Wednesday, 17 October 2012

Pushing at the edges of a format

One thing using published settings teaches you to do is look at their boundaries and the plot possibilities those suggest.

What works in the Old World doesn’t necessarily work in Ravenloft, but could it be tweaked to? Running Buffy and The World Of Darkness I’ve gotten (I hope) a fair sense of the differences as well as the overlap. There are some things I would do in one but not the other, and some that would feel different just by the change in the setting.

And doing this for so long means I tend to do it to all kinds of things...

For example, wanting to find a good shot of a body bag going into an ambulance, I’ve been looking through Tru Calling, the Eliza Dushku vehicle where she plays a med student working at the morgue - who discovers she can hear the newly and prematurely dead call for help, and then goes back in time to when she woke up, to save them from dying. Once she’s done, her life carries on so she can go to bed, wake up and it’s a new day.

It’s pretty good at ringing the changes on that format. Sometimes her mission is to help them do something important before they die. She finds four at once - all with no I.D. so she has to figure out who they are before she can help them. An undiscovered body calls to her from the woods. Saving one life leads to another death and she has to relive a day over and over. And someone else can do this... and has a very different perspective of what needs to happen.

But I immediately think... “does it have to be only as far as when she woke up?”

Could she go back two days for a victim whose body wasn’t discovered for a while? Or three days for someone who spends those three days in ICU before dying of their injuries? If not, she’d be frustrated at being able to solve the killing but not stop it or help them another way but not save them.

And in the case of someone fatally injured, would someone flatlining be able to ask for help - in the middle of paddles being charged, so she risks being shocked as their hand reaches out to her?

And what about a body left unnoticed for three weeks? Would she go back three weeks, save them, and wake up in the present - or have to live through those twenty days again?

And what would happen if a body comes into the morgue after being discovered by builders demolishing the house where it was secretly buried... a hundred years ago?

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