X Because Y

The other day I realised that I’ve never shared one of my favourite narrative games with you all. I didn’t come up with it the idea and I’m probably not the first person to call it this. I might be the first person to call it a game though.

I first put a name to it when I was trying to explain the plot of Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter to my brother and I said, “Abraham Lincoln because Vampires.” By which I meant “The real, known events of Abraham Lincoln’s life with the gaps filled in with Vampires and the Vampires used to explain the events.”

It’s closely related to the much better known X meets Y technique. You all know how that works. Noir meets androids gives you Blade Runner kind of thing. Note that the two techniques do not give the same results. Abraham Lincoln meets Vampires could still be an interesting story but not nearly as powerful. Noir because androids could be something but it ain’t Blade Runner and androids because noir sounds like a Westworld spin off.

You can use both techniques with any combination of fictional tropes, plots, people, stories and historical events. You can use it to generate your own ideas or break down existing ones.  They usually won’t give you a whole plot but it’s a good place to start and it’s great for settings and world building.

Why not play at home? Pick up any two DVDs, comics or books and combine. For added credit pick three. Make the first one the plot then create the background, setting or premise using the other two.

I got Crimson Peak, The Conan Chronicles by R.E. Howard, and The Night Watch by Terry Pratchett. So that gives me a tortured gothic romance for the plot. From Conan I could take the hero himself or the idea of a slave who becomes a king. From The Night Watch I could take time travel, or becoming one own’s mentor or the cynical commander of a police force. So one version would be Conan the Barbarian because time travel in which a barbarian king travels back in time to mentor his youthful enslaved self through his rise to power. The whole thing is horribly derailed by a romance plot when the old king and the young slave fall for the same person who plays them off against each other.

Do tell me how you get on.


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