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Author Topic: Story Creation Guides  (Read 1476 times)
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Kalína Dalá'isyrás
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Posts: 12803

High Elf, Kaýrrhem

« on: September 23, 2007, 08:02:33 AM »

This is the format in which the Administration would like for all stories to be proposed, as this creates a uniformity and a way for us to easily read the information we feel is necessary for approval.

Be creative and unique when thinking up of the name for your story. You want the title to grab player's attention and draw them to your story before they even read the outline of the plot. It should also be slightly informative and relative to your plot line at the same time.

List main Moderator and who the Co-Moderators are for this story.

Number of Player Characters:
Moderators! (and to be Moderators) This is the number of active players you will have to guide and take care of in your story, so keep in mind your limitations both physically, mentally, and emotionally when it comes to dealing with others. Each and every person you have in your story will effect it either positively or negatively, so make sure you keep the number of people in your story manageable, despite the fact that people may be begging to join, it is ok to say no for the sake of your health and sanity.

Type of Player Characters:
Variety is the key to any successful storyline, yet every story has its specific needs when it comes to types of characters, so this has a lot of flexibility depending on the Moderator and the plot line of the story. But Moderators, make sure to be fair in your choices and do not simply turn someone away because of the occupation or training. There is always a way to incorporate people if you have a good imagination flexibility we believe you do. Be careful about warrior heavy stories and mage heavy stories, as they will greatly outbalance any traveling party for obvious reasons.

Basic Story Outline:

Give us the story, but not in painful detail. We don't want to know all the little secrets you are planning for this story, as that will just ruin it for everyone. Keep this write-up basic...detailed enough to create interest but leave plenty of questions for the player. Make it at least a paragraph in length (7-8 sentences) Yet, make sure you send a detailed write-up to the Administration, (Altario, Rayne, Irid or Kareesh) especially if is questionable content in the secretive aspects of the storyline. For more information which may answer more in depth questions, click on the big red title at the top of the page. It will link you to the Story Creation page.

Additional Information:
Any extra information which may not have fit properly in the categories listed above.
« Last Edit: May 07, 2012, 07:21:53 AM by Altario Shialt-eck-Gorrin » Logged

Insanity is only a perception made by those who have yet to attain its greatness. While those of us who have already stepped inside its bounds find bliss in our utter madness.
Nai'r en'Lina ar'Kaimel
Kalína Dalá'isyrás
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Gender: Female
Posts: 12803

High Elf, Kaýrrhem

« Reply #1 on: March 23, 2009, 11:35:33 PM »

Treatise on Running a Santharian Role Playing Game

(or How to Learn from My Mistakes)

What is an RPG?
RPG.  Role playing game.  Have you ever thought about what that means?  To my mind, most role-playing games really are not ROLE playing games. Yes you get a character, and you get to run around treasure finding and killing the evil wizards and the ferocious monsters. However, you are as close to creating a role as Bruce Willis in Die Hard is to Laurence Olivier in Hamlet.

To really CREATE a role, a character that is your own, then most of these games like World of Warcraft and Runescape, fall short. A better alternative is a play by post game. It hearkens back to the Dungeons and Dragons days where you and a few friends would gather around the kitchen table and create adventures. However, now you are gathered on the internet, with people from literally all over the world. You can spend a minute, making a short post, or you could spend hours writing the equivalent of War and Peace.

To this end, I think that the Santharian Dream is the finest of all the play by post sites. A world has been created by a rich ensemble of brilliant minds, and one cannot help but become enthralled in the diversity of the lands. Here, you are expected to create a unique character and post in a manner that tries to keep from being a hack and slash mindless adventure. Real characters adventure, find love and intrigue, and get jobs, as they wander the land.

Not for those looking for simple swords and sorcery, this is a world that is going to take some thought and some time. However, like most things in life, it is worth the extra effort. As Olivier might say, "Yippee-kiy-yay, poor Yorrick!"

