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Roleplaying in the World of SpellForce The english SpellForce RPG forum.

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Alt 09-27-2005, 16:46   #1
Free Flinker
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What You Need to Know

Types of Story

There are two main ways to run a story which I'll discuss shortly. These are not the only ways to run a story by any means - there are variations such as a turn-based controlled thread or a FFA thread with prompts and ideas rather than instructions/gamemastering from the original poster. Just be clear if you intend to make a variation so participants are clear on what to expect.

Controlled Threads

This sort of story has a structured plot, driven by one person acting as a kind of GamesMaster/referee. This will usually be the thread's original author but doesn't have to be so. As players complete one scene the controller will move the story on to the next scene, perhaps describing scenery and locations, introducing NPCs, placing items and matching you against foes.

The controller should aim to be fair to each player involved, arbitrating on any disagreements or actions.

As a general rule, players should avoid assumptions. For example, the controller describes glowing sigils around a doorway. You may prod them, poke them or do a rain dance in honour of them if you wish but do not assume their effect upon you. Leave that to the controller who is clearly waiting for your reaction so he/she can tell you what happens.

Try not to get bogged down in this style of play however. It is useful as a means of introducing puzzles but can become cumbersome if used too much due to the fact that there is a time delay on message board posting and some participants might not be back for some time. If you wait for everyone to take a turn it will slow the story down. Then again, this maybe the effect you want (a form of play-by-email game) but if it is then make sure you say so before you start. Otherwise, consider whether such a turn based pace is necessary and if it isn't then don't use it. Also, some turn based elements don't require you wait on everyone before you can proceed, for example if the glowing runes were a trap then the first player to trigger it means the story can keep going as it won't matter what other player characters are doing when it can be just as easily assumed.

Otherwise, see FFA threads below.

Free-For-All Threads

There is no structured plot, just a basic starting point. During the course of play turns are taken on a first come, first served basis with each player progressing the story as they see fit but always tied to the last person posting.

Try not to get bogged down in minutae. By that I mean avoid one line posts dealing with a relatively insignificant part of the plot. For example, if you write in an encounter with a group of orcs then just go ahead and tell of the encounter rather than taking turns to describe the battle step by step and player by player. By all means allow such an encounter to last over a couple of posts so everyone has a go, just keep the story flowing.

You're allowed to write what another player's character does as long as you make sure you've read their character sheet, know what they are and aren't capable of and don't put them into situations that leave them indebted to your character or in a place you aren't willing to write yourself into. If in doubt don't write it or seek permission from the character's owner first.

For example, "Seeing the orcs attack, Bob the Barbarian crys like a baby and runs screaming from the melee" is not an acceptable situation unless A) Bob the Barbarian is well established as a cry-baby coward or B) Bob's player gives you permission.
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Alt 09-27-2005, 16:53   #2
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Writing the Story

Place as much information on your character sheet as you can and try to be consise. No one needs to write so much that people stop reading after the first paragraph but as much consise information as possible will not only help you, it will help others too; it can help the person controlling the plot or it can help others to write your character when their turn arrives. You should be able to get a feel for the character's basic persona by simply reading their character sheet.

If you don't have an idea of how you will write your character then it's little use for this sort of RPG. Sure, you can develop them over time but this can get messy and inconsistent, unless you know what you are doing. I would suggest that unless you have a solid character with some idea of how you will characterize them then don't just jump in. Wait until you figure out some ideas. It's not difficult, you just need to think about it first and the rules for character creation should help in that respect, to prompt ideas.

You should make a character interesting before you even consider making them powerful. Imagine reading a book where the character has no flaws and can go around slaying dragons with one hand tied behind their back. It would be very boring to read. On the other hand, a flawed character, whether they are a powerful wizard or lowly slave can be much more interesting.

This is not to say that you cannot create a more powerful character, as long as the story is geared to such an individual, but power is always relative - Gandalf wouldn't be interesting if he only faced peasants at every turn, he needs a challenge to his abilities to make it interesting to read about his exploits. More powerful characters require harder challenges to meet their ability.

