Let’s Do the Twist (December 2014 RPG Blog Carnival)

This month’s RPG Blog Carnival is put on by Mike Bourke over at Campaign Mastery… The topic? “With a Twist” – surprises, plot twists, and the unexpected. So let’s see what my twisted brain comes up with…

Chubby-Checker-The-Twist1Honestly, the first thing that came to mind was the dance. Chubby Checker made “The Twist” popular in 1960, but apparently it had been around long before that in one form or another, even back into the 1800s. Even so, let’s leave the pop culture history aside and extrapolate a few ways dancing might come into play in a RPG session.

The first time I seriously considered dance in any way story worthy was when I saw Arnold Schwarzenegger and Jamie Lee Curtis do the tango in True Lies (1994). The idea that a pair of spies could use dancing to not only scope out the room but accomplish a mission at the same time was crazy, but it’s shown up time and time again (even in a recent episode of Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.). So why not use dancing in a campaign plot to do something unexpected?

A PC or NPC dancing across a crowded dance floor could do any of the following:

  • Deliver a message or plant an item.
  • Get close enough to a target to poison or attack them.
  • Reconnoiter an area.
  • Cause a distraction.

(Check out the TVTropes.org website for some other great ideas about “Dancing Tropes.”)

rpgblogcarnivallogocopy-227x300Though I myself have the dancing ability of a dead water buffalo suffering from rigor mortis, another way I’ve seen dancing used in stories is as a training exercise.

Imagine a thief who wishes to become more lithe, flexible, and dexterous for a particular assignment. Why wouldn’t that individual use dance as part of their training regimen? A character might also develop dance skills to establish a better cover identity or even as a way to get closer to a loved one. Dance need not be only the realm of spies, but could just be a useful physical therapy or activity for enjoyment for a particular character.

That would certainly be a surprise… a character developing a skill as part of their story and not to improve a combat skill.

Lastly, though I don’t see this happening in my own games, the most recent Marvel movie – Guardians of the Galaxy – brought up the idea of a dance off. I could see an entire role-playing challenge occurring that pits the PCs’ dance talents against some evil group of dancers in a Step Up themed adventure. Even though it’s not my idea of a fun encounter or story, I’m sure it could be done well and folks might enjoy it. I mean… why not? Crazier things have worked at the game table. 🙂

So there you have a few odd thoughts around “twists” in RPGs. I’m sure there are many others, but these are mine. 🙂

Thanks Mike for an intriguing carnival topic!!

Interested in other RPG carnivals or hosting one of your own? Check out the RPG Blog Carnival Archive, now held over at Roleplaying Tips by Johnn Four.

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This article has 3 comments

  1. Pingback: The Final Twist: Dec 2014 Blog Carnival Roundup | Campaign Mastery

  2. Mike Bourke Reply

    The Chubby Checker connection is something I’ve been playing off for the entire month, Fitz, but I never thought actually connecting it to Dancing in RPGs! Well Done! I would add the musical performance bit at the climax of Back To The Future…

    • Fitz

      @Mike – Indeed! It was a great topic and I’m always amused by where my warped mind tends to take things! 🙂

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