I said I was going to talk about traveling next, so here it is. The right of way is an ancient concept, not unlike that of hospitality. If you’re familiar with the story of Oedipus, you may remember that he killed a guy (a king, actually his father) over a right-of-way dispute. That’s because the difference between getting to use the road, and waiting for the other person to pass was serious business.

How about an example in a more recent story? How about Dr. Seuss’s “The Zax” from The Sneetches and Other Stories. As told, the story is probably about compromise and stuff, but it happens to be in the context of individuals crossing paths and refusing to move for the other. That’s what right of way is about: it’s a way to compromise. Two or more people need to get somewhere in a hurry, and someone has to go first.

Now, the reason I want to address right of way is to play with the video game concept of the “broken bridge,” and to borrow from the “threshold guardian” in mythology. I think one of the things that bothers me about how broken bridges are normally used, is that they apply only once to an area in the game, and then are forgotten. What I would prefer is a changing “bridge,” which can be acknowledged or circumvented.

If, for example, tensions run high between two towns or villages, one might impose a blockade on the other. This gives the player the option of respecting the blockade or going rogue and playing a smuggler. It’s far more interesting than being blocked from entering the village, and it provides the opportunity for choice. From there, the player might choose to charge exorbitant rates for smuggled goods. More choice.

I think travel in and of itself should be a choice. I think it should be up to the player whether they want to remain in the starting village, or if they move on to other parts of the world. I think they should be rewarded in either case: stay home and live the life of a villager, or go out and see the world. I think either should be possible. Take Pre-Searing Ascalon in Guild Wars, for example. Some players never leave.

But how to reward travel — you know what I was thinking? With travel, you see things that people who remain in one place don’t, and I don’t think storytelling has enough of a place in roleplaying games, which should probably have storytelling as one of their core themes. So, if your character travels to a new town, sharing their story at the local tavern can earn them free stuff. A courier run that cuts out the middleman.

Let’s say you start in town A and travel to town B. You come back to town A a week later — a hidden counter keeps track of how long it’s been since you last shared your stories in the town. You’ve accumulated enough of a tale that you earn a pint on the house and a room for the night. It can serve the dual purpose of awarding fame. Now, next time I want to talk about reputation and fame.