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Creating Plot

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Creating Plot

Postby Sabrelon » Tue Aug 26, 2014 10:20 am

EltanimRas wrote:Tangent: Is it just me, or do other people find it much harder to be pro-active and create/seek plot when their PC is enlisted as a peon in a traditional, hierarchical clan? Should we be talking less about plot disparity** between players (which is pretty much inevitable) and more about plot disparity between [major] clans?

So, I like this Tangent, and think it would be interesting to discuss.

I'd say it's definitely a different kind of process to create plot and be pro-active while you're enlisted as a lower member of a large group. This is usually because people either think they: 1. Need some kind of OK from a higher up, or, 2. Don't know how to start it by themselves.

There's definitely enough correlation to point out the fact that the more "Successful" Neutral players, as well as the higher ups in clans, have a tendency to be older players. I wouldn't necessarily say that this means that those productive roles are going to consistently be held by such players, but I will say that it happens to be the case. I don't think this is a problem, by any means, as it's 100% possible to create plot and advance in a clan as someone who just started playing, if you really want to.

In my personal experience, though, when I'm not in a leadership position, and generally qualify as a 'peon' within a larger organization (95% of all of my characters fit this criteria) I find that it's easier to create personal plot and character interaction than it is to create scenarios that draw in tons of people.

My most plot-driven and, arguably, successful character I ever played was an artist who took no part in the larger goings on other than in the periphery, and had no real skills that helped the economy, or combat characters.

It's 100% possible to create certain types of plot at any point, it's just easier to do different kinds depending on what position your character has in the game world.
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Re: Creating Plot

Postby Songweaver » Tue Aug 26, 2014 10:56 am

For what it's worth, in my experience leading a clan usually somewhat reduces the amount of potential "plot" that I might get because I find myself spending time focusing on the organizational and structural needs of the other players in the clan.

That said, let's talk about plot, because this topic interests me.

How do we define "plot"? It gets used as a definitive term on the forums a lot, but I suspect that twenty different players would give at least ten different answers on how they'd define it.

For the sake of this argument, let's assume that plot can be defined as the reception of a Roleplay-Administrator's attention in the form of animated NPCs and echoes, often in coordination with an ongoing storyline.

The problem with this view, imo, is that it is reactionary. You wait for the RPAs to create a storyline, and then you react to the storyline. What if their storyline isn't one that your character would become a part of, or have any way of learning about? Then you are out of luck, and have "no plot." But that's really a choice that you've made by looking at plot as a reactionary thing.

Example One: A colony of spiders is infesting the woods near Utterby. The local forces rally together to burn their nests and make safe the forest again. This is a "plot" under our superficial definition.

Example Two: A madman woodcrafter believes that the stars have aligned and a great storm will destroy Utterby. So, he professes his beliefs to the townsfolk of Utterby and gathers any help he can in building a ship that won't sink with the coming Spring floods. Under our definition of "plot" above, if this madman is a PC, this scenario doesn't constitute being a plot.

Example Three: A group of outsiders to Utterby, strange and very much a counter-culture, decide to take up residence outside of the town. They built a fortified encampment, much to the dismay of the locals, and an uneasy tension and truce arises. According to our definition, this is not a plot, if the group of outsiders are played by players and not RPAs.

Example Four: An enterprising Guardsman, disgruntled with his low monthly pay, decides to do the unthinkable: he makes contact with the orcs of Vadok Mal to set up a black-market. The orcs have coin and no way to spend it, and he has access to superior weapons and armor. He sells human-made equipment to the orcs at a substantial profit, using town resources to help supply the town's own enemies. This, again, is not a plot?

Example Five: Two brothers lead the Guard, and fall in love with the same woman. One is virtuous and one is a self-destructive drunkard. The competition grows into a quarrel that threatens to destroy the unity of the Guard at a time when the Lodge's need to expand demands more of the sellswords. Again, is this not a plot?

When you stop looking at the ways in which you are limited, and start doing things without building invisible walls for yourself, you can at least try to do anything feasible in an RPI. That's the joy of it. Code supports your writing wherever possible, and where not, you can always try to do it anyways.

RPAs are always going to spend more time creating plots that demand an administrator's hand; this means combat. RPAs can always write a boat object for your madman, or throw echoes around to show that the Guard is at odds with itself, but those things don't typically require the same level of time commitment that combat stories do. And as half of the players of RPIs are combat-oriented, and most RPAs are combat-oriented players themselves, and there is a whole map outside of the thirty rooms in Utterby to explore at the risk of combat and interacting with dangerous or supernatural entities -- well, you can see where I'm going with this.

That's the heart of the disparity, and it's not a bad thing. I say this, because player-run plots are just as effective as admin-created plots, and by creating these stories yourself, you will only provide hooks for the RPAs to become more involved with your character and the town.

