Story and Plot Design

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Dark Mod FMs, like the long tradition of Thief FMs before them (which we should all take notes from), allow for a much bigger role for story and plot than other first person genres, and most players expect a good story to come as part of their experience playing FMs. It's not really sufficient anymore to build a mission first and try to throw together some plot or story to fit it without putting a little thought into what makes for good storytelling in an FM first.

The purpose of wiki entry is to give a mapper some good methods and things to think about when working out the story and plot-progression of their FM, as well as looking at specific examples from good storytelling FMs. The structure of this tutorial will be to walk through a general thought process a mapper can go through, although of course since storytelling is a creative thought process, there is no universally "right" way to design a good story and plot. But hopefully some of these ideas can inspire your own thoughts on the issue.

NB, For the next few days or weeks, this is going to be work in progress and probably subject to serious revision and complete re-writing. So it's not really a trustworthy tutorial until it's done.

Introduction: Plot and Story

"Plot", in the context of an FM, really means two things that are interconnected:

(1) The progress and logic of the gameplay from the start of the mission to fulfilling all the objectives and winning the FM. E.g., sneaking past guards-A & B allows you to get into room-A, that gets you key-B, that opens door-B, etc ... that finally lets you swipe the holy golden trinket of summoning, fulfilling objective-1; and

(2) the progress and logic of the FMs storytelling from the briefing, to story details the player gathers as he explores the FM, to finally the "thematic climax" of the FM. E.g., to make up a quick & very cliche story I'll use throughout this tutorial (the details aren't important, just the concepts), in room-A we read a readable that the lord of the manor is slowly losing his mind, in Room-B (which we can only visit after A) we overhear a conversation about rumors of supernatural events in the back room, in Room-C (which we can visit at any time) we learn the lord is constantly visiting to the backroom carrying strange herbs, and in Room-D (which players must visit after B) we learn the widget we were tasked to steal is in the backroom & possessing the lord, causing him to gather herbs for it to perform some ritual to bring a demon into our world, in Room-E (which players can visit at any time) we find a magic stick of disenchantment which we read is good for dispelling magic and read that demons are particularly susceptible to holy water (which we find around the mission). Then we finally obtain the key to the backroomin in Room-G (only visitable after we've been to Room-D) and make our way to the backroom, only to open it & find the demon-possessed lord himself just finishing the ritual and now running at us to attack us. Then we must slash or KO him or dispel his possession with our magic stick. Then in the exciting finale we must confront the now very angry demon emerging from the widget with holy water arrows (or our sword if we run out), close the opened portal with our magic stick before more demons don't come in & dispel the widget so we don't get possessed ourselves, and in the end we can happily steal the widget and go home.