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Story Guide System


ChareseLapreal

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The Story Guide System for MMORPG's

 

This is a role playing story telling system that can be used in MMORPG’s (Massive Multiplayer Online Role Playing Game) environments. The primary goal is to allow players to build in stronger narrative content and maintain suspension of disbelief. Above all this set of methods is meant as an aid for all who wish to have an enjoyable and deeper online experience.

 

The Story Guide

 

What is a Story Guide? The Story Guide shares elements with a script writer, a novel author, a film director, even an improvisational actor; however has more in common with Game Masters of the older role playing systems. In traditional table top role playing games, the Game Master, or in the classic Dungeons and Dragons, the Dungeon Master, was the person who provided exposition through a variety of means including acting out a myriad of Non-Player Characters, descriptions of the setting, created the plot, helped shape the narrative, and was able to adapt the story to the actions of the Player Characters.

 

The Story Guide is different than the classic Game Master, in that they don't have total control over the game within an MMO setting. Many things are preset, such as the setting, and each subscriber only has access to a limited number of characters. Despite these limitations, and encouraged by the rich environment created by the MMO developers, the Story Guide has the ability with a limited set of characters to provide a narrative structure story for another Player Character.

 

Why would one want to be a Story Guide? Throughout human history there has always been a cultural phenomenon of storytelling, through oral traditions down to modern day video games. Storytelling is one of the methods that we create meaning, and create lenses which we use to frame and understand ourselves. The Story Guide often wants to participate in this experience, sometimes as an art, and usually wants to share in creating meaning via catharsis and authentic change within their fellow players.

 

On a practical level this is a different method of storytelling than what is used for the Virtual Role Player within an MMO. The Virtual Role Player enters the game and stays in character much of the time, and reacts to the entire world as if each action will have an effect. There is no start and end point per say. One of the strong points of Virtual Role Playing is that it doesn’t require anyone to be logged on at a specific time or place. This allows for a great deal of spontaneous events, which can be rewarding, but also tend to lack consequences for actions, in which greater narrative is lost, and players are often reduced to sitting around in a single location, providing dialog without any external validation, which slowly deconstructs the suspension of disbelief. A good virtual role player can generate meaningful content over a long period of time, but they are very rare. Virtual Role Playing can certainly be a rewarding method of play, but there are many that cannot commit the great deal of time it takes to play this method, and would like to have access to shorter narratives that have meaning for them and their characters. For these reasons the Story Guide system can be used to fill in the gaps and even act as an asset to Virtual Role Playing.

 

The Player Character

 

Who are the Player Characters? In an MMO the starting point for most players is the Player Character. Once one has an account, they build out a character and then engage that character in the game world, following quests or other methods of play. On an MMO Role Play server the character is also acted out with a full complement of dialog in the chats and emotes, to create physicality, like an improv actor. Within the context of the Story Guide system, each Player Character has control over one character. To the Story Guide, who acts as writer director, the Player Character is your protagonist, albeit one that the Story Guide does not control. They should be the heroine, or anti-hero of your story, and should be the focus of the narrative, and attention, but are played by a separate individual.

 

The Cast of Characters

 

How does the Story Guide System work? The Story Guide system works by having the Story Guide or Guides create what I will refer to as "The Cast of Characters" which consists of characters that represent a set of Non-Player Characters that can be used to construct a narrative for Player Characters. In this method the Story Guide would create the supporting characters including companions for the heroes, love interests, and a set of villains that can properly challenge the Player Character. The Story Guide acts out the Cast of Characters, in a similar method as the Player Character acts out the protagonist. There are many plots that can be developed around this method, and if one has more than one Story Guide many more Non-Player Characters can be entered into the cast to make the story richer and more expansive.

