How much plot do people want?



  • Curious to get a feel for how much big plot (5+ scenes, or spanning months), little plot (3-5 scenes or a couple weeks), or monster of the week type things people are interested in or really want. I know too much is almost as bad (or worse in some ways) thn not enough.

    What say ye, hivemind? How much plot is that sweet spot?


  • Coder

    @Taika said in How much plot do people want?:

    Curious to get a feel for how much big plot (5+ scenes, or spanning months), little plot (3-5 scenes or a couple weeks), or monster of the week type things people are interested in or really want. I know too much is almost as bad (or worse in some ways) thn not enough.

    What say ye, hivemind? How much plot is that sweet spot?

    Honestly, your definitions baffle me.

    I don't count 'plot' in 'number of scenes' or 'spanning months'; if there's 5 scenes spanning months, I'm saying wow, I'm probably bored. But you call that big plot: 3-5 scenes over a couple weeks sounds good, but you're calling that little plot.

    I can't really answer you because you're operating on a set of assumptions that don't match either my preferences or my experience.

    Ideally, I would like a variety of plot that is both interesting and forward-progressing, but which is also as much as possible opt-in. This doesn't have to be a lot: it is enough that 'something is happening'. Even if I'm not directly in the plot, I can have a scene which is related to it, ideally.

    What I don't like:

    • Plot which I am forced to be involved in (count most but not all metaplots in this category)
    • Plot that is always the same thing: kill bad guy of the moment.
    • Plot that can only have a direct, combat answer
    • Plot that happens only in the confines of PRPs.
    • Plot which doesn't change the world

    Everything else is how much plot I want. Depending on how big the game is, peoples timezones, that and more.... that generally determines more how much plot is happening over a desired metric of enough-plot.


  • Admin

    The TV show model should still be applicable here. On TV their formula is one-third long meta-arcs, two thirds shorter duration stuff, so that regular viewers have something to look forward to but newcomers get the chance to be hooked into the day to day events.

    Just like TV MU* have a lot of flakes around who'll come to a few scenes then drop off, or who'll start super active and then you never see them again. Plot series which last months are dangerous, you might be investing in something that will never have a payoff because by the time you get to do your big reveal there's no one around any more who saw it getting set up.

    I advise chaining shorter arcs into bigger ones. Don't force feed plot to your players, let them come to you; give them things to do on a regular basis, arouse their curiosity and offer them chances to buy into your metaplot. Once they care then sure, you can engage them further since they might get proactive which is great and what you actually want, but you can't count on it.

    What you ultimately want on a new, unproven game is for your players to never look around and go 'well, shit, there's nothing happening around here'. That's the main goal; you want to keep them around before it becomes a catch-22 situation, so feed them regularly to keep those jerks coming back for more and then you might even be able to do a bait and switch - voila! There was metaplot happening all along and you didn't even know! Mwah-hah-hah.

    But yeah, don't start with the big bad world-is-ending stuff. It'll become the stuff of bar RP on week two, and trite old topic by week three.


  • Pitcrew

    Constant doom is exhausting, for players and for staffers alike. Giving people lulls between the major events so that they can RP about what just happened, meet new players, get new players involved, and further personal goals is important. Here's what I like as a plot mix:

    1-3 large-scale arcs going on in different areas at the same time as a slow burn. That gives players who might not do something about one thing to work on another thing. If Bob and Joe hate each other, and metaplot arc is for Joe's faction, Bob doesn't have any reason to engage. But if there's one for a neutral faction going on at the same time, he does. I like this, especially when they get to that week or two of culminating in a BIG DEAL.

    Minor character-development driven plots going on that offer players a chance to do their own thing and develop their own characters in fun ways through events and action and RP with others. This can (and I would hope does) generally include PRPs. The caveat is I want PRPs to be able to be RP'd about outside of the PRP. If I go on a werewolf-killin' spree with my Hunter in a PRP, but then I get back and want to RP about it, I should be able to, not have it be "well, that didn't really happen in the confines of this story."

    But timing is really important. If we've just spent 2 weeks of intensive RP dealing with a metaplot thing, I need a week or two to relax a little. Take some time off, let my character assimilate what just happened. To RP about it and to think of other things, to do the minor character things (major for my character, minor in terms of influence on the game world) that help make my character richer.

