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AIF 101: Plotting

Okay, last time we brainstormed a bit, and have a basic idea. Now, we can begin some more serious planning, turning that idea into a story.

There's no one way to turn an idea into a fully fledged plot, but there are some generalities. Here, our goal is to build the foundation for all of the elements that are to follow, such as character and setting.

Before I go into examples, allow me to digress on the physicality of planning for a moment. I do all of my planning on the computer, usually just in a simple text editor. Sometimes I use the freeware program MyInfo, which is a sort of indexing/note taking program you can pull off of I find it helpful, but you'd do just as well with Notepad.

What you are building as you plan your game is a design document. Depending on your proficiency and style of note-taking, this can be either a really big or a really small file. I prefer to take my notes on the computer as opposed to on paper simply because you never really know how much space you're going to need to allocate to a given topic.

Lets take one of the ideas spoken of last time... the Deliverance plot. A princess being rescued by someone. Well, that gives us a character right away, a princess. We'll go into character development in a later lesson, but for right now you can simply note her existence under the Character's heading of your notes.

For the purposes of this game, we'll assume that the player is the one doing the rescuing. The player could be the kidnapper, or an assistant to the rescuer, but for right now, we'll add the player as Rescuer. You can add the player to your Character notes, or as a separate heading.

Now, someone has been kidnapped. By whom? If we come up with a good idea, thats great. If not, we can go with our random idea generation... lets give that a try.

First, a tarot card: The 7 of Wands. This suggests a man overcoming great struggles.

Now, a random song: Jethro Tull - Locomotive Breath. A dragon.

Well, lets be classic and go with the second option. A dragon has kidnapped the princess! The dragon is our antagonist. Add him to the Character notes, with a tag denoting him as the Antagonist.

We decide to continue in the classic venue and decide that the player is the King's Champion, a top knight, assigned to rescue his daughter. We can add the King to the list of Characters, and why not add Queen while we're at it?

Now, lets pause for a moment and talk backstory. What lead to things being the way they are? Why was the princess kidnapped? How did the PC become King's Champion?

A common literary and cinematic convention is the role reversal. Simply put, the protagonist's goal changes midway through the plot. Sometimes this can happen several times. Let us plant the seeds for one now.

The princess wasn't kidnapped. She ran off, ran away with the dragon, her lover. Perhaps there is no dragon after all, but instead a powerful sorcerer who makes it look like there was a dragon to cover his tracks!

The princess was from a foreign country, here to be married off against her will to the Prince for political reasons. Add him to the character list... lets make him a bit of an asshole, too. The King, his father, has gotten old and feeble, and now all the Prince needs to replace him is a Queen of his own.

The "dragon" is actually a sorcerer from the Princess's home kingdom. He "rescued" her, and they've fled. The Player, one of the aging king's greatest knights (perhaps now getting a bit on in years as well), has been tasked by the Prince to rescue his fiance.

Another backstory element is the general game setting. Fantasy is the most obvious match for our project, but it could easily be adapted to space opera, cyberpunk, whatever. We'll leave it as fantasy for now. I won't get into too much detail, but as far as world creation goes, we need to determine the following.

  • Our PCs culture
  • The Princess's culture
  • The political situation between 1 and 2
  • The nature of magic

For our PCs culture, we'll leave it as "Generic Medieval European." No elves or dwarves or any other races... we'll leave anything we don't define as being basically "Generic medieval Earth".

We want the Princess to be exotic. She can be from some vaguely Asian culture.

To make things more dramatic, we'll make relations between our two defined nations uneasy at best. Perhaps the union of the Prince and Princess is to avoid a war... or end one. Nah, that makes our player's eventual decision way easier if the fate of nations hangs in the balance! We'll say that the Princess's nation is subjugated by ours, and that she was taken against both her and her family's will.

Hey! Maybe the Dragon isn't a forgotten lover, but her brother. This opens up the avenue of a relationship between her and the PC!

That's the backstory.

Now, eventually in the game the player will have to choose... show loyalty to the king's misguided and arrogant son, killing the sorcerer and returning the princess, or stay true to his knightly virtues and assist them in escaping back to their homeland?

Lets note that honor vs loyalty will be a strong theme in the game, and to bring up the Prince's dark nature and the tenets of chivalry often. A possible climax: The player has to choose weather to assist the Prince or the Sorcerer in a showdown.

"Wait!" I hear the cry. That's not very AIF sounding at all! Where's the sex?

There are lots of opportunities for sex. Perhaps the player is having an affair with the queen. Perhaps he can demand "payment" from the Princess in exchange for helping escape the prince. All I've established is the main plot... much more will occur in the game than


Even so, if you want something more directly AIF, the process is the same. In a "Night With XXX" game, the plot is simple: The player wants to fuck character XXX. What must be done to accomplish this?

Or, as in many AIF games, the goal is to score with a certain character, and for some reason you have to screw a number of other characters first. Moist, Camp Windy Lake, Ideal High school, whatever. You still have characters and a plot. The particular game I've presented may be more story than character based, but its the same general process.

So, our plot summary:

An aging knight is ordered to rescue the King's arrogant son's fiance from a dragon. After it turns out that the "dragon" is actually the woman's brother from her homeland there to rescue her, he must choose to help them escape, or turn them in.

Next: Characters

© 2004 J Freebase - Updated 07/12/2004