Conflict vs. ConflictNovember 1, 2009
There’s been this interesting debate going on about whether every scene in a game should have a conflict.
It occurred to me today, while prepping for play, that the two camps really mean two different things when they have this discussion.
The thing that I’ve been doing is writing down a list of all the NPCs, and a sentence or two about what they want to do about the current situation or how they feel.
Some of these are probably going to lead to dice roll conflicts, some of these are either foreshadowing for probably conflicts later on, and some are fallout and consequences from previous conflicts. For me, this is all conflict – the groundwork for, the decision/action point, and the results of.
“All scenes should have a conflict”, is not an injunction that everything has to be “Make an UBER decision. Make another UBER decision. Make ANOTHER UBER decision”… What it means is that scenes need to provide context and meaning that leads towards or from those decisions, and makes them possible. Context must be built for these things to have meaning.
It doesn’t help that the word “conflict” is used interchangeably for both immediate mechanical conflicts AND the larger narrative term.