Polti's 36 plots uncondensed

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The following are simply suggestions for plotting gaming campaigns, along with some basic thoughts on the matter.

Types of "episodes":

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Types of Conflicts:

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The 36 Dramatic Situations, according to Georges Polti (with some minor changes)

  1. Supplication (Elements: Persecutor, Supplicant, Power in Authority)
      1. A fugitive imploring the powerful for help against enemies (or some other threat).
      2. Assistance is begged for the performance of a pious duty that has been forbidden.
      3. An appeal for a place to die.
      4. An appeal for knowledge.
      1. Hospitality sought (by shipwrecked).
      2. Charity is entreated by those who have been cast off by their own people, whom they have disgraced.
      3. Expiation/Atonement; Seeking of Pardon, healing or deliverance.
      4. The surrender of a corpse, relic, item or place is solicited.
      1. Supplication to those in power for those dear to the supplicant.
      2. Supplication to a relative, on behalf of another relative.
      3. Supplication to a parent's lover, on that parent's behalf.

  2. Deliverance (Elements: a Victim, a Threat, and a Rescuer)
    1. The appearance of a rescuer to save the condemned.
      1. A parent replaced upon their throne by their children.
      2. A rescue by friends, or by strangers who are grateful for a past kindness, benefit, or hospitality.

  3. Crime Pursued by Vengeance (Elements: an Avenger and a "Criminal")
      1. Avenging a slain parent or ancestor.
      2. Avenging a slain child or descendent.
      3. Avenging a slain spouse, or other life partner.
      4. Avenging a dishonored child, or the attempt to dishonor.
      5. Avenging a dishonored sibling, or the attempt to dishonor.
      6. Avenging a dishonored spouse or partner, or the attempt to dishonor.
      7. Avenging a slain or injured lover or friend.
      1. Revenge for an intentional injury or spoilation.
      2. Revenge for something having been despoiled during an absence.
      3. Revenge for an attempted murder.
      4. Revenge for false accusations, or slander.
      5. Revenge for a "violation"
      6. Revenge for having been robbed.
      7. Revenge upon a whole group, such as a sex, for the crimes and perceptions of a single member of that group.
    1. The Professional Pursuit of Criminals

  4. Vengeance taken for kindred upon kindred (Elements: an Avenging Kinsman, a Guilty Kinsman, Remembrance of the Victim, a Relative of Both)
    1. A parent's death avenged upon the other.
      1. A sibling's death is avenged upon their child.
      2. A sibling's death is avenged upon avenger's child.
    2. A parent's death is avenged upon a spouse.
    3. A spouse's death is avenged upon a parent.

  5. Pursuit (Punishment, and a Fugitive)
      1. A fugitive is being pursued for brigandage, political offenses, etc.
      2. A fugitive is being wrongly pursued for brigandage, political offenses, etc.
    1. A fugitive is being pursued for a wrong caused by, or done for love.
    2. A hero is struggling against a power.
    3. A pseudo-madman struggles against an "Iago-like alienist."

  6. Disaster (The Vanquished, The Victor or a Messenger)
      1. A defeat suffered.
      2. A Homeland is destroyed or invaded.
      3. The Fall of Humanity/End of the World.
      4. A natural disaster or shipwreck.
    1. A Monarch is Overthrown
      1. An ingratitude is suffered.
      2. The suffering of unjust punishment or enmity.
      3. An outrage is suffered.
      1. Abandonment by a lover or a husband.
      2. Children are lost by their parents.

  7. Falling Prey to Cruelty or Misfortune (the Unfortunate, the Misfortune or Master)
    1. An innocent is made the victim of ambitious intrigue.
    2. An innocent is despoiled by one sworn to protect them.
      1. A powerful person is dispossessed and wretched.
      2. A favorite or intimate companion finds that they have been forgotten.
    3. The unfortunate is robbed of their only hope.

  8. Revolt (Tyrant and Conspirator)
      1. A conspiracy of one person.
      2. A conspiracy by many people.
      1. A revolt by one person who eventually suckers in others.
      2. A revolt by many people.

  9. A Daring Enterprise (a Leader, a Goal, and an Adversary).
      1. War
      2. Preparations for war.
      3. Combat
      1. Carrying off of a desired person or object.
      2. Recapture of a desired person or object.
      3. Ridding oneself of an undesired person or object.
      1. An Adventurous Expedition or Quest.
      2. An Adventurous Expedition or Quest for the purpose of obtaining a desired person or object.
      3. An Adventurous Expedition or Quest for the purpose of Recapturing of a desired person or object.
      4. An Adventurous Expedition or Quest for the purpose of Ridding oneself of an undesired person or object.
    1. The "Most Dangerous Game"

  10. Abduction (an Abductor, the Abducted, a Guardian)
    1. The abduction of an unwilling person.
    2. The abduction of a willing person.
      1. The recapture of the abducted without killing the abductor.
      2. The recapture of the abducted with killing the abductor.
      1. The recapture of a captive friend.
      2. The recapture of a captive child.
      3. The recapture of a soul in captivity to "Error".

