Internal Logic

Discussion in 'THREAD ARCHIVES' started by Hellis, Nov 4, 2014.

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  1. So I decided to sit down and write something. Its a little discussion/guide in regards to a little thing called "Internal Logic." I have been asked by others before as to where I get my ideas, and how I put them to paper. So I decided to cover the things that to me are the most important part to any work of fiction. This is just the first post of many I fear/hope. If you have any questions, objections or such, air them politely in this thread. Communication is key.

    Internal Logic and the 'Rule of cool'

    When it comes to writing, there is nothing that is more important to me then consistent and well tied together content. This is usually something you figure out on your own trough experience and reading others works. What many fail to realize, when they make a cool setting or a awesome character is this; No matter how crazy or awesome, you do have rules to the world. These rules does not have to be our physics, unless you are going for a sense of inherant realism. They can be simple to understand rules, as to outline the source of magic in your world.

    Far to often, people will wave their hand and go ”Magic!”, There is a good reason to why Internal Logic is there, regardless of your setting. If magic is the reason to something, you have to follow up on that and apply it to all similar situations. 'Rule of cool' is a slippery slope that often leads to completely outlandish and far fetched attempts at justifying otherwise terrible execution. Its by being consistent and applying 'logic' that your world becomes something others can truly build on.

    Internal Logic is backbone to both making a setting or a character. Because without a firm grip of it, your character will come of as a loosely put together amalgam of concepts and not a actual being. And worse, if your setting lacks coherency and consistency, it will be confusing to play in and hard to relate to. This gets painfully obvious in settings that take place in the real world. Shows and movies make these mistakes all the time, like a doctor telling his nurse for not being careful enough in a biohazard zone, only to stand a bit away without his mask, talking to a love interest in another scene. Unless you highlight that this is extremely unprofessional of him, he is not only being out of character but he is defying his own imperative and the logic of the setting. Horror movies as we all know, are terrible at this with their victims being reduced to cliched idiots for the sake of a easy to set up kill scene.

    On the flip side, one of the most outrageus fantasy worlds that by no means should make sense; The Discworld, pulls of internal logic better then pretty much any other work of fiction. This with a world that is shaped like a disk ontop of four elephants and a turtle. A world were they mine lard, have wizards in pointy hats and little drunk blue men with the strength of full grown warriors. Terry Pratchett, the writer, does this by having cause and effect to everything. Nothing just happens and is waved off. Everything is tied together, however absurd it may seem. And it has its own set of rules it does not break, ever. This allows him to tell story that are both humerous due its world, yet easy to follow and consistent in its potrayal of the world. It also allows him to age characters, bring the world from barbarism and sword and sorcery to industrial revolution and academic magic. All by following and referencing his own set of rules inspired or taken directly from our myths.

    Charachter; Concept and Perception.

    Concept; I think most of us understand what I means with concept. It's the basic, original idea and it will work as a mental prototype for you as you make your character. It will likely change many times, as you get more ideas to implement and discard old ones. And when it does, you should always go back and look at the changes, and compare it to what was already in place. When you write a character, logic itself applies in a way that if we create a character for a setting we need to follow the rules and theme of that setting.

    Example; The world has lost its innate magic, only artifacts posses it now; I cannot make a mage with the ability to conjure fire with a snap of my fingers.

    Now this is something I see far to often. There is tendency to try and break out of the mold to hard, to make yourself to unique or original. This comes with a giant problem. Originality and Uniqueness is not a inherently a set of good traits for a character. A charachter is always subservient to the setting. They are born in the setting, they are a direct product of its worlds, rules and laws. You can make a unique character, but you cannot make a character that only adopts the setting while disregarding everything inconvenient for the concept. As long as you write your character different from another player and play him differently, you will have your 'uniqueness.'

    So, when I as a GM set a theme that is prevalent throughout the setting, I expect it to adhered to. Now this is not to say a player should not be able to take a idea of his own and try and make it work. But you as a joining player must first sit down and consider the consequences of your concepts powersets or history, see where it clash with what is already established. This is you finding out the internal logic and adhering to it.

