Plotted versus plotless scenes


  • Admin

    Hey folks, I wanted your opinion or something.

    Maybe I'm wrong about this but have you noticed a shift toward 'plotless' scenes in the last few months?

    What I mean is that very generally speaking player-ran events on MU* tend to fall into certain categories:

    1. Something with a plot. There's a ring of thieves in town and someone's hired the characters to hunt them down.

    2. A 'slice of life' scene. Typically one-shots, they're mostly about giving characters something to react to. Characters in a 7/11 when two masked guys come in to rob the place! What do you do?!

    3. Plot-less social scenes. Family get-togethers, beach parties, let's-plan meetings.

    I seem to be seeing less of the first happening than I used to but that might just be my impression, what does it look like from where you're playing?



  • I mentally break them down like this, by the numbering provided:

    1. This is a plot, consisting of multiple, ongoing scenes. It may or may not be a series of +events.

    2. This is a one-shot, typical of the 'monster of the week' style encounter, self-encapsulated. It may or may not be an +event. It is not a plot, as it is not ongoing. People still tend to call these plots, they're just one-shot-plots.

    3. This is a social event. May or may not be an +event. Not a plot.

    All have value, purpose, and all require planning and prep. All should be valued by game runners, because they have purpose, and they all require planning and prep. Not all of them are valued by all players equally, but they don't have to be -- different strokes for different folks and all that.



  • Unfortuantely, I find myself only with the time for the 3rd, plotless scenes lately. Any time action pops up, I'll bow out because those sorts of scenes will drag on for hours with dice rolls, and people showing up to include themselves because OMG plots! Or one player wanting to include the whole gang because everyone wants to play all of a sudden. This is sad, because my favourites are slice of life scenes that turn into action scenes.


  • Admin

    @SG said in Plotted versus plotless scenes:

    Unfortuantely, I find myself only with the time for the 3rd, plotless scenes lately. Any time action pops up, I'll bow out because those sorts of scenes will drag on for hours with dice rolls, and people showing up to include themselves because OMG plots! Or one player wanting to include the whole gang because everyone wants to play all of a sudden. This is sad, because my favourites are slice of life scenes that turn into action scenes.

    Interesting, because that's the opposite of my experience - well, kinda. I find purely social scenes tend to attract a ton of players, making them spammy and directionless (well, more so than usual). I guess in @surreality's chart of different strokes for different people, that's my kryptonite, crowds. :)



  • @Arkandel Social scenes allow for a lot more 'come and go' than plots, though, in a way that makes it a lot easier to find an excuse to step out (if it becomes too much) or join (typically without a need to pre-plan for it or sign up in advance). It makes them a lot more flexible, but also limits what can be done with them in some respects for the same reasons.


  • Admin

    @surreality Hm, you're right, I hadn't thought of that.

    I guess that, other than the crowding issue (it's far easier to figure out a reason no-more-than-five people would be present for a party that goes down the sewers to hunt kobolds than for a family meeting) my preference is also due to the fact these kinds of social scenes can happen organically but plotted multi-part stories absolutely cannot.



  • Most games become plotless because staff are clueless, tools and trust aren't established to empower players to create, and folks get too precious about fucking digital avatars. If on a game you can't get in an actual fucking plot that has good risk & reward within the first month, move the fuck on; it's a dying (or dead) game and you're not in the clique.

    And by plots, I don't mean fires in the city. Jeebus.



  • @Arkandel Some types can -- others can't without setting some things up in advance.

    Though I've flinched through almost every one of them I've ever attended on a MUX, I wouldn't, for instance, improv the average MUX wedding out of the blue. There's usually a shit-ton of stuff that requires setup time and whatnot involved in that sort of thing. The same is true for a scene set at an IC political rally or debate, performance or competition of some kind, too -- there's prep involved there on the part of the people running things despite these being 'social events', and often on the part of many of the players involved as well, that is the kind of thing best allowed to have some advance notice.



