Friday, July 08, 2005

[How to: TV] Characters have Principles

Over at anyway, Vincent's making some good points about RPG settings and what we do when we're playing in a game like Buffy, which is based on someone else's creation and we are all familiar with and like.

Anyway, he has some comments about a game run by ... *cough*Ninja Hunter J*cough* ... that I think of such a lot of potential for writing a TV series Bible.

Last summer sometime Ninja J and I spent a whole afternoon walking all the heck over Northampton. Among many other things, we talked about a beloved old game he'd GMed; particularly, we talked about how rich and alive its setting was, how detailed. His players ate it up, he said, they'd go on and on about how compelling, complete, fully realized the setting was.

Then he told me how he'd done it. He'd taken three principles - I wish I could remember them in particular, J please step in here, but they were like "nobody thinks that they themselves are evil," "the Grand Galactic Empire is procedurally conservative," and "nobody really enjoys their job" - three principles something like those, and whenever any of his players asked him about anything in the setting, he'd simply apply those principles to create the answer.

"I duck into a broom closet." "Okay. There are a bunch of reg-77f portbrushes in there, but someone hasn't bothered to replace them yet, they're all slimy and they smell." All the details you'd need to bring the setting home, give it weight and momentum, and yet J didn't precreate the contents of a single broom closet.

There's lots more in the Comments section, but the basic idea I'd rip from this is to define characters via a series basic principles which you can communicate to your writers. For instance, Xander off Buffy would be ... let's say the one who makes pop culture jokes, the heart of the group and the one who no-one listens to but who always knows what's really going on.

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