Situational Stakes exercises

Situational Stakes:   Our “What” is emotional reactions to active elements.  Commitment and repetition are the only “why” we need.  But “Because” can elevate the emotional stakes of a scene with context.  

“Stakes” come in many forms – and we want to apply emotion to all of them.  These exercises focus on endowing premises and “wacky circumstances” with emotion.

Situational Effects – The impact that success or failure of a particular circumstance’s efforts portend to have on players’/a player’s feelings.  “We have five minutes to defuse this bomb or we’re dead.”/ “I don’t want to die.”

SITUATIONAL Suggested Exercises:

MISSION IMPOSSIBLE – Players initiate two person scenes with the wildest, crazy-detailed quests/needs that they can imagine.  “It is left to us janitors to slay the dragon.”  “Build me a robot that makes robots and runs on souls.”  They seek solutions.  They pursue options.
Lessons:
• Try, don’t discuss – “I don’t know if this will work.”  Shut up.  Try it.
• All that matters is that you feel – care about what you’re doing.  Experience successes and failures emotionally.  The Matrix was totally predicated on the intricacies of plot (and special effects) and when plot failed, there was no emotion (too cool) to carry it.  Because “The Flux-Capacitor” was the only sense Back To The Future needed; it had Marty and Doc.
• Confidently engage environment – explore your wild premise beyond words.  More often, the stranger the world, the more we hang back from making physical choices (I’m “a pilot” but I don’t know how to fly a plane so I’m scared to engage the cockpit’s control”).  Do whatever confidently and deliberately (How do you build a mainframe? “Like this.  Ugh. Umph. Twist.  Torque.  Here.”)
• Get Satisfaction – We often unnecessarily fear achieving our wants to avoid dealing with what lies on the other side.  When that fear has power over the scene it stagnates.  What happens when you give the guy who wants a robot a robot?  What if you left when someone demands that you “get out of here”?  What if you can suddenly do the thing you couldn’t do?  Especially if we have emotionally committed characters, we can feel comfortable exploring the other side of our obstacles.
Variations:
•  Lead and/or break into exercise with a few environment warm-ups – “What are you doing?”, “Mighty Isis,” “Build a room,” “Environment/Dialogue Sequences,” etc.

4 thoughts on “Situational Stakes exercises

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