    I think in many ways it's not about sheer number of plots. It's all about timing.



  • Apologies. By 'big plot', I meant more 'metaplot' - a big story, over a longer spam of time, that needs smaller plots to get resolutions, that eventually build in a big reveal or a large group effort to bring down/fix, etc. This would be something like... finding out why the Thor Shot went off.

    Little plot is a handful of scenes to build up towards (hopefully) a player driven goal. Like restoring power to a chunk of the grid. This could take some salvaging, bartering, running errands for trade in parts, etc, until the goal is accomplished.

    Monster of the week is more the quick and dirty smaller scenes. Not exactly or always 'throw always', but usually one, maybe two scenes to accomplish a smaller thing.

    Yes, I plan for people being able to exact changes to the world/grid. I also would hope that if Bob doesn't like Joe's faction, and Joe's faction is looking to leverage a big gain? That Bob would rally some folks to monkeywrench Joe's Big Plans.


  • Pitcrew

    I find that I'm enjoying myself when my character is meaningfully involved in a plot that makes progress/has a new development every 1-2 weeks.

    Meaningfully involved: I mean that my character is making contributions to the outcome of the plot and not just sitting in on meetings/watching other people make decisions. I also separate out Big Battles where my character is just one of many and her contributions don't count. Court scenes don't count. Attending council meetings where my char is in My characters actions have to count.

    A plot: Generally I mean one. One plot at a time. I'm a very linear person, I can't help it. I get stressed when I have to divide my attention between too many things, which is why I can generally only maintain one character on a game at a time. However, I have been able to maintain a personal development plot, along with a group plot, so it's not impossible, I just don't want to have too much shoved on me at once. Neither do I want to be sitting around twiddling my thumbs and feeling like I have nothing to do or no way to contribute. I've left games for both extremes. Heck, I've left a game for feeling both ways at the same time.
    I have no preference about the scope of the plot. Big or small doesn't matter so much as the way that my character affects it and the way that it affects my character (See above).

    Progress every 1-2 weeks: Pacing is hard. Something needs to happen regularly so that you keep investment and feel like things are moving forward. However, if things progress too quickly, you don't have time to RP about it and make good decisions. For me, personally, I've found one development every 1-2 weeks to be the sweet spot where I regularly have something new to share, but don't start feeling overwhelmed. Of course, this varies. If my char is pulled out of all RP while the plot is going on, I want developments more often. If the next step requires a lot of thought and planning, slowing down or breaking into smaller chunks is preferable (This is why I appreciated Firan's Res-day system, even if I didn't always like the resolutions).

    This of course, is just what I prefer. It doesn't quite answer what you were asking, but I hope it's helpful!


  • Politics

    @Taika said in How much plot do people want?:

    Apologies. By 'big plot', I meant more 'metaplot' - a big story, over a longer spam of time, that needs smaller plots to get resolutions, that eventually build in a big reveal or a large group effort to bring down/fix, etc. This would be something like... finding out why the Thor Shot went off.

    On consideration, why does it matter how the world ended? Will this discovery have any impact on the game?

    Honestly, having played on The Descent before, I don't think a metaplot matters. The Descent had the feel of a survival game, and those games eschew grand answers for important goals. For my PC, claiming and holding his territory was his story, and he had absolutely no ambition to figure out how or why the barriers ripped open.

    Little plot is a handful of scenes to build up towards (hopefully) a player driven goal. Like restoring power to a chunk of the grid. This could take some salvaging, bartering, running errands for trade in parts, etc, until the goal is accomplished.

    This, I think, is the scope you want for plots run by staff. Rather than have it a "player-driven goal," however, it could simply be a problem to solve. Announce the "situation," and then let players try -- or not try -- to fix it. If the situation isn't fixed, make sure there are consequences.



  • Answer will vary by every single player, including what plots they want. A lot of those will be problems that cannot be solved.

