Jun 8, 2009

Rule Of Thumb: The Stakes

Jun 8, 2009
You know those rules that are so painfully obvious that you forget they exist? This is one of those for me.

If your character/s embark upon a mission outside of their normal circumstance, make the cost of failure as high as plausibly possible.

In an episode of The West Wing (oh how I love thee), Toby Ziegler secretly proposes a brilliant plan to the President that will fix social security. However, when that plan starts to go horribly wrong he realizes that he may be responsible for bringing down the entire presidency.

In The Producers, Leo & Max's entire elaborate scam will either see them become millionaires retiring in Rio or spend the rest of their lives in prison for fraud. The need to not to screw up is made even greater because their scam is being carried out right in the public eye.

It is also important to remember that raising the stakes isn't enough. You have to rig it so they can't go back. Once your character/s have made their choice it needs to be victory or bust.

Personally, I find putting "Earth's very survival" on the line to be pretty lame these days. Everybody does it. If you want there to be big ramifications try aiming for something that won't destroy the world, but rather will change it for the worse like the start of World War III or the loss of personal privacy.

And if you're like me you'll also forget that the stakes don't always have to be big picture. They can be personal and intimate too.

11 comments:

  1. Hehhehehe, I liked the stakes I placed on you guys in DND, find a cure, or slowly and painfully transfrom into wendigoes :D

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  2. I remember now. That was awesome.

    DnD: Best game ever, or only Best game of all time?

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  3. Let us all be agreed that it is indeed bitchin'.

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  4. i like the personal stakes,

    yeh i was forced to watch "the day the earth stood still" recently ahhhhhhhh
    it was so bad.

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  5. That bad, eh? I thought it would just be forgettable.

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  6. well ur mention of the world's survival being at stake triggered off that bad memory

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  7. Well if you guys are interested I'm still trying to get a regular gaming group organized. I even got the 4th edition rules, wich are allot simpler to understand.

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  8. *raises hand* Uh, I'm pretty sure that would be awesome!

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  9. mmmmm... steaks...

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  10. Cool, send me an email kalathis@hotmail.com and we'll see if we can organise something.

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