  11. Enigma (Interrogator, Seeker, Problem)
    1. The search for a person who must be found upon pain of death.
      1. A riddle to be solved upon pain of death.
      2. A riddle to be solved, proposed by a desired person.
      1. A riddle to be solved, the temptation offered with the discovery of "the Name."
      2. A riddle to be solved, the temptation offered with the discovery of "the gender."
      3. A riddle to be solved, the temptation offered with the discovery of "the mental condition."

  12. Obtaining (Solicitor and Adversary that is refusing, or an Arbiter and Opposing Parties)
    1. An effort to obtain the goal by ruse or force.
    2. An effort to obtain the goal by persuasive eloquence.
    3. An effort to obtain the goal by persuasive eloquence via arbitration.

  13. Enmity of Kinsmen (a Malevolent Kinsman, a Hated or reciprocally Hating Kinsman)
    1. Hatred of siblings
      1. One sibling hated by several.
      2. Reciprocal hatred.
      3. Hatred for reasons of self interest.
    2. Hatred of parent and child.
      1. Child for the Parent.
      2. Mutual Hatred.
      3. Cross Gender hatred parent/child.
    3. Hatred of Grandparent for Grandchild.
    4. Hatred of In-law for Child-in-law.
      1. Hatred of In-law for Child-in-law, same sex.
      2. Mutual Hatred.
      3. Cross Gender hatred of In-law for Child-in-law.
      1. Infanticide.
      2. Child abuse.

  14. Rivalry of Kinsmen (Preferred Kinsman, Rejected Kinsman, the Object)
      1. Malicious rivalry of a sibling.
      2. Malicious rivalry of two siblings.
      3. Rivalry of two siblings, with adultery on the part of one.
      1. Rivalry of a parent and a child for the same unmarried person.
      2. Rivalry of a parent and a child for the same married person.
      3. Rivalry of a parent and a child for the same married person (who is the spouse of the parent).
    1. Rivalry of two cousins.
    2. Rivalry of two friends,

  15. Murderous Adultery (Two Adulterers; a Betrayed Spouse)
    1. The slaying of a spouse by, or for, a paramour.
    2. The slaying of a trusting lover.
    3. The slaying of a trysting lover.

  16. Madness (A Madman and a Victim)
    1. Murder done in madness.
      1. Kinsman slain.
      2. Lover slain.
      3. Friend slain.
      4. Slaying or injury of a person not hated, or innocent bystander.
    2. Disgrace brought upon oneself through madness.
    3. Loss of loved ones brought about by madness.
    4. Madness brought on by fear of hereditary flaw.

  17. Fatal Imprudence (the Imprudent; the Victim or Object lost)
      1. Imprudence the cause of one's own misfortune.
      2. Imprudence the cause of one's own dishonor.
      1. Curiosity the cause of one's own misfortune.
      2. The loss of a possession of a loved one through curiosity.
      1. Curiosity is the cause of the death or misfortune or death to others.
      2. Imprudence is the cause of a relative's death.
      3. Imprudence is the cause of a lover's death.
      4. Credulity is the cause of a kinsman's death.
      5. Imprudence is the cause of the death of innocents.

  18. Involuntary Crimes of Love (the Lover, the Beloved, the Revealer)
    1. The discovery that one has married one's parent.
      1. The discovery that one has had a sibling as a lover, or has married a sibling.
      2. The discovery that one has had a sibling as a lover, or has married a sibling, and the crime was villainously planned by a third person.
      3. The discovery that one was about to take a sibling as a lover.
    2. Being upon the point of violating, unknowingly, on of one's own children.
      1. Being upon the point of committing adultery unknowingly.
      2. Committing adultery unknowingly.

