Making and running plots

General discussions of games, players, ideas, and Pern canon.
MFritz
Posts: 14
Joined: Mon Jun 09, 2008 7:03 am

Making and running plots

Postby MFritz » Tue Jul 29, 2008 3:14 pm

I don't know how often this topic has been approached before, but seeing as how the old forum database no longer exists, I might as well do so.

What do you all think makes for a good plot? I don't mean specific examples or ideas (I'm not trying to take advantage of your creative minds), but in how they are made or run?

Do you prefer a one shot event? Or one that flows along over weeks evolving with how each scene is acted out? Do you think plots should be more rigid in design making for less variation but more cohesion or exactly the opposite, with the ending not even know to the creator?

I'd appreciate any input and would be glad to hear your opinions!

firstsight
Posts: 72
Joined: Mon Jul 07, 2008 8:25 am

Re: Making and running plots

Postby firstsight » Tue Jul 29, 2008 4:23 pm

I think the best kind of plot is one where the author of the TP has clear vision on how it "should" go, but be flexible enough to go with any sudden changes and tweak ideas to fit how it's actually played.

I personally like multi-plots with individual arcs that all come together at the end: with each arc or different facet of the plot being playable by multiple people, and with facets that can even include potential "outsiders".

I think the *best* TPs I've ever seen, though, ultimately come down to the author, or someone who picks up the torch, and sees out the plot. Perseverence, I suppose, is the best trait for *any* plot, because it could be the best idea in the world, but if someone flakes out midway, how would anyone else even know?

Googaplex
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Re: Making and running plots

Postby Googaplex » Wed Jul 30, 2008 9:24 am

I agree with klahsipper; something flexible, and something driven by active people, who write up plot memos and keep constant updates with everyone on what's going on.

My biggest need to see in a TP? Weyr-wide involvement. The best TP's have always been the ones that actually almost require that everyone participate. If there's a trade-development between Ista and Fort, it's not going to effect Joe Schmoe kitchen worker. TPs can't just involve the higher-ranking members of the Weyr, or even JUST the lower-ranking. Something that effects everyone has a higher probability of working as a great TP.

Good TPs should either center around drama or comedy. Politics are, honestly, boring. Mystery? Even more boring. You ran out of supplies? Eh. Things keep disappearing around the Weyr? Probably not going to it it off. While I would LOVE to see relation problems between Weyrs, Holds, and Crafts, it's not something that should be a short-term fun RP. A deadly disease, wiping out everyone's family? Points for drama. A 'game month' where half of the Weyr is pitted against the other half? Comedy points. It has to be something that people go "OOOO! That sounds like FUN, and will help me build my character!"

If it doesn't effect their character enough to cause an impact, it won't really fly.

Gathers? Fun in principle, fun to read in books... Not fun to go to and play at. Sorry to everyone that likes them, but I admit to not attending them any more because they're all the same. Look at booths, chat with random folks, dance on the dance floor, watch a show at the end. It'd be much more fun if there was haggling with shop-keepers, a little devil pickpocketing everyone in the fair, a drunk ripping down tents as he rambles about, a knife-fight breaking out... Maybe I'm just not easily entertained, haha. ^^

polka
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Location: HT / NC / PW

Re: Making and running plots

Postby polka » Wed Jul 30, 2008 11:08 am

My idea of a good TP?

Nothing that SOW @ SC comes up with. It's tiring to see the same old weather-plot again and again and again with little to no development of anyone involved. You know, except for the egos of the people who came up with the plot.

I like to see something different, which is why I like to gives kudos to TGW and HRW @ NC for their Crom plot: it was different, new, and stimulated multiple areas and produced repercussions that are still being played out.

Minion
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Re: Making and running plots

Postby Minion » Wed Jul 30, 2008 12:25 pm

A good TP should never run more than about 3 RL weeks. Why? After that people lose interest, wander off, get sucked into RL. A month long or months long TP? What are the odds you're going to be able to wrap it up with even half the people who started it? For those that complain that's not long enough, well, other plots can be run. Lots of fast short plots are more fun (yes, yes, to me I know it's subjective) than one that goes on for six months because everyone wants to be involved but half the players can only log into a game twice a month for one hour.

