A standard pattern in a story, like:
  • Dumbo can only fly when holding a magic feather, then loses the feather and discovers...the power was inside himself all along!
  • Fred Flintstone is sad because nobody seems to remember his birthday, but then gets home to discover a surprise birthday party! ...Everyone remembered, after all!
  • Reluctant hero has to be coaxed out of retirement in order to handle ...one more challenge
  • Character is in impossible situation and then wakes up...it was just a dream

Basically, every story uses plot devices. All kinds of Shakespeare depends on intercepted letters and people hidden behind curtains, right?
An event included for the sole purpose of moving the plot of a story along. Referred to by Alfred Hitchcock as a McGuffin.

There is nothing wrong with plot devices when used in moderation. However, excessive use of plot devices can lead to cliche, or, at its most extreme, to the Disney formula, or else to deus ex machina.

Plot devices in role playing games include things like: the party is sent on a quest of some sort, the party is given the opportunity to do some exploring, the party is going to get paid for doing something, or the party notices strange happenings and goes to investigate. Also, one of the party members gets captured and must be rescued, one of the party members is being pursued by someone or something, or one of the party members has a dark secret which might have all sorts of nasty consequences if it gets out. The weaving together of plot devices makes a plot (usually).

2017 Dec 5, 5 minutes

He shakes his cellphone to try to get the connection working. It had been breaking up, coming in and out. He was having trouble getting anything done. Rather than feel like his time was wasted on unproductive things, he vigorously tried to get the damned device back.

What if I raise it up here?

What if I lower it to here?

He checked the WiFi settings. He wasn't having much luck. "Oh great - another afternoon wasted with blasted connection problems," he thought. He threw it aside in frustration and looked around the room.


Nothing he wasn't expecting anyway. Everything was just as he left it, useless and uninteresting. The entire house was useless and uninteresting, and now his phone was too. It was the verge of madness, he thought, surely people had other things to do before these things were invented.

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