Jump to content
Sign in to follow this  
ddbrown30

How often do you use in media res during a campaign?

Recommended Posts

I'm curious how many of you, if any, use in media res (starting in the middle of the action) after a campaign has already started. It's not something I've ever used myself nor have any of the GMs I've played with.

If anyone does use it, I'd be interested to know why and how well it works for you.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
2 hours ago, ddbrown30 said:

I'm curious how many of you, if any, use in media res (starting in the middle of the action) after a campaign has already started. It's not something I've ever used myself nor have any of the GMs I've played with.

If anyone does use it, I'd be interested to know why and how well it works for you.

It can be an easy way to rope established groups into published adventures that are unlikely to rope them in with the usual hooks offered, but only if everyone agrees to it.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

You know all of those adventures that begin with "you meet somebody and they want you to carry this thing to this place" or something similar? Yeah, please PLEASE skip past this part. I learned this from Shadowrun, and the same applies to Edge adventures. Skipping past mission briefings (so long as a quick handout of relevant points is provided) is great for getting Age adventures moving too. Of course, you could just have those mission briefings be as in-depth as the plan to attack Starkiller Base and just gloss over everything in 5 minutes, in which case, whatever...

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
5 hours ago, ddbrown30 said:

I'm curious how many of you, if any, use in media res (starting in the middle of the action) after a campaign has already started.

Highlighting the key point:  about 50/50.  I try to always start a campaign that way, but session by session it can vary.  Mostly it's determined by how much work the players want to put into planning their next move.  If they have done none or little, I may just go around the table once to get a roll on whatever narrative elements are in play, summarize the scene so far, and skip ahead to the first real conflict.  However, if the players have a plan or a concrete set of goals, I'll defer to that instead.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
9 hours ago, HappyDaze said:

Of course, you could just have those mission briefings be as in-depth as the plan to attack Starkiller Base and just gloss over everything in 5 minutes, in which case, whatever...

To an extent, I think this is kinda the intent. Brief the players on the intended method and objectives. If they want to know much more, spec into Analyst.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

You're hitting one of my pet peeves here.

 

"En Media Res" isn't starting "in the middle."  It's the act of starting in the middle of the climax!  And then doing a flashback to the exposition.  Check out the TV show Flashpoint for a good example and usage of "En Media Res."  What you are actually referring to is appropriately called "Cutting to the chase" or dropping the characters into the middle of a conflict by way of exposition.

That said, I have NEVER seen a GM ever pull off a true honest to goodness "En Media Res."  (Our group actually tried to do this once with an independent 'diceless' game system and it was an unmitigated disaster in my opinion.  Truly one of the worst RPG experiences that I've ever experienced including that one Falkingstein campaign).

Starting mid conflict isn't an RPG device that I've seen done too often, but it could work.  But I think it could work with a good group especially if you've done a good Session Zero and most of the character exposition is already done.

The challenge that you run into (in Movies & RPG's) with starting in mid conflict, is that if you don't establish sufficient expositional understanding at the beginning, you risk loosing the audience interest because the conflict is "senseless."  But if you have sufficient contextual information for the audience (or players) to tap into, you can pull this off more easily.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
23 minutes ago, Mark Caliber said:

You're hitting one of my pet peeves here.

 

"En Media Res" isn't starting "in the middle."  It's the act of starting in the middle of the climax!  And then doing a flashback to the exposition.  Check out the TV show Flashpoint for a good example and usage of "En Media Res."  What you are actually referring to is appropriately called "Cutting to the chase" or dropping the characters into the middle of a conflict by way of exposition.

That said, I have NEVER seen a GM ever pull off a true honest to goodness "En Media Res."  (Our group actually tried to do this once with an independent 'diceless' game system and it was an unmitigated disaster in my opinion.  Truly one of the worst RPG experiences that I've ever experienced including that one Falkingstein campaign).

Starting mid conflict isn't an RPG device that I've seen done too often, but it could work.  But I think it could work with a good group especially if you've done a good Session Zero and most of the character exposition is already done.

The challenge that you run into (in Movies & RPG's) with starting in mid conflict, is that if you don't establish sufficient expositional understanding at the beginning, you risk loosing the audience interest because the conflict is "senseless."  But if you have sufficient contextual information for the audience (or players) to tap into, you can pull this off more easily.

For someone with a pet peeve about it, you are wrong on a lot of counts. To start with, it's "In media res," not "En."

As for it needing to be the climax, that is just flat out wrong. Even flashbacks are optional, so long as exposition is filling out the details.

 

I'll do the lazy thing and post the Wikipedia article, but there are plenty of other sources that confirm this.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I started a campaign In Media Res.  Totally pulled a Dark Matter opening too, where the characters woke up to a damaged ship with no memory of who they were or what happened.    My players loved it for the most part.  

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I'm always amazed with this discussion.  DD, your references prove me right.  (And I always end up following these chains, every time.  What a waste).

En media res is a recognized alternate spelling, and En Media Res employs an immediate flashback.

So how many of you GM's drop the characters into a conflict and then wind the clock back to a sequence that happened earlier (flashback)?  

Again, I've seen this done once in an RPG and it didn't work.  Not even a little.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
3 hours ago, Mark Caliber said:

En media res is a recognized alternate spelling, and En Media Res employs an immediate flashback

Difference between May and Must. 