  19. Slaying of a Kinsman Unrecognized (Slayer, Kinsman)
    1. Slaying, or being upon the point of slaying one's own child unknowingly.
      1. Slaying, or being upon the point of slaying one's own child unknowingly, by command of a divinity or oracle.
      2. Slaying, or being upon the point of slaying one's own child unknowingly, through political necessity.
      3. Slaying, or being upon the point of slaying one's own child unknowingly, through a rivalry in love.
      4. Slaying, or being upon the point of slaying one's own child unknowingly, through hatred of the child's lover.
      5. Slaying, or being upon the point of slaying one's own child unknowingly, through Machiavellian instigation and manipulations.
      6. Slaying, or being upon the point of slaying one's own child unknowingly, in anger.
      7. Slaying, or being upon the point of slaying one's own child unknowingly, in vengeance.
      8. Slaying, or being upon the point of slaying one's own child unknowingly, having been provoked to do so.
      9. Slaying, or being upon the point of slaying one's own child unknowingly, through professional duty.
    2. Slaying, or being upon the point of slaying a sibling unknowingly.
    3. Slaying a parent unknowingly
    4. Slaying a grandparent unknowingly.
    5. Slaying a parent-in-law unknowingly.
    6. Slaying a lover unknowingly.
    7. Failure to rescue one's own child.
    8. Failure to rescue one's own parent.
    9. Failure to rescue one's own sibling.
    10. Failure to rescue one's own grandparent.
    11. Failure to rescue one's own parent-in-law.
    12. Failure to rescue one's own lover.

  20. Self-Sacrificing for an Ideal (Hero, Ideal, the "Creditor" or the person or thing sacrificed)
    1. Sacrifice of Life.
      1. Sacrifice of life for the sake of one's word, or Honor.
      2. Sacrifice of life for the success of one's people.
      3. Sacrifice of life for the happiness of one's people.
      4. Sacrifice of life in filial piety.
      5. Sacrifice of life for the sake of one's faith.
      6. Sacrifice of life for the sake of one's ruler or country.
      7. Sacrifice of life out of duty.
    2. Sacrifice of both life and love.
    3. Sacrifice of Love.
    4. Sacrifice of Well being.
    5. Sacrifice of honor.

  21. Self Sacrificing for Kindred (Hero, Kinsman, the "Creditor" or the person or thing sacrificed)
    1. Life sacrificed.
      1. For the life of a relative or loved one.
      2. For the happiness of a relative or loved one.
      3. Sacrifice due to unjust laws.
    2. Ambition sacrificed.
    3. Happiness sacrificed.
    4. Modesty sacrificed.
    5. Honor sacrificed.

  22. All Sacrificed for a Passion (The Lover, The Object of the Fatal Passion, the "Creditor" or the person or thing sacrificed)
    1. Vows broken.
      1. Vows of Chastity.
      2. Vows of Purity.
    2. Ruination.
      1. Loss of respect for a Priest.
      2. Future ruined.
      3. Power ruined.
      4. Health, Mind and Life ruined.
      5. Fortunes, lives, honors ruined.
    3. Temptations destroying the sense of duty, of pity, etc.
      1. An erotic vice.
      2. Some other vice.

  23. The Necessity of Sacrificing or Contending With Loved Ones (Hero, Beloved Victim, Necessity of the Sacrifice)
    1. Sacrificing a child.
      1. In the Public Interest
      2. In fulfillment of a Vow to God.
      3. Unknown to others, under pressure of necessity,
      4. For their own good.
    2. Sacrificing one's parent.
    3. Sacrificing one's spouse.
    4. Sacrificing one's child-in-law.
    5. Sacrificing one's sibling.
    6. Sacrificing one's friend.
    7. Sacrificing one's Living God for the good of the Land.

  24. Rivalry of a Superior and an Inferior (Superior Rival, Inferior Rival, Object of Rivalry)
    1. "Masculine" rivalries
      1. Of a mortal and immortal.
      2. Of two divinities of unequal power.
      3. Of a magician and an ordinary human.
      4. Of a conqueror and a rival.
      5. Of victor and vanquished
      6. Of a master and a banished person.
      7. Of a suzerain ruler and vassal rulers.
      8. Of a ruler and a noble.
      9. Of a powerful person and an upstart.
      10. Of rich and poor.
      11. Of an honored person and a suspected person.
      12. Of two who are almost equals.
      13. Of two who are equals, one of whom has, in the past, been guilty of adultery.
      14. Of one who is loved, and one who has no right to love.
      15. Of the two successive spouses of a single person.
    2. "Feminine" rivalries.
      1. Of a magician and an ordinary human.
      2. Of a ruler and a subject.
      3. Of a ruler and a slave.
      4. Of an employer and a servant.
      5. Of a person and a person of more humble means.
      6. Of a person, and two others of more humble station.
      7. Of two who are almost equals, complicated by the abandonment of one.
      8. Rivalry between a memory or ideal of a superior, and a vassal.
      9. Of a mortal and immortal.
    3. Double Rivalry (A loves B who loves C who loves D who may or may not love A)
    4. Oriental Rivalry
      1. Rivalry of two immortals.
      2. Of two mortals.
      3. Of two lawful spouses.

