Weekly Plotter #1

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Joined: 11 May 2005
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Location: Paris

PostPosted: Tue May 17, 2005 12:11 pm    Post subject: Weekly Plotter #1 Reply with quote

This post is the first in a weekly series that is designed to assist roleplaying administrators with plot planning and execution. We'll be starting with simple plots and moving towards the planning of complex storyarcs. The entire MudLab.org community is invited to participate.

Weekly Plotter #1 - The Sword of Ancients

In GFM (Generic Fantasy MUD), you've been charged with creating a simple plot for ten extremely active PCs with roleplaying abilities ranging from moderate to strong. The group of PCs has adventured together before, though they do not all belong to the same class/race/guild/clan/organization. The plot will revolve around the search for a powerful weapon known as The Sword of the Ancients. You'll be working alone on this project, without the assistance of other RP administrators.

Plot it out! What do you need to take into consideration? What's your first step? Do you run the event in one session, or does it develop over time? Explain your process below.
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Joined: 18 May 2005
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PostPosted: Wed May 18, 2005 2:49 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

In order to actually generate a bit of discussion, I'll start I suppose. I should point out that I'm not an Imm on a game or anything like that. Just someone who enjoys RP.

So, first things first. Because of the number of people involved, I'd imagine the event would be spread out over several sessions. There is just too much possiblity of tangents in an event that sounds epic (searching for the Sword of the Ancients).

The amount of time necessary sort of depends on the players and what sort of things develop from them. Basically, it depends on how much hand holding you have to do. Do you need to point them in the right direction and they do most of the work? Do you have to drop fairly heavy hints at every corner?

I personally would suggest mostly sitting back and monitoring those involved, and reacting to the stimuli they provide. Do they try and get the Old explorer drunk to spill his secrets about how to get into the secret mine? Or do they just threaten to kill his grandchild? This is where it gets tough. Do they have to find the Sword or could they fail miserably? How important to the overall theme is this plot, etc etc.

Now, the biggest hurdle to overcome is if the players don't all play at the same time. How do you get them to work towards their goal if they have minimal contact with each other? Or perhaps some of them are set against the others? I suppose that is something that would develop over time.

Second consideration to me would be what is needed for the event, Imm wise? Do you need to create some NPCs ready to have on hand to act as motivators? Do you need to have any particular objects made in advance (besides the sword of course). Prior Planning Prevents Piss Poor Performance, as they say.

Third, how do others outside the event play into it? Roleplaying tends to create a short term "cult of personality" so to speak, in which everyone wants to be in the limelight, either directly or indirectly. You have to plan for extra people, which can easily cause a situation to get out of control and away from where you wanted to go with it originally. And of course, there are those few who will simply try to ruin the RP any way they can.

I'd do something like this:

  • Possessed NPCs go talk to the 10 key players, either to get them together or set some of them off on their own.

  • Players generally begin rudiments of RP, and lay the groundwork for later stages.

  • Imm nudges players forward if needed.

  • Players RP, work towards goal.

  • Imm nudge (if needed)

  • Player RP

  • Ad naseum as necessary.

Now, you have to plan for the eventuality that it may just fall apart. I'm not too sure how you'd go about that actually. But I think having a good fall back plan for catastrophy is a good idea.

I must admit, the idea well has sort of ran dry, but likely because I'm tired. Maybe tomorrow if I have some time, I can come up with better explanations of some of the aspects.
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PostPosted: Sun May 22, 2005 5:56 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

I'm running it myself so I will have to set aside however much time I choose to dedicate toward this project and I must be rigid with this- and that time must coincide with all the participants. If they have grouped together before than I can assume they share playing times or can. The quest is for "the sword of the ancients"- so either it will be geared towards combat oriented players or is being located on behalf of one- maybe a god. I would set it up initially as a one session event but leave it open for growth possibility- for a total length dependant on my schedule but probably no more than 3 or 4 sessions. The way I would do that is the following: All those involved will be given one of three "dreams" to initiate the event.

The first dream geared towards good-aligned non-combat types would come in the form of a god warning them that an evil wizard/warlord was searching for a powerful weapon that was said to wield unearthly powers and that this weapon must not fall into enemy hands. No more than that will be divulged- I want to see whether the players decide to: destroy, hide, or keep the weapon on their own- classic tolkien type stuff Smile. Also they will know the most about the item but not be told where to begin.

The second dream would be geared towards evil non-combat types who would be fed a hypnotic mantra about gathering a great weapon for coming struggle, and that a thief in town knows something he shouldn't. That is all- the dream should emphasize that they have been strongly influenced to seek out this weapon but not say anything about why and who for- I want to see how they accept and play the hypnosis and I want them to know where to begin but not what they are doing.

All warrior-types will dream of a no-faced hero wielding a mighty sword and destroying many enemies with it, and standing victoriously over the slain. then they will see a thief sitting in the town tavern looking over a scroll with that image on it and text that reads, "the sword of the ancients". I want to see whether the warriors see the hero as themself or as a potential enemy and I also want to give them the main keywords that the others will need for the quest.

Now I will need a thief (me) and a map in the town tavern. The rest of the event will be based on gleaning information from the deleriously frightened thief. And then taking the journey his map suggests. During the journey each player type will receive more pieces to the backstory- but every time the good-types will receive only messages that emphasize the weapon has great power and that in the wrong hands it can do great evil- they will always know the most about the weapon but never what to do about it. The evil-types hypnotic messages will emphasize that the weapon is needed- they will be told where to go and what to do but never any information about what the weapon is or what it does. The warrior types will dream about the no-faced warrior and its history, and they will always see the events as if through someone elses point of view- this should further confuse them as to whether they are the faceless warrior or not.

I am not interested in making this a cryptic or even a shopping list quest-type role play event I am more interested in seeing how each person involved perceives and acts on his own knowledge and the knowledge gleaned from the other players- what will they tell, what will they keep secret? Each one has the same objective but different goals, and even those with the same dreams may perceive their goals differently- who will convince who which path is best, how will they do it and what will their reasoning be?

they will not be allowed to get the sword until they all decide what to do with the weapon. This may include eliminating the minority dissenters (use your imagination). I imagine there are only four possible solutions: 1) bring the sword to the wizard 2) one person will keep the sword 3) the sword will be destroyed 4) the sword will be hidden/trapped. The latter two will prompt a new roleplay event that will have to be worked out based on the player suggested solution to this event. The second solution will end in the player receiving a very nice item (but with some serious and interesting side effects: i.e. turn them undead and make the weapon permanent wield would be cool.) The 1st solution would require more thought on my part as to how to continue this event, I would probably pull some plot twist where the thief was in fact the wizard but could not get the sword himself because of the God's enchantments on the area- once given the sword he disappears promising to call on his minions once he is ready to prepare his onslaught on the followers of light (future rp event involving these heroes as minions).

Another possible twist would be that the evil warload-magi is the evil soul of the weapon and that once obtained if solution 1 is chosen the sword chooses its victim/host and of course chooses the thief (me- who has been travelling with them as a guide) who then becomes the evil-incarnate and does the same disappear vow thing as mentioned before... I think I like this better.

Im kind of a minimalist and I am often more interested in player psychology than storyline but this method has the added effect of letting the players be their own guides essentially and I just need to be there to prod it along every once in a while should it get bogged down.
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