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Author Topic: How much do you plot in advance?  (Read 2977 times)

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Offline TheGlyphstone

Re: How much do you plot in advance?
« Reply #25 on: May 08, 2012, 04:53:06 PM »
Maybe I'm coming off as too rigid...I certainly don't have objections to a story mutating away from its intended plot or origin, I just don't think major plot alterations should be done by only one person unless that was agreed on before the story started. I know one of my best ongoing RPs has undergone at least two 'big shifts' in that way that have absolutely improved the story, but both of them came in a PM discussion of basically 'hey, what if we....' 'yeah, let's go for it'.

Offline Chrystal

Re: How much do you plot in advance?
« Reply #26 on: May 08, 2012, 05:34:11 PM »
I think it depends on the story and my RP partner.

This particular player told me repeatedly (and worriedly) that she very rarely sticks to plan. Glyph, if I were you, I would avoid her like the plague! *winks*

The point is, I was expecting the story to mutate freely, because she told me it would, and because I am expecting it I am more than willing to role with the changes.

But, conversely, some of the stories I enjoy the most are with a wonderful lady who is probably my best on-line friend, who insists on discussing the fine details of every post before she posts anything! (Actually I exaggerate a little, but only a little...) The point is, the story is planned in advance we know where it is going, we usually have the end in mind even before we open the thread, and this means we actually finish the story!

In point of fact, one story we are writing is the sequel to one we finished already, and we have a second sequel in mind, making it a trilogy!

Offline TheGlyphstone

Re: How much do you plot in advance?
« Reply #27 on: May 08, 2012, 05:50:42 PM »
Quote
This particular player told me repeatedly (and worriedly) that she very rarely sticks to plan. Glyph, if I were you, I would avoid her like the plague! *winks*

The point is, I was expecting the story to mutate freely, because she told me it would, and because I am expecting it I am more than willing to role with the changes.

See, that's what I was talking about too - I'm cool with a crazy, off-the-walls unpredictable plotline if I go in knowing that's what I signed up for.

Offline Chrystal

Re: How much do you plot in advance?
« Reply #28 on: May 08, 2012, 05:58:09 PM »
See, that's what I was talking about too - I'm cool with a crazy, off-the-walls unpredictable plotline if I go in knowing that's what I signed up for.

Interesting.

It seems that the general consensus is that, as long as we know to expect the unexpected, then random mutations in plot are fun...

"Wow, I wasn't expecting there to be a bomb in the hotel... Great idea. So, now all our clothes have been destroyed, we go on a rampage of burglary to steal enough money to get back home!"

... Yeah!

Offline TheGlyphstone

Re: How much do you plot in advance?
« Reply #29 on: May 08, 2012, 06:16:17 PM »
And proceed to go on a wacky cross-country road trip with a talking animal sidekick?

Offline Thufir HawatTopic starter

Re: How much do you plot in advance?
« Reply #30 on: May 08, 2012, 06:19:14 PM »
Interesting.

It seems that the general consensus is that, as long as we know to expect the unexpected, then random mutations in plot are fun...

"Wow, I wasn't expecting there to be a bomb in the hotel... Great idea. So, now all our clothes have been destroyed, we go on a rampage of burglary to steal enough money to get back home!"

... Yeah!
You know the main rule of Improv theatre? Say yes!
You know the main rule of most "story games"? Say yes or roll the dice. The similarities aren't accidental :P!
Either way, the goal is to avoid blocking another person's creative input, so it becomes "our story" instead of "my story to which I let you add details", which I'm sure we've all seen already ;D.

Offline TheGlyphstone

Re: How much do you plot in advance?
« Reply #31 on: May 08, 2012, 06:44:24 PM »
You know the main rule of most "story games"? Say yes or roll the dice. The similarities aren't accidental :P!

Unless you're playing Paranoia. There, rolling the dice is a bad thing, because it means you haven't already decided the outcome in advance. :D

Offline Thufir HawatTopic starter

Re: How much do you plot in advance?
« Reply #32 on: May 08, 2012, 06:49:55 PM »
Unless you're playing Paranoia. There, rolling the dice is a bad thing, because it means you haven't already decided the outcome in advance. :D
That's definitely the first time I hear anyone claiming Paranoia is a "story game", FWIW ;).