It should never hinge on one or two people because that will surely stall it. As much information as possible should be thrown out to as many people as possible. And for the love of all that's holy when people do take an interest do not put them off going 'I am waiting for so and so to get involved.' Well, great that so and so is getting a plot, but if that's the case don't offer it to everyone. Personal plots are nifty and fun, but if that's what you're doing then don't try to say everyone can do something.

Political plots are heaps of fun with the right people. If you're going to run one make sure those involved can stand to lose because guess what? In politics there is always a loser.

DO NOT run your plot on rails. I do not want to know the ending is already figured out. If there's no chance of changing the outcome then why am I bothering to get involved? I want to change the world even if only in some small way.

If you're going to run an assault/murder plot then please let the one responsible be an NPC so he or she can, you know, pay for their crimes. I hate, hate, hate the way most Pern players refuse to let bad things happen to their PC no matter what they do. It's why I so rarely find one I can play on. If someone goes around attacking people and other PCs are actively looking for you then no you cannot keep getting away from it and never be punished.

Plots, like pretendyfuntimegames are NOT Serious Business. They should be fun. If I am involved in a plot I want time to do other things as well. Good plot spins off all sorts of non-plot scenes and I would like to enjoy those as well.

Here's the big one. We've all heard it said. We've all said it. EVENTS ARE NOT PLOTS. Lady Terwilliger's birthday party is not a plot. It is an event. An event that could kick off a plot. Or conclude a plot. Or even provide a crucial piece of information to solving a plot, but it is not a plot itself. No, do not tell me your firelizard hatching is a plot. It is not kthx.

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Mayhem
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Re: Making and running plots

Postby Mayhem » Wed Jul 30, 2008 12:55 pm

Minion has some great points.

I like long plots, but there has to be a certain point. I think the exception to this would be natural disasters of some sort, because those often have a long-term effect on the economy and etc. I didn't used to be a fan of natural disasters because they were so overused, but I've been enjoying taking advantage of the overall attitude of the recent flooding of Ista on HT. I just wish more people would do the same instead of the only difference it making is that there are occasional news posts, you know?

TPs should be planned with a general timeline, yet flexible for change. Cool, there's a murder and they caught the guy! What, someone jumped in and decided to become a copycat killer? Now we have a serial murderer on our hands and you need to be scared of going down the tunnels late at night? Sign me up! Take advantage of the "small town mentality" of areas, where the gossip gets blown out of proportion (so long as it's not stupid gossip like "omg did you SEE what she was wearing, Matilda?" or who-slept-with-who in a weyr setting). And, like Minion said, let the one responsible be a NPC of some kind, perhaps made a temporary PC by an interested player, so they can properly pay for their crimes. If you can find an established PC who's really willing to go through with the ICA=ICC of it all, more power to them.

Political plots have become the new natural disaster plot. They're very ho-hum and usually only the people higher on the totem pole have much fun playing them. There's always an area that hates another area and refuses to tithe, there's always someone trying to uproot the leadership and take over themselves ... making things too complicated really confuses the people who aren't politically savvy, as well.

Minion
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Re: Making and running plots

Postby Minion » Wed Jul 30, 2008 1:56 pm

The thing is, there are all kinds of politics. It doesn't have to be the Lord/Lady holder v the Weyrleader. It can be two people vying for the Headwoman spot. One cook trying to make a rider look bad so her boyfriend rider gets to be wingsecond. Think of your local town. Not only are there presidential/prime minister/whatever elections. You've got the governor, the mayor, the city council, heck the school board and assorted county seats.

Maybe you're not so interested in the weyrleader because in the laundry room what could change? But a new headwoman? A new head laundress? That will bear directly with your life. That you might be interested in. The trick is to tailor the political plot to the people who want to be in it. Just an apprentice? You might not be so interested in who gets to be master next. But those journeymen slots? Those you might scheme over.

Not to say politics cannot be overdone, but ANY type of plot can be overdone. Me, I hate natural disaster plots with a passion. Give me scheming leaders any day.

firstsight
Posts: 72
Joined: Mon Jul 07, 2008 8:25 am

Re: Making and running plots

Postby firstsight » Wed Jul 30, 2008 6:05 pm

I think it doesn't really matter what sort of plot it is. It matters how much enthusiasm there is behind it. Because honestly, we all hate natural disaster TPs, but sometimes, if they are done correctly, they can actually be very good.

