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It is oft said that "stories are about conflict", but this is a gross simplification. True, conflict is a common storytelling device, but there are many stories without express conflicts, such as love stories which rest upon misunderstandings, rags-to-riches tales of outrageous fortune, and adventure stories, all of which sustain the reader's interest by maintaining curiosity.I'm really tired of seeing roleplaying games as conflicts - especially the build-up: frame new scene, create conflict, resolve conflict, frame new scene - so what other ways are there to create uncertainty when we play? One black sheep that we all love to hate (or hate to love ... or purely enjoy) is railroading. By being guided in the GM's story, you hopefully have a curiosity to see how everything turns out in the end. What other ways can you give me that creates curiosity? What experiences do you have that created curiosity? Have other media created curiosity and can you convert that into use in a roleplaying game? Does the curiosity have to be experienced during play?
What is common to all well-regarded stories is uncertainty, the desire to discover what happens next, and conflict (i.e. competition) is just one of many ways that uncertainty can be generated.