  • @FiranMEH Downvoted for improper comma-ing.



  • @Kanye-Qwest I just downvoted it for shitty overgeneralization and uselessness re: the conversation on the whole going anywhere productive; I am a simple creature, but goddamn do I hate oversimplified minds.

    (Read: Wow, it's so much more complex than that, @FiranMEH, but you keep on doing you if it works for you!)


  • Pitcrew

    I think staff has little to do with the actual amount of plot. Staff run plots are wonderful but pretty much ever mush I have been on including DM way back in the day most plot were player run, the term PRP was never used but they folks who RP together a lot would get together and someone would be like Hey lets do this. And Plot would happen.

    Now things are a lot more organized which I can see the pros and cons of but the majority of plot is still in the hands of the players.
    I haven't noticed a large trend one why or the other but then I have also tended to avoid most of the +event sort of random PRPs anyway so I wouldn't notice a lack of those numbers.



  • I don't really give a toss about down-votes, but if that makes you feel like your digital e-peen is big, then you keep on going. It means nothing, like all things. Even what I'm writing here!

    @surreality Arkandel was generally complaining that shit on games is moving towards plotless and wanting to know why, so I gave a handful of general reasons why you'd be seeing that. If you want specifics, then give specifics and I'll do my best to respond.

    The only shit-ton of stuff I could think for plots is that you actually have drafted out multiple points and possible derivatives so that the players in the group dictate the direction and you adjust. Weddings, debates, rallies, performance or competition? More than often the organiser tries too hard and over-complicates their pretendy bullshit. Staff should have policies, procedures and mentorships where players can contribute directly to the game with plots that are player-generated and move the story* along; think of it like me saying this month we've got huge issues with kobolds that are interrupting our mining operations which in turn is really putting a sour note on our trading relationship with kingdom Zippo. Kingdom Zippo is thinking we're holding out on them on deals, and so is talking with kingdom Bippo about possible trade retaliation. Players need to submit, tag and upload their logs on the wiki to support/detract from this month's plot.

    For debates and rallies: I find that folks forget their character's total +sheet, ignoring their flaws and handwaving low or non-existent stats to back up what their uber cool poses are because no one wants to feel like the fucking gimp or uncool to whatever pretendy world they're in. You could have issues where there's no place code which makes it a big fucking spam-fest that pushes folks away from joining in (and even then, I get it, some folks don't like big scenes). There could be a lack of +checks, social costs and expenditures. You could get the meta-gamer. For a debate, you'd simply need to have two who agree to a pre-determined question or set of questions, tell them to write the general gist of their poses ahead of time and keep poses under X amount of words so it doesn't bore people (it'll also let them adjust their poses slightly in response to what the other side says). A fucking rally? Do you have the resources, social standing or clout, etc that would make it work in the first place? This day and age, everyone is able to be a digital warrior for whatever cause but to look at it harshly, most causes don't do a fucking thing to better society. But keep clicking that facebook like and share button.

    For weddings: I can get married in some states within ten minutes in real life, and it's doubtful anyone here is a celebrant or religious leader so everyone is reading/copying/editing shit from online and then making their special pretendy time more special. Weddings can be great, I get that some folks want to enjoy their play time this way and so be it. But at the most I'd say such things would be like fifteen to twenty minutes to run. Again, there might be a lack of checking sheets, +checks and the usual social costs and currency expenditures.


  • Admin

    @FiranMEH said in Plotted versus plotless scenes:

    @surreality Arkandel was generally complaining that shit on games is moving towards plotless and wanting to know why, so I gave a handful of general reasons why you'd be seeing that. If you want specifics, then give specifics and I'll do my best to respond.

    Not to be pedantic here but my main reason for posting was first to make sure I wasn't simply perceiving it from where I stood. Just because I am not getting into plotted multipart stories it doesn't necessarily mean there are none.



  • @Arkandel No problemo. There's some general feedback and some more specific feedback. I also didn't point out that it was summer for most folks, so they're sometimes less available for those "huge epic" scenes where commitment is required.


