MacGuffin Delivery Service
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Basic Information

A trope where just as the heroes emerge from the dungeon with the MacGuffin, the villains who were also after it appear and take it away from them.



Game and Story Use

  • This can work well if used properly, but take great care when using it in RPGs. PCs may simply fight to the death over it instead. Even when they go along with it, the players may feel the development is contrived, or worse, a bait-and-switch. The more valuable and immediately useful the item is, the greater these concerns become.
    • Another pitfall is that the PCs may opt to Take A Third Option by Eating The MacGuffin when you least expect it.
    • It's a good rule of thumb that if you have the villains score a momentary victory for plot purposes, you should also allow the players to come out of the encounter with something too, even if it's a consolation prize. And have that small victory become significant.
      • An example: In the movie Dogma, the heroes are unsuccessful in persuading the Cardinal to help them, but Silent Bob manages to swipe one of the Cardinal's golf clubs. This becomes important later on when… ah, but that would be a Spoiler.
    • But better yet would be to plan for the encounter to go either way. The villain shows up to take the MacGuffin, and then play out whether he succeeds or not, and have a plan ready for either option. This avoids the problem of Railroading
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