seven basic plots

david marsh


Try using the ‘seven basic plots’ as a handy jumping off point for RPG stories. Obviously you’d need to take into account the tone of the game your playing.

It is said there are only seven basic plots (text from wikipedia):

  1. Overcoming the monster: The protagonist sets out to defeat an antagonistic force (often evil) that threatens the protagonist and/or protagonist’s homeland.
  2. Rags to riches: The poor protagonist acquires power, wealth, and/or a mate, loses it all and gains it back, growing as a person as a result.
  3. The quest: The protagonist and companions set out to acquire an important object or to get to a location. They face temptations and other obstacles along the way.
  4. Voyage and return: The protagonist goes to a strange land and, after overcoming the threats it poses or learning important lessons unique to that location, returns with experience.
  5. Comedy: Light and humorous character with a happy or cheerful ending; a dramatic work in which the central motif is the triumph over adverse circumstance, resulting in a successful or happy conclusion.
  6. Tragedy: The protagonist is a hero with a major character flaw or great mistake which is ultimately their undoing. Their unfortunate end evokes pity at their folly and the fall of a fundamentally good character.
  7. Rebirth: An event forces the main character to change their ways and often become a better individual.