Offline TheGlyphstone

Re: How much do you plot in advance?
« Reply #33 on: May 08, 2012, 07:06:52 PM »
You can tell great stories with Paranoia. They're just not happy stories. :-)

Offline Thufir HawatTopic starter

Re: How much do you plot in advance?
« Reply #34 on: May 08, 2012, 07:39:23 PM »
Except I'm not using "story game" in the sense of "a game that tells stories". All games do that, after the game is over and you look at what happened ;D.
Actually, let me just quote Wikipedia, I claim no credit for the text below and only used bold on a particularly relevant sentence ;).

Spoiler: Click to Show/Hide
Story Games

Story Games is a discussion forum dedicated to role-playing games that focus on shared story creation. Many of the story games discussed on this site take their core from improv theater games (like in the TV show Whose Line Is It Anyway?), but are played around a table by describing what happens in the story, rather than by getting up and acting it out. A story game is a type of role-playing game experience with a lesser focus on "My Character" and a greater focus on "Our Story" (meaning the story that all the players at the table want to make). As an experience, most RPGs can be played "Story Games Style" with a little adjustment. As a game, some games are particularly created by their designers to aim for a meaningful 'Story Games' experience.

A majority of the games discussed and created on Story Games are indie and/or small press games. While the site does not offer any games for sale, several creators use it to discuss design issues, report progress, and promote their games. Some games are hosted on the Story Games site. The wiki section hosts information on over 80 story games as well as a variety of related resources.

Offline TheGlyphstone

Re: How much do you plot in advance?
« Reply #35 on: May 08, 2012, 08:40:26 PM »
Ah, so something like Fiasco, got it.

Offline Chrystal

Re: How much do you plot in advance?
« Reply #36 on: May 10, 2012, 07:50:02 AM »
You know the main rule of Improv theatre? Say yes!
You know the main rule of most "story games"? Say yes or roll the dice. The similarities aren't accidental :P!
Either way, the goal is to avoid blocking another person's creative input, so it becomes "our story" instead of "my story to which I let you add details", which I'm sure we've all seen already ;D.

Okay, interesting question:

When does "Keeping a story on track" become "Blocking someone else's creative input"?

Lets take a fairly straight forward group RP of the sort that there are probably dozens being played on this site alone right now: A group of adventurers set off to find the legendary Macguffin. I'm pretty sure this has already been discussed elsewhere, but the fact that I can't remember what the answer was probably means there was no satisfactory answer...

So, our adventurers leave the tavern and the party leader (played by GM) says "Right guys and gals, the map says the Macguffin is in a cave in that mountain up there."

To which the bulk of the party turn around and say "Okay, you have fun, we'll be in this tavern having sex..."


Yeah, I know, it's unlikely to happen, because if you wanted a sex-romp, why did you sign up for a Macguffin hunt? Extreme example to make the point.

So, is the GM justified in that circumstance in saying: "Fine, see you when I get back... Oh, by the way, a demon who can only be stopped by the Macguffin has just tunnelled his way from the underworld and blown up the tavern... Now get your acts together and lets go find the damn thing!"

Or would a better approach be to say "Well okay, but I thought you guys wanted a Macguffin hunt. If you don't then fine, we can always do that some other time..." And join them in the tavern!

Offline Thufir HawatTopic starter

Re: How much do you plot in advance?
« Reply #37 on: May 10, 2012, 04:54:25 PM »
Okay, interesting question:

