Building blocks

Most muds categorize many elements of their world by type, such as terrain sector. What if you wanted for whatever reason to categorize all world elements by type? I’m going to start with…


To make it easy on myself at first I’m stealing from Thirty-six Dramatic Situations by Georges Polti. The Wikipedia article also contains a link to the Tennesse Screenwriting Association’s 20 Basic Plots.

The important idea is that you don’t need to plug the entire list into your game, only the elements of the list that make sense. Just as there wouldn’t be underwater coral reef terrain sectors in a Dune inspired mud, you don’t need the “Conflict with a God” quest element in a Godless steampunk universe. Though perhaps you could change that to “Conflict with a god-complex”…

Every situation defined by Polti goes a little something like this:

Nth Situation
(Agent 1, Agent 2, …, Agent N)

Class A – Examples
Class B – Examples
Class C – Examples
(the subclasses transmute the agents; for example, in a “Madness” situation, Polti names two agents, Madman and Victim. In Class A these might be two separate characters, but in class B the same character encapsulates madman and victim. The number of agents may increase in Class C if the situation involves many victims)

A final point: it might seem a little weird that I’m categorizing quests with a list of dramatic situations. This is a mud, after all — shouldn’t I instead use categories like a ‘find the item’ quest, or a ‘kill the mob quest’, or a ‘visit the room’ quest? Well…no, and no. Part of the problem that I see with many mud quests is their essential repetition, a la the ubiquitous FedEx quest. In fact you see this so many times it’s almost a given that there are only a few kinds of quests. Inevitably each quest will contain elements you find in another quest, like unlocking a door or killing a mob. But if you focus on the dramatic situation as the categorizing element your options expand and, I think, the quest increases its fun factor.


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