Re: Whether to have metaplot or not (was Guide to Glorantha)

From: Jim G. <cainesinmyhead_at_...>
Date: Wed, 12 Dec 2012 12:40:41 -0700

On Wed, Dec 12, 2012 at 9:31 AM, Tim <tim_at_...> wrote:

> **
> My take on the question of metaplot, History and setting is that anything
> that tells you what has happened in the setting before the "default start
> date" is history

I completely agree.

> and is good.

That is not true. It is neither good or bad. It is simply what you described BEFORE you called it good. :)

I'm not trying to talk mumbo-jumbo, so let me give a topical example. What if 1409 I decided that Hon-Eel never managed to seduce King Pyjeemsab, and her children never became Tarshite Kings. The Lunars still control Tarsh, but through military might and now there are stories of a possibly lost line of true Tarsh kings that remains in hiding.

I daresay it would be said that YGMV, that I should have fun. It would be neither good nor bad. It was just a plot point I elected to change or ignore, but that I must accept responsibility for the nature of my campaign.

I like that. You're Responsible For Your Game YRFYG

> Any scenario/adventure consists of "Plot", which can be affected by the
> decisions of the players. This is sort of the point of role-playing games.

We agree 100%

> Anything that tells you what happens after the "default start date" is
> Metaplot and is dubious at best and potentially disastrous, especially when
> it interacts with the "plot".

Only if the Gm chooses to abdicate responsibility for their own game.

If done correctly (and I already concedes it has been badly in other games) Metaplot and plot can be the same thing, or work together seamlessly.

I am going to use your definitions. Metaplot can be used to pose a question. Plot is then used to answer that question.

Metaplot: Whitewall is besieged
Plot: What happens? What is the outcome based upon the PCs actions?

Metaplot: A mysterious figure claims to possess the staff of Arinsor, stolen from Timms
Plot: What happens? Do the PCs find the three weapons of Talor or do they do something else?

In both cases, I don't suggest an outcome. Only that the question posed by the Metaplot actually be engaged. The challenge to the adventure designer is that they have to address possibilities that are both negative and positive. Moon Design's previous work in Colymar and Pavis suggest to me that they're capable of designing in that fashion.

> Some games companies like to spring surprises on fans in the Metaplot,
> which is never a good idea - GM's are "co-creators" - at least in terms of
> their own campaign, rather than passive receivers like readers of a
> novel,or viewers of a TV show.

We agree 100%. This sounds like a paraphrasing of something I posted yesterday. :)

If someone were write an adventure where the players were not "front and center" making meaningful and decisive choices with lasting impact, or that the GM was not the co-creator of the story that would be a bad adventure. I would recommend deleting it and starting over.

But that doesn't mean one should avoid "mythic stories" and "big events" for fear of being shackled by the results. Especially when those ADVENTURES (note my choice of word there) are written in such a way as to provide the Gm a way to explore how their Glorantha may develop going forward.

Metaplot is NOT "future history thrust upon you." Otherwise wouldn't we just call it canon, or "new canon"? Rather it is the invitation to decide what the future will be in the GM'S OWN campaign, but using large scale events instead of small unknown situations that happen on the periphery (and therefore cannot be invalidated).

I'm not going to remark on what mistakes other companies made in the past. We study them, we learn from their mistakes, but I'm not going let their failures define what is and is not possible. I am not interested in the "sins of the fathers."

> Your Glorantha May, of course, Vary - but (at least to my mind) there is a
> difference between choosing to vary from a published history, and suddenly
> discovering that a new product has taken things away from a direction you
> thought was Canon - especially if that reduces the utility of that product

I'll just point out again that I agree here in the case of the Guide, it should stop around 1621 for the very reason you state. That seems fair and respectful.

But, does everyone realize I have been talking almost exclusively about ADVENTURES, right? Not "future canonical history books". That was kinda the point of changing the subject line (again) because I didn't want to tangle up the proposed contents of Guide to Glorantha in this. I mean for god's sake, if no one takes anything away from this post, read this paragraph over again carefully.

Your Glorantha May Vary implies responsibility. The responsibility of the GM to decide what elements of the setting to use, whether it comes from a history book or an adventure/scenario. That same responsibility exists before 1621 and it exists after 1621. Just because Jeff Richards might write an ADVENTURE that takes place after 1621, the GM doesn't suddenly have to (or be allowed to) abdicate their responsibility for the contents of their game. They most certainly should draw boundaries on what they want to incorporate.

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