Plot Advice

  • Pitcrew

    This is really a simple question but I, as the person who designed the plot, have only my perspective and not a whole lot of 'OOC' contact - aside from obvious ST contact - with most of the players I'm running the plot for a number of reasons. (Mostly because I'm a spaz and embarrass myself easily, OOC)

    The plot, as a whole, is designed to involve as many PC's as possible in a single sphere. Including all the sub-categories of said sphere that might normally be left out so I tried to make it something that would give everyone time to scene and interact. I've intentionally built it out into chapters. So far I've got 4 chapters roughly planned barring some real dues ex Machina actions on the players part. My problem is I seem to be having a hard time with timing.

    I don't want to let it go all out too quickly. This is meant to be a long game type PrP but I've been running it since November and I'm only just now getting to the end of Chapter 1, partially due to time and RL/schedule conflicts. I'm used to one-offs or something that is run over a month then ends, so something that's going to take a while is new to me and I don't want to ruin it.

    So for people who are used to this situation, who run these kind of longer PrPs is there an ideal time? Should I just let it take as long as it needs to take? How do I make sure that my players don't lose interest or that /I/ don't lose interest. Is there a certain amount of time I should let pass before just going to the next chapter whether or not if they've done everything they wanted to or investigated all their leads?

    Despite feeling like this is a stupid question but I also feel the timing is incredibly important on a hobby like ours. Too long, people lose interest, too fast it seriously diminishes the story to short and I'm not going to be able to accomplish the sense of struggle and achievement I feel the story warrants.

    Any advice?

  • Pitcrew

    The plot is going to take however long it takes. Two things to consider:

    1. make sure the people involved know the plot is continuing and hasn't petered out, or you will lose their interest;
    2. structure it to make sure they aren't plotlocked (i.e. make sure they can continue playing around the plot between its scenes).

    If you do those two things and whatever you're running interests them, you don't really have an issue.

  • I'm pretty sure that this is a far more vague answer than you were hoping for, but in my experience -- in plots or in fiction writing -- a story takes the time and space a story takes.

    What you need to look for is not page count or the number of days it takes to resolve: It's reader/player engagement. As long as your players are happily pushing on and moving forwards, you're doing it right. If they start to slow down, get distracted, grind to a halt -- then you need to push the story onwards, whether by means of a new set of clues, something dramatic opening the next phase, or introducing new people.

    It's very much a listen to your audience thing. And in that, not at all an easy thing because some players seem wildly excited and then suddenly lose drive without much warning. Other players start slow but stick with you until the end. A lot of them get distracted by something shiny elsewhere, and some turn up in the middle, asking if it's too late to join.

    The ones you want to try the hardest to please are the quietly loyal ones -- who are often not the ones you'd think of first when you think of potential people to include. As it happens, the highly active, widely well known players are typically the ones who get the most offers, and you may easily find that the ones who are most grateful to participate are the ones whose names tend to be on the fringes. The ones with small children, the shy ones, the ones in odd timezones -- people who may be ready to bend over backward to be included in something that's set at a pace they can keep up with.

    A large part of your decision about pacing making needs to revolve around that: Your player segment of choice. Some people have every night all week in EST. Some people have two nights a week, some are in Singapore or London, and some are online 24/7 but suffer from so much fatigue that a few poses a day are all they can manage. Which is your tribe?

  • Tutorialist

    @Coin said in Plot Advice:

    structure it to make sure they aren't plotlocked (i.e. make sure they can continue playing around the plot between its scenes).

    On the back of this -- also make sure that your group composition is flexible. Don't have it depend on having every member of the group, or even a specific member of the group. That's where most scheduling falls apart. Just set it up so that you can take whoever can make it. The more people you try to lock down schedule-wise, the harder it's going to be to get everyone on the same page.

  • @Derp

    I concur with this. Be flexible. There are a million reasons why the team composition would change between episodes, so roll with it.

  • Admin

    @LittleLizard On top of what others have said, make sure there are provisions in place to keep the plot rolling even if the initial group of PCs are no longer present for it.

    These days any plot that takes more than 2-3 weeks from beginning to finish has to account for this since you can't quite count on players sticking around in the game. Folks disappear.

    If only Bob, Jane and Jane know about the artificial black hole your mad scientist is building underneath the city to destroy it and these three just stop logging on, but others are still interested, you need to have a way to engage them without logical inconsistencies or starting from scratch.

  • @Ganymede said in Plot Advice:

    I concur with this. Be flexible. There are a million reasons why the team composition would change between episodes, so roll with it.

    It's not just possible that the team composition will change, it's highly plausible. Some players will lose interest in the plot, or in the game. Real life happens. Player base is fluid.

    Make sure that the plot can be picked up late in the game by new people. Leave openings and bits that new people can contribute. Try to write your story in a way that encourages participants to talk to and include others. The more people are aware on some level that something is going down at the dark castle, the more people are on the potential list of recruits for the heroic army.

  • Pitcrew

    I agree with most of that which has been said!

    I often use breadcrumbs too. The plot takes as long as it does but breadcrumb scenes happen anywhere, anytime I need something to have happened that either was caused by the players' actions or was not prevented by them, or just happened. Those can involve random players and may never be picked up by them, or might.

    The breadcrumbs draw new faces in, or bring the plot back to the attention of the player base, and make it clear that sometimes they have to act.

  • Pitcrew

    Wow, guys! Thank you all! I appreciate the feedback a ton and it's helped to settle my unease with some things and helped put some perspective on the time issue.

    I absolutely try to be flexible and I'm glad that it doesn't seem too flakey or disrespectful to people who might not be able to return. I have felt int he passed like I might be alienating people by making excuses why they aren't there if they can't make it.

    I appreciate the advice so far, very much.

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