Demand the action of RPAs through your own proactivity and play, and not through the forum. That's the crux of what I'm suggesting.
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Re: Creating Plot

Postby Ava » Tue Aug 26, 2014 11:26 am

I don't know if the bolded line was intended for me, but I'm sorry if so. I'm a relatively new player and honestly don't know how this is supposed to work.

I'll try being more proactive, but I'm not even sure what that means. Petitioning? Journaling things I'm doing? Telling staff I'm doing things in tickets, hoping they respond favorably?

I'm not sure. I think I'm going to go back to just hoping people who play with me log on every once in a while, and just do my thing.
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Re: Creating Plot

Postby Songweaver » Tue Aug 26, 2014 11:45 am

Nah, that's not intended for you, but for everyone. I think you're vocalizing something that many players have felt or feel.

If your goal is to get admin attention, though, sure - use thinks and journals and set status and whatever other tools you want to get them invested in your character. But, primarily, I'm saying that the most effective way to get their attention is to demand it. A few examples:

- I burn down a rival blacksmith's house. There's no code for that. Have to get admins involved by petitioning up (if they weren't watching when I started the scene).

- I gather a few PCs up in town square to try to rile the locals up against the Hillmen. I petition up if the admins haven't noticed to see if they'll provide any echoes for vNPCs.

- I find a cave with a locked wooden door, and decide to cut down a tree, grab two guys, and battering ram it open. Again, I petition up.

- I build a ship designed to withstand the coming flood my madman's seen in his dreams. I pay other PCs to build it with me, or else I try to convince them of the importance of the work. I PM admins to say, "Hey. I'm going to attempt to build a ship at the dock ruins because of blahblahblah. How can I best go about doing this? I'd like to collaborate with you."

- The docks in town are rumored to be haunted. Your character, being intrigued by the supernatural, goes down to the docks at midnight and waits. Nothing happens. They look for signs of supernatural activity, or for perhaps a more realistic explanation of recent events. No response to your emotes or thinks. You petition up to the staff to let them know what you are doing.

Don't be timid, as a player, even if your character is timid. Be bold. The real trick is to make it fun for the RPAs to interact with your character. If they throw you a bone, get them hooked on your character. Get them to want to interact with you more. They, like the players, are looking for rewarding storytelling. Take some chances, shine as best you can, and your opportunities are likely to grow.
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Re: Creating Plot

Postby krelm » Tue Aug 26, 2014 12:10 pm

Personally, I find it a lot easier to get involved in plots when I'm playing a peon, as opposed to if I'm leading a clan. Like SW mentioned above, whenever I play clanleads I tend to get more wrapped up in organizational and structural duties, and often spend most of my time doing that rather than running around pursuing every rumour of a ghost or whatnot. Usually when I get involved in a plot as a clanlead it's me leading a bunch of guys to go burn something down or kill stuff and needing an admin's backing to get it done.

Of course, I usually play orcs, and as an orc, if you're not a leader you're a peon, so there's that. Also, I've been playing RPIs for a decade now, so my experiences probably wouldn't be the same as a newbie's.

I feel like SW's post is a pretty good guideline on how to find and get plot, though, newbie or otherwise.
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Re: Creating Plot

Postby EltanimRas » Tue Aug 26, 2014 12:26 pm

You know, sometimes other players can be a whole lot harder to get attention from than the RPAs are. Let's spend some time on that idea. What can you do to get other players to involve you in their plots?

1. Design a distinctive but not over-the-top PC. Take your time on your description, including, especially, your short description. Make it recognizable, make it interesting. Avoid clichés. Include a conversation starter or two -- an unusual scar, a tattoo, a small, dmoted virtual item. Have a dmote. Update it regularly.

2. Be visible; be visibly non-afk and available for RP. Don't sit at a table by yourself; sit at the bar. Sit on one of the benches outside. Use the pmote command. (Watch out for tables and following, which can mangle pmotes.) If you're idling alone in a room, try keeping a scene-setting emote pre-typed and ready to hit enter on when someone comes in. Notify (a few minutes after you log in, so as not to accidentally override someone else's). Answer other people's notifies. If you get a sphere-wide notify and you're not at the main RP hub, consider stopping by to check it out.

3. Start interactions. Don't wait for other people to talk to you; talk to them first. Ask them what they think about group X, or news item Y, or possibility Z. Ask for advice. Mistake strangers for people you know or are looking for or have heard wild (and possibly virtual) gossip about. Even if you're RPing with one or more people already, if you see another PC idling nearby, try to pull them in too. Don't be afraid to use personal notifies; most players will be flattered to get one.

