Wednesday, September 18, 2019

Opinion: Plot Hooks are Extraneous

So I’ve been doing some mixed reading lately and I’m trying desperately to find where I read it, but recently a blog I read stated that they’ve stepped away from writing reasons for the characters to be in said place. These are that list of adventure hooks that show up invariably at the beginning of certain modules. Recently also someone I know also mentioned they were having trouble with their own adventure hooks, which prompted me to think on this just a bit. 

So, here’s my postulation: Good Adventurers don’t need adventure hooks. Creative players and referees don’t either. 

Crazy as it may sound, I have the firm belief that an Adventurer both should and will seek adventure. They are snoops and scallywags of the highest order. An adventurer who does not go looking for trouble is not an adventurer, rather they are a reluctant hero, and while that works in fiction, at the table that is going to get old very, very quickly. To that end, the Baggins are not Adventurers, despite having had one or two. A better example from modern cinema of an adventurer is Captain Jack Sparrow, who’s constantly after... something, anything. Indiana Jones is an excellent example for us older folks. I suppose that’s my opinion at the end: that those who claim to perform an action for a living should seek it.

That’s not to say that you can’t have good Characters who require some extraneous motivation. But frankly if I as a referee open a game where you’re in front of a dungeon as a player and you ask me “but what’s my motivaaaatioooon???” I will physically throw something at you. Nobody likes a needy actor.

More so, I feel like making a character should include some base motivations, and I mean that as both foundational and of low moral value: Morg Skulltaker didn’t get that last name by not coveting skulls, and your class’s name is always a great thing to want. A fighter should want to fight, a thief to steal, a wizard arcane power, and a cleric to convert or proselytize. Further, unless your basically playing in an attempt to be a moral paragon (*cough*paladin*cough*), having a vice adds a little human element that I think does Adventurers well for role-play and storytelling. 

I also think a crafty referee can rope any character into heavily armed underground death-trap spelunking and exploration with a little application of ingenuity. Yes, that includes stubborn ones made by players who’s whole character concept is antithetical to the game, such as reclusive home-bodies who suffer agoraphobia and won’t leave their locked home. One must go out for groceries sometime, and sinkholes and meteors swallow highways and strike homes, why not theirs? Still, this may often feel like pulling teeth or bathing a cat- both are a painful process and often leave one feeling exhausted and a little empty when the work is done.

Certainly I don’t think it’s bad idea to have rumors of the dungeon or the adventure or whatnot that players might know, but by no means are they necessary. Especially if you have a mentally tired player or someone who is unfamiliar with the game, or maybe someone who struggles with writing, prefab suggestions and ideas can help. Especially since they’re quite ready (and intentionally designed) to be used right out the box. Still, I’d rather suggested plot hooks act as springboards for my players’ own imaginations rather than railroading them in to a single or multiple prefabricated hooks. 

No comments:

Post a Comment