Inspiration Style Synergy

I’ve talked before about how the creative process doesn’t need to exist in a vacuum, and can in fact benefit from collaboration with other people. Inspiration style—particularly knowing the form of inspiration, be it expansionist, mechanist or conceptualist—can help by letting you figure out whose skills and approaches are likeliest to complement yours.

In all cases, you’re going to get the best results from a combination of different viewpoints. After all, people who think the same way are likelier to have the same approach but different opinions on what to do with it. Two conceptualists, for instance, are likely to have conflicting images. Two mechanists might be applying the same set of numbers to different problems and getting different answers. And while two expansionists can feed off of each other almost indefinitely when in their best form, it’s not going to do any good unless they get an idea on which to expand.

The expansionist needs the synergy the most, as her ideas have to come from somewhere. On the other hand, the conceptualist is likely not to feel he needs the help, particularly in a game situation: after all, his problem is details, and who cares about details? The mechanist is more balanced, as both original spark and details tend to be encoded in the numbers or ‘rules’ with which works, but she’s working in something which is ultimately an abstraction, and may have a bit more trouble if she needs to translate that into a more “reality”-oriented application.

For anyone with strong ideas looking for an assistant, an expansionist is probably the best choice. All she needs, after all, is the seed of an idea; whether that seed is a set of abstract numbers or a mechanic in need of in-world justification is somewhat less relevant. Another strategy to take is to try to find someone of a type that corresponds to the style you definitely aren’t. So a conceptualist whose weakness is mechanics would likely work best with a mechanist whose weakness is concept, as this covers the two major roles, and between them the two are likely to have just enough expansionist tendencies to cover for the lack of a specialized expansionist. This doesn’t even necessarily need to be a meeting of equals; I’ve often seen a conceptualist GM look to an expansionist player for detail or to a mechanist player—in both cases, in the game said GM is running—for numbers. Even better is when there’s a mismatch of both form and element, since that allows for the specialist to help the other find the holes in his work.

The ideal, of course, is all three working together, as that’s when things really get rolling—image from the conceptualist, hard numbers from the mechanist, and then the expansionist fleshes it out and ties it into the world. The end result is something far greater than if any one of them had worked alone.

Ever gotten this kind of synergy? How’d it go?

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