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Author Topic: Thread Leadership  (Read 890 times)
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Azhira Styralias
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« on: May 21, 2008, 03:38:50 AM »

I've run into some issues with story modding and I am thinking it is perhaps a difference in styles between where I used to RP and Santh.

1. My method of leadership is I have a clear plan and direction of where I want to go and I more or less expect my players to follow.

But...

If a player expects direction, I can give it to them. At the same time, I get people upset that I am leading in directions they don't want, or expect, to go.

If I don't have a direction, players get upset that they have no direction and drop off the story...

My basic method of leading a story is by controlling the NPCs and outside world in such a way that makes the player react to it. But then I get complaints that players don't want to react to an NPC just because they are expected to...

What gives?
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"Be still and I shall calm your mind and mend your broken body."
Vesk Lyricahl
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« Reply #1 on: May 21, 2008, 03:54:54 AM »

My two sans on it:

Balance is your friend. You need a plan, a goal to guide your players toward, and you also need to be flexible enough to deviate from that plan whenever the actions of your players calls for it. You may very well have to think of new ways to reach your goal as your players have led you too far astray from the original plan. Being too strict, telling the players to follow a certain path, etc leads to robbing them of creativity, of the chance to play their characters as they see them. Unless something is blatantly out of character, you can't really decide if a character is being played outside of his/her CD as characters are not things etched in stone but ever growing, changing with new experiences. So, you may very well expect a greedy character to take the money, but you should be able to roll with it if that character has a moment of epiphany, an instant where the call of money is left unheeded. And so on, there are plenty more examples.

Also, communication with the players can only help. Maybe give them an idea of where you're heading OOC without revealing any trade secrets and let them brainstorm ideas on ways for their characters to reach your goal. I would suggest doing this through PMs with each individual player, so the mystery is not lost.
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Ta'lia of the Seven Jewels
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« Reply #2 on: May 21, 2008, 04:04:14 AM »

Edit, Vesk beat me to it ;)

Though what I have written below seems to contradict what Vesk said, I agree with him, my thoughts not really contradict that.



That's what story moderators are for: Leading a story, its members, into a certain direction which is more or less given. Therefor you have to send a detailed story concept to the admins. As a moderator it is your right to control weather, surroundings and NPCs, and your players have to react to these NPCs (including ignoring them and living with the reaction of the NPC), if they like it or not. They can't decide in RL either what happens next, with the difference, that a hit will land in their face, where a NPC and another player can't write this. But good roleplying of course might involve taking the hit and not trying to evade.
If something went wrong, the OOC is here to clear this up and posts can be edited.

Of course it is possible to talk about minor things (not the general concept) and players might ask if this and that would be possible, but in the end the story mod has the say.

So, what I just pointed out is mainly for new stories and new players, and with new I'm speaking of less than two or three years in a story, on the board.

In the Heart we have meanwhile many mods and talk about what should /would happen next. But we have a clear line and a given story and we followed Caphers lead until he vanished for the first time and we still do, though details have changed and more content was added.

So, generally - those who are not content with the way a story runs are free to go. The moderator has the responsibility and the work, the overview where to it leads and therefor the final say. That does not mean, that things cannot be discussed and if a player doesn't like a special situation he may well say it, but he has to accept the story mod's word as well.

Well, that's how I see it.
« Last Edit: May 21, 2008, 04:06:25 AM by Talia Sturmwind » Logged
Rookie Brownbark
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« Reply #3 on: May 21, 2008, 04:18:43 AM »

Leading is ok - providing events for them to react to.
Forcing them to react the way you want or assuming they will however....big no no.  You have to be careful that you leave characters free to react how they want to, or even not to react at all, as long as this is realistic.

(Edit: Or, as the others said before, just talk to them before hand :P)

Unfortunately there is a very subtle line between providing an NPCed event for the characters to react to, and pushing the story too fast and preventing people from reacting to it the way they want.  It's very easy to accidentally puppet other characters by moving things too quickly, so that an NPC does something the PC wants to react to, but then the plot moves on in the same post, making the PC unable to react the way they want because you've already said the NPC has moved away, which they wouldn't have done had the PC given the reaction they wanted to.  Hmm, let me expand with an example (excuse the randomness of the example.....)

Adam and Bob are chopping wood. 
The story mod doesn't want them to be chopping wood any more, but rather wants them to go into the forest to be attacked by the huge bear waiting for them.
Christiane (NPC) enters and approaches the men.  She says a few flirty lines, comes up and touches Adam on the arm, and then asks very nicely if the big men will come and help her move some furniture in her little hunt in the middle of the woods.  She then walks off along the path, picking flowers on the way.

Now.  Adam and Bob have pretty much no choice but to 1) appreciate Christiane (because otherwise she wouldn't have been so friendly back) and 2) follow Christiane into the woods (because if they had said no then she wouldn't have moved off.)