My Brain Runneth Over With Ideas
You have been a player on Santharia for awhile now.  You are involved in adventures with one or more characters, and have made many friends in the OOC forums.  You comment on CD’s and try to help the site get bigger and better.  So, what’s the problem?  There is an itch that you can not scratch yet?  A feeling that you could offer more?

At some point you might decide that you would like to give it a go at being the director of a story.   After all, you have read the LOTR books; you’ve seen Conan the Barbarian on DVD at least 6 times.  How hard could it be?  Set up a bad guy to kill, get some of your mates to help you find it, and deliver a great treasure.  Presto, an instant classic.

(sound of record needle being slid over a vinyl album)

Ok, let’s actually take a good hard look at the factors that go into running a story.  To this end, I want you all to pull out that favourite DVD of yours.  No, not the one you hide when your mom, or girlfriend is around, but one that you can have lying on the coffee table when guests come over.  Notice the part where it has the Behind the Scenes X-tras?  That is what we shall be reviewing in this tutorial.  We all love movies, so I plan on making this a little less dry and more educational by relating it in easy to understand allegories.

Box Office Sales
As the ones who are the producers of the story, the Admins will be taking a close look at the site and determining whether another story, in particular your story, is both needed and will fit in with what is on the site.  What makes your story special?  If you took more than two seconds to start eschewing the wonderful attractions your story has to offer, then go take a second look at your plan. 

You, as the writer, director, and all the other roles you will need to be in your story, needs to have a clear vision of what you want to bring forth.  You need to express that in a way that pulls the Admins in, gets them to take a closer look at your story and all nod their collective heads and want to be part of it.  They are not here to approve just any story.  There is nothing more frustrating to a player than to join a story that goes nowhere.  The Admins understand this, and will look to only back stories that are going to enrich the site and attract new people to it, not have people quitting out of frustration and boredom.  Word of mouth travels faster when it is negative than it ever could as positive.  So, to that end, the Admins want as many good experiences here as possible.

Also, is the board busy enough to take another story?  People only have so much free time to devote to Santh.  If they have already three stories they are involved in, they might not be able to devote enough time to a fourth.  We need to ensure there are enough players, not just characters, to keep another story alive.  Fewer stories running stronger is more favourable to many stories limping along.  If this is the case, then hold on to your idea and bring it out again when the population has gained enough to warrant another story.

You call this a Script?
Writers.  They are the heart and soul of RPG’s.  As you are creating this story, you need to be sure your story is going to appeal to the masses.  You need to have a strong plot.  What is the aim of your story?  Where will it lead?  What surprises have you planned?  Simply stating that “well, I want my party to cross those mountains, then we’ll fight some monsters, then we’ll kill the bad guy and take the treasure” is not going to suffice.  Trust me; you will be doing enough ad libbing in a well thought out story, without trying to think of a plot while you are playing.

We aren’t all Leo Tolstoy.  We can’t all write like a pro, but we can create a story that will excite and engage other players.  We need to have a script that will propel our characters forward toward a goal.  It can be treasure, a bad guy, rescuing a princess, whatever, as long as the characters have something they need to accomplish.  I will touch upon this more later, when you have begun casting your story.

Did Steven Spielberg really start out like this?
Any story is only as good as its mods.  As you are the one creating the story, chances are you are alone at the outset.  Before you bring the story to life, you will need help.  Co-mods. 

Your story might literally live and die with your choice of co-mods.  Be sure that you choose wisely.  Pick someone that you will be able to bounce ideas off of, one that won’t be intimidated by you, yet will respect you.  Have at minimum one co-mod, though it is recommended that you have two.  Stories take far more time and effort than you probably realize, until you have done it.  A good story does not just happen, or continue on its own.  And sometimes RL calls on people to be inactive for periods of time.  Having extra hands to step in when something goes amiss will save you from losing the interest of players when times get hectic.

Every story is going to have its hurdles.  Waxing and waning of interest and participation is an occupational hazard in a forum like this.  Understand that now.  It will occur within you, your co-mods and your players.  This is why it is imperative that you have enough co-mods, and dedicated co-mods.  It does nothing for you or your story if Jane_Doe is listed as a co-mod, but hasn’t posted in 3 months.  If you need to, replace them if they are no longer active, or if after talking to them, they no longer want the responsibility.

