3 August 2021: Tactical Storytelling

The other day I wrote about maps and miniatures being grounded in an assumption that tabletop roleplaying needs to be combat-driven. Even without fight scenes, tactical storytelling exists. Hear me out.

The definition of a tactic is “an action or strategy carefully planned to achieve a specific end”. I assert that a good roleplaying adventure needs a goal. There has to be something that the player characters need to accomplish. That’s how you know the story is over. That’s the way they earn their reward, whether it’s gold, experience points, or the satisfaction of collaboratively creating the story itself.

Tactical Storytelling

Therefore, an actions taken by the player characters to achieve the adventure goal are tactical. Investigation, in order to gather clues and solve a mystery, is a tactic. Chases to catch the fleeing bad guy are a tactic. Social interaction to gain the trust of a non-player character that can help reach the goal is a tactic. Inventing the gadget that can solve the problem is a tactic.

Once again, I want to hammer home the point that not all conflict is combat. Anything or anyone that stands between the player characters and the accomplishment of their goal is a conflict. Any means taken to resolve, overcome, or bypass the conflict is a tactic. When you learn to embrace that, you’ll see all sorts of new possibilities for your games.