First Through the Gate Syndrome



  • Okay, forgive the minor play on words there.

    This is absolutely not targeted to anyone, as a disclaimer. Partly because I have seen it just about everywhere and just about as long as I can remember.

    Why are people afraid to be the first pose in an event?

    Almost every plot scene I've been in or run for the past whatever years, the first 15-20 minutes (it doesn't take this long to read a set and write a pose) is wasted in a middle school dance of silently willing someone else to be first out on the floor. Even people who are prone to 'I do all the things!,' I have noticed, are like this.

    Often, once one pose has gone up, all the rest follow in a flood which tells me people were just waiting for someone to be first.

    I have two theories on this, but I think they have a core conflict with one another.

    Theory 1
    People are uncertain what to do and want someone else to guide them.

    My issue with this theory is this: it implies the ST didn't give enough detail. And maybe I don't! But I don't think that would be the case with every ST and as I said: I see this happen everywhere. Additionally, if it is the case: why aren't people asking for clarification?

    Theory 2
    People are scared of looking like they're too eager or greedy for the spotlight.

    I also have an issue with this theory because I know plenty of people who aren't remotely a 'I DO ALL THE THINGS!' sort of person. And many of the spotlight-addicts would have, in theory, no issue leaping forward first to set the tone.

    So what is the cause of it?
    And what can we do to improve it, to prevent wasted time? (or alternatively: to encourage people that it's OK to be first to pose.)

    One idea I have is to 'release' the set pose early (if you have a select group of people attending) and let them think about their first pose in the hours leading up to the event / ask any questions they have. Unfortunately, this won't work in every scenario (some events are all-comers, some people can't login until event start...).



  • @Auspice said in First Through the Gate Syndrome:

    Theory 1
    People are uncertain what to do and want someone else to guide them.

    Theory 2
    People are scared of looking like they're too eager or greedy for the spotlight.

    I think I fall under Theory 2, but I have made it a habit to always offer to open. I also roll with the general etiquette rule that the first to suggest a scene is the host, and the host can make the choice to set or allow someone else to do so.

    The solution? Be more pro-active by just asking upon entry: does anyone here want to set? For my part, I realize that I have very little social anxiety online or otherwise, so I am always happy to try and think of a way to start things.

    Be the change that you want to see.



  • @Ganymede said in First Through the Gate Syndrome:

    The solution? Be more pro-active by just asking upon entry: does anyone here want to set?

    But I'm specifically (though I absolutely see your point) referring to plot scenes, wherein an ST has provided a scene set already.

    Or do most people (I never even considered this viewpoint before!) view these as more 'descriptions' and whichever of the players poses first is scene-setting?



  • @Auspice

    In the first instance, I would probably just pose in response to the set. The setting from the staff seems like a clear invitation to respond. And I see no point waiting if anyone else wants to go first.

    I mean, that's kind of how I ended up with my partner. No one else seemed to want to ask her out, so I did. Shocked all the men in law school, I'll tell you.

    As for the second, I think that's the case where you have some sort of social scene, where there's nothing inherently inviting in the scene-set to grasp a hold of.


  • Pitcrew

    @Auspice

    Theory 2
    People are scared of looking like they're too eager or greedy for the spotlight.

    That is me.



  • @Auspice said in First Through the Gate Syndrome:

    Or do most people (I never even considered this viewpoint before!) view these as more 'descriptions' and whichever of the players poses first is scene-setting?

    I think it depends?

    I have definitely been to plot scenes that are opened with a GM set of basically "stuff is happening in the neighborhood!" so the person who poses first in the scene is...still kind of setting the scene, since they set the tone of how/why/where/what people are meeting up to do about the GM's set.



  • @Wretched said in First Through the Gate Syndrome:

    @Auspice

    Theory 2
    People are scared of looking like they're too eager or greedy for the spotlight.

    That is me.

    Admittedly, when I hesitate, it's me also.

    I feel like I have two reactions to scene sets:
    a) I see something super cool in it that I want to reply to!
    b) I'm not sure what I want to do, so I sort of hover and see what others are doing first.