The Infamous Casting Couch
All movies, and your story, will need a cast.  You will need to think about this hard as you bring the story into fruition.  What spots will be filled by players, and what characters will only be NPCs (Non-Player Characters)? 

The main characters will, of course, be played by real people.  Otherwise, what is the point?  But how many?  What type?  First, you need to be sure you don’t overwhelm yourself.  Only take on as many players as you need, not necessarily all those who apply to join.  Do not kid yourself; running a story is hard work.  But, if it is a success, it is a very satisfying venture.

Decide what type of group you want to create.  A good group has a variety of both character types and character races.  Yes, you will need fighters, and the mage always comes in handy, but keep in mind the thief, and even characters that might look to offer no immediate adventuring strengths.  This is not D&D.  The magic of RPG’s is the mix of people.  The goal is the journey, not the destination.  So, the wider the diversity of your group, the more interesting it will become.

The minor characters are the extra flavour to any story, and provide many of the catalysts that will propel the story forward.  There are two ways to use them.  One, the more traditional way, is for you to run them, to create them specifically for this story.  It is hard work, but then they are under your control and  will do only what is necessary for the story.  It does, however, add to your workload, so keep that in mind.  Poor Stormy_Joe cannot go anywhere in the city until you post the guard at the city gate allowing him entrance.

The other way is to look at that list of players wanting to get into your story, who you have not found a spot for, and allow them to play guest roles.  Going to be in New Santhala for only a few days in game time?  Thought while the players wait for events to unfold you would create an NPC to go pick pocket one of them and create a subplot?  Why not advertize for a guest star?  Why should you do all the work?  Let them take this subplot, give them the specific parameters of what you had in mind, and let them go.  That does not mean you can turn a blind eye, no, not at all.  You need to keep up in what is going on and guide it so that it meshes with the overall story arc.  It is a subplot, not the main plot.

I will refer to the advantages of having a guest star a bit more later.

Behind the Scenes DVD Extras
Communication is key to any team endeavour, and no exception in the case of running a story.  You and your co-mods will be given a child board that is hidden to everyone but you.  Use this to talk to one another.  Post your plot here.  Revise it as you go.  Discuss with each how you want to proceed, where the problems are, and the best way to overcome it.  The co-mods have to be on the same page.  If not, your story will blur from one strong story into a few unfocused threads.

Talk with your players.  Use the OOC thread that you are setup with, as well as PMs.  Is everyone happy with their role.  Are there any suggestions in terms of both plot development and personal preferences?  If you have Stormy_Joe embroiled in a political intrigue plot, but he finds it boring because he wanted to do something more action oriented, then you may have to do some creative thinking or you run the risk of losing him altogether.

In your story, you need to know everything that your players will encounter, and the players themselves.  If you are travelling through the Rahaz Dath desert, it is best that you know who the Shendar are, what a Rahaz-Estar is, and the medicinal qualities of the Mil’no plant.  That way, you can incorporate these details into your posts, the description of the people and area around you.  It brings in the players into the world you are creating.

Do the same thing with your players.  Read their CD’s.  Make notes on the important points that can be worked into your story.  If Miranda_Magnificent is from Onved, and you are going through Onved, use what you can from her CD to move the plot forward.  Don’t overlook the small details that can add an amazing amount of depth to your players’ involvement.

Read the posts that your players are writing.  Check them for errors, and I’m not talking grammatical as much as making sure that Johnny_Rotten isn’t talking to someone who is not in the room.  This will also help you create a post that uses what they have written and build on that.  When a story is running well, the players and you are a team that works together to create a story over several posts, and not an endless stream of one post stories.

Posting is extremely important.  You have to keep up with posting.  This is where the 3 mod system really shines.  While it is not necessary to post the day of or even the next day to Johnny_Rottens post, you should not leave it languishing for weeks either.  By having more mods, NPC’s can be puppeted by any of the mods in order to progress the scene.  None of the mods will get burned out if the responsibilities are spread out between them.

