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Well, it really is only a few days later and I'm back before the old PC typewriter. I started this month's column a little early in order to get it done before I go on vacation. Hopefully, it won't seem rushed. I thought that in order to head off the creative dry season that I anticipate in a few months, I would ask you, my gentle readers, what story and writing problems you are having. This way, once my original set of ideas for this column run out, I will still have something to say. :> In a topic as broad and perennial as writing, I know that there will always be SOMETHING to talk about... I just can't think of any <G>. So, send your suggestions, questions and comments to firstname.lastname@example.org and please indicate either in the E-Mail or in any enclosed files that postmaster Bryan SM should direct them to the Writing Tips columnist. Thank you.
And now on to...
The Big Picture: Part III - Plot
[Excerpt from The Third Dream of Primion]
As Triamon sprawled there, still recovering from his birth, a quite devious thought occurred to Malbech. He new that, like Solestra, his brother would likely oppose his budding plan to awaken their father and thus end the existence of Rothon. Malbech was willing to do almost anything to prevent that from happening, so before Triamon could recover, he turned him into a brilliant golden fountain from which sprang the healing waters of life. Malbech quickly moved the now stunned and immobile Triamon to a cavern deep in the earth to hide him from the eyes of Solestra. He then went about creating minions to help guard this most important fountain.
Malbech created hundreds of fiends. Among them were Zethus, the Guardian; Fazri Sarr, the Foul; Bastellys and his spawn, the brute demons; and Vokrilus and his speed demons. Malbech also bent his will toward the creation of many other demons, including the dreaded pit fiends.
We have finally come to the plot. Now we will decide exactly what we are going to do within the confines of our scope and setting.
I once had a writing professor in college who maintained that the best way to come up with a good plot was to play a game of "What if" with yourself. I use his advice to this very day. The idea is to keep posing the question "What if?" to yourself, and just follow your stream of consciousness. An example might go like this:
**A plague from the future, destined to destroy the human race**
Get the idea? Hmmm...I really like that plot. I'll have to do something with it. In any case, just let yourself go. Don't be afraid to experiment with really weird ideas. The really weird ideas are the ones that most often, if developed properly, make the most unique and engrossing plots.
Our plot for "To Awaken a God"... wait, I feel a name change coming on. Let's change the name of our design to "The Fountain of Life."
Anyway, our plot revolves around Malbech's desire to return to the womb, so to speak, and his plot to awaken the dreaming Primion and thus ending the world. Other major elements are why Malbech imprisoned Triamon, and the power that all three gods have to make the world of Rothon real, or permanent (didn't think I'd ever get to that, did you?). Also, of major interest are the reasons that neither Solestra or Malbech used that power up to this point.
Let's start with this mysterious power. The power that Primion's children share is the ability to make Rothon, real, permanent, independent or separate from the dreams of Primion. Use of this power, however, would be such a cosmic event that it would awaken Primion. None of the gods are quite sure whether this awakening would occur before the spell is completed and Rothon separated from the dream, or afterwards as a result of the separation. None of the gods are sure whether this will actually ensure Rothon's survival, or its destruction.
Malbech won't use the power because he is not willing to take the chance that Rothon will survive. He is content to use these beings that he doesn't even consider real as pawns to bring about Rothon's destruction in some other way.
Solestra won't use the power because she takes the opposite view of Rothon's inhabitants. She regards them as real, living beings. She cannot risk destroying them for that reason, even if her success would mean the defeat of Malbech's plans.
Triamon, being the God of Neutrality, takes a very realistic view of the situation. He knows that the beings on Rothon are not real, but that their only chance of becoming so is for him to use the power. He figures that if it doesn't work, nothing was lost, but if it works correctly, a world full of life is gained. However, in his imprisoned state Triamon cannot exercise the use of the power.
The plot revolves around a group of adventurers (the PC's), who find themselves caught up in the execution of Malbech's final solution. They are racing against time, trying to find evidence of a lost god, while Malbech's master plan nears fruition. The PCs begin as novice adventurers who are drawn into the fringes of the growing maelstrom of Malbech's plans, only to be sucked further and further into the center of cosmos-shaking events.
The tasks facing the PCs are many. They must discover Malbech's plan to awaken Primion, uncover the web of lies and half-truths around the imprisonment of Triamon, help hold together a world ever more rapidly going to "hell" in a hand basket, awaken Triamon, and survive the hoards of minions Malbech will use to stop them from completing their tasks. Needless to say, the PCs will be very powerful by the end of the module.
Oh, yes. By the way, the final battle takes place in a city of drow deep beneath the earth. In this battle the PCs must face Zethus, the Guardian, Malbech's right hand. Zethus is a demon of great power and nearly Malbech's match in power, intelligence and evil. Sound good?
Well, that's about it for this month. I could have gone on much more about the specifics of our plot, but that would have made this column just too darn long. We will add plot segments as we talk about other topics, and eventually flesh out the entire thing.
Next month we will discuss "Let There Be Life - Character Creation & Giving Monsters Personality",