Wednesday, September 4, 2019

Need A Plot idea? Dive Into The Lore

As I write this I'm on my third or fourth Mr. Rhexx video on lore regarding Dungeons & Dragons. Why am I listening to this? For much the same reason I've found myself seeking out documentaries when I want to watch something of late. And for the same reason my book shelf has a growing collection of non-fiction works on it. The reason has two parts for it:

  1. It's always fun to learn about things.
  2. This is pure seed, nutrients, and everything else needed to grow a story.
The thought goes like this: reading stories may inspire you to tell your own stories, but the ideas you take from a story are going to be copies of that story. Go to the lore that that story pulls from though and you get the root ideas and core concepts. Maybe you take a very similar idea, but since you're getting it from this 'purer' source (i.e. not through the lens of the other story) it can grow in its own way.

The fun part about this is that it is true for real life non-fiction, and for world lore for the fictional setting of your choice.

Read a story about Black Dragons, and you get a story about black dragons. Read the lore about black dragons, and you learn about black dragons enabling yo to tell your own stories about them. This isn't to say that a story can't teach you about something. Especially with fictitious settings, a lot of lore is taken from stories. The presentation being different just makes it a bit easier - at least for me.

With RPGs as old as Dungeons and Dragons, I find this especially helpful because frankly there is a lot of lore that is just not present in the newest edition. Sometimes that is because they are going with a different take on the thing. Other times there just isn't room or it is deemed unimportant or unnecessary. Either way, getting a collection of that lore in a neat package is always interesting and gets you wonderful bits of information.

For example in the lore for Green Dragons it notes that while normally solitary their mating bonds are particularly strong and that nothing is more important to a Green Dragon than their offspring. If under attack, the female will jump into the fray and fight the attacker while the male gets the eggs/wyrmlings somewhere safe. The male will not return until it is sure they are safe.

This breaks down into a lot of things. For one, the female is probably the larger and more dangerous of a pairing. This would explain them going into the fight while the male moves the young. Why? Because the female is more likely to be able to win or hold out solo. Even better though, it is a simple fact that can spawn multiple stories. A female green dragon found injured from a fight and out looking for their young/mate running into the PCs could make for a very different story than one protecting a lair full of eggs. A male green dragon seeking revenge for a lost mate. Either parent looking for the wyrmling they couldn't find while emptying the original lair. The entire gamut of Parent/Children stories can be told with Green Dragons putting a strong counterpoint to the normal: solitary, cunning, deceitful, heartless narrative that hangs around Green Dragons.

Look into the lore of the world you run in. Look into the lore of worlds run in your system if like me you tend to make custom worlds. Look into the lore of the real world. The facts and factoids are just brimming with story ideas. Plant them in your brain. Let them flourish.

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