RP Theory

Oct. 25th, 2009 01:35 am
jelost: (Default)
[personal profile] jelost posting in [community profile] storytellers
Given the sorts of ideas I've seen around this comm already, I'd like to open a discussion on RP Theory.

There are a thousand and one ways to run a roleplay, all of which cater to certain types of characters and all of which have the potential to be very successful or fail miserably. Unfortunately, most of my experiences have been with the latter.

The RP that I personally like the most is more of a collaborative novel than what most people would nowadays call a roleplay. (For the record, my favorite medium for RP is Google Docs.)

The mechanics of the theory go like this: All the players agree ahead of time on a setting, then show one another their character ideas and have discussion on how their histories and goals might be connected. (This makes for interesting reveals and plot twists later!) Once everyone is ready, someone is designated to make the first post.

The general rule during play is that if you make it, you're responsible for it. That goes for settings, NPCs, plot twists, etc. So let's say Bob introduces a town and three of the villagers; he therefore takes on a sort of moderatorship of the town and plays all the NPCs. When the characters leave the town, Sally introduces a wide field with a tower in the middle. She's now moderating this place, and only she can say what they'll find inside the tower.

The overarching plot of the RP actually lies in the histories and goals of the characters. The more the characters involve one another in their own problems and reveal their secrets, the more all their individual plots weave together and escalate all on their own.

The problem with this method is that you have to trust your fellow players to both be good at what they're doing and to keep your character in mind. Players unfamiliar with one another or hesitant to trust may need someone to take gentle charge and create a more linear storyline.

That's just my opinion though, and that's only out of the methods I've tried. Have you had any luck in alternative RP methods? What's your RP theory?

Date: 2009-10-25 05:58 pm (UTC)
From: [personal profile] amethystfirefly
This is exactly what I'd like, except with more of a "ruling council" of mods instead of having each player responsible for their own end of things. With a ruling council of mods, you end up with more of a chance of stability and less chance for characters to be forgotten or for settings to not suit the characters. It just makes it easier on the players, though it is a bit of a heavier toll on the mods. But it can be run really well if everyone's on the same page.

The downfall of the ruling council is that because of the heavy toll on the mods, you can get burnt out easily. And there's a chance for drama if someone's ideas are just better and get used often. As far as the first idea goes, I'd say that involving the player base in generating ideas and bringing them into play is always helpful. The second one is harder to mitigate, though. Perhaps giving people who come up with bad ideas often more of a responsibility in doing the backend of things--compiling history and setting posts coherently, administrating boards, working on coding if you have a webpage, etc.. If they feel helpful in other manners, and their good ideas are pounced upon, then they might feel less inclined to cause drama.

The White Tower was similar to this. We had a setting and worked within that setting. Plot ideas were thrown out by the admin and the admin developed them together, then brought them into play. Suggestions were always taken from the player base, but it was ultimately the admin that had final say on whether something would be used or not. A lot of things were far different from the canon version of our setting, so we would have to go and work out the history of how things got from there to us, so that people who were looking for playing in the world would see how we're aligned with it and how we're different.

I don't dislike the idea of having each person responsible for their part of things. I would just feel more comfortable with a council of mods, since my memory is shit and I don't trust myself not to forget something important. -laughs-
Edited Date: 2009-10-25 06:00 pm (UTC)

Date: 2009-10-25 09:11 pm (UTC)
From: [personal profile] amethystfirefly
Yeah. It was on a message board.

Honestly, I couldn't tell you how many people were involved. At our strongest, we probably had about 30 people, I think. -lol- It was a long time ago. Not everyone was a huge part of the big storylines, but we tried to make sure that everyone at least got a chance to participate.

In a perfect world, plotlines wouldn't die out, but this world isn't perfect, and plotlines did sometimes die out. But everyone had an idea of where their character was going, even if only vaguely, and that was the important part. And, honestly, sometimes that's the best way to go, because you can just go to the results of what happened, instead of focusing on what happened. If something's character-driven, the "how we got there" can easily be covered in flashbacks.