  • Politics

    @Arkandel said in Plotted versus plotless scenes:

    ... these kinds of social scenes can happen organically but plotted multi-part stories absolutely cannot.

    Why not?

    On Fallen World, I'm running a local drug ring's take-down. It doesn't have shit-all to do with the game, but it's an opportunity to meaningfully RP. Sometimes I'm running the scene; sometimes it's someone else. We pass the time pleasantly, and recently pulled someone else into it.

    It's organic because it just happens. It's plotted and multi-part because it is.

    I mean, it's really as simple as "Shrike is an Arrow that enacts street justice! Come join!" And we get our kicks by just playing pretend.


  • Admin

    @Ganymede Sure, if it works for you that's great - I just never had that happen, so I assumed it doesn't. Assumption dispelled, and that's already a win for this thread!



  • @FiranMEH And if someone wants to organize something fancy-as-fuck for their IC debate or IC wedding -- there's a reason there is a wedding planning industry, after all, that is as valid as the 10 minute wedding prep, and there's a reason no candidate for public office these days does so without a team of people working with them or speechwriters on hand -- with prepared speeches or whatnot, they should absolutely be permitted to do so if that is the kind of scene they want to run.

    No one is saying that is required, but it is a real option that people may choose to pursue, and if they do so, they may not want to do so on the fly. Yes, plenty of game systems do in fact provide means and mechanics to allow people to gather a crowd, invest resources through whatever mechanisms the game allows for, etc. in allowing for such scenes to happen, or acquire the sort of influence that would make these circumstances actually occur reasonably in the course of play.

    I've already been quite clear that I do not consider this kind of scene a plot.


  • Pitcrew

    One of my favorite plots that I ever ran came out organically.
    It started out as a scene in a bar. Me and the other player were bored so we decide to spice things up with a bar fight with npcs. The dice decided to hate my char so he ended up injured, but not so bad as to require hospitalization. I figured this was the end. Get into a social scene with my chars motley I pose being injured cause he hadn't had time to heal up. One of the more fight-y members decided that revenge was in order. OOCly I agree to run a revenge story for the rest while ICly my char recovers. Because now it was a group of supers hunting something rather then a random barfight I gave the now not random NPCs some abilities and back up. revenge is gained but since the pothers are having fun I threw out clues that some dark power was behind the overly aggressive street gang and boom plot went on for a few months.



  • @surreality Indeed! I think somewhere, we agree.



  • I'm going to speak from some of the history I've seen on games when plot became a difficult prospect. In my experience, it ends up revolving around 2 things:

    1. Focus. I find that, in games where there is a lack of focus, meaningful plots end up going by the wayside. While I never had a problem finding RP at Multiverse Crisis, for example, a lot of it was less than impactful unless it was a pre-planned scene within someone's cast (which someone familiar with the group would run, like the SAO plots when I was Klein). Otherwise you can have plots, but at what point is it just 'filler' and becomes, after a while, just 'something to do'.
    2. Tightness of theme. While I love tightness of theme and stuff, there also needs to be things in there that players could reasonably mess with. And on that note, if the players make something cool and it intersects well with other plot, staff should induct that plot and those players and help them with the outcomes.

  • Pitcrew

    @Bobotron

    A lot of MCM plots these days feel like they're being run to make one or two players look good or cool while everyone else is going through the motions. There's never a problem finding RP but it feels hard to find RP with stakes and that feels like it'll matter in the long term, that aren't just vehicles to make someone look good.

    @Arkandel - these days I only really scene on MCM but that atmosphere has definitely shifted away from categories two and three towards the first one. A few months ago, when I was more active elsewhere with MUSHes that had +scenes or +schedule commands, everything was plot-related. Of course, I'd say the latter two categories are diminishing because of those commands but that's an entirely different topic.

    I think I agree with you that social scenes can happen organically but multi-part plots can't.


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