When it comes to role playing games and fiction, there’s a particular thing I look for that really underlines an experience for me.
There’s the common stuff that is important. Even I regularly invoke the adage ‘conflict is story.’ And it is, but it’s really a bare minimum for me.
Another common concept we look to is ‘Characters make plot.’ Also true, and in a more specific wording, character goals create plot. Again, great, necessary, but you can get that in any competently written tale.
So what do I look for? I like seeing the line a person has drawn that they won’t cross. Seeing what they do with their self imposed limits are tested. It’s interesting, and creates immediate drama, especially if the limits are known ahead of time. In a way, The Joker had it right:
Part of what made The Dark Knight interesting is Joker’s insistence on testing people’s limits. He understood that no one really knew which way they’d go when the chips were finally down. He had a theory, and he pushed it right to its limit, and luckily for Gotham, he got it wrong.
Do like character’s moral foundations shaken, or do you prefer other kinds of conflict? Let me know in the comments!