 

What should the Cast of Characters consist of? When many people start playing MMO's their first goal is to create one character that they can strongly identify with, that will represent their desires for adventure within the game. Once that character becomes very powerful or finishes the preset game, they will then create another and repeat. The Cast of Characters uses the same game mechanism but in a very different way. Instead of creating a single character that represents the player, the Cast of Characters is meant to represent an entire environment. Each character should be unique, have distinct appearances, with a back story, and conflicting interests. When creating your Cast of Characters try not to make every character beautiful and perfect. Give them flaws, the players will appreciate it, and it will make giving each character a unique voice all that much easier. Those that will ally with the Player Character should not overtake the Player Character, but instead aid, and provide context, and plot points. As a base the Cast of Characters are forms of classic tropes from all types of narrative media, including the femme fatale, the mastermind villain, and sometimes the McGuffin. Modeling the Cast of Characters around basic tropes will provide adaptability to the cast so that they can be used in different ways in different plot lines. Remember the Cast of Characters are the primary tools that the Story Guide uses to set out the plot and narrative action. They should be interesting and well-rounded or play will become two dimensional.

 

 

Outside Role Players

 

If other people who are not part of the pre-planned adventure happen to walk into your adventure in character, the Story Guide must make a determination if the person is going to aid the adventure or hamper it. If this new player who does not know the system or hasn’t agreed to the time frames, will overpower your primary villain, then let them know politely what you are up to, and how involved they can end up being. Other role players can expand the boundaries of your story but when it comes to combat you have to be careful to maintain balance or you will lose your suspension of disbelief. Otherwise good Role Players who stumble in may help flesh out the world and make it feel more fluid. As well Virtual Role Players who surround the primary action can help give a feeling of a live environment and should be respected.

 

Settings

 

This is one of the many areas where MMO's really shine. They provide great settings, with many "cannon fodder" enemies that can aid your story line. Although choosing the most dramatic setting is a great thing to consider, there are a few other things that should come first.

 

One should try and choose a setting where the Player Character, or Player Characters, can handle the preset "cannon fodder" enemies. Don't send them to a location that is meant for much higher level characters, otherwise the game bogs down as the heroes get destroyed repeatedly.

 

Second try to use logic in what setting's you choose. Ask yourself why each Non-Player Character you have in your tool set are in each location? What brought them there, and what do they intend to do next?

As well it's very wise to map out areas that are player vs. player, or areas that don't allow combat. If you need the heroes to fight the primary antagonist of your story, make sure that the area they meet allows for that combat. I strongly recommend play testing each area you intend to use.

 

Finally the good stuff! Find all the locations that meet your needs for storytelling, and player levels, and within those find the most dramatic areas. When your villain appears at the top of the mountain the players are getting close to, and pulls out his/her glowing power sword, it should give the players a moment of pause. A battle over a vista, or even perhaps a small claustrophobic space, can really bring another level of edge to the story.

 

Placing the "Cast of Characters"

 

As a part of the pre planning for a Story Guide adventure, you need to place each character where they need to be at the start. In film this is called position 1. That means if you're villain is first seen at the top of the mountain place them there the night before then log off as that character. You don't want to have to try and place each character mid swing, because it will slow down the pace of the adventure. Once you have your plot set, make a chart of where each character starts at, and where they end up at each point in the game. If your wise old witch, who the characters met at the beginning, needs to suddenly appear at the top of her tower mid game, just as the characters arrive, you must find the quickest way to get her there from her pervious location. If the main characters Non-Player Character best friend who you control, as Story Guide, needs to disappear for a moment (called away to handle something else etc.) so that you can log in as your mini-boss for a fight with the Player Character, don't forget where the Non-Player Character friend should show up next. You need to plan times to move each member of your Cast of Characters to each new location. That can include 10 minute game breaks, or have the Player Character wait for someone to arrive at the local Virtual Role Play hangout. If you have more than one Story Guide or Player Character, a little in game dialog can give enough time for the other Story Guide to move from place to place. If you have methods of travel that are very quick, but limited in use, make sure you plan out what type of travel each Non-Player Character is going to use and when, to get from place to place (or position 1 to position 2) as quickly as possible.

 

Props & Costumes

 

Most MMO's offer "gear" and other props, and flourishes. Leave as little to the imagination as possible. This is one of the great things about MMO's along with the setting. You can do a lot by purchasing or trading for items that you need for your adventure. You have avatars, and the clothes they wear can turn them into the character you need. And like actors in a troupe, a change of costume with a new mask can create a whole new villain for a different story. As well if you have items that can act as a McGuffin (the object of desire or need, such as the Holy Grail in the King Arthur), find an in game object that matches your story needs. If the Player Characters are looking to remove a sword from a stone, try and get ahold of a sword you can then trade to the Player Character once they complete the task.