When does "Keeping a story on track" become "Blocking someone else's creative input"?
The answer depends on who you ask. I can only give you my answer.
"When there was creative input that got blocked".
It might sound almost like weaselling out of an answer, but it's not, just consider it. If there was creative input that got blocked for a reason other than "it's crossing the boundaries we set together before the game", it's blocking the creative input of another player.
Now, said boundaries might involve different stuff. Genre inappropriate stuff (it might be advantageous to use a gun in a kung-fu fight, but the characters in the movies slug it out empty-handed) can be banned. Something that crosses OOC boundaries of what another player would tolerate, or that would make the game less fun for him or her, like the OFFs we have at this site.
Or the setting might be a boundary, like you can't bring the dead back in Exalted. You can raise them as spectres and zombies, though.
A system might be such a boundary, especially if it reflects the setting. The good ones never become an issue, IME, but I've also seen more than my fair share of poor ones.
Where it gets thorny is when "the story the GM wants to tell" is acting as the guideline. However, as long as everybody agreed to follow said story, it's more than a valid one, and in that case, you take whatever actions are necessary to "keep it on track". Generally not my favourite, but not blocking anything if the players want to follow it.
If the players had discussed said story beforehand, and maybe added your own touch to it, but the are expected to follow it? That's a bit more of a "shared" story, although one player is probably still playing the primary role. But again, if that's what you agreed to, it's still under the same guideline.
If the players have a starting situation and a premise, and are expected to bring their own story by their actions in the game? "Keeping the game on track" becomes redundant. It might well be on track even if all the characters are heading to their glorious or not-so-gloriuos and tragic, "dirty dozen dancing on the tomb of Tarantino" style deaths! In my book, that makes for one less thing the GM should keep track of, and generally, that's the level of freedom I strive for. Played such games, and they were lots of fun.
And yes, the different approaches lead to different amounts of pre-planning, as we discussed in the other thread.
Does that answer your question?

Quote
Lets take a fairly straight forward group RP of the sort that there are probably dozens being played on this site alone right now: A group of adventurers set off to find the legendary Macguffin. I'm pretty sure this has already been discussed elsewhere, but the fact that I can't remember what the answer was probably means there was no satisfactory answer...

So, our adventurers leave the tavern and the party leader (played by GM) says "Right guys and gals, the map says the Macguffin is in a cave in that mountain up there."

To which the bulk of the party turn around and say "Okay, you have fun, we'll be in this tavern having sex..."


Yeah, I know, it's unlikely to happen, because if you wanted a sex-romp, why did you sign up for a Macguffin hunt? Extreme example to make the point.
Wait, are the players still willing to hunt the Macguffin after they have their "farewell to the ladies" (or whatever floats their boats)?
If yes, what would change in your Macguffin-hunting, I'd just expect you to say "nice idea, is likely some of us might die on the way, so let's fuck before!"
If not, yes, there's probably a reason to it. If that's the majority of the party, pause the IC right there and ask them OOC. That's why we have an OOC thread.
If it's just a couple players and the rest want to get on with the plot,open them a new thread, tell them to screw there, and go on with your quest. Just make it clear OOC that you're not waiting for them.

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So, is the GM justified in that circumstance in saying: "Fine, see you when I get back... Oh, by the way, a demon who can only be stopped by the Macguffin has just tunnelled his way from the underworld and blown up the tavern... Now get your acts together and lets go find the damn thing!"
Is that kind of thing part of the genre you're emulating? I'm serious there, they might be willing to play "reluctant heroes", and expecting this reaction!
If they just wanted a "farewell romp", seems like you have a different idea of how E.-style "MacGuffin-hunting" plots are supposed to go. Go OOC and resolve it, it's neither a rules problem, nor an IC problem! Different understanding of the genre often leads to different expectations. And when expectations clash, that's 90% of what causes problems with games.
 
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Or would a better approach be to say "Well okay, but I thought you guys wanted a Macguffin hunt. If you don't then fine, we can always do that some other time..." And join them in the tavern!
Generally, my approach would be closer to that, as you can see above ;). As pointed above, I find OOC issues are solved best OOC, and IC issues are solved best IC. Mistaking them is often a recipe for disaster, boredom and other inglorious, game-ending fates ;D!

Offline Chrystal

Re: How much do you plot in advance?
« Reply #38 on: May 13, 2012, 05:13:08 AM »
Mmhmm... That was pretty much what I was expecting.

I like to ask these obvious questions, because although to me they may be obvious, to others they may not be, and while I have an idea of what the answer should be, again, others may not.