    Some really just want a sandbox to tell their own stories, and will resent anything to the contrary like a nudge to be involved when they really just want autonomy. Some want to world build, whether that's inherently contradictory with anything you made because they don't have the ability to make their own game that's successful to their standards. Some want involvement in plots on a deeply personal level, but also will resent any plots they aren't part of, even if they know that's unreasonable especially if they don't have high playtime. Some want community wide recognition of their efforts and accomplishments, and not see the same thing happen to other people enough where they feel that recognition is devalued. Some are deeply committed to a personal narrative, and will be furious at anyone, player or staff alike, that interferes with what they already have written in their head. It all just depends.

    In general, most people want something effortless to join and be involved with in a significant way, fun and entertaining while involved, and that confers no obligations at all to them. That's not sustainable past a point so my advice is to build around the people that are willing to do some work for other people, generally.



  • I like plot, but I like subsequent consequences even more. A plot is fodder for scenes. Results are fodder for thinking and getting in tune with the actual goals of the game.


  • Pitcrew

    @Misadventure said in How much plot do people want?:

    I like plot, but I like subsequent consequences even more. A plot is fodder for scenes. Results are fodder for thinking and getting in tune with the actual goals of the game.

    SOOOOO much this. I don't like plots that don't give the people involved in them some way to go RP about it. Not just in a "look what I did" way but also an "and this changed <these things about my world or my character or my understanding or life as we know it" plots. If the goal of a MU is roleplay, then plots should enhance and encourage RP. If you make your plots an end to themselves with nothing connected, then what's the difference between your plot and a repeatable daily quest in WOW?


  • Pitcrew

    @Darinelle said in How much plot do people want?:

    @Misadventure said in How much plot do people want?:

    I like plot, but I like subsequent consequences even more. A plot is fodder for scenes. Results are fodder for thinking and getting in tune with the actual goals of the game.

    SOOOOO much this. I don't like plots that don't give the people involved in them some way to go RP about it. Not just in a "look what I did" way but also an "and this changed <these things about my world or my character or my understanding or life as we know it" plots. If the goal of a MU is roleplay, then plots should enhance and encourage RP. If you make your plots an end to themselves with nothing connected, then what's the difference between your plot and a repeatable daily quest in WOW?

    Completely agree with @Darinelle and @Misadventure! Their answers are better than mine was!

    Plus, I think this is what MUs do well. MUs allow for this type of RP where other formats don't and I think we should be leaning into that as a hobby.


  • Pitcrew

    It has always been my opinion that the whole purpose of plots is to give people stuff to RP about when the scenes aren't being actively ST'd. All plots of any sort. That's the goal. 'Give people reasons to RP when I am not running things actively'. If you shoot only for an evening's entertainment, you're doing your players a great disservice.


  • Admin

    @Misadventure said in How much plot do people want?:

    I like plot, but I like subsequent consequences even more. A plot is fodder for scenes. Results are fodder for thinking and getting in tune with the actual goals of the game.

    If I run a plot and the characters don't refer to it outside of the PrP then it's a failure as far as I'm concerned. I don't care what else worked, that's the true benchmark.


  • Pitcrew

    Aftermath RP is SACRED as far as I'm concerned and one of the best things ever.


  • Admin

    @Roz The worst monsters are STs who don't answer questions and feed players with hooks after the PrP is over.



  • @Arkandel I love to leave questions for players to chew on, or clues to hunt down. Unfortunately, people don't seem too interested in a follow-up plot.

    Players: 'A monster thing! Kill it!'
    Me: 'clues to origins, hints at More To Come'
    Players: 'It's dead now, whatever. No follow up.'

    I always leave things a little open ended, but have never really had someone go digging into those loose ends.


  • Admin

    @Taika Yeah, that's the flipside. I'll revise my earlier statement.

    The worst monsters are players who don't want to chase down post-PrP leads.


  • Pitcrew

    @Arkandel Don't want to derail, but one of the things I really liked about Arx's @clue system is that getting an @clue is a reminder that Something Happened and you have something to work on.


  • Admin

    @Lisse24 I think that does belong in this thread anyhow. How much plot do you want before you're overwhelmed by clues/followups, for example? I knew people on Arx as well who just couldn't keep up.



  • @Lisse24 What are @clues and how do they work?


Log in to reply
 

Looks like your connection to MU Soapbox was lost, please wait while we try to reconnect.