    When it's A, I often DO end up posing first... but while biting my nails worrying people will think I'm over-eager.
    B ... might be where a lot of people are ending up, but still begs a question:

    What can we (both as players and STs) do to help?

    @Tempest said in First Through the Gate Syndrome:

    I have definitely been to plot scenes that are opened with a GM set of basically "stuff is happening in the neighborhood!" so the person who poses first in the scene is...still kind of setting the scene, since they set the tone of how/why/where/what people are meeting up to do about the GM's set.

    I hadn't even thought about those kind of events, but you're absolutely right.

    Would it be better to leave that sort of concept as-is? Or try to identify a PC you can ask to 'help' by setting the stage?


  • Pitcrew

    I'm not scared to dive in, but I've learned that being the one to do this every time is also not a good look. Collaboration is knowing how to let the spotlight shine on others. I'll watch so much of that awkward dead air before I realize nobody else wants to dive in, and now I feel more sympathetic to the ST who is just waiting for someone to respond, so I do.


  • Pitcrew

    I think it has a lot to do with whether or not you're in the mood to set the "tone" for the scene. When I'm playing, a lot of times I'll wait for other people to pose in first because I'm not sure of a lot of things - I don't know how I want to arrive, I don't know what kind of mood everyone is going to be in, I want to wait for someone else to "dictate" the response to the GM set, etc.

    In the scenes I GM, I tend to think that people feel the same way I do. The first pose after the GM set is the pose people will try to emulate. If that person poses what clothes they are wearing, I guarantee you everyone else will. That sort of thing.

    I guess STs could just make you roll for pose order as the 1st thing you do to get that out of the way, but I can't really think of any other way to avoid this.



  • @bear_necessities said in First Through the Gate Syndrome:

    I want to wait for someone else to "dictate" the response to the GM set, etc.

    I hadn't considered it this way before.

    So I think what we're (I'm) finding is this:

    The GM set is somewhere between a description and a scene set, but the first person to pose 'completes' the set for everyone.


  • Admin

    I'm often the first to pose just so the ball gets rolling. At this point I can write somewhat generic poses without putting much thought into it as long as I'm setting-savvy.

    There are typically three exceptions.

    1. Someone else offers or simply poses first. Awesome!

    2. I'm visiting someone in their own domain (home, space station, haven, whatever). They typically get offered to pose first so I know what the place and their character's current situation are like.

    3. If I'm at a new MU* set in some fantasy society and I'm playing a concept whose social status or relations to others I'm not quite sure about I'll happily defer to others until such things are picked out organically. For example if I'm RPing a bodyguard going to a high-end music hall I may be unsure if within the setting I should go over and directly address his betters, if he would be allowed to wear a sword, or even if he's expected to talk at all without the act itself being noteworthy. That doesn't mean I wouldn't have him talk regardless in that theoretical case, but I want to OOC know that it's against the norms to do so since the character himself would.

    In such cases I'll let others take the lead.


  • Pitcrew

    IC trappings of the characters involved can be a factor too. If I'm a Corporal and there are Captains and senior NCOs around, mine is not to 'lead the way' (at least until I'm ordered to).


  • Pitcrew

    I can only speak for myself, but I do have some of Theory 2 going on when it comes to plot-scenes. I know that I've had spotlight-hogging tendencies in the past, and I want to do everything I can to avoid them now.

    That being said, I think that the flood of poses close to one another may also be a result of the fact that it just takes a certain amount of time to type up a pose for a large portion of MUSHers. So if it takes 10-15 minutes to type up a "solid" opening pose, then most of the poses are going to flood in between 10 and 15 minutes.

    I'm also totally happy to set most non-plot scenes, particularly if I suggested the idea.


  • Tutorialist

    @Auspice said in First Through the Gate Syndrome:

    @bear_necessities said in First Through the Gate Syndrome:

    I want to wait for someone else to "dictate" the response to the GM set, etc.

    I hadn't considered it this way before.

    So I think what we're (I'm) finding is this:

    The GM set is somewhere between a description and a scene set, but the first person to pose 'completes' the set for everyone.