 

Story Guide Structure Options

 

At the base the Story Guide System uses the mechanic of having one or more Story Guides log in and out of the Cast of Characters, to provide an adventure to one more Player Characters. There are several different structures that can be used in the current breed of MMO's, depending on how many Story Guides, Player Characters, and accounts one has access to. The structures listed below all use this method but become progressively more complex in execution as more Story Guides and accounts are used. As they become more complex, more complex plot structures and narratives can be created. Keep in mind that one of the great challenges to role playing on MMO servers is timing. People log in and out based on their timing, and cannot be expected to always fit into the needs of the adventures timing. The more people you need in your plot structure, the more likely someone will not be able to be there at the right time. There is nothing worse than having your hero’s show up to the final battle only to find the primary villain had to leave 5 minutes ago for school or work. Same goes for exposition characters. If they are missing, the Player Characters, may not get the vital piece of information they need to progress. With that in mind, keep your initial stories short and with only a few people involved.

 

1. One Story Guide One Account – “The Spire System” - Because you can never have more than one character available online at a time, this system requires that the adventure be set up so that it progresses with a series of characters providing exposition and adversaries. All of the characters have to be set in proper order. Best demonstrated in a rescue scenario, although not limited to that trope, the Player Character should be introduced to a character in need of rescue. In this trope the rescuee is the McGuffin (the objective of the adventure) and should have enough time with the Player Character to humanize them, so the Player Character feels a motivation to rescue them. The rescuee should next declare an emergency, and leave the Player Character, under mysterious circumstances. Next a friend should arrive, to reveal that the rescuee is in danger has been kidnapped by a villain, and needs to be saved at a remote location. The Player Character will then travel to the location, as the Story Guide logs into a series of characters along the path that will both battle and provide further context, in the form of helpful characters. The Player Character will battle the "Dragon"/"Enforcer" and then finally the toughest of all “The Mastermind". After victory the Story Guide will log in again as the rescuee who will be in the final chamber just beyond the final fight, and be rescued. The base idea is that with only one account only one member of the cast can be on the stage at a time.

 

2. One Story Guide Two Accounts – “Caduceus System” – The Caduceus, was a staff with two serpents wrapped around it. I thought that was a good image for this system. In this case the Story Guide can build out more complex play scenarios, but only one character can do more than just talk at a time, due to the fact that the Story Guide can only maintain complex control over one character at a time. Basically you can have two characters available to give exposition but two cannot travel at a time beyond the simple follow command, available in some MMO's. But this gives a lot more complexity because at the outset you can have a companion to the Player Character, and a separate cast member that can still talk by switching over to the other character to continue dialog. This will flesh out the scenario a little further but will most likely need to remain close to the original Spire System. Keep in mind this also requires more resources both in the form of accounts and computer systems. If you only have one computer, it makes no sense to have multiple accounts.

 

3. Two Story Guides Two Accounts – “The Two Pillars” - This is the optimal minimum system for a single Player Character, as one character can be the Companion to the Player Character, while the other Story Guide can play the role of villain. You can also set up puzzles, a classic example being “one of us always lies” puzzle. As well the two Story Guides can switch roles at different points allowing for exposition characters with different agendas, or even allow the Companion to be killed by the Dragon/Enforcer so that the Dragon/Enforcer and the Master Mind can both show up at the same time for the climatic end battle (provided that the Story Guide who plays the Companion also plays the Master Mind).

 

4. Two Story Guides Four Accounts – “Crisscrossing” – This option allows for a fully fleshed out world. One can have two active characters with two bystanders, which can then slowly rotate the action. Two characters start off in the active position, while the two secondary accounts only engage in dialog if needed. Then one Story Guide can switch to the secondary account, while the other remains on the primary account. Then the second Story Guide can then switch to his secondary account while the first Story Guide switches back to their primary account. This rotation is a potent illusion that allows a single scene to come alive without the Player Character noticing the transitions. As the story progresses one still has all the same methods as mentioned above, but with the crisscross, the rotation method can be used in combat as well (not unlike wrestlers tagging in and out of ring). As well, if there is a rescue scenario, the rescuee no longer has to be in a separate space, but can be an active witness to the final battle.