    Do you have an idea? Does it has any connection to the theme? Does it follow the scientific laws laid down in a Sci-Fi setting? Or does it clash with the the worlds portrayal in general?


    Perception; Perception comes down to how you want others to view your character, and how well you pull your concept off in comparison. Internal logic once more dictates what the end result is. If your readers/players see a character act erratically and out of sync with his setting and circumstances, you get one of two things. Someone insane, or just a mess off a character going nowhere.

    If you are writing a charachter, you need have others perception of your character in mind. How are they bound to react to your actions, following the inherent logic of the current scenario. Will they be outraged that you shot someone, if so, do your charachter care? If you aren't playing a complete sociopath, the answer is likely ”Yes he does care how they will see him if he does this.”

    The important part is not to make a sudden change in tone without a proper segway. What people tend to fail with, is keeping it consistent. When you write, double back on your previous posts to see if his or her actions line up. Read carefully what others write, take a moment and consider what the chain of reaction would look like in your head.
    #1 Hellis, Nov 4, 2014
    Last edited: Nov 5, 2014
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  2. I respectfully disagree that the 'Rule of Cool' should be dismissed from role playing games as a slippery slope to incoherence or poor execution.

    Consider a fantasy world RPG like Dungeons and Dragons and a typical role-playing group, all with individuals with various expectations. The real challenge, for any DM, is how to properly reward player behavior as best as he/she can, given diverse needs. Below are three basic player scenarios that I think can benefit from the rule of cool, although each situation is complex and no basic approach is 100% reliable. Maybe I'm thinking of a different rule of cool than you, so here's my working definition.

    My Modified Rule of Cool: "If it's a cool thing to do (adds to the overall fun for everyone), feel free to do it. Just don't expect it to work all the time in your favor and open yourself to picking up the social cues your group exhibits. Cool is compromise."

    Without Rule of Cool: "Your actions can only do this."
    With Rule of Cool: "I didn't think of that. That's a cool idea."

    Now, if I really had to choose Internal Logic or Rule of Cool, more often than not I would choose Rule of Cool for the ultimate sake of fun. It would be no way to stake a novel, but for an author, expectations are towards himself, then his demographic.

    1) "Joker". Suppose you have a player that likes to joke a lot, both in and out of character. This can break the suspension of disbelief if the setting is always meant to be serious. However, if you shoot him down during a session, he might feel downtrodden and quickly lose interest in the game. Instead, make downtime moments within the RP to offer him a chance to flourish. Try your best to make boundaries in this compromise clearer; it is cool to joke at the right times. Imo, a group needs this kind of glue to keep things casual and light-hearted; it is supposed to be fun and games.

    2) "I Wanna Be The Guy". Some, if not most, video games focus on characters that consistently pull off epic feats, bringing down titans and even gods. Rarely does anyone want to play a Johnny Average, a bland and uninteresting nobody. They can be impatient, and after rolling a lvl1 character go for broke by picking a fight with the Lady of Pain. They want to add heroic feats to their character's name. The DM can act as basic common sense here. The trick is not to say 'no', but 'are you sure?' If the player still commits, use Internal Logic to fairly dictate the result. Make defeat a learning experience if possible, taking care not to shame them, but educate him on what is internally logical in the world and what work is involved in making something epic happen (usually involves clearly well thought out plans that can become Campaign Goals)

    3) "Loner". The opposite mindset of the point above, fearing he might act in a way that is out of bounds, staking his fun solely on Internal Logic. 'I am an X, so I must act like a normal X' IMO, it is up to the DM to create openings and set aside time to develop character story out of session to get the loner more involved, sometimes invoking the rule of cool for them when possible so that their actions have as much weight as the others of the group. This can encourage actions that involve greater risks.
    #2 foodforpigs, Nov 16, 2014
    Last edited: Nov 16, 2014
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