Elliquiy represents a somewhat unusual environment for a GM due to the mixture of possible expectations created by the possibility of erotic roleplay.
Specifically, I mean this in regards to how those expectations can be set and met by the GM, and elements that a GM new to Elliquiy might not consider.
Recently there has been a thread in this forum about 'the lack of roleplays about sex', but if one looks at the Group Roleplays Wanted forum one will usually find a wide variety of roleplay recruitment threads which clearly exist to create ERP encounters - harems, maids, incest situations, slave situations, prep schools...Most of the commonly accepted kinks can be pretty easily found here, having specific threads which clearly cater to them. These threads have their expectations pretty clearly front-loaded, so a GM (if there is one) really doesn't need to worry too much about recruitment complications. These aren't the threads I'm going to focus on - they clearly exist to fulfill a specific fetish scenario, and often as not they exist in a vacuum, outside of which there is no clear setting or world, but the expectation about ERP isn't a point of contention because it is actually the first thing which is made clear between GM and players.
Where things get tricky is the introduction of an external roleplaying setting. Because it's a very common example I'm going to stick to a specific and well-known RPG, Dungeons & Dragons
. A gamemaster who posts a recruitment thread for this sort of game has a handful of possible issues to resolve with regards to party composition:
- First, and most obviously, most such games have a sort of 'typical party makeup'. There's the tank, the social operator, the healer, the people who do DPS, etc. In AD&D terms, your fighter, rogue, cleric, mages, et al. Most gamemasters who come to Elliquiy and intend to start such a game have a pretty good handle on these things and a great deal has been written about balancing them. A gamemaster running a system game probably has a fair bit of experience sifting character ideas and deciding on what will and will not work best for their game.
- Secondly, a GM may choose to examine previous RP posts from other games the applicants have participated in. This isn't a matter of elitism, it's a matter of trying to get a group of people who will interact well together. Of course I'm generalizing here, but for the most part a group composed of people who write lengthy posts or a group composed of people who write terse posts will work best. When one mixes and matches, one begins to frequently encounter issues where more literary players will feel their writing is being ignored, or that other, less vociferous players 'are not making an effort'; and on the other side one will see more dice-oriented people becoming frustrated at having to wade through walls of text to see if they hit. At its worst, this can become problematic in terms of game actions - even when "tl;dr" isn't aggressively called out, some players who don't like to read through long descriptions may make action poses which conflict with the poses other players have written...Because they either missed the action element in the text, skimmed it, what have you -- I'm afraid I'm sounding rather down on the short-pose people here, but if you've read this far you probably can tell that I like to write, so I can only offer some limited understanding of the other camp. What's important is that it CAN cause conflict, and that this is less likely to be an issue if you have a group composed of people whose writing interests are the same...Whether they are short-text or multi-paragraph posters, a homogenous group rarely sees these kinds of issues, and they're endemic to PbP, whether ERP is a possibility or not. This represents another filter - one which some GMs don't seem aware of, resulting in occasional player expectation conflict in their games.
- But because Elliquiy is an ERP-permitted PbP forum, a third level of filtration occurs due to the potential for ERP. I've seen players and GMs talk about 'gender balancing' but gender really isn't at the core of it: a single-gender party can work out just fine, so long as the characters are all homosexuals; a group composed of a handful of characters of a single gender and one of the opposite gender can work out just fine, providing the odd character out is into being shared or group sex, and everyone else is into sharing that person. In contrast, there are a plenitude of ways in which a party divided evenly between the genders may NOT work out. Probably the most common 'problem' situation I have seen involves heterosexual male or female characters (and more often males than females), but it is probably due to a seeming glut of bisexual female characters. The more limited the ways are in which a character can 'fit' into the ERP situation, the more likely it is they will be sidelined. And this not only goes for gender-affiliation, but also for kinks: the hardcore S&M type gets sidelined in a vanilla party, and vice-versa. This is all somewhat illusionary - simply because there are compatible characters in the party is no guarantee that there will be interest or ERP between them - but it is a thing which comes up.
In addition to this peculiarity of 'ERP-interest balancing' which new GMs to Elliquiy may not perceive, there is yet another potential area where expectations of the players (and the gamemaster!) should probably be discussed, the degree to which ERP is a theme of the roleplay. I will offer some examples, again keeping to the milieu of Dungeons & Dragons
because it's common and easy to compose examples in:
- Firstly, the game which runs much like a D&D game on any other forum - except that, as some put it, there is no "fade to black". The game does not go out of its way to offer sexual opportunities, but if sex happens, it is permitted rather than avoided. The players and the gamemaster presumably should have interest in an ongoing plot, vanquishing enemies, becoming heroes, etc., and getting laid is simply something that might happen along the way, or might be yet another means to an end (seducing rather than backstabbing the obstacle guard, etc).
- Secondly, the game which tweaks the D&D world/game in the interests of inundating the players with various forms of ERP. I've seen examples of this wherein any combat in which the player characters were defeated resulted in long rape scenes rather than character death. The most common type of monster seems to be either a tentacle monster or "a well-hung <insert name of more traditional game system creature here>". The players and the gamemaster probably aren't there to complete a long-term campaign so much as to indulge in (often campy) ERP...Trying to complete any sort of long-term plot probably is a doomed effort, as the resolution of 'post-combat' scenes is where the real play focus sticks.
Obviously, a player expecting the first of these who finds themselves in the second probably won't be happy, and vice-versa. The GM who sets this sort of expectation in advance will probably have an easier time of it than the one who finds out that not all of their players are on the same page in such regards.
PbP games can die off or be killed in a variety of ways. Only on Elliquiy have I ever seen a gamemaster throw up their hands and abandon ship because in the very first tavern scene, almost all of the player characters ended up shagging in closets and upstairs rooms, and could not be persuaded to come out to further the plot!
That's kind of a wacky distinction. Don't get me wrong, I like it here.
But this presents another expectation a GM needs to communicate to the players. How much will inter-player ERP be permitted to delay the plot?
Obviously if it's plot significant, and the outcome of seducing the Dragon Queen will affect everything else, then it probably should take central stage...But if only one player can participate, it's kind of rotten to make everyone sit around for two or three weeks of back-and-forth. Explain to the player that they'll get X number of posts at most between now and (insert a fairly close day of the week) that the GM will respond to, or simply write it up as a grand vignette, send it to the player, and ask them to edit any things they think their character might do/say differently, then present it to the party as a fait accompli
In contrast, even three quarters of the party is off screwing in their rooms at the inn, the gamemaster may want to maintain some momentum in the adventure. In such a case, I would recommend the creation of an alternate thread, so that the game (and the sex) can proceed without greatly interfering with each other.
Well, I believe I've rambled on enough here, and probably gone off track once or twice in the points I meant to make.
How do you see these elements affecting your games?
Do you have any other advice for handling them that you'd recommend to fellow GMs on Elliquiy?
Thanks for your time.