So, just to play devil's advocaat advocate for a moment:

Supposing I have the situation described above, I have set up a Macguffin hunt, the players are all game, they all start out and then one character decides to go into a brothel for a quickie before they all go off to die. The others follow suit and, as GM, I role with that, and away we go into the rooms of the house, everyone pairs up except the elf wizard who actually wanted to get on with the adventure but was overruled.

Straight away, I've lost a player. Nothing I can do about it, because he was the only one who, in the OOC discussion, said "I think we should get on with the quest", and was voted down by the others. He might stick around and wait, but I doubt it.

So.... we have a variety of sexual encounters, lasting in length from three posts each to twenty posts each. By the end of which, there are two players left in the game!

I'm sure everyone except the elf wizard had fun, but if they'd wanted a romp in a tavern and then bugger off home type RP, why sign up for a macguffin hunt?

And yes, this does happen. I've seen it. Everyone starts off enthusiastic for the quest, they pair up, have sex scenes and drop out. Or they realise that they aren't going to get to pair up and have sex scenes, and they drop out.

To be honest, it's a no-win situation for the GM, and the only real course of action is to go with the flow and try to keep things moving, then when no-one except yourself has posted for a month, create a new interest check thread for your next idea....


Offline Thufir HawatTopic starter

Re: How much do you plot in advance?
« Reply #39 on: May 13, 2012, 11:19:44 AM »
Mmhmm... That was pretty much what I was expecting.

I like to ask these obvious questions, because although to me they may be obvious, to others they may not be, and while I have an idea of what the answer should be, again, others may not.

So, just to play devil's advocaat advocate for a moment:

Supposing I have the situation described above, I have set up a Macguffin hunt, the players are all game, they all start out and then one character decides to go into a brothel for a quickie before they all go off to die. The others follow suit and, as GM, I role with that, and away we go into the rooms of the house, everyone pairs up except the elf wizard who actually wanted to get on with the adventure but was overruled.

Straight away, I've lost a player. Nothing I can do about it, because he was the only one who, in the OOC discussion, said "I think we should get on with the quest", and was voted down by the others. He might stick around and wait, but I doubt it.
But why do you assume nothing happens ;)?
I mean, that's a brothel, or an inn. He could screw an NPC sex worker, or he might get to talk to the patrons. People that travel a lot have a tendency to visit such places. Thus, he could reasonably find a guy with information for the road to your next target if you roll an encounter you decide there is one ;D!

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So.... we have a variety of sexual encounters, lasting in length from three posts each to twenty posts each. By the end of which, there are two players left in the game!
Wait, you started with how many players, exactly >:)?
More seriously, some people had taken longer, IC, and that's fine. The rest of them could get into a bar fight, get ripped by the locals in a dice game, or whatever.
But that's not the same as them sitting off idly.
Or, you could assume everybody lasts about equally long, and open them new threads for each sexual encounter. Then they can write their scenes while the characters also travelled to the next place.

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I'm sure everyone except the elf wizard had fun, but if they'd wanted a romp in a tavern and then bugger off home type RP, why sign up for a macguffin hunt?
No idea. Why should it become a romp in a tavern and then bugger off game ;)?

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And yes, this does happen. I've seen it. Everyone starts off enthusiastic for the quest, they pair up, have sex scenes and drop out. Or they realise that they aren't going to get to pair up and have sex scenes, and they drop out.
For those that wouldn't pair up, I have an advice. It's screwing the NPCs, literally :P!
For those that drop off after the sex scene? In my book, these weren't interested in the game itself from the beginning. I count them "inevitable losses", and you are going to "shed" some people.

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To be honest, it's a no-win situation for the GM, and the only real course of action is to go with the flow and try to keep things moving, then when no-one except yourself has posted for a month, create a new interest check thread for your next idea....
While the game lasts, I only know one "no-win situation for the GM". It's becoming the guy nobody in the group can stand!
Everything else is preventable, and probably can be repaired if you miss the signs. This one is preventable, but if you miss it, it's much harder to repair the damage done. OTOH, it's also harder to get there 8-)!