I'm not saying that plots are unimportant. They are. How else is your character going to evolve? But think about it. Look at your favorite novels. How do they show character evolution? How do they work plots? It's almost always episodes and snippets that lead to a general overarching plotline. And that's the way RP should be, in my opinion. Even if a plotline in RP dies, you can always focus on the character and how things went with the character.

(Oi. Does that even make sense?? :/)

As far as evolution of storylines go.. The general idea was set in stone, but how we got to that point was fluid. If there was a big battle, the admin would decide vaguely what the result was. Say our side won. But what happened to the characters and how we got to that point was fluid. Hell, even how strongly we won was fluid. The admin could say "Okay, this is how we're going to defend the city", but whether a person's character chose to go with that plan or not, well.. That was up to the player. The only thing that the admin worried about was if someone was Godmodding things up.

To me, if you're a player with a popular character, it's kind of your responsibility to help players establish their new characters. Imagine someone moving to a new school. You're going to have people who take them under their wings or people who bully them. But there's going to be interaction. There's always a way that you can somehow work that person in. It's just a matter of the people in the group being willing to do the work.

I think that's where a lot of RPs fail. People get in their little cliques and if you're not a specific type of person, they're not going to do the work of bringing you in. You have to have a group of people who are determined to find a balance between having groups of friends IC, and being open to new players.

I don't know if any of this helps. -lol- If it doesn't, I'm sorry. I'm kinda rambling here.

Date: 2009-10-27 03:15 pm (UTC)
dray: (Default)
From: [personal profile] dray
For me, my favorite method of RP to date has been one in which the mod gives all of the cues and the characters react (and act and help the plot evolve, even if the mod has the final say). There are millions of shit examples of this out there, and I've played in them, but going back to the one time that it did work, it's been my favorite to date because there was a long, rambling beginning, middle and end, above all things.

This kind of RP is like candy to me... I know it's taxing on the mod and that it's a lopsided balance of responsibility, so I have tried running similar games, myself. My level of responsibility is not high enough to single-handedly maintain that kind of game for more than a few months, though. And a lot of people only react with their characters, they give back one sentence for the paragraphs-work of the mod and it's just kind of a let down... which only exacerbates burnout. However, if the player is willing to have a character that picks up on the mod's cues (not to the point of railroading, or rather, enforcing a plot instead of allowing the game to evolve), and the mod is willing to indulge the character in their own rambling and wandering, but give them lots of options to get back into play... it's really lots of fun!

Straight up one on one RP where both sides are equally responsible for the upcoming events in a game are lots of fun too, but I find that they can go on forever and ever and ever, and wind up unfinished 99.9% of the time. There's also a problem when both sides are equally indecisive. "Well, what do you wanna do?" "I dunno... what do you wanna do?" 9_9 Oi vey. Just pick something and swing with it! (My girlfriend and I do this all the time in our game. *headdesk*) When it feels like both sides don't quite know how things are going to end up, a story can feel more daunting, too.

I also find that, in one on one games with somebody I've never met before, wordcount becomes a minor issue. I get a little intimidated if I'm confronted with a massive block of text repeatedly; performance anxiety, I guess. Or by strangers who sound demanding (perfect grammar, spelling, post length, fuck, even font size. XP) I think it's made me a little neurotic over the years because I very much want to please people and those people who are in it for the lulz (or for the stick-up-their-bums) get under my skin. XD

Wow, that turned into more of a rant than what my whole theory is about.

I guess my theory is to do a lot of research into other players, and to start off with cheesy games that aren't too epic, and are more for breaking the ice with the other player. Said theory includes being gentle on them if they're newbies and trying to help them become better players without jumping down their throats over observed errors in etiquette or whatever. It also includes being willing to toss a plot if it's going nowhere and starting again. Mostly over the year's it's been 'RP with those you know', because games that I've been invited to by a friend have almost ALWAYS been more interesting and successful than those that I randomly found and tried to enter on my lonesome. Strange but true!

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