  25. Adultery (the Deceived person, two adulterers)
    1. A lover betrayed.
      1. For a new lover.
      2. For the spouse.
      3. For a child.
    2. A spouse betrayed.
      1. For a slave that does not love in return.
      2. For debauchery.
      3. For someone else's spouse.
      4. With the intention of bigamy.
      5. For a young lover that does not love in return.
      6. The spouse is envied by the young lover.
      7. By a courtesan.
      8. A rivalry between a lawful spouse that is antipathetic and a lover that is congenial.
      9. Between a generous spouse and an impassioned lover
    3. A spouse misplaced.
      1. An antagonistic spouse tossed over for a congenial lover.
      2. A spouse, believed to be lost, is forgotten by a rival.
      3. A commonplace spouse is sacrificed for a sympathetic lover.
      4. A good spouse is betrayed for an inferior lover.
      5. A good spouse is betrayed for a grotesque lover.
      6. A good spouse is betrayed for an odious lover.
      7. A good spouse is betrayed for a commonplace rival, by a perverse betrayer.
      8. A good spouse is betrayed for a lover that is less than attractive, but still useful.
      1. Vengeance of a deceived spouse.
      2. Jealousy is sacrificed for the sake of a cause.
    4. A spouse is persecuted by a rejected rival.
    5. A spouse is persecuted by a rejected lover.

  26. Crimes of Love (the Lover; the Beloved)
    1. Parent/Child
      1. A parent in love with their child.
      2. A child in love with its parent.
      3. The violation of a child by its parent.
    2. Stepparent/Stepchild
      1. A stepparent in love with their stepchild.
      2. A stepchild in love with its stepparent.
      3. The violation of a stepchild by its stepparent.
      4. A stepparent being the lover of both a parent and a child, all of whom are aware of the situation.
      1. A person involved with their sibling-in-law
      2. Two siblings in love with each other.
    3. Same sex relationships.
      1. Adult-Adult
      2. Adult-Child
    4. Human/Animal relationships.
    5. The sexual abuse of small children.

  27. Discovery of the dishonor of a loved one (the Discoverer; the Guilty party)
    1. Discovery of a family member's shame
      1. Mother
      2. Father
      3. Sister
      4. Brother
      1. Discovery of a dishonor in the family of one's own fiance.
      2. Discovery that one's spouse was violated before the marriage.
      3. Discovery that one's spouse has been violated since the marriage.
      4. Discovery that one's spouse has previously committed an error.
      5. Discovery that one's spouse had previously been a prostitute.
      6. Discovery that one's lover or wife, formerly a prostitute, has returned to their former life.
      7. Discovery of a dishonor on the part of a lover.
      8. Discovery that one's lover or wife is a person of bad character.
      9. Discovery that one's ruler is a person of bad character.
    2. Discovery that one's child is an assassin.
    3. Discovery and duty to punish.
      1. Punishing a child that has turned traitor to their country.
      2. Punishing a sibling who is a traitor to the party.
      3. Punishing a child under a law the parent has made.
      4. Punishing a child believed to be guilty.
      5. Duty of killing, to fulfill a vow, a parent previously unknown.
      6. Duty of punishing a kinsman that is an assassin.
      7. Duty of punishing a parent to avenge the other parent.

  28. Obstacles to Love (Two Lovers, an Obstacle)
    1. Marriage prevented by inequality.
      1. Marriage prevented by an inequality of rank.
      2. Marriage prevented by an inequality of fortune.
    2. Marriage prevented by enemies and contingent obstacles.
    3. Marriage forbidden
      1. Marriage forbidden due to a previous betrothal to another.
      2. Marriage forbidden due to a previous betrothal to another, complicated by a false or imaginary marriage.
      3. Marriage forbidden due to a previous marriage to another.
    4. Family as Obstacles.
      1. A free union impeded by the opposition of relatives.
      2. Family affection disturbed by parents-in-law.
    5. Incompatibility of the tempers of the lovers.
    6. Love.
    7. Promiscuity.