    This is my finding as well. The fear of setting yourself up for the cries of 'but I wouldn't doooo that' and such because you added in something to your pose someone disagrees with.

    Which is why I ALWAYS try to pose first. Because screw that. I can be a leader! ;)


  • Pitcrew

    Another random thought: the first person to pose in has only the GM's set to work with. Someone that waits until four or five other people have gone now has everything to react to.


  • Pitcrew

    Over the many years of Mu*ing I just got tired of waiting for people to set (I'm not blaming anyone for it, just saying I got nothing against starting, in fact I enjoy it), or start the GMed scene, so I just pose whenever and often makes the set of the scene itself with others as well. I find that often people are thankful/happy to let someone else start so they can react to something.



  • @gryphter said in First Through the Gate Syndrome:

    If I'm a Corporal and there are Captains and senior NCOs around, mine is not to 'lead the way' (at least until I'm ordered to).

    Even when there's no implied IC hierarchy, the first person to respond to a plot often sets the tone / takes the lead in some fashion. This has an aspect of leadership to it, and many people are reluctant to take on a leadership role. It's easier to just react.

    In this vein, I see this 'nobody wants to go first' phenomenon less when I bake the leadership into the scene set via a squad leader or some other kind of authority figure. Then you're not just setting a scene, you're giving some direction.

    @gryphter said in First Through the Gate Syndrome:

    being the one to do this every time is also not a good look.

    Also this. It's like in school if you're always the first/only one to raise your hand. At some point you feel like an overeager show-off.

    @Seraphim73 said in First Through the Gate Syndrome:

    most of the poses are going to flood in between 10 and 15 minutes.

    That might be part of it, sure, but I know that there have been numerous times where it's stretched on well past that mark, to the point where I'm internally thinking 'Oh FFS would someone pose please?' until someone breaks the ice. Then there's a flood at the 20-25-30 minute mark. I really do think people are waiting.



  • @faraday said in First Through the Gate Syndrome:

    That might be part of it, sure, but I know that there have been numerous times where it's stretched on well past that mark, to the point where I'm internally thinking 'Oh FFS would someone pose please?' until someone breaks the ice. Then there's a flood at the 20-25-30 minute mark. I really do think people are waiting.

    Particularly considering you can set a 10min round during combat and people stick to it pretty well.

    I do get not wanting to be overeager or assume 'point.' I've had a handful of times where I have a pose set and ready to go and finally just say fuck it and hit enter.

    I also once, as ST, just outright asked: hey no one's posed yet. Is the set confusing? Is there something missing? And poses began appearing after people admitted there wasn't. ;) Maybe a blunt way to do it, but also if the set had been confusing, it would've opened the door to questions.

    Part of why I'm mulling this so heavily is I'm planning a plot scene that is intended to 'drop in' on people as they go about their day to day and I'm mulling ways to streamline it. I need the players to set the scene/tone so that I can interrupt.



  • @Auspice I think in large part it's just a universal 'nobody wants to raise their hand' thing, because I see the same thing in Storium. The sets are perfectly clear, and many times the characters are even doing their own thing so there's no reason not to go independently. But the silence will stretch on until finally I'm like: "FIIINE, I'll go first." Because I really don't mind doing it (it actually helps me, so I don't have to keep it in my ADD-fragile 'pending todo list' column), it just gets tiresome and self-conscious always going first.



  • @faraday said in First Through the Gate Syndrome:

    @Auspice I think in large part it's just a universal 'nobody wants to raise their hand' thing, because I see the same thing in Storium. The sets are perfectly clear, and many times the characters are even doing their own thing so there's no reason not to go independently. But the silence will stretch on until finally I'm like: "FIIINE, I'll go first." Because I really don't mind doing it (it actually helps me, so I don't have to keep it in my ADD-fragile 'pending todo list' column), it just gets tiresome and self-conscious always going first.

    So how can we encourage more people to be willing to go first?

    I know you mentioned providing an NPC leader, but that's not always viable.

    Would maybe conversing OOC about who's in charge and what their plan is help?
    Or maybe paging someone to 'tap' them as the starting player?


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