Mush Campaigns



  • So, while I've been slowly working through code academy with the goal of starting a mush of some sort at some point, I've been thinking about themes and settings a little bit.

    Has anyone played on a Mush with successful campaigns? Like, with coherent plot arcs that players are interested in? If so, how was it pulled off? Most of the time, when I see things like that, it's staffalts ignoring player input and ideas, and things wind up with a bunch of players milling around in bars, only reading bboard 1 about what's going on with the plot railroad.



  • Certainly. I've been running DC games for over 10 years and on most of them I've run story arcs that impacted the world. Sadly I have yet to get New 52 driving in that direction but it can be done.

    As for how hard it was to pull off...that varied. Sometimes players just did not get into it or half way through you'd find out things weren't going the way you anticipated. So long as you stay flexible, however, I think most campaigns would be fairly easy to do. Especially if you have story staff to help.

    And yes, always listen to player input. They're the people playing the campaign after all. Bore them and they'll just stop playing.



  • @SG Yeah, I've seen it done really well and really badly. For the ones I felt were really well done, I really see two requirements and this doesn't necessarily mean it has to be small but you can tell why it helps: 1) I think that for it to be done well, the plots have to be accessible to pretty much any played character. 2) And I think the GM has to be so familiar with every character that can be involved to make it reasonably structured to them to make it meaningful. Partially customized, if not fully.

    I think the only reason this sounds so unreasonably high a bar is because most MUs have become super insular and characters are very likely not familiar with each other. In thinking of one counter example, I played on a place with hundreds of characters that I could have recited from memory what their personalities and goals were like, and that was just due to the really high degree of interaction, not because I'm anything special memory wise.



  • @SG said:

    Has anyone played on a Mush with successful campaigns?

    On Battlestar Cerberus,we sure as hell tried.

    Did we succeed? I think for a long time yes, though the players would be able to say better than I can, and ultimately the game's plot heaviness is what made it unsustainable, when the headwiz went to law school and we ran into problems with what we'd envisioned as a major turning point arc on Gemenon (it was both over-plotted and under-plotted, somehow, and suddenly it was time to do it and none of us who were around could 'fix' it on the fly).

    This is our game timeline, and I think it basically held together through the big Pegasus Rip-Off arc, which was about a year and a half into things. So not too bad. http://battlestarcerberus.wikidot.com/timeline

    I don't know if I'd staff like that again. It was a stupid amount of work. But it was, by far, the most fun I'd ever had and the most invested I'd ever been in a position, and that was because we all cared about the story so much.


  • Tutorialist

    Star Trek: Gamma One has some successful campaigns for a while. However, players began getting more and more unhappy and people started leaving. I think that a successful campaign requires not only an active and well prepared GM but also players who are there an interested in it.


  • Admin

    Most of my plots are composed of long arcs even though I often run one-shot scenes which seem disconnected at a first glance, and those arcs themselves are acts in a larger story. If that's what you mean by 'campaign' then I have some experience in this area.

    Some observations about what I've found is good to do or to avoid:

    1. Before you begin get approval from staff. Even if you are staff get approval from your colleagues but it's especially important if you aren't. The last thing in the universe is to get griped at for doing things without asking or, worse, to be forced to stop after investing a lot of time into something like this.

    2. The biggest problem you'll have by far is people, including yourself, flaking out. Campaigns aren't based on bursts or activity but the long burn, which is a very tough balancing act of real-life schedules, time zones and availability.

    To solve this it's very important to have as few bottlenecks in place to begin with. To start with ask yourself some realistic questions - how available can you be for the foreseeable future? Do your online times match most of your potential players'? Then afterwards, make sure no one character is essential to the plot because what do you do when they stop playing abruptly?

    While you're at it, realize the game is also a participant. I had a plotline on Eldritch for 6-7 people, 5 of whom disappeared after a couple of months. That decimated my plans because too many of the hooks and threads I had planted were left dangling, and I would essentially have to start over.

    1. Avoid rail-roading for both your sanity and everyone else's. What I do is come up with the framework ("what's happening?") and the principal actors in it ("who's doing it?") along with some potential events which are probably going to happen, then leave players enough rope to do what they want with it. Yes, this means you rely on players being proactive and good - but I've found it's a more reasonable condition than doing so much hand-holding that they're merely acting out a predetermined 'correct' path of action.