4. Have secrets, but don't be too secretive about them. Drop hints. Make people curious. Don't dump your whole backstory on people the first time you meet them, but make sure they know you -have- a backstory. Give them a glimpse or two. Unfold slowly.

5. Be observant. React to other people's emotes, expressions, and tones of voice. React to their descriptions, react to their dmotes. Notice and comment on their personalities. Find the things that are unique about them. Most players love nothing better than to find someone who "gets" their PC.

6. Be interested, but don't be impatient. Ask people about their lives and about plots/groups you think they might be involved with, but don't insist they tell you everything at once. Be indirect. Be provocative. "What do you know about these shades haunting the town graveyard?" may not get you as far as either "Do you think Bob might come back as a shade too?" or "Hey, I heard that it's a girl who drowned herself that's haunting our graveyard. Do you think she might have been murdered?" (Where this last is a vNPC rumor you just made up!)

7. Don't give too many dead-end replies; keep scenes flowing. Don't make your RP partner come up with all the conversation topics.

8. Approach and interact with as many different PCs as possible. Learn their names and professions; try to find out something about their goals and interests. Circulate information; introduce people to each other. Help them get hired; help them get equipped.

9. Get people away from the crowd. Talk to them one-on-one. Join clans; find people in the clanhalls and crafting areas. Invite people to walk with you, or play some virtual game in the gambling den. Get them someplace less public; get them someplace less spammy.

10. Make up excuses to say yes to RP opportunities, even when your first instinct is that it's not something your PC would do.

11. Make board posts. Leave RP hooks in them. Give people reasons to talk to your PC. Make sure the people who have reasons know they have reasons.

12. Start your own mini-plots and invite other people into them. They'll return the favor. And if one person gives you a plot snippet, pass it or part of it on to another person or two.
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Re: Creating Plot

Postby EltanimRas » Tue Aug 26, 2014 2:40 pm

So, how to get involved with admin plots?

1. Check out all the great advice that's already been posted here and in the other thread. No, really. I already made one wall-of-text post here; I'm not repeating everybody else's advice too.

2. If you see an animation, even if it's just a little flavor thing, react. Acknowledge it in your RP; let your local RPA know you love him (or her).

3. If you hear some admin-plot-related stuff that's not already on the boards, post it up, even if you got it second- or third-hand. If you're like me and hate composing board posts in-game, do it in notepad, then cut and paste the whole thing at once. (And if your PC isn't the gossipy type, just ignore the 'so-and-so was seen spreading the following message' blurb and blame a vNPC. No one's going to complain.)

4. In line with Fulgrim's post on the other thread, if you hear there's an NPC who would know something about a plot you're interested in, feel free to hike over to him or her and petition up to see if anyone's available for an animation: "My PC wants to ask NPC X about plot event Y. Is anyone available to animate X?" Stand around 5 min or so before you give up. Set status can also work well for this: "set status want to talk Rosanna".

5. Give your PC some predictable motivations that admins can take advantage of, and make sure they're documented in your background and/or journal entries. Maybe he's a sucker for a pretty face, maybe he's insatiably curious. Maybe he's greedy. Maybe he won't tolerate anyone insulting his mother. Maybe he can never resist a noble lost cause. You get the idea.

5b. On that note, don't be afraid to let your PC do stupid things. Most admins aren't really out to kill you. Heard there's an evil spirit infesting your local iron mine? Be a skeptic, go down to prove to everyone else that there's nothing to be afraid of. Or be scared, refuse to go, have a vNPC call you a coward over it, then go to show them you aren't. Have your vNPC buddy tell you he lost his wedding ring down there and beg you to go look for it before his wife finds out. Make up a reason he can't go himself, or just have him fail to show at the appointed time, leaving you and the other PCs you've recruited to go in without him.

6. When you're about to do something stupid, feel free to petition up: "Hey, my PC's going down into the mine to check out these crazy rumors he's been hearing. Hopefully nothing's going to eat him, but I figured I'd give you a heads-up just in case it should." Once you're down there, whether you've petitioned or not, it's a good time to think: "Hah. Those fools, scared of their own shadows. Won't they be embarrassed when I come back up and tell them there's nothing down here."

7. If you want to do something -really- stupid, then consider petitioning first to ask: "Hey, my PC wants to go down into the mine and yell taunts at this supposed 'spirit'. Can I do it now, or should I wait for an admin to be available?"

8. And if you want to do something stupid with a bunch of other PCs, it may be worthwhile to schedule in advance, via support ticket: "I'm trying to set up a PRPT to check out these mine rumors with some other Guild PCs. Is Thursday at 7 p.m. EST cool with you guys?" (Depending which admin is handling the relevant plot, it may or may not be a good idea to PM them a link to the ticket, or you can make a public forum post: "Mines PRPT tentatively scheduled for Thu., 7 EST. Pending admin availability.")

