Games are stories, and every good story needs an inciting incident. Something has to shake up the status quo, create a problem that needs to be solved, and get the characters involved. The larger the impact the inciting incident has, the bigger the stakes involved. That’s why your game needs a solid calamity. There has to be the potential for even greater loss, as well as the opportunity for some sort of personal, professional, or social gain.
Why Your Game Needs a Solid Calamity
Take your standard murder hobo scenario. We need to kill the monster. Why? There’s no inciting incident, other than “a monster exists”. Okay. Sure. Did the monster do something? Did it kill people, and we need to stop it before it kills again? Are people endangered by it, so we need to deal with it before people get killed? What happened that suddenly makes this a priority?
Oh, we just kill monsters because they have treasure. Okay. Sure. Why do we need the treasure? Because it’s treasure. Yeah, but, like, seriously, what pressing need do we have that we suddenly have to get all of this money? What urgent problem has arisen that we have to collect all of the lot now in order to solve it?
Yeah, I can be a pain in the butt as a player.
Your game needs a solid calamity so that things matter. Adventures get to mean something. Characters get to be more than a collection of numbers on a piece of paper. Having an actual story makes roleplaying so much more interesting than repetitive dice rolling, adding up experience points, and leveling up. But that’s just me. Your mileage may vary.
About Dancing Lights Press
Dancing Lights Press publishes story games that embrace a minimalist aesthetic in design and presentation. Our print books are affordable, at $10 or less. The 6×9 digest format makes them convenient to carry around. The spotlight belongs on the creativity of the players as they converse and collaborate on plot, worldbuilding, and character development. Roleplaying is an activity, not a book. Our titles are merely part of the delivery system.