Good post Kestrel!!
As for me, I know I'm rather new to this game, only been playing for a few days now. Please don't take any of this as complaints, just casual observations. A few things I'd like to point out:
I think it's difficult to expect a big turnout for an event that seems to have been planned the day before. Also, I think having three to five (maybe six) players for an event like we had last night would be enough. Once you get to six and beyond, then it just causes more confusion and people waiting on each other or not wanting to take initiative or omote'ing over someone else's omote. People trying to take turns while others try to type up a response, then by the time they get it all typed in, two others have already moved the plot forward. Anyway, to me, just seems like last night we had a good number AND good fun.
When threads start out "Big event thing!" and then start the next day, that doesn't really give everyone time to put it on their calendar or make sure that they're able to participate. Another thread stated plainly, "Running Some Crap Tomorrow". I'm not against this at all, but just stating that for planning purposes, it'd be better to give folks three days or so, iron out some details, put out a solid start time and such, but then again, I like smaller RPT groups anyway, unless we're raiding.
I can't check the forums at work and it wasn't until after I already had an approved player that I discovered where the forums -really- were. I kept finding the old forums.
Anyway, I can't check these throughout the day while at the office and once I get home from work, I have a large family, so some days I'm not really able to check the forums of even log into the game. Announcing an RPT the day before it happens isn't always going to allow me enough time to plan or respond to the thread. :/
Next, when you have three players or so logged and ready to go, then sitting around and waiting for a certain player to show up is a morale killer as well. If you have a start time, stick to it and let the other players catch up. Or once you have three to four players, go do great things. We were near enough last night to the login point that we could have started earlier rather than sitting there and waiting. Just an observation.
I agree with what some others have said about the Orc sphere being a niche. Myself, since this game is new to me, when I die, yes, I'll be tempted to try the Human sphere, simply because I haven't tried it yet. That won't mean that I have something against the Orc sphere, just that I've tried it and now want to try a different part of the game. That's all.
That, and maybe if we had some Swedish bikini orcs.... J/K!!
As for how to improve, I agree with Kestrel in that folks -do- like to improve their skills when they can. While yes, this is an RPI Mud, there is still a skill list and folks do still like to "train" their character up so they can feel useful. The other day, I meandered around the tunnels hunting rats. Couldn't even really land a hit on one. Boy, does that make you feel useless, especially when you've designed your character to be a combat-focused one.
On the same hand though, please don't take this as me saying I want to kill, kill, kill every chance I get. No, but hosting regular hunting times or maybe spacing them out so it's starting at 6 CST on Mondays and Thursdays, 7 CST on Tuesdays and Fridays, 8 CST on Wednesdays and Saturdays, this way you can (hopefully) cover most people's peak times.
Also, leaders, let underlings do most of the killings. It's no fun when somebody OOC's "everyone stop fighting" just to have one of the leader PCs kill the rat. Everyone wants to kill the rat!! So why not let the underling characters do it? And if it takes them five minutes to kill the rat, then we can all mock or cheer, whichever, but at least it'll be more RP. Having one person do the slaying just to get it over with isn't all that great.
I play on another Mud that, when a hunting party gets together, it usually seems that the stronger character/s do the actual killing. They do the hunting to spot the creature, then when we get there, they kill the critter in three hits, without even allowing the new or underling character even a chance to hit it. THAT is no fun. So basically, all my character becomes is a wallflower, a tag-along that gets to watch somebody else flex and show how awesome they are. -yay- :/ Let underlings put their skills (or lack thereof) on display and let them feel like a real contributor to the RP.
So before this gets too long-winded, I'll try to wrap it up.
1. Set a solid start time days in advance and stick to it.
2. Allow underlings to actually get in on the "action" scenes.
3. Keep RPT groups with only 3-5 players (unless raiding).
4. Set-up a daily schedule like above for hunting parties and/or training, whatever. Doesn't have to be daily, but you get the idea.
5. Allow for players to "get away with" things so long as they are far enough away from the camp to do so.
Sorry, I feel like I need to explain that last point. On another game I play, whenever I've tried to play a sneaky character, if I do something the imms aren't happy with, then they "magically" find a way for someone to find out about it and soon I have authorities on me. That dark alley that was abandoned? Well, there just HAPPENED to be someone hiding behind a wooden crate who just HAPPENED to be a snitch for the militia, even though my character is operating somewhere the militia doesn't have jurisdiction, now all of a sudden, they are taking a negative interest in me.
So yeah, imms, if somebody does something that's against the IC rules, but they do it away from the camp or whatever, please don't play the omniscient leader and magically "know" about what transpired because there was an orc sneaking in the woods that saw what you did, or whatever. Just let them get away with it and wait for the next time they break the IC rules, only within an area that they can legitimately be observed by others doing so. It'll happen. And if it doesn't, that just makes it all the more challenging for that character and fun for the player to keep their IC Illegal activities concealed. If two or three orcs go out hunting and one of them doesn't come back, sure, it's fine to ask what happened to the other orc, but let the players try to come up with a convincing explanation. It'll be more fun and a couple of times or more, it'll be noticeable to the leadership that whenever somebody goes hunting with a certain orc, they haven't been coming back to the camp. What are the odds?!?!
NOW we have something to look into and stir up more RP. There are a number of ways to handle this.
Finally, so needless to say, I've -really- been enjoying my time with the Orcs. It has been some fun and interesting RP. Keep up the solid work and don't take this post as a bunch of negativity. It was asked why the small turn-out and then what could be done to better the numbers and get people to stick around. I hope that you feel I've answered both of those questions without being negative or snarky.
No leader is perfect, and if they are, then it's because they don't have any followers.