Yesterday I wrote about the big gameplay-and-narrative friction we often find in RPGs, but there are all kinds of smaller ones, too.
The Guiltless Hero: You're the only one who can save this world -- but only after you go in that stranger's basement and open all his treasure chests, and then take all the coins out of that lady's kitchen cabinet, and then smash people's crockery to see if there's anything in it. They don't even notice!
The Shameless Invader: Hey, what's up? I'm just making dinner, please do open my door at any time you like and come on in so I can talk to you about stew ingredients, my bratty son or how scared I am for my life. It's not like you're on a quest or something.
The Distracted Wanderer: It's finally time to bring that object you almost died retrieving to that guy who desperately needs it so that he can give you something crucial to this world-saving quest that only you can undertake. Oh, wait, hang on a sec, why don't you just check that grassy field over there first? Might be, I dunno, some mushrooms or flowers or something you could use for something. No? How about in that random cave?
The Castle VIP: Welcome, heavily-armed stranger! I'm totally the king of this city, and my castle is crawling with guards with pointy spears. Their job is to stand at either side of each door and chat about how great I am. Make yourself at home! The treasure room is upstairs. No, you can't get in there now, but you know you will at some point. No one'll stop you! Make sure and stop by my throne room and introduce yourself before you leave? Maybe after you're done rummaging around my gorgeous daughter's room for who knows what?
The Pushover: So hey, do you want to undertake this thing? Your input is really important to me. No? Oh, well, too bad, because you kind of have to. Why did I ask you? Because you like having choices when you're adventuring! Oh, dude, do you wanna help out this chick over here, too? No? Aw, too bad, guess you'll miss your ultimate weapon. Did you realize you're supposed to answer "yes" to everything, and your being asked is only a formality? Yes? Now you understand.
The Ingenious Collector: Hey, pal! Heard you're pretty good at adventuring and stuff. I really really don't know what I'll do unless I get one of these thingummies... small, round, costs five bucks at the store over there? Thanks, pal, you're a lifesaver! I'll name my firstborn child after you!
The Sucker: Okay, not to be a pain or anything, but now I need something else... there's a five percent chance you might find one after spending ten hours in the world's most dangerous dungeon, but I really absolutely need that thing. Oh, you got it? Oh, man, thanks! Here's one of those cheezy things they sell for five bucks at the store over there! Use it well!
The Neglectful Leader: You and your loyal band of friends braved trial untold to reach this place, the final battle. You might die tonight, but at least you have each other. This epic journey has taught you the meaning of love, sacrifice and true friendship. You're all in this together, so everybody give one last high-five and shout out what you're fighting for! Your loyal party-mates, that person with the awesome special skill that you had with you for a while, and... wait, who's that dude? Oh, yeah, he joined your party and then you ignored him because he sucks. Group hug, what'syourface! Your personal motives are totes important to me, yeah, the... yeah.
I seriously love RPGs so much.