  29. An Enemy Loved (the Beloved Enemy, the Lover, the Hater)
    1. Loved one hated by the kinsmen of the lover.
      1. Lover pursued by siblings of the beloved.
      2. Lover hated by the family of the beloved.
      3. Lover is the child of a person hated by the kinsmen of the lover.
      4. Lover is an enemy of the Party/Nation of the beloved.
    2. Loved one is involved with a significant death.
      1. Lover slew the parent of the beloved.
      2. The beloved slew the parent of the lover.
      3. Lover slew the sibling or other kinsman of the beloved.
      4. The beloved slew the sibling or other kinsman of the lover.
      5. Lover slew the spouse of the beloved.
      6. The beloved slew the spouse of the lover.
      7. The beloved slew the spouse of the lover, and there is a vow of vengeance involved.
      8. Lover slew the previous lover of the beloved.
      9. The beloved slew the previous lover of the lover.
      10. The beloved slew the previous lover of the lover, and there is a vow of vengeance involved.
      11. The beloved is the child of the slayer of the lover's parent.

  30. Ambition (the Ambitious person, the Thing Coveted, an Adversary)
    1. Ambition watched and guarded against by a kinsman or patriot friend.
      1. By a brother
      2. By a relative or a person under obligation.
      3. By Partisans.
    2. Rebellious ambition.
    3. Criminal ambition.
      1. Ambition and covetousness heaping up crime after crime.
      2. Parricidal ambition.

  31. Conflict With a God (a Mortal; and Immortal)
      1. Struggle against a deity.
      2. Strife with the believers of a deity.
      1. Controversy with a deity.
      2. Punishment for contempt of a deity.
      3. Punishment for pride before a deity.
      4. Presumptuous rivalry with a deity.
      5. Imprudent rivalry with a deity.

  32. Mistaken jealousy (the Jealous Person, the Object for which they are Jealous, the Supposed Accomplice, the Cause or Author of the Mistake)
      1. The mistake originates in the suspicious mind of the jealous one.
      2. The mistaken jealousy is aroused by bad luck or timing.
      3. The mistaken jealousy is aroused by a love that is purely Platonic.
      4. The mistaken jealousy is aroused by malicious rumors.
      1. Jealousy is suggested by a traitor who is moved by hatred.
      2. Jealousy is suggested by a traitor who is moved by self interest.
      3. Jealousy is suggested by a traitor who is moved by their own jealousy as well as self interest.
      1. Reciprocal jealousy suggested to both parties by a rival.
      2. Jealousy suggested to a spouse by a dismissed suitor.
      3. Jealousy suggested to a spouse by a scorned rival.
      4. Jealousy suggested to a spouse by a person in love with them.
      5. Jealousy suggested to a happy lover by the deceived spouse.

  33. Erroneous Judgement (the Mistaken One, the Victim of the Mistake, the Cause or Author of the Mistake, the Guilty Person)
      1. False suspicion where faith is needed.
      2. False suspicion of a lover (although the suspicion is not without reason)
      3. False suspicions aroused by a misunderstood attitude of a loved one.
      4. False suspicions aroused by indifference.
      1. False suspicions drawn upon oneself to save a friend.
      2. They fall upon the innocent.
      3. They fall upon the innocent spouse of the guilty one.
      4. They fall upon the innocent, where the innocent had a guilty intent.
      5. They fall upon the innocent, where the innocent had a guilty intent, and believe's self to be guilty.
      6. A witness to the crime, in the interest of a loved one allows the suspicion to fall upon an innocent.
      1. The accusation is allowed to fall upon an enemy.
      2. The error is provoked by an enemy.
      3. The error is directed against the victim by their sibling.
      1. False suspicion is thrown upon by the real culprit upon an enemy.
      2. False suspicion is thrown upon by the real culprit upon the second victim against whom they have plotted from the beginning.
      3. False suspicion is thrown upon a rival.
      4. False suspicion is thrown upon an innocent, because they refused to be an accomplice.
      5. False suspicion is thrown by a deserted lover upon the beloved that left since the beloved would not deceive the lover's spouse.
      6. There is a struggle to rehabilitate oneself and to avenge a judicial error that was purposely caused.

  34. Remorse (the Culprit, the Victim or the Sin, the Interrogator)
      1. Remorse for an unknown crime.
      2. Remorse for a parricide.
      3. Remorse for an assassination.
      4. Remorse for a marricide.
      1. Remorse for a fault of love.
      2. Remorse for an adultery.

  35. Recovery of a lost one (the Seeker, the One Found)

  36. Loss of Loved Ones (a Kinsman slain, a Kinsman spectator, an Executioner)
      1. Witnessing the slaying of a Kinsman, while powerless to prevent it.
      2. Helping to bring misfortune upon one's people through professional secrecy.
    1. Divining the death of a kinsman.
    2. Learning of the death of a kinsman or ally.
    3. Relapse into primitive baseness, through despair on learning of the loss of a kinsman.