9. Last but not least, often the easiest way to get an 'in' for an existing admin plot, my last post notwithstanding: Find a PC who's already involved. Sucker them into hooking you up, inviting you along on their PRPT, etc.

I made most of that up, so actual admins and/or more experienced players should feel free to correct me on any or all of it. ;)
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Re: Creating Plot

Postby Tepes » Tue Aug 26, 2014 7:30 pm

Personally, I want admin plot. Player plots can only go so far.
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Re: Creating Plot

Postby gyre » Wed Aug 27, 2014 2:40 am

I've never struggled to get involved with admin plots on various games over the years. Here's my take in addition to EltanimRas' suggestions, which all look great.

Make characters with IC goals that don't rely on admin interaction
I pick something my character wants to achieve that gives me purpose. It's usually something big and loose enough that it's not easily achievable and is flexible enough to accommodate plot should it come my way. That way, I'm not reliant on plot if it doesn't happen to fall into my lap.

Write hooks into your characters
Anything from grudges to dark secrets to hopes and dreams. You never know if an admin will read it and find it interesting.

Make characters are not capable of solving things by themselves
Be it physical weakness, fear or any number of other things, if you make characters that actively need other characters to help, it's a lot easier to pull those other people in.

Expand and make connections

If something happens, let it influence your character. Worry about it, dream about it, come up with your own theories and stances and dig deeper. I can eke out a single pecho for weeks!

Make it personal
Not every plot is actually about your character, but you can make it so it is (sort of). Maybe this upcoming threat is similar to one that killed a childhood friend, or is your deepest, darkest fear.

Use think/feel, journal and plan
It might not be for everyone, but it's a lot easier to get inside a character's head if you do. I like using journal for tiny short stories of dreams, significant things that I might want admins to know but can't be sure they've seen, sometimes history/past stuff. Plan too is great. My short term plan sometimes changes daily.

Share things
Sure, sometimes there is secret plot that happens and you can't ICly justify telling people, but you can make board posts/talk in public areas/not hide yourself away. If it's not, talk to lots of people, ask questions. This is probably the most important point because if admins know you're good at spreading plot about, it tends to come your way!

Don't rush it
People have different play times, as do admins. Not everything has to be done instantly. Even if it's urgent IC, you can usually come up with a reason why it can't happen as soon as you find out about it. This gives other people a chance to get involved.

Be there
If you're involved in a scene with admin attention, do stuff. Even if you're silent/thinking/not actually involved, if you hang about rather than just walking off or staying quiet, there's more chance you'll get hooked in.

Don't be a dick
Even if your character is, don't be one OOC. Personally, I'm a lot less likely to want to share anything plot related with people who consistently spam walks past me, ignores my IC actions without playing it out etc.

It's not about winning
Sometimes, achieving your IC goal isn't what's important, don't hold on too tightly to plot on an OOC level. This can be really hard if your character is passionate about something and is actively working for one thing when others are working against them. Ultimately, letting other people in is good, go with the flow, let bad things happen to your character. It's all part of the fun.
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Re: Creating Plot

Postby Rivean » Wed Aug 27, 2014 5:27 am

Somebody should sticky these posts somewhere.
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Re: Creating Plot

Postby ThinkTwice » Wed Aug 27, 2014 5:36 am

I'd like to weigh in on the fact that there's almost a gratuitous amount of plots floating around right now for people to get involved in. It's been said before, but I'll say it again:

If you want to be involved, get involved.

A few days ago, I was involved in a scene where an admin was echoing the presence of several vNPCs for an important plot conversation. The discussion was held in the middle of the Ironwood. People would open the door, scan in, close the door. Walk in, see echoes, walk out. Walk in, loiter, throw out some non-targeted emote, walk away. The conversation continued elsewhere and none of the PCs that saw it tried to get involved in any way. Total, besides myself, there were probably 6 or 7 other players that saw what was happening and did nothing. Hey, if you don't wanna be involved, that's cool, but it's a hard thing to log onto the forums and see people talking about how the plots are too hard to get into right after that happens. :evil:
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Re: Creating Plot

Postby Fulgrim » Wed Aug 27, 2014 1:28 pm

What ThinkTwice is trying to get across is, a lot of the time animations going on might have an "avenue" that starts in an accessible and visible location. About as often as they start with "lures" outside the walls or up in clanhalls or whatever.

Sometimes just being nosy or butting in is one way to worm your way into a scene. If that's not something your character would do, that's understandable, but then you know, half the time unless you had a reason to approach an NPC or a PC, both, you wouldn't?

I mean of course not. We have the ability to generate RP more flexibly as players than we do as admins, IMO.
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