[Caelum's Scrapbook] Use Your Words.

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[Caelum's Scrapbook] Use Your Words.

Postby Fallon on June 15th, 2015, 8:34 pm

CAKE!? *Places down and slides off*

Places down :
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[Caelum's Scrapbook] Use Your Words.

Postby Caelum on June 29th, 2015, 1:38 am

Hi, guys!

This is a miniature announcement to let all of my incredibly patient thread partners know that July will see an upswing in activity from me. This next week or so I am focusing my Mizahar time primarily on a few development things, one of which has directly to do with the recent storm of great changes for the betterment of our site. I feel that it is important for me dedicate my time this week on that so as to help everyone and not just my silly PC. :)

I might knock out a few IC replies too. One never knows. Thanks for being patient with me!
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[Caelum's Scrapbook] Use Your Words.

Postby Caelum on July 4th, 2015, 5:02 pm

Hi, y'all.

Gossamer gave me the go-ahead to post this wherever if I wanted to. It's an ST Plotting Guide I put together for the ST Guide the STs are doing. I thought it might be beneficial to GST's as well as players. Anyway, here it is. I hope you find it helpful.


Storyteller Plotting

Basic Plot Structure & Mechanics

Every plot is composed of two major components – character goal and conflict against them achieving their goal. The formula is simple: Goal + Conflict = Plot. This is applied to standard three and five act story structures in fiction, playwriting, and screenwriting, but it works somewhat differently in forum based role play. These differences mean it is not necessary to apply a three act structure (or four or five or seven) to a moderated thread, but a basic understanding of the layout can be useful.

The loosest and most translatable structure is the three act. There are multiple versions of this with varying verbage, but they all mean the same thing in the end:

Act One: Set the Scene – Introduce Characters – Inciting Incident – Goal Evident
Act Two: Rising Action (Goal Sought) – Obstruction (Conflict) – Crisis
Act Three: Confrontation (Conflict) – Climax (Goal Achieved, Failed to be Achieved, or Altered) – Denoument – Conclusion

You do not need to perfectly follow the acts structure. I am putting it here to deepen understanding of the Goal + Conflict = Plot formula.

The really important thing to remember is story follows character. This is because a plot is made up of a character goal and conflict. “Character” applies to both PCs and NPCs. Characters must have goals and make choices regarding how to attain their goals. PCs absolutely have to make decisions and act on them.

PCs absolutely have to make decisions and act on them.

As the ST, you should avoid controlling the PC. Instead, present the PC with choices. Make the goal clear and then give them a choice on whether to try to secure it or not. Suggest a few different ways how to obtain it. Show probable consequence should they opt not to try. IC “opting out” in a moderated thread should have consequence and be a decision of its own. The PC has to be an active participant in their own story, and it is part of the STs job to assure they are.

Discard the idea that you should tell the PC a story in their thread. Story follows character. The PC is the main character and the story largely follows them and their decisions. The ST’s primary role in thread is to present an interesting story structure with well-rounded NPCs, obtainable goals and fun, adventurous conflict. The obtainability of the goal and the degree of danger and complexity in its conflict will vary depending upon the PC, the nature of the thread, and the reason it's being moderated. If a PC only reacts and does not act, or if they regurgitate your last post without advancement of story (a choice being made and/or an act being taken), then they are not properly participating. If they continue in this vein, you can try to force action upon the PC by delivering a yes/no or black/white hard decision to be made in thread. PM them encouragement. Assure them they (probably) won’t die. Suggest various options and routes their PC might take if they are stumped. Make sure they know the story belongs to them, the plot is flexible, and there will be no OOC consequences for taking risks and “running away with” the story. In fact, you hope they do. A good way to think of moderated threads when you are blocked or frustrated is as a Choose Your Own Adventure. If you can’t decide what will work best, let the PC decide from a selection of possible paths you outline in a post.

Below is a breakdown of different moderated thread types and some methods that may assist in plotting them out.

Single PC Thread

Most single PC threads have to do with specific player requests such as specialty training, the procurement of a rare object, or a gnosis quest. This makes the plotting remarkably easy. You are already aware of the player’s goal and need to ascertain the PC’s goal. Remember that these are not always the same thing. A prime example of this would be the player desiring their PC to learn about a lost discipline of magic and perhaps be initiated into it. The PC would have no lore and no pre-existing knowledge on this magic, meaning that the discovery of it and locating a teacher of it would not be a valid plot goal for the PC to have.

