Yesterday I talked about scrying in MtG. For those of you not interested in MtG, its a mechanic which lets you manipulate your library a little bit with the flavor of seeing into the future and being able to react to it, at least somewhat.
This got me thinking. I’ve always been averse about peeking into the future in RPGs. Maybe this is from my teen years, when I tried it a couple of times, but couldn’t really get into it, as I knew my players would moan if any possible predictions didn’t work absolutely correctly. Also, those games were so predictable anyhow that those predictions were basically superfluous.
…but now, things are different. Maybe predictions, or foreshadowing, if were talking about a more grounded world, could be great. They could basically be challenges for the players.
Lets take a movie. The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance is a good example. I’m not spoiling anything more than the movie itself does, so don’t worry (and by the way, if you haven’t seen it, what’s wrong with you?). It begins with the James Stewart character, now a US senator, returning to the town he was elected in. He is clearly known for being the titular character. Then we go back to the time when the place was just a small frontier town and the character is just arriving there.. and gets immediately robbed.
So, how did we get from getting robbed to being a senator? Just let the players figure it out. Give them a starting point and an ending point and see how you get there. You might have remind them from time to time, although probably at least one of them will remember it anyhow.
This might be an interesting experiment.
I really REALLY (yes, really) hate tv-shows and movies that start this way. Giving an “interesting” point in time and then going back to explain why we got there. It is the most lazy thing to do from the point of narrative. It suggest that the story itself isn’t interesting enough to be followed up until that point.
On the other hand I can see how this could work for rpgs. I have done it a few times though and it wasn’t a big success.
I would be interested to hear someone’s successful experience though.