players’ side and had a new thought.

Have you ever been in a highly complex role-playing game? One with a lot going on, where you have to juggle eight different plot threads at once, but you’re not sure which one to follow? Sometimes events come at players so rapidly that they never get a chance to breathe and digest what their characters have been through — let alone do anything of their own. Not every player plans a character arc or a backstory that they want to resolve, but most of my players do. They like to role-play with each other and with my NPCs. Sometimes I get to just sit back while players run errands, chase personal arcs, or role-play conversations, and I hardly have to do anything.

Image: A circular labyrinth of old stone.

Those super-intricate plots often keep characters busy when they might be trying to advance a romantic plot or personal arc. If the story is too wild, characters might not even be able to just take simple downtime. There have been times when I had to ask the Storyteller for a time out so we could do something besides run frantically from one plot point to another.

One of the advantages of a simple story is that they don’t demand the players keep track of a million different threads, and they have time at the table to do their own things. Yes, the main plot is important, but players who want to role-play should be able to do so. And player character arcs are important, too! There’s got to be room for both, so try not to barrage your table with plot points, and leave some room for their plots.



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