 

5. Three Story Guides – “The Triumvirate” – This may be the best form available regardless of the number of accounts available. If you have three Story Guides you have a situation where introducing two Player Characters becomes much more plausible. One Story Guide can focus on playing the villains, while the other two each act as a guide for each of the Player Characters. This allows the Player Characters to split up and follow separate paths only to be reunited later. Having two Player Characters allows for more spontaneous action as the two Player Characters interact with each other in unplanned ways. Again switching of roles at key moments will flesh out the world more, and additional accounts will give the feel of a full room during exposition moments.

 

6. Four or more Story Guides and Accounts – “Chaos Star” - Once you hit this point you can run stories for small groups of people but the narrative structure becomes much more difficult to maintain the more Player Characters come aboard. In table top gaming any more than 5 players with a single Game Master hits a certain limit due to the lack of attention that each player can receive from the Game Master. I suspect this would be the case in an MMO as well. The likely hood of everything devolving into pure chaos greatly increases, and Guild on Guild role play combat may be the better option. However, if you have disciplined Story Guides and respectful Player Characters the options become limitless.

 

Keep in mind, if you have a more complex story, don’t leave a Story Guide or Player Character waiting forever. If one Story Guide is only providing the final villain don’t make them sit on top of the cold lonely mountain for hours while the rest of the gang tromples through the forests below, having a jolly old time singing ancient elven tunes. Try and make sure that each person involved is participating on a consistent basis, with planned breaks if need be.

 

Willful Suspension of Disbelief

 

"that willing suspension of disbelief for the moment, which constitutes poetic faith ..."

-Samuel Taylor Coleridge

 

We usually don’t openly think about this when playing a game, but we know immediately when it’s been broken. Ever seen a movie where the internal logic of the story goes crazy? In a horror film when the character knows the murdering psychopathic villain wielding an axe is out in the woods, decides to go out into said woods alone because they dropped a lighter, and they want a smoke? And you start thinking “Why would she do that? That’s the stupidest thing in the world!” and suddenly you realize “Hey I’m watching a movie. This is a character in the movie, and boy the writer sure has it out for this character.” That’s the moment that your willful suspension of disbelief has just been withdrawn. The same goes for role play. I’m going to offer a few short tips on what not to do:

 

Don’t tell the Player Characters what the plot of the game is before you start. Let them discover it.

 

In a serious game don’t have your final villain start break dancing on the corpse of a fallen hero (unless of course the fallen hero just engaged in a dance off).

 

Don’t send a level 15 character against a level 50 villain. Try to keep the dialog and power levels at a believable range. If you want the hero to win at the end, slow down on your attacks, but throw in a blow now and again. Make them feel like they could lose, if you know your villain is over powered. It’s okay for the villain to win sometimes, but don’t just butcher the Player Characters. Either way, make them earn their victory or loss.

 

Limit the number of characters that come back to life. It shouldn’t play out like a daytime soap. Limit the number of twins, clones, memory losses, and other character reincarnations within a single adventure. Let those that die, remain dead. Maybe the dead left a journal or something to help move the plot along, but be creative.

 

Try not to include all the usual cannon characters in your story. It’s much more rewarding to create original characters that the player will become attached to.

 

Don’t allow a member of your Cast of Characters to become more important to the story than the Player Characters, which ultimately ends up with the Story Guide becoming a Player Character. Don’t finish the adventure for them or suddenly make it to easy.

 

On the flip side, here are a few things to do:

Humanize your Cast of Characters. They have their own lives you know, and don’t exist simply as a sign post in your plot line. If something significant happens to a member of your Cast of Characters allow that effect to ripple through later parts of the story. Pretend that they continue on after you log off. This is one of the greatest advantages that role playing has over the preset quests (a.k.a. PVE Player vs. Environment). Things can change in your world, don’t waste the opportunity.

 

Treat the Player Characters as real, and allow them agency. If they make mistakes allow them to suffer consequences that have an effect on the greater adventure.

Trust your creative abilities and trust that even if the Player Character (while in character) is suffering and cursing your villains, that they are having a good time and you are providing them with an interesting and rewarding adventure.