Take time to learn about the PC involved if you are not already familiar. Read over their CS and a few recent or significant threads. Most importantly, ask the player questions. Some good ones are: What are their goals? What does the PC want? What do they fear? What do they value? What gods to they worship? Who do they love and why?

Use available resources. City owned NPCs and locations that have already been created and fleshed out are excellent sources of inspiration and also aid in tying the thread into the continuing story of a city and a culture. Bring an NPC to life, give them a personal investment and reason for interest in the PC, for good or ill, and in this manner you can draw the PC deeper into the workings of the city, make them feel important, and lay in groundwork and/or clues for greater, overarching plots that may be happening or will happen in your domain.

If a PC wants to learn a magic, you can give the NPC a reason to want to teach not just anyone but the PC specifically. Add conflict by playing on the internal sources of the PC (PC weaknesses and flaws) or external sources (NPCs, weather, magic, beasts, the world, everything) aligned against them. Or conversely you could have the NPC entirely opposed to it unless X task is performed, Y item is found and fetched, and/or Z argument/battle is won.

Gnosis threads require a firm grasp of both the PC and the god. If you do not feel entirely well versed in the god, go to the source. Read the article. Read the gnosis. Contact the god’s creator when possible and/or a player whose PC has established an expert understanding of the deity. The nature of god and their domain and how that mirrors and contrasts with the nature of the PC and their goals will inform the tone of your plot.

Multi PC Thread

Multi PC threads are generally less specified than single ones for the obvious reason. The same plot structure can be applied to them as to Single PC threads, however. The key difference is a matter of mechanics: the plot's goal must be a unifying factor among the PCs.

Multiple PCs require something to tie them into the same story. This is regardless of any pre-existing ties and connections between the PCs. The story they need bound to now is that of the moderated thread and this is done by giving the PCs a common goal.

This can be done with a fetch quest (PCs tasked with locating an item), a rescue mission (PCs tasked with saving someone/thing), or a mystery (PCs tasked with a mystery/riddle to solve). These and combinations of these are the most common. Notably, it’s okay if the common goal is ultimately divisive to one or more PCs. You may want to consider purposefully framing the goal in such a way that you know at least of the PCs will balk and in doing so cause additional conflict.

Just like in Single PC threads, I encourage you to use available resources in local NPCs, locations, et cetera, and to weave at least the edges of your story into the greater tapestry of the local culture. This will deepen the city’s atmosphere.

Prompt Thread

Prompt Threads are typically generalized and open to anyone. They are used most often to highlight a city event and promote player interest and PC interaction. They can range from lighthearted and fun (a wild drunken fire festival) to doom and destruction (same festival, gone wrong). This is the only moderated thread type that does not require a specific plot goal. PCs will come into the thread with goals of their own or not and the outcome, if any, will be wholly in their hands.

To create a prompt thread open with an in depth post that will not only set the scene and frame the tone of the thread, but also place available events, objects, and NPCs for PC interaction. Make sure you indicate OOCily what your expectations are regarding who is allowed to control what NPCs. Walk away. Come back every handful of posts to write in a new layer of atmosphere and/or reply and direct those PCs who may require it so as to keep the thread apace. If it dies out before its time, add an optionable goal for PCs to pursue and engage over.

City Wide Seasonal Plots

Season plots are the product of multiple threads and OOC goals. There should be an overarching goal and it usually incorporates an atmosphere of change. A city’s situation is enhanced or made dire due to shift weather, magic, rebels, crime, law, leadership, trade, gods, factions, etc. etc. The sky is the limit. The key to making it engaging is in using multiple dynamics.

OOC tools include calendar, challenges, and contests. The beauty of Mizahar is that you can create these whatever way you want and those methods can change season to season so as to be tailored to consecutive plots. The goal here should be to encourage player participation in the IC plot via these OOC tools.

IC tools, of course, are threads. Any number and combination is possible. It is important to stay true to the city and its atmosphere while enhancing it. The histories of local NPCs and interesting locations are great sources for ideas as well as tools to further plot. When possible, gain personal PC investment by weaving specific PCs into the story. Single people out, but make room for everyone. If one PC is somehow “special” to the summer plot, be sure to use someone different for fall. Everyone wants to be significant sometimes.

Build off former plots. There is rarely a successful seasonal plot that does not leave some dangling strings or instigate change. Use this for creating your next one as they will all ultimately be part of the same story.

