“What is interesting about the conflict between Jessica and Kilgrave is the personal nature of it. Unlike other villains, Kilgrave has only one very goal he wants to achieve and any effect he has on the larger world comes in service to that goal. At the same time Jessica has her own very personal goal. I mention this to contrast it with the main conflict in The Serpent King's Domain. To Namagal it's a very personal situation involving his death and/or humbling. To the viewpoint character playing the book, it is (or can be) little more than an item on a to-do list toward achieving a different goal. I make that contrast because one thing I'd like to see in The Lone and Level Sands or perhaps a later book is for an important quest to be personal and important to the viewpoint character.”Of course, conflict is almost always more interesting when it’s personal. After a love story, perhaps the most compelling of narratives is a war in the family:
It only works when it’s earned, of course. Batman v Superman did nothing but lay popcorn-brained waste to the surprising-yet-inevitable showdown which in Frank Miller’s original story came at the endpoint of a difficult friendship that had struggled on against the odds for decades.
The point of the personal conflict is to up the stakes. The story has more bite, more pain, more inner struggle. We, the readers or viewers, feel more strongly involved. But writing rules are no substitute for commonsense. All those screenwriters who feel the need to make Robin the Sheriff of Nottingham’s half-brother, take note. And let’s also point an accusatory finger at the recent Harry Potterization of the 007 franchise, in which every adversary must be tied to Bond’s angsty childhood. Puh-lease. It’s more Charlie Higson than Ian Fleming.
PvP in my roleplaying games. The civil war that happened in our Tekumel campaign was a classic tragedy in the making, with the player group splitting right down the middle. Jamie told his wife that the Tsolyani civil war was the most important thing in his life at the time. I can believe it. Think of any time you and somebody you care about have ended up on opposite sides on an issue of passionate importance. There’s a wrench in the gut that goes far beyond mere difference of opinion.
The Tsolyani example reminded me of a letter I got from Professor MAR Barker back in November 1985:
"Eyloa the Wizard of the Tlashte Heights, played by Mike Callahan, just discovered that the Pariah Deities' chief agent in his sector, Torsu, is in reality his own father. I was told later that this is a rip-off of the Star Wars plots, but then I have been running this particular campaign since before The Empire Strikes Back and all along the storyline has been the same."The Temple of Flame, which begins by establishing the backstory between the lead character and their former colleague Damontir the Mad, who is the book’s antagonist. Players of Heart of Ice have remarked that though the possible endings include saving the world and seizing ultimate power, nothing compares to meting out just deserts to the weaselly Kyle Boche. And even in Fabled Lands we have recurring adversaries like Talanexor the Fire Wizard and your persistent frenemy Lauria. You want to see more of them, don’t you?
Which brings us back to John Jones’s suggestion. I’m not going to reveal what he proposed because it was really cool and maybe Paul Gresty will want to run with it in future books. All I will say is that it made me think of Fritz Leiber Jr, and that’s never a bad thing.