 

Plot, Story, Narrative, & Scripting

 

Many people throughout history have discussed methods of building out plots, stories and narratives. In role playing the plot is the one thing that should be as preset as possible, while the story and narrative are constructed either on the fly or adapted as everything unfolds. This overview is completely introductory, in part because most people inherently have an understanding of storytelling. After all most of us have been exposed to novels, plays, comic books, film, television, video games, and even the retelling of events in our lives to our friends and families for entertainment value. Even if you haven’t teased out the structure of storytelling it is in our cultural DNA.

 

What is plot? Plots in a MMO role playing game, consists of all the characters planed actions and motivations. It’s where characters go and what they do. In this case I’m suggesting that motivations are a part of the plot, in a different way than a novel. The motivation of the characters determines what the sequence of events is going to consist of because the story & narrative are not preset. In this case the plot is the backbone of your story. It is the framework that is then acted out in the telling of the story.

 

What is story? At its base a story is an expression of a sequence of events, often with particular related features, that create meaning, and are received by an audience. In the case of the MMO role player stories are often created and received by the participants. In this case the Player Character is the audience that the Story Guide is relaying a story to. As well the Player Character is a participant in the story, and has an element of shared authorship. As well the Story Guides will often be an audience member as well, as the Player Character will provide them with a unique and unexpected narrative to follow.

 

What is narrative? Narrative can be thought of as how a story is told. This is not just limited to the medium (in this case an MMO with chat based dialog, and character interaction via emotes and other game mechanics, including combat) but also includes how the sequence of events in a story are arranged and presented in order to construct meaning.

 

Why bother with scripting? Scripting is an excellent way to bring drama to your adventure. If you play an MMO on a pc and have the ability to switch between the MMO and other text programs, by having the MMO in a windowed mode, you can have pre written scripted dialog that you can then copy and paste into the chat dialog. If you’re using VoIP, you can also just print out your dialog that is meant for dramatic moments. This scripting should follow a “choose your own adventure” style, so that you have options pre written for different branches of major choices the Player Characters can make. This can increase the flow of play greatly, especially at critical moments.

 

Who is the audience? For the most part the audience will be all the players involved. If there are other bystanders then they too will become the audience. However I would strongly recommend that all those involved use a screen capture application to record audio and video of the role playing sessions, providing a narrative for each player’s point of view. This can be very effective if all the players record and use VoIP to give voicing. When the adventure is finished, the video can then be edited into a Machinima film and made available for a wider audience.

 

What makes good story telling? There are so many different kinds of stories and storytelling methods that it can be daunting to find effective methods. Much of the content of this system describes methods of building plots for stories, although which story you wish to tell is entirely up to you. I’m a fan of three act structures myself, as they have a beginning middle and end. I would also recommend the myriad of books and essays written on storytelling, going all the way back to Aristotle’s “Poetics”. If you wish to tell a mythic story then I would recommend Joseph Campbell “Hero with a Thousand Faces”, John Gardner “The Art of Fiction“, Jonah Sachs “Winning the Story Wars”, and for those who really wish to get wonky about it “Story” by Robert McGee. As well you can look at older role playing systems including “Cyberpunk 2013”, “Vampire the Masquerade” and “Ars Magica”.

 

At base your Player Character as protagonist, should be introduced to a problem that needs to be solved. As they embark to solve the problem they will find those who wish to help them and those who wish to stop them (the antagonist). Just before the Player Character solves the problem they should be challenged by the antagonist in a final conflict, whether it be another character, or a moral decision. This is the most basic description, and all of this can be changed around and made more or less complex.

 

COMBAT SYSTEMS

 

The 4 Point Escalation Duel

 

Many MMO's offer a dueling system that allow characters to engage in player vs. player combat. As well there may be zones that allow such battles to take place. Depending on the MMO system this may or may not need to be adapted. As a basic method of combat expansion this assumes that any Player Character can request a duel from any other Player Character, and that neither suffers any serious consequences to the duel. This system is intended to allow combat to be broken up to allow for further in character dialog, as well as providing an escalation of seriousness as combat progresses. Here are the basic rules of the system:

 

1. Request: A request to duel can be initiated by any party.

 

2. Denial: A request to duel maybe denied by any party, but it should be role played out. That can include fleeing, submitting to the other players request (within reason, no valuable in game items should be given up). Some MMO systems allow for a player to literally flee mid duel, and that can be used.