The story mod should have stopped after first big NPC event (Christiane's arrival) because her next move should be based on the two PC's reactions.  She can't assume they will like her.  They could go at her with their axes for all she knows.  She shouldn't even have touched Adam on the arm, unless the story mod is pretty sure of a good reaction.

Quite an obvious example, but I hope it helps.  If not, please ignore me!
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Azhira Styralias
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« Reply #4 on: May 21, 2008, 04:41:40 AM »

I think Rooks...you hit upon my issue. I try to do too much in a single post, or a few posts, and not allow the players to react.

Where I used to RP, I had to do this as the players expected it. I had to lead them by the hand every step and rarely did they take initiative on their own. Hence, I assume the same here, but I've only gotten resistance.

I shall endeavor to change this...even though I feel, personally, it drags down an encounter way too much for my liking...a single meeting could go on for a page worth of posts with no real movement towards any direction.

At least with your analogy, there was a clear path to take for the woodsmen. I mean, if a girl showed up out of nowhere, what are they going to say other than "Hi..." and go back to work...?
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Rookie Brownbark
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« Reply #5 on: May 21, 2008, 05:08:37 AM »

Well, this is where Talia and Vesk's points come in - you can always ask the players, talk to them and find a balance you can all work with.

You can also assume some things and get away with it - like if you have read Adam's CD and see he's a lady's man, you can probably assume that Christiane can get close to him.  But not follow him, because that's an active decision - he chooses to move.  And if the player asks you to change it, then so be it. The player wants you to *persuade* their character to do what you want them to do, and provide a route which  doesn't clash against the PC's personality.  You could do that either with a great post (good writing is strangely persuasive) or by providing a good reason for the PC to do it (e.g. Adam is a lady's man and Christiane is flirting and pretty, so he follows her).  In general players do like to go along with what the mod offers, they want the story to move too.  They just want to be able to stay in character as well.

It's not that there isn't one likely route.  It's totally possible to make the route you want them to go the most likely one for them to take.  It's just that the players want to be the ones choosing to take that route, not having it thrust upon them by the story mod.
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Ryldor Gadriel
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« Reply #6 on: May 21, 2008, 05:23:14 AM »

One other thing. As my old DM used to say, if you think players will do A, B or C, they will usually do Q. But as mod you get to bring them back to your plan.

For example say you want them to visit a mine. If they go to a tavern, they overhear a conversation about treasure at the mine. If the go to the blacksmith, he complains about shortages of ore and asks them to investigate. Or a woman approaches them with a request to rescue her husband and offers a reward. You can always create the illusion of choice without actually giving them one.
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It is not enough to conquer; one must learn to seduce.  ~  Voltaire
Oh dearest Ryldor, dust thou know thy charm?; The clever smile soft upon thy face; Seem like a promise for to do no harm; Whilst I, enjoying thy tender grace; Should gaze in admiration at thy eyes; As azure as where highest heaven lay; Reflections of the clearest, truest skies; They seem to melt my very heart away!; And if thy lovely words were not as true; As thine eyes blue, still I'd believe thy claim; Of magedom. Magic turned a rosy hue; My cheeks. A spell thou cast upon this dame!; Thou art a most capricious scoundrel, yet; The sweetest gentlemen I've ever met.; ~ Rayne Avalotus
Ta'lia of the Seven Jewels
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« Reply #7 on: May 21, 2008, 07:12:05 AM »

Quote
Unfortunately there is a very subtle line between providing an NPCed event for the characters to react to, and pushing the story too fast and preventing people from reacting to it the way they want.  It's very easy to accidentally puppet other characters by moving things too quickly, so that an NPC does something the PC wants to react to, but then the plot moves on in the same post, making the PC unable to react the way they want because you've already said the NPC has moved away, which they wouldn't have done had the PC given the reaction they wanted to.

Rookie got here a point I have missed, for it was somehow self-evident for me. Of course you are not allowed to act for a player, so sometimes you have to wait quite some time till all have reacted and this slows the story down. I don't think we have covered more than a year in the Heart, though it is running now for over six years. There are always choices on the way - which path to take to a certain destination, or how to do this or that - or an extra adventure . I think we can assume, that all players want to play this game and if the destination is , say, New Santhala (which every player knows), then this group should reach new Santhala eventually.

To Rookies example -  the girl might touch the arm of the lad, but not more (no hit should actually land on a jaw), but the choice, if the men follow her should be entirely theirs. As Rookie said, no active action should be anticipated. Let us assume, Adam doesn't like the touch, so he could try to push her away, but he cannot write, that she fell on the ground.
If really an action was going too far, (say, she has hugged him), so editing is always an option, and nobody should feel insulted if he is asked to do so.
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