Making the Implausible Feasible

So you’ve got this great idea. It’s Epic, it’s inventive, it’s glorious—and it’s a one in a million chance at best. And not only is the world against it, but there’s also the matter of suspension of disbelief; if you’re a writer, there’s a risk of the audience crying foul, and if you’re a gamer, the GM may cut you off as soon as you try to get it across. And it seems right: after all, what’s to say anyone would be even remotely successful doing things like asking a god for help or combining artifacts and magical phenomena in ways that the world does not appear to be ready for?

So how do we try to make these ideas something that our audience won’t look askance at?

Complicate it

The best way to not have an idea scream out “cakewalk” is for it not to be a cakewalk. Succeeding at this plan requires fixing the item involved. Or finding a group of people to provide support for an important political bid. Or heading out and collecting ingredients, or doing a few people a favor. Basically, this idea has phases, and the phases are interesting in and of themselves. It isn’t just a win button.

Consequence it

And what’s to say it’s over when the idea has come to fruition? One of the best ways to rationalize the plausible-but-barely is to make success more interesting than failure. Maybe it’s a direct consequence, with the plan resulting in its executor coming to someone’s attention, for good or ill. Or perhaps the connection is a bit less direct, and it just triggers a set of events that might have interesting results down the road.

Explicate it

This is actually the most important part of making sure an idea can actually fly. It needs a logical base, a straight path from A to B to C to D. You don’t need to quite make a mathematical proof out of it, but you might want to come pretty close. (For instance: “All right. We’ve established that people can create items out of existing dream-qualities in this world. And we know that using X magic, it is possible to step into another person’s dreamscape. And that it should be possible to come up with some way to bring gear when stepping into someone else’s dreamscape, and leave it behind. And we know that because of that other thing a few incidents back, this character has that particular set of skills, or can learn them. With me so far? Good. All right. Now, regarding that NPC imprisoned by a demon somewhere we can’t get to yet—would it be possible, using the above skills, to try to ensure that she doesn’t break before we find a way to get there by having this character loan her some bits of her own determination?”) The logic needs to be clear and fluid, all based on things that have been established before; any logical leaps, and the entire structure falls apart.

Steps like these turn an impossible plan into something a bit more doable. While they won’t guarantee that it will find a successful reception, they will alleviate many of the doubts that come from presenting a really audacious plan. Every tool helps, right?

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