    2. Finally... document everything. I try to do that every time. Some of it is on the wiki where each posted log goes on a central page - this makes it far smoother for new people to jump on-board and catch up, at least OOC. You can even mark down sections of it to be IC common knowledge to allow for a faster transition. If you have a thread for staff open (and you should) keep it up to date with what's going on - just an executive summary so they can tell at a glance what's going on. This will save you a ton of time down the line.

    If there is interest I can put down notes of campaigns I've ran on MU* before to look at and learn from my many, many mistakes. I hope that's useful though.



  • @Arkandel That's awesome advice, thanks, Arkandel!



  • @Arkandel said:

    While you're at it, realize the game is also a participant. I had a plotline on Eldritch for 6-7 people, 5 of whom disappeared after a couple of months. That decimated my plans because too many of the hooks and threads I had planted were left dangling, and I would essentially have to start over.

    One side note, until I tried it I never liked the idea of a roster system for characters. Having tried one, I was surprised at how effective it was at reducing the problems involved with continuity since so many of the characters involved in storylines could stay consistent. Obviously not everyone's cup of tea but might be worth considering.


  • Admin

    @Apos said:

    @Arkandel said:

    While you're at it, realize the game is also a participant. I had a plotline on Eldritch for 6-7 people, 5 of whom disappeared after a couple of months. That decimated my plans because too many of the hooks and threads I had planted were left dangling, and I would essentially have to start over.

    One side note, until I tried it I never liked the idea of a roster system for characters. Having tried one, I was surprised at how effective it was at reducing the problems involved with continuity since so many of the characters involved in storylines could stay consistent. Obviously not everyone's cup of tea but might be worth considering.

    Elaborate on what a roster system means in this context?



  • @Arkandel Oh yeah, sorry. I was referring to a roster of available pre-generated characters for a mush. Specifically, it wouldn't be so much a 'these are for new players who don't want to make characters or are unfamiliar with the theme' but instead more 'these are extremely significant characters with key parts of the plot, and if the player playing it idles out, a new player will be re-cast in the role to make sure there is no lapse in continuity and the story doesn't have to be rebuilt to account for their absence.'

    So it does handle continuity problems really well, a lot better than I thought it would, but it's not something a lot of players might really want to go for or be willing to give a shot.


  • Admin

    @Apos Sure, that could work. In fact I've been doing something roughly similar by having ties to important NPCs in the plot given to specific characters I knew would enjoy certain roles. For instance in the long arc I was running on Eldritch a major villain was a PC's Sire.

    Notice however this would probably be a very bad idea if I was staff, since it could be taken as showing favoritism to certain players. As a plot ran by a lowly player though? No shits given. :)

    Either way I would be careful when designing the plot though to make sure those roster-characters weren't too important to the detriment of every other participant. 'Regular' PCs should have the ability to make just as large an impact to the story's arc else why would they bother playing if they're essentially sidekicks to the real protagonists? If you know what I mean.


  • Pitcrew

    One place you might want to seek advice is Theno and Emma Sue, and I am sure others who were there., While The Reach definitely had issues upon issues, one of the things I have heard a lot of praise and positive things about was the meta plot with Scout etc. I can't really speak to particulars as I was gone from the game before it really got moving, the positives I was hearing about that plot in general made me have moments of wanting to go back, thankfully given the mess it became after said plot I am glad I didn't but there is likely a lot of good ideas to mine on what worked in regards to the meta plot.



  • @Arkandel Yeah, and I agree. I kind of dislike the idea of feature characters intrinsically for the same reason, that I feel like it's a very open door to showing favoritism (or even just the appearance of favoritism) that's a turn off to a lot of players.

    It can certainly be abused and badly, including nightmare situations of having to take a character away completely from a problem player which I think is probably a lot more traumatic than IC character death since its a pretty explicit condemnation of a player's style. But overall I think for the goal of running something like a campaign the kind of stability that consistent characters give is a huge help.