 

3. Round 1 “Honor”: The first round of the dueling is for honor and glory only. There will be small scratches, a little blood, but no serious injury. This round allows for plenty of role play flyting (a.k.a. talkin smack).

 

4. Round 2 “Wound”: The second round of dueling results in an injury to the loser. The loser should kneel for a moment for role-play before another duel is initiated. The wounded player should both role play this effect (kneel, stagger etc.), until properly healed, and include an element within the mechanics of the game (i.e. if one is wounded on the left hand and dual wields weapons, the player would then remove one weapon to represent the injury. Alternatively, one could remove a specific type of attack from the action bar that many MMO's provide, such as a jump attack if one takes a shot to the knee, until one is properly healed.) The wounded player should decide and annouce their own wound, and don’t be cheap about it.

 

5. Round 3 “Knock Out”: The third round of dueling results in a knock out to the loser. The loser's character must sit/lay down. When the Player Character is knocked out, they should continue to role play if the other character wishes to take action against them. This doesn’t have to mean the character is total unconscious, but they are so completely beaten an exhausted that they cannot take further action. (For instance if the other player wishes to steal their helmet or mask, the helmet should be removed from the player that lost. One should not give their helmet to the other player, but should just remove it from their character.) The winner cannot just then kill the other player via role play after a knock out.

 

6. Round 4 “Death”: The fourth round of dueling results in the death of the loser. The loser is then out of this story, but may continue on in all other RP & game settings. However for this Story Guided adventure the character is out.

 

7. Last Stand: If the loser of the Knock Out round wishes to initiate a fourth round to the death they may summon the energy for a last stand, and recover from the knock out round long enough for one last battle. This is the moment that the character knows his/her life is in mortal peril but decides to go out fighting if need be.

 

8. Press: Either player can "Press the attack". If the first duel is accepted either party can choose to press the attack, forcing the other player to fight one more duel. This should give the players pause when engaging in a duel to the knock out level, knowing that even if they win, they could be forced into a battle to the death. An example of this is would be if two players duel for honor, and one wishes to continue but the other wishes to stop, then one more round to injury would then occur. If the players have just fought a duel to the knock out, and the loser wishes to press the attack then the winner will be forced into a duel to the death. Again this is to bring a level of caution to the duel mechanic, so characters will take a fight seriously.

 

9. The Duel level (honor, wound, knock out, or death) effect applies to the loser no matter the results of previous duels. I.E. If one party has lost all duels up to the level of death, but wins the duel to the death, then his/her opponent is then killed. Or if Player 1 has won the wound round but lost the knock out round, then Player 1 is then knocked out, while Player 2 would still be wounded.

 

Keep in mind if a low level player duels a higher level player, they will most likely lose the duel. That is as it should be; the higher level players are often much better fighters than the lower level characters. If the higher level player is feeling very magnanimous they can choose to wield weapons that don’t do much damage, or wear very light armor, and can choose to slow down the attack rotation, or refuse healing to help bring a dramatic flair to the duel. But in the end the strong players should win most of the time, that’s often the nature of the game. That said the Player Characters should be close in level, so that should they chose to duel each other it will be a fair contest. Secondly members of the Cast of Characters that are going to be doing one on one fights with the Player Characters, should be around the same level. Several members of the “Cast of Characters”, may be lower or higher level than the Player Characters depending on role and balance needed (i.e. If your primary villain is going to fight two Player Characters in the climatic final battle, clearly they should be high enough level for it to be close contest. If when the primary villain first meets the Player Character, and the Player Character wishes to duel them one on one, they should expect to lose.)

 

PVP Areas

 

Most MMO's have two factions; a Good side & Bad side (just ask Fansy). In some MMO's the Good side & Bad side can't even interact unless they are in preset mutual areas, or in designated Player vs. Player areas. In these areas good can't fight other good characters and bad can’t usually fight other bad characters. However they can usually both attack the local "cannon fodder", which allows two Player Characters from different factions to help each other, and interact.

 

If Player Characters engage each other or the Cast of Characters in these areas and it’s not using a duel function, then the duel system above is optional, and should be used only as needed by the story.

