Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Monday Machination: The 36 Plots

I came across this RPG plot guide by Loren J. Miller earlier in the week as I worked on my genre post (it is still a WIP) and thought I'd share it for the Monday Machination. I know this post is a day late, but I figured I'd post it anyways since I already had it worked up in draft form. Sorry for the late post. :)

Check this article here and then read after the jump.

Okay so this article/page/whatever is an interpretation of The Thirty-Six Dramatic Situations by French writer George Polti. The original work analyzed classic Greek literature, classic and contemporary French literature, and a handful of non-French texts as an extension of Carlo Gozzi's work from the mid-1700's in order to categorize every dramatic situation that could happen within literature. This article applies the concept to RPG games, though in my mind, any good fantasy story should be written so it could fit into an RPG which is why I stumbled onto the article.

The 36 plots are thus:

  1. supplication
  2. deliverance
  3. crime and vengeance
  4. vengeance family vs family
  5. pursuit
  6. disaster
  7. misfortune
  8. revolt
  9. enterprise
  10. abduction
  11. enigma
  12. obtaining
  13. family hate
  14. family rivalry
  15. adultery causing death
  16. madness
  17. fatal imprudence
  18. crimes of passion
  19. slaying of unrecognized kin
  20. self-sacrifice for idealism
  21. self-sacrifice for kinsmen
  22. self-sacrifice for passion
  23. sacrificing loved ones
  24. rivalry of superior vs. inferior
  25. adultery
  26. crimes of love
  27. discovery of the dishonor of a loved one
  28. obstacles to love
  29. an enemy loved
  30. ambition
  31. conflict with a god
  32. mistaken jealousy
  33. erroneous judgement
  34. remorse
  35. recovery of a lost one
  36. loss of a loved one
These could be combined, in my opinion, under an umbrella framework of Love, Crime, Power, Mistakes, Nature, Sacrifice, and Enigma. Those could be further broken down. I made this chart while reading through the list because I like to waste time. (Hint: Click it to make it bigger.)

I'm sure others could argue with my breakdown and several could go under multiple categories. I made this nifty concept web at bubble.us by the way. Pretty awesome site when you need to work up a web for... anything.

I'd like to think that I recognize each plot element from fantasy literature I have read. Many of these would fall under the "quest" type fantasy, such as abduction, enterprise, ambition, and all of the sacrificial lines. I wonder if I can come up with an example of each from contemporary fantasy literature... I'll have to get back to you on that. I'll take comments below for examples of contemporary fantasy literature for each category if you can think of them, so anything in the past 100 or so years.

Love is love, no matter the back story. <3 DS

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