I think with something like that the level of participation really is key. Unless you have everyone on board and willing to incorporate elements of the TP into their day-to-day RP, it's going to be useless.

Then again, I think that goes for all TPs.

Oh, and a "x2!" from me on whoever said "TPs over 3 weeks can KMA." Because honestly... Heck, IC Search/Candidacy lasts only, what, a month? And everyone's ready for it to be over at the end, and there's shiny bits of code and baited breath involved! ... So yeah. I agree with that. Two weeks, I feel, is a good length of time for any one singular TP. Now, TPs that involve prior TPs, or that build on old TPs, are a different story, but those are over-arcing "megaplots". Those can be really good, if done right. ;P

edited to remove annoying yellow smilie-face.

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Nutmeg
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Re: Making and running plots

Postby Nutmeg » Wed Jul 30, 2008 8:46 pm

IMHO, a one off event is not a TP. It's an event. There might be a series of events that are part of a TP or support a TP, but they are not in and of themselves, a plot.

I'm a fan of 2-3 months for plot arcs because it seems to me that that's about how long it takes for them to really develop fully. It takes a little while to get TP threads established, draw players in and then between player schedules and so on and so forth, the bulk of a plot probably plays out over the course of a month for a really meaty good one.

I'd say that 2 weeks to a month is okay for a short/mini-TP that has very defined beginning and end points, but more complex plots need a little more time for people to really settle into them.

Ideally, lots of info shared out and flexibility for people to just contribute. See TGW/HRW@NC Crom Plot and assorted subplots for a good application of this. There was RP at the higher-up level, there was RP amongst the lower caverns Staff and anyone who didn't get or want to get more involved could react/talk about what was going on.

One problem though that seems common with TPs is that frequently the TP architect winds up with a mixed bag player-wise with some very able to keep the IC/OOC line clear and who 'play to the plot' and don't take advantage ICly of information that they have OOCly, and then others who don't respect that line and tank the plot for everyone else.

So on the one hand, yes, being open and stuff is good, but there also has to be a certain amount of care taken by the plot architect to make sure that Joe Player isn't running amok with the plot too, because that shuts players out as surely as tailoring things too much for the higher-ups can.
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Pyrene
Posts: 111
Joined: Sun Jun 08, 2008 6:06 pm

Re: Making and running plots

Postby Pyrene » Thu Jul 31, 2008 12:36 am

I agree with most of the points that have already been made, although IMO, the most important thing for any plot is people RPing it. I remember once organising a plot that was supposed to have levels that the whole Weyr could play to. To this end, we had a bunch of feature characters created: some contesting for weyrleadership, others destined to cause ripples further down the chain. Unfortunately, most of those characters were never played, meaning that the plot ended up revolving around the weyrleaders which more or less defeated the point of the weyr-wide TP.

Politics can definitely apply to more than the leadership of an area though, and my advice there is to think smaller not bigger. I remember a headwoman/headman changeover once that hinged on an outbreak of fleas in the lower caverns. I think the more trivial the subject matter, the more likely it is that the average player will feel confident enough to participate, and it's those average players you need to encourage, if you don't want to burn out the handful of people running it.

pillow-fight
Posts: 24
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Re: Making and running plots

Postby pillow-fight » Sun Aug 17, 2008 4:26 pm

Googaplex wrote:Gathers? Fun in principle, fun to read in books... Not fun to go to and play at. Sorry to everyone that likes them, but I admit to not attending them any more because they're all the same. Look at booths, chat with random folks, dance on the dance floor, watch a show at the end. It'd be much more fun if there was haggling with shop-keepers, a little devil pickpocketing everyone in the fair, a drunk ripping down tents as he rambles about, a knife-fight breaking out... Maybe I'm just not easily entertained, haha. ^^


Off-topic, but I'm wondering if you've /been/ to one of Boll's Gathers on DF? Cause...that's like /exactly/ what goes on then. ^.^

Googaplex
Posts: 116
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Re: Making and running plots

Postby Googaplex » Sun Aug 17, 2008 4:52 pm

pillow-fight wrote:Off-topic, but I'm wondering if you've /been/ to one of Boll's Gathers on DF? Cause...that's like /exactly/ what goes on then. ^.^


I've never played on DF, so, no. Definitely would make me happy to see, but unfortunately I'm too burnt out on two games to try another.


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