En Media Res May use a flashback, but not Must use a flashback. Flashbacks are indeed an easy way of backfilling story, but you can just as easily accomplish it via other methods of exposition, such as character dialogue or giant yellow letters flying through space...

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Aw, c'mon, guys; let's leash the gotcha derailments. That's two I walk into in like two days.

On-topic, I've only used in media res to start campaigns or introduce characters, and even then the insertion is agreed on in advance. In my experience as player and GM, allowing players to see consequences follow from actions they were free to choose is big for buy-in.

Not the case for all groups, obviously. But nah, I'd never do it.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
15 hours ago, ddbrown30 said:

For someone with a pet peeve about it, you are wrong on a lot of counts. To start with, it's "In media res," not "En."

In medias res - in the middle of things

(4 years latin in high school finally pays off -insert succes kid meme-)

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

After a campaign has started, I use it sparingly. The characters were on their knees in front of an impromptu stormtrooper firing squad, a young Imperial officer calling for the troops to 'Ready, aim, fire', then between aim and fire we cut back a number of days to just how things went down this way.

As I was reading the description out the players looked at each other, each thinking that they must have missed something, or forgotten the previous game, but as soon as I announced the '3 days prior' thing, they were on-board (although one player jokingly remarked that if they just refuse the mission/adventure, then they can avoid it from happening). So it worked well for my group, in an established campaign.

I'm running a one-shot at  convention soon, and am intending to start in media res to get the players used comfortable with their characters skills and abilities before they get start roleplaying them. I have to assume that none of the players are familiar with the game system, and some may not have roleplayed before, so it seems like a useful way to open (no flashback this time though as I want to keep things simple).

 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

My first SWRPG from the D6 days started with the players escaping a rebel base that was getting attacked by the imperials. It was great as we didn't need to know the other characters as we met along the way. We knew the "world" as it was star wars so not back story needed there and the situation was familiar enough. The characters already had shared goals: being in the rebellion.

It worked really well and forced the characters together.

Think I will use that in a future campaign start.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

And to confuse the issue further it's a Latin name for a Greek theatrical story device.

Yes, I do feel like I'm tilting at windmills here.  I've seen English being misused by people who ought to know better but don't.  In Media Res/En Media Res is one of those elegant terms that took me a bit to learn and understand and now that I do, it pisses me off when people casually misappropriate it for something completely else.

So my point stands.  This is a pointless thread because none of you know what you are talking about.  None of you actually use In Media Res in your campaigns because you can't.  It's not a relevant story device.

Sure one or two FFG authors inappropriately used the phrase wrong, but that doesn't mean that their error should be perpetuated.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
54 minutes ago, Mark Caliber said:

And to confuse the issue further it's a Latin name for a Greek theatrical story device.

Yes, I do feel like I'm tilting at windmills here.  I've seen English being misused by people who ought to know better but don't.  In Media Res/En Media Res is one of those elegant terms that took me a bit to learn and understand and now that I do, it pisses me off when people casually misappropriate it for something completely else.

So my point stands.  This is a pointless thread because none of you know what you are talking about.  None of you actually use In Media Res in your campaigns because you can't.  It's not a relevant story device.

Sure one or two FFG authors inappropriately used the phrase wrong, but that doesn't mean that their error should be perpetuated.

 

Pg 89, Star Wars The Roleplaying Game WEG 1987,   bottom right column.   In Media Res.   First time I saw the reference.    You have a mighty windmill to contend with there Mark.  

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

WEG D6 version of Star Wars gave the example of the opening of A New Hope as being in media res, and recommended it as a way to start your adventures.
The trick with using the technique in an RPG is you need to ensure that the players are invested, as @Mark Caliber said earlier. The point of using it is to hook them in. So within a campaign which has already begun, you need to let the players know that they can influence things and that they will understand the context soon. The players should already trust you by now, they are still playing after all, so I don't think you'll have any problems using it @ddbrown30  

 

@Mark Caliber I'm genuinely interested to know where you got your understanding of the term from. The Greek origins are relate to the Iliad and the Odyssey, which start near the end and then retell the chronology (so are more literary terms then theatrical, as they were both poems). In fact this example, along with Hamlet are mentioned in the Wikipedia article mentioned above.
I'm loath to lean entirely on Wikipedia, but do have an extensive performance background, and the explanation given there matches the one I'm familiar with. I'm happy to hear where you've developed your understanding of the term from (feel free to send me a message rather than derail this discussion).

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
2 hours ago, Urbane Spaceman said:

After a campaign has started, I use it sparingly. The characters were on their knees in front of an impromptu stormtrooper firing squad, a young Imperial officer calling for the troops to 'Ready, aim, fire', then between aim and fire we cut back a number of days to just how things went down this way.

As I was reading the description out the players looked at each other, each thinking that they must have missed something, or forgotten the previous game, but as soon as I announced the '3 days prior' thing, they were on-board (although one player jokingly remarked that if they just refuse the mission/adventure, then they can avoid it from happening). So it worked well for my group, in an established campaign.

Genius, stealing it! 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Join the conversation

You can post now and register later. If you have an account, sign in now to post with your account.
Note: Your post will require moderator approval before it will be visible.

Guest
Reply to this topic...

×   Pasted as rich text.   Paste as plain text instead

  Only 75 emoji are allowed.

×   Your link has been automatically embedded.   Display as a link instead

×   Your previous content has been restored.   Clear editor

×   You cannot paste images directly. Upload or insert images from URL.

Sign in to follow this  

×
×
  • Create New...