• The Infractions Forum is available for public view. Please note that if you have been suspended you will need to open a private/incognito browser window to view it.

MoonHunter Sayeth 20170717


Game Guru-Thread Shepherd
RPGnet Member
Validated User
Scene Thoughts

While I have internet, I want to doodle on about scenes.

In a story or a game, the scene is the basic building block of action and time in a story/ game.

A scene is a unit of dramatic action or exposition that stands alone in a general location and time. When the action changes or the location changes or notable time passes, the scene changes. Think of it as a "time on stage" or "time on camera".

Each scene has three actions - a beginning (a reason to be here), a middle (getting through it all), and an ending (resolution of the reason, increase complication or given another step closer to bigger resolution).

For my purposes they come in two basic types:

Dramatic: When something happens, usually something of importance. Think of them as an action scene or a tense dramatic speaking scene or when there is a big reveal.

Transition: Logical bits to get you from one dramatic scene to another. These could be traveling, equipping, researching, and so on. These things tend to happen automatically (or fairly automatically) in the transition (if they were tough or complicated, the scene would be dramatic.) Transitions are often narrated through, but they might have a second purpose, like giving information about the setting, connecting people, and so on.

Things bounce back and forth between dramatic and transitions - in beats. (Sometimes the beat is skipped or sped up, it is the exception rather than the rule.)

D-T-D-T-D-T Now the real amount of game time that happened in the scenes might be unequally distributed, after all that transition could be a two week cruise across the sea and the dramatic scene could be a two minute exchange between agents.

So you have a dramatic scene a transition to get you to the next thing to solve the issue, a dramatic scene that might set you back some, a transition to resolution, dramatic scene to over come the setback, transition trip to get to the resolution of the main issue, and the dramatic resolution.

Now when dealing with Story Arc - your scenes come in flavors.

Key Scenes: These are scenes (dramatic or transition) that must happen to resolve the story arc. If they don't happen, something like them eventually must happen or the story arc has a loop or a new branch.

Minor Scenes: These are scenes that help make a key scene possible. This is the providing of clues, tools, information, or an edge. (They can also foreshadow potential problems, provide little complications, and other things that make it more complicated the character's life.) Minor Scene can be put in a story path of the arc. Think of them as steps up/ down the stairs between the Key Scenes.

Minor scenes often happen on decision loops when there is a branch in a story arc... eventually helping them get back to the core story arc.

Note: Both Key scenes and minor scenes bounce to beat between dramatic and transitions.

Padding: These are scenes, scenarios, or small story arcs, that are inserted between key scenes or minor scenes to either provide something interesting to do right now or distract the players so something else can happen.

A story arc resolve a specific goal or issue. Everything related to the goal or issue happens along the story arc. Those things occur in scenes.
* Each section of the arc has a purpose, so every scene inside that section of the arc should fit that purpose.

Now remember scene cards?

Scene Cards: These are cards to define a given scene that occurs in a game. These allow for easier planning of scenes.
First line - Name/ Plotline: Important scenes can have cool poetic name, while lesser scenes would be a descriptive line. If the scene belongs to a plotline, it should also be listed.
Second Line - Entry: This is the conditions for this scene to be played. It is normally “after X happens” or “when you are in “location”.
Third Line – Purpose: Everything in a game should have a purpose. The goal is always to advance the character’s stories, and the purpose would be how it would do that. Note: Giving players something to do is a valid purpose, though not one a GM should use often.
Block of Text – Description: This is a description of the scene, anything important that might need to be mentioned, any voice card that might need to be referenced, and so on. If specific rules are required for the scene, make sure to mention them or their page number for easy reference,.
Last Line – Exits: This is where this scene can lead a character to, exit to pursuit of villain, exit to talking with city guard, exit to ships scenes on way to Calderon.

This needs to be expanded, but think about it.

Okay. You plan by scenes. By knowing where you are going and why, you can make sure everything is in place so players can get from A to B to C with minimal need for left turns or head scratching. You see what you need to get to an important scene (creating those transitions or events and putting them infront of it in the arc - entries). You will then plan for where they might want go from there (exits)... again planning to have everything in place for the next key scene (where they really have to go.)

Now we use these in story arcs. From the story arcs and other scenes for the location you have a list of scenes for a given session. You can string them along on how you want to have them happen, where you want to put cut scene or transition to other scenes on other story arcs/ scenarios, and so on.

When you start a scene in a game, give the general description of the time and place... what is currently happening. Give a little stage direction and any needed narration and let your players go to it. It is your job to make sure the scene does what it is supposed to - entertain and provide the goals of the scene. (remember, there should be no hand waving hoping they "get it". No, you need to have a plan how they get it and maybe some options in case that fails. Once they "get it" they will probably have an exit idea. A transition

Okay. Scenes - The building blocks of game. Think of them in the planning stages and at the table. It will make your life easier.

Gee... all that in under 40 minutes. Cool.


Game Guru-Thread Shepherd
RPGnet Member
Validated User
Scene beats for plotlines/arcs
Action beats for scenes

Each beat IS an opportunity to do something. die roll or decsribed action.

A scene or a story arc are comprised of several beats and complete an event.

Beats are to stories or scene like impulses are to detailed time. Each allows one action (a set of related acrions). Each is flexible in length depending on what is going on.
Top Bottom