Conclusion

A few key things to remember:
  • Goal + Conflict = Plot
  • Story is character driven. PCs must make choices and act on them.
  • Take the time to learn about the PC/s involved.
  • Use both internal and external conflict.
  • Give key NPCs in thread related goals of their own to for conflict and depth.
  • Keep in mind the difference between player goals and PC goals. The former informs plot and the latter is plot.
  • Multi PC threads require a unifying goal.
  • The enhancement and furthering of the city and its atmosphere should be considered in every thread.
  • Seasonal plots require multiple dynamics.
Last edited by Caelum on July 15th, 2015, 3:30 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Postby Caelum on July 15th, 2015, 3:23 pm

Does anyone else think this Amazon Prime Day Sale is complete bullshit? The only good deals I’ve found are on junk. The items that would be totally worth it are hardly discounted at all so unless you’re looking specifically for it what’s the point?

THANK YOU AMAZON. THANK YOU FOR TAKING MY BOOK REVENUE BUT OFFERING ME STUPID LYSOL WIPES ON SALE.

Ugh.

/endrant
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Postby Caelum on July 18th, 2015, 8:49 pm

I started a new medical treatment this morning that is making me way more sick than I anticipated. I was unable to get out of bed until noon which is unheard of for me and I only made it so far as the sofa since. Everything I planned to do today has gone up in smoke, I can't eat anything, I'm not writing, I can't go to my friend's birthday party let alone walk across the room without getting dizzy. I'm concerned that the intensity of these side effects is going to have me missing more work than already planned. I'm having a really rough day and haven't been able to locate my positive outlook. I could use a pick me up pretty badly and thought writing this down and putting it somewhere like this might help. Putting what I feel into words usually does that for me, and sometimes it's better if it's somewhere that's both public and yet sort of private too like this.

Anyway, that's it. I'm told that the side effects often decrease after the first day and I am so totally on board for that. Tomorrow will be better.
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Postby Timothy Mered on July 18th, 2015, 10:39 pm

Caelum wrote:
I started a new medical treatment this morning that is making me way more sick than I anticipated. I was unable to get out of bed until noon which is unheard of for me and I only made it so far as the sofa since. Everything I planned to do today has gone up in smoke, I can't eat anything, I'm not writing, I can't go to my friend's birthday party let alone walk across the room without getting dizzy. I'm concerned that the intensity of these side effects is going to have me missing more work than already planned. I'm having a really rough day and haven't been able to locate my positive outlook. I could use a pick me up pretty badly and thought writing this down and putting it somewhere like this might help. Putting what I feel into words usually does that for me, and sometimes it's better if it's somewhere that's both public and yet sort of private too like this.

Anyway, that's it. I'm told that the side effects often decrease after the first day and I am so totally on board for that. Tomorrow will be better.


Tommorow will be better for sure. I haven't been feeling the best today either and part of the pain is just being unproductive. I hate it. Now that it's summer I have time for all the things I've been meaning to do, but today I haven't progressed an inch.

However...my experience with these kind of things is that the day after I tend to get a lot of things done, so I am really looking forward to tomorrow!

I really, really do hope things will get better for you. Though being sick sucks, it does sometimes provide a little breathing room for creativity and new ideas to recharge, so to speak.

Tomorrow will be better :)
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Postby Gossamer on July 19th, 2015, 2:58 am

Everything you are doing is for the future. I know you are sick now. I know you are feeling confined and restricted now. But look forward, Katie.

The future.

Envision yourself in the future looking back to the now that is your current present. And tell yourself how worth it it is to be healthy, happy, or perhaps have something or someone more in your life. It is absolutely worth it.


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Postby Caelum on July 20th, 2015, 4:53 pm

I feel about a gabillion times better today. It is still not great, but it’s completely manageable again. Thank you for the kind words. I really needed a dose of optimism. :)
Last edited by Caelum on July 20th, 2015, 5:24 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Postby Rosela on July 20th, 2015, 5:10 pm

So, so glad to hear you're doing better. Optimism is the best medicine (aside from actual, you know, medicine). One breath at a time, tomorrow will be better than today :)
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Postby Caelum on July 30th, 2015, 6:08 pm

Hi, guys. Things have gotten really tough and busy and complicated with treatment and funds which translates to work and money. This is why I’ve been MIA. All of my energy is going to other places right now. I will be back and I am still basically here, just really quiet. I’ve got a new mantra and I really like it – hope is bigger than this shit.
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