If you have done a crisis committee before, you’ve seen a variety of crisis arc archetypes. There’s the Cult Arc, where your base asset is a cult you create to impact the committee. There’s the arc where you create a shell company to fund your actions, the arc where you work with the other side in a Joint Crisis, the arc where you try and sabotage the committee. But your crisis staff are experienced, and they’ve seen these arcs dozens of times before. So how do you make yourself stand out?
A cliche crisis arc is terrible simply because it’s boring. If your crisis staff knows what you’re going to do from the get-go, they won’t have fun with it, and if your crisis staff isn’t having fun with your arc, they won’t incorporate it into the overarching committee arc.
The keys to making an exciting crisis arc are to make your arc relevant to the committee and to make your arc fun and unique.
Making a Relevant Arc
Let’s start with making your arc relevant to the committee. Your arc should not be completely separate from the topic or situation your committee is covering because it will be so far off base that your crisis staff will keep everything you do in your notes and out of the crisis updates. Your goal should be to impact the front room through the backroom, so make sure you do that with your arc.
However, your arc should not completely derail the committee either. Your crisis staff probably has a direction they envision debate going in, so you want your arc to shape the discussion, not wholly changing your committee’s topic. The best way to avoid a cliche here is to add fun side characters in your notes, center your arc around a tangential aspect of the crisis, and make sure your crisis staff is engaged in the arc.
Making a Fun and Unique Arc
Making a fun and unique crisis arc is more critical than avoiding a cliche crisis arc. So often, an angle will affect the flow of debate or the front room but will still fall word-for-word into one of the crisis arc archetypes I mentioned earlier. You don’t want this to be your arc. Make your arc pop by making it unique, and the uniqueness of your arc comes in the details.
The reason people use classic crisis arc archetypes is that they work. They have proven building blocks that run smoothly with most crisis directors, but they also are boring.
Spice up your crisis arc by sending detailed notes where you develop side characters, establish significant companies (restaurants, grocery stores, manufacturing plants, etc.), and develop interpersonal relationships in the backroom.
The best crisis arc is a tiny bit goofy while still maintaining some realism and plausibility.
Also, if your committee provides you with portfolio powers, incorporate them into your arc. Your committee staff spent a lot of time on those dossiers, so it helps you differentiate your arc and makes your chairs and crisis director, who spent a lot of time designing your committee, see their hard work acknowledged. The best crisis arc is where everyone is enjoying it.