The Big Question and You

We’ve talked about inspiration and perspiration and numerous other things, but spring is sprung, and we’re thrust into the creative energies of the world.

Well, what of yours? Are you a wellspring of ideas? A font of wisdom? An endless arc of mystical ideas blazing across an infinite sky of possibility? Or are you someone who wants to get some words on paper and are contemplating striking the keyboard with your forehead until your blood shorts out the little bits beneath forming a story for the ages?

The odds are you’re probably somewhere in the middle of ideas and executions and may be dismayed by where you’ve found yourself.

I’ve said it countless times about reading everything you can get your hands on from fiction to histories to philosophies to the little menu from the Chinese restaurant down on the corner, and the words of creative geniuses and hacks and celebrities and sifus. You never know what will inform your work. When you’re reading with a purpose–or watching shows–analyze the stories structure and see what you can learn. Often most stories (discounting post-modernism) have a plot and a purpose, an overriding question to be asked.

Recently, when I wrote A Dream of Camelot“, I asked myself, what happens if Merlin doesn’t get trapped in the crystal cave? I took it to a possible conclusion. Not the only one, certainly, but one with an intrinsic logic nonetheless.

So, ask yourself the big question when you’re working on a story, script, adventure, or what have you? The question is one you posit to yourself, and you use your words to answer it.

With RunePunk, the big question was “What happens when magic and technology develop in close parallel?”

In Iron Dynasty, “What happens when technology arises in a largely mythical Oriental setting?”

Ravaged Earth asks, “What happens after the first Red War (that’s the War of the Worlds for you who have yet to be Ravaged)?”

All these are big questions, but the question for an adventure can be smaller. Journey to Red Temple asks, “Can the second string heroes save the day?” when it was a con game and it’s written with pre-gens in mind. It’s still fun with any group of characters, but the adventure was crafted with the particular dynamic and also introduces some problematical travel issues as several characters have hindrances hampering their movement (Lame and Obese) and there is only one horse amongst them.

You might say, “Aha, but Realms of Cthulhu doesn’t ask any questions!”, but it does. The question is one generated more from the community as “Can Savage Worlds handle Cthulhu?” I think we’ve answered that question handily. (The question for myself was “Can we execute this properly?”)

While passion is important, you must always keep in mind a question. The question can apply to the characters, the creator (you), the story, or the setting, but there better be a BIG question somewhere in there or it’s easy to lose yourself in the details.

Think about this the next time you watch a show, read a book, or what-have-you. There certainly may be numerous smaller questions posited (multiple plot threads, story arcs, character interplay), but they all are handmaidens before the larger, looming question.

I could give you numerous examples, but I think you get the point.

Until next time, I bid you, dear reader, adieu!


1 Note on “The Big Question and You”

  1. Big questions – it’s all a matter of scale, really. I occasionally spout forth interesting ideas, though the term “wellspring” might not exactly describe the nature of the flow.

    Can Savage Worlds handle a weird science “mana cannon” mounted on the back of a pet shoggoth for purposes of hunting elves in their native habitat? Yes, unfortunately it can – and quite well at that.

    Can Realms of Cthulhu handle the fantasy horror genre in the medieval world of Harn, where Shub-Niggurath is actively attempting to breach the inter-planar veil and replace the god Ilvir? Yes, it already has. I’ll be doing it again this year at KublaCon. *titter*

    There is no limit to the strange places that a mind can go when it comes to multi-genre role playing. Enjoy!

Pin It on Pinterest