 

PVP Free For All Areas

 

In your story your villains may be on any faction but you will need to find the right PVP area to fight it out. Let's say you have two Player Characters and one is on the good side and the other is on the bad side, and your primary villain is on the bad side. You will need to have your final battle in a free for all PVP area so that both Player Characters can engage the primary villain. Be careful, these areas usually have plenty of people that are not in on your game, and could easily wipe out your whole crew. If you have more than one Story Guide, have the Story Guide with the highest level character act as a protector to the group so that role play can function. If you are overwhelmed try a separate instance, or a time frame when there are going to be fewer players looking to pick you off. If it works and other people jump in on your game, role-play it out with them. If they're greifers see below.

If Player Characters engage each other or the Cast of Characters in these areas and it’s not using a duel function, then the duel system above is optional.

 

Communication Systems

 

When you are running your adventure try to have all players turn off chat systems that will not be used, because they will be distracting. That means turn off Guild Chat, General Chat, and Trade Chat. Again if the Player Character has their guild chat on, they will not be paying attention to the adventure. This is a must, not a maybe. It might be wise to keep PVP Chat on just to keep an eye out in areas where those who are not in on the adventure may come a calling. Within the game Story Guides should be in groups or Guild Chat's that only they are looking at to communicate what the players are doing in case the story needs to be adapted. Ideally no one should be forced to use outside communication systems, and more will be discussed below in the Setting Boundaries section.

 

Setting Boundaries

 

This is really step one to any game. Let me say this a few times, set out your boundaries from the start, don't find out later. Online games have all kinds of people, with all kinds of age ranges. If you have children who want to play your adventure, make sure they ask their parents if they can play. Don’t ask someone’s age, but ask if they are over 18 (if the answer is no, are they over 16, if the answer is still no, ask them to get parental permission). No one under 18 should ever meet with another player in real life, without parental supervision. Also keep your games at the PG-13 level. Try not to use excessive foul language, and don’t put characters in torture, or graphic sexual situations. If all involved are adults and they state that's the kind of game they want to play, and you are comfortable with that, go ahead. But keep in mind this is still an anonymous enterprise, and one never knows who is on the other end. If you plan a romance in your game, ask your players specifically if they are okay with a love interest, even if the person playing that love interest is not the sex you are interested in. If you want to use an outside chat channel, make sure it doesn't reveal your personal information (set up a new email account etc. if need be). If you plan to use a VoIP system to give voice to your characters, be tolerant of other peoples acting abilities.

 

Keep in mind that some players will have other real life tasks that they must do. If someone needs to leave the game on short notice, try to complete the game with the other players, or if that is not possible, reschedule the remaining portion of the game. Player Characters should also be respectful of the Story Guides, and show up on time, and commit to the time originally agreed upon for the adventure. Basically, when out of character, be nice, be respectful, ask questions up front, and respect people’s privacy.

 

Greifers & Trolls

 

Love them or hate them, greifers and trolls pose a real problem to all online games. If you're in the middle of a role playing game, and a greifer is set upon you looking for his/her next YouTube video, you should first try and set them to ignore and continue play. Don't try and talk them out of their trolling, or argue with them or give them any idea of what you're up too. Some MMO's offer reporting systems, which all players should utilize when confronted with a greifer. That will not get rid of the greifer at the moment of play but should help the general community. If it becomes severely distracting, some MMO's offer different instances, and the players should switch to a new instance. If that doesn't work, it might be time for everyone to take a break. Get some food, use the rest room, rehydrate, take your dog for a walk, ride your bike, and for the older crowd, give your kids or significant other some attention, then pick up again after a half hour or other prearranged time. If you're one of the Story Guides you can also use this time to place a member of your Cast of Characters into their next position.

 

Thanks to all who have helped flesh this system out, and to all those who are willing to play test these ideas. If you wish to repost this go ahead, just don’t claim it as your own creation, and give credit to the Arete Legacy (moi). I don’t want to be forced to have my lawyers go through a 4 point escalation duel to the death with your lawyers. For all who are interested in playing please enjoy, may great stories continue to be created!

 

Contact:

Arete.legacy@gmail.com

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Hi all,

 

My friend and I came up with this system, if you manage to make it through the post let us know what you think, and if you'd be interested in testing adventures out. We're both on Jung Ma, and often meet at the Cantina on Nar Shaddaa.

 

Cheers,

Dore

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