If Johhny_Rotten is waiting for Sally_Stutter to post, then it is up to you or your co-mods to nudge these other players into posting.  If Sally_Stutter has not been seen in a few weeks, then you may have to puppet them out of your story, either temporarily or permanently if the situation persists.  The important thing is to keep those who are involved and are posting engaged so that they do not lose interest.  Otherwise, it can be like a series of dominoes, where one poor player affects the next one, and so on.

Keeping Interest
Know your players.  Know what it is that keeps them interested.  Some want action.  Some want character development.  What can you do to help them reach that?  Well, throw them a few curve balls.  Yes, going from Voldar to New Santhala is going to take a long time, but it need not be a boring time.  Toss in a random encounter with some creatures, bandits, or weather phenomenon. 

As well, not every minute detail of the trip need be played out.  It is ok to assume certain events in order to keep the pace going.  Yes, you all have mounts that you need to get ready each morning, but not everyone wants to write that all the time.  Each day of the trip needs not be written about in conversation between players.  Skip a few days, if there is nothing of note.  Do not skip all of it, however, as some players will want to develop their characters in these quiet times, so give some time to conversation.  By doing that, you also leave open the possibility of surprise.  If the players know that you only post a certain day because you have a nasty minion waiting for them, they lose some of the wonder and excitement of the unknown.

Involving the Players
You have created the perfect plot.  You have the best players.  So why is your story suffering?  Sometimes, players need to feel special.  Try to tailor points of the story specific to each player.  Have someone who is afraid of water and cannot swim?  Have a raging river crossing or a ride across a lake in a small rickety boat.  Going through Cavthan?  Well, Stormy_Joe was born in Cavthan.  Is there anything or anyone in his past that you can have engage the group?  For evil purposes, or just for an interesting encounter.  Not everything needs to be life or death.

Other ideas can come from reading your players CD’s and using their strengths and weaknesses, and their histories.  And don’t be scared to talk privately with your players.  They might have ideas as well.  And not everything Jane_Doe knows need be shared with everyone.  You and her might decide that  the large gemstone you acquired in that last encounter might look better in her pack than in the community coffers.  The other players don’t need to know the secret plan you and her come up with to steal the gem and pawn it in the next town.  Let her wait with that knowledge until the perfect opportunity arises where she can post her sticky fingered acquisition.   The other players will get a nice surprise.  Keeps that feeling that not everything has been planned.

Crisis Management
It’s been a month and Miranda_Magnificent has not posted.  Ok, now you have a problem.  Everyone else is waiting on her.  You have tried PM’ing her, but no response.  Now you have no choice but to puppet her off to the side.  You cannot hold up the story on one person, as much as that sounds harsh.  You can also consider replacing her now with someone off your waiting list.  This is where going back and looking at your guest stars can come in handy.  Belligerent_Bolgar was funny and posted quickly back in Salsair, so is there a way that you can bring him up now to replace Miranda_Magnificent?  Or Maybe Belligerent_Bolgar has another CD that would fit even better.  These are things you can discuss with Bolgar through PMs.  But knowing how that player has fit into your story will make integrating any character that much easier.

Nobody has applied?  Well, be proactive.  Take a look at the newly titled characters and see if there are any players there that have not joined a story yet.  No one said you had to wait for volunteers.  Go ahead, draft some people.  Many times a newly titled player (more so if this is a first time player) is a bit overwhelmed by the CD process and once they get titled, are not sure how to join a story.  They may be too shy to ask to join an already established story.  Who knows, you may just discover the next Tolkien in that bunch of new recruits.
« Last Edit: March 23, 2009, 11:36:03 PM by Kalína Mërénwèn » Logged

Insanity is only a perception made by those who have yet to attain its greatness. While those of us who have already stepped inside its bounds find bliss in our utter madness.
Nai'r en'Lina ar'Kaimel
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