Also, avoid trying to portray your character as the sole hero of the story unless you're writing solo. It can get frustrating for other players if you're always the one who saves the day. Share the limelight unless you've got a prior agreement that you're playing Holmes to someone else's Watson or Batman to someone else's Robin.

Similarly, if you have the option of introducing NPCs (non-player-characters) to the story then match them with the characters taking part, unless there is a plot element involved. If you do use a powerful NPC as a plot element then try to make them fit logically into the story and do not use this device too often. It soon gets boring if every "helpful" NPC you meet is an undefeatable demi-god who can toy with the characters at will. It can also be frustrating if lowly characters keep running across dragons in every encounter. Use a common sense approach and don't overdo it.

Geändert von Free Flinker (09-30-2005 um 12:45 Uhr).
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Alt 09-27-2005, 17:00   #3
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Progressing a Character

In a computer RPG you have enemies to defeat and quests to complete. Both reward exp and allow your character to gain new skills and abilities. In a tabletop RPG you have a GM to fulfil the role of awarding experience.

This style of RPG is often quite different. There might be no one to reward your character so how does it make progress?

It depends upon what you wish to change about your character as to whether or not you could improve it but under most circumstances you will only improve by telling the story of how your character actually improves. Since you should be telling your character's story anyway this is not so difficult, providing you remember to portray what you yourself set out on your character sheet.

Improving a Skill

If you wish to improve a skill then you must work it into the story over time:
  • Perhaps you write about your quest to find someone to train you
  • Maybe you simply improve a skill between taking part in one story and the next
  • Then again, if a story is open-ended and ongoing perhaps you improve a skill after a length of time taking part
It's fairly straightforward but don't improve too much at once or hand yourself an improvement just because you feel you can. You may have practiced at every opportunity but anyone can type "I practice, practice, practice" or "I find the zen master and he agrees to train me". Makes very boring reading and it's not exactly interesting to write either. On the other hand, you might write a great story in one or two posts, explaining how you got to become the only master chicken plucker in the land; however, if your story just sidelined the main plot and ignored other players turns you're avoiding character development in context of the thread so don't really deserve an improvement either. Just use common sense and if unsure, err on the side of caution or at least seek advice.

Adding an Advantage or Removing a Disadvantage

Let's imagine you wish to remove a disadvantage. First of all you need to have characterized that disadvantage. Over the course of a story you can attempt to have the character start to overcome this difficulty and eventually remove it. Telling the story of how you overcame a disadvantage is the only way of removing it.

You can also add an advantage to your character too but make sure you have a good reason, one that is story related and not just thrown in because you felt like it. The story of how you gained such an advantage must also be told.

Adding Equipment

Changing minor items can be done at your discretion as long as you are logically consistent with it. For example, you could feasably go out and buy a new sword but not if you're stuck in an empty field, miles from anywhere.

Found items are inserted into the story by the person controlling the plot, if the thread is controlled that is. They should try not to be too generous but reward characters appropriately. For example, you may wish your plot to contain a high amount of magic and magical items but bear in mind that you'll develop a player's character to only fit within the high magic genre and possibly exclude them from taking part (with the same character) in less magic intensive stories. Also bear in mind that without some form of restriction or logical foil, any items an NPC (non-player-character) drops the players will be able to pick up. You might not want that to happen or regret it later. Caution is therefore warranted.

If a plot is not being controlled by an individual then be sensible about adding beneficial items for yourself and each other. Don't just reward yourself with magic swords and the like just because it's too easy to type "I see a sword in a stone and tug on it only to discover I'm the true heir to the sword and, so the gaping knights tell me, the throne of England too!"

Pay attention to the style of the story too because you don't want to commit a faux pas by finding the flaming sword of doom when so far the story was geared toward gritty realism. On the other hand, if everyone has godswords then finding a dull and rusty dagger is hardly appropriate either.

If in doubt seek advice when improving your character.

Also worth noting - in a controlled thread that thread's controller might offer a reward to a player for an outstanding story. Similarly, a moderator might reward a player. In both cases the preceding advice should be kept in mind too.

Geändert von Free Flinker (09-30-2005 um 12:33 Uhr).
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