  • @Arkandel said:

    Most of my plots are composed of long arcs even though I often run one-shot scenes which seem disconnected at a first glance, and those arcs themselves are acts in a larger story. If that's what you mean by 'campaign' then I have some experience in this area.

    This is how I tend to approach things, too. It allows you to get a number of people involved in disparate ways that eventually come together -- or don't -- in whatever combination appeals to them. It allows for people to play to their strengths toward common -- or opposing -- goals, too. Added benefit of those with limited time still being able to become involved in a less time-intensive way and participate in aspects of the broader story arc that are of interest, but don't obligate them to be there or everything falls apart.


  • Pitcrew

    @SG

    I wish that wasn't the case, but it's all too prevalent. I think every Mu* should have a coherent story arc and the players should at the very least have some vague idea of what it is.

    Anyway, the last Mu* I played that had a complete story arc was Wing Commander: Red Horizon. I think that was the name of it and that was before I took no mu* playing hiatus of about 10 years.

    In the beginning, there was the confederation, the Union of border worlds and the Kilrathi factions. The confeds were busy squabbling while trying to fend off the Kilrathi. You know how that would turn out.....

    The middle: The Kilrathi end up conquering the humans....both factions. Of course a resistance springs up and now there's an enslaved human faction. Which leads to...

    The end: The resistance sabotages and musters up a force large enough to fight back against the Kilrathi and win! Yaaaaay!

    And then they closed the game down.

    Another one I can think of off the top of my head was Eubanana's The Greatest Generation. It basically was a World War I arc to test out the mechanics, then he started doing World War II campaigns. I think he even added planes and land vehicles.

    I played a nurse and a couple of soldiers on there. Had big fun!



  • I think every themed MU* I've been on, excluding the weird sandboxy superhero games, have had coherent story arcs in the form of 'campaigns' more or less. I think the lack of it seems to be endemic to a lot of the WoD and other tabletop-into-MU* games, perhaps. Before I starting hanging out on WORA, the concept of a 'sandbox MUSH' really was foreign.


  • Pitcrew

    You know, now that I think about it, I don't think in 15+ years of MUing I've ever seen a campaign open and close on any sort of sentimental "our story is done" line.

    I played plenty of the Battlestar games, like Cerberus, which had endings that were pretty much months/years before the intended close time due to loss of player interest or staff disappearance. Those games dropped one of those "let's all write our closing endgame points, but the game is closing on X date" things.

    Shit. Yeah. I've never seen a story come to an end.

    HOWEVER, the BSG themed games did it the best. The linear plotlines and attempts at cohesive teamwork were some of the best I'd seen before egos got in the way of cohesiveness.



  • @Ghost said:

    I played plenty of the Battlestar games, like Cerberus, which had endings that were pretty much months/years before the intended close time due to loss of player interest or staff disappearance. Those games dropped one of those "let's all write our closing endgame points, but the game is closing on X date" things.

    BS Pacifica managed a proper closer (I actually came back for the finale after taking a hiatus, and it was a great experience), but @faraday puts us all to shame, in a zillion ways. :heart:


  • Coder

    Haunted Memories Changeling Sphere. It took players to want to finish the storyline, but finish it did. No regrets.


  • Pitcrew

    @Three-Eyed-Crow said:

    @Ghost said:

    I played plenty of the Battlestar games, like Cerberus, which had endings that were pretty much months/years before the intended close time due to loss of player interest or staff disappearance. Those games dropped one of those "let's all write our closing endgame points, but the game is closing on X date" things.

    BS Pacifica managed a proper closer (I actually came back for the finale after taking a hiatus, and it was a great experience), but @faraday puts us all to shame, in a zillion ways. :heart:

    I got ROBBED. I decided to check out Pacifica just as it was closing. I thought to check the place out, logged in, was told campaign was done and cgen was closed.

    Missed that boat by a month or so.



  • @Three-Eyed-Crow said:

    BS Pacifica managed a proper closer (I actually came back for the finale after taking a hiatus, and it was a great experience), but @faraday puts us all to shame, in a zillion ways. :heart:

    I missed that last few months of Pacifica because work picked up and I didn't have time to log in anymore. It was a fun place.


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