[OOC INFO] RP, Thread, Quest, & Plotting Help

Some light reading for players wanting help with these things. :)

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[OOC INFO] RP, Thread, Quest, & Plotting Help

Postby Gossamer on December 21st, 2017, 3:06 am

Plot Scopes & Snags :
Plot Scopes & Snags

So there's something I've been meaning to talk about. That something involves Plot and more importantly Plot Scope. Plot Snags are things that we have to avoid ruining our plots or writing ourselves into a corner. First, lets define scope. It's relevant, I promise.

scope for y

noun: scope; plural noun: scopes

the extent of the area or subject matter that something deals with or to which it is relevant.

"we widened the scope of our investigation"
synonyms: extent, range, breadth, width, reach, sweep, purview, span, horizon; More
area, sphere, field, realm, compass, orbit, ambit, terms/field of reference, jurisdiction;
confine, limit;
"the scope of the investigation"
the opportunity or possibility to do or deal with something.

"the scope for major change is always limited by political realities"
synonyms: opportunity, freedom, latitude, leeway, capacity, liberty, room (to maneuver), elbow room; More
possibility, chance
"the scope for change is limited by political realities"
a purpose, end, or intention.
"Plato maintains religion to be the chief aim and scope of human life"

verb: scope; 3rd person present: scopes; past tense: scoped; past participle: scoped; gerund or present participle: scoping

assess or investigate (something).
"they'd scoped out their market"
set the scope of (a projected undertaking).
"it is important that a project is scoped correctly to ensure the budget can be accurately defined"
North American informal
look at carefully; scan.
"they watched him scoping the room, looking for Michael"

So what I really want to talk about is what your Plots entail IE the extent of the area or subject matter your plot deals with or to which it is relevant.

There are two types of plots when we are discussing Mizahar.

The first type of plot is a micro plot that involves just the scope of the thread and the second type of plot is the overarching plot that involves the whole story of your character. Most people develop the first type, micro plots, as they conceive of threads and execute them. So we have a whole host of micro plotting going on.

Overarching plots get ignored. There are some players that have fantastic overarching plots. Don't get me wrong. Many of these people are the kind of PCs that hit the HD when they first start and actually begin to get approval for major things that happened pre-creation. I love those types of pcs because honestly the story just seems to flow out of them. Why? Because they have overarching plots that drive along the micro plotting and everything works towards a singular goal.

Lets use an example.

All this is like a train. The entirety of the train from the engine to the caboose and all the cars in between consist of the overarching plot. Where it travels is the plot scope. And the individual cars are the micro plots. The engine to me seems to always been the Character Sheet (CS) and all the initial ideas that players develop around the character. If you just have a CS there's nothing much there. If you have a whole train, its something beautiful. It's something people will rave about and want to thread with and that will inspire them to gush and shout and maybe hop along or travel the same tracks for a while. It gets super duper exciting when its all there.

Every thread should count towards plot. Every thread is a car on the train. Every thread can be different but they all contribute bit by bit to the overarching plot and give hints at what is to come. If you aren't tying in your overarching plot into the micro plots, your missing out. It's like cooking a five star meal and forgetting to add any seasoning. Why do it? Why ruin something that could be so amazing?

I'm tired beyond belief of threading just for the act of threading. I can barely get them started and keep them going anymore if they involve a PC. I want, no crave, no ... that's not even a strong enough word. I DEMAND that there's a more overarching plot involved in threads I'm doing for my PCs from here on out. I think Plot and Plot Scope is one of the major reasons PCs experience what I consider failure wherein players get bored of them and cast them aside. It's not the PC's fault. It's the writer's fault. It's as if a player thinks that just by the very act of creating a PC they will automatically generate some huge overarching plot that will sweep up their character and keep them longing for the next stage, the next thread, the next meetup, etc. This isn't the way the RPG world works. You have to manifest your overarching plots. They are blood sweat and tear scenarios where you have to work your ass off ooc to really conceive of something ic to form this metaphorical train. Plots aren't out there floating in the great wide RPG nothing ready to be plucked like a ripe apple off the branch of a loaded tree.

You need goals! What goals? It doesn't matter. There are no 'wrong' goals, just awkward impossible ones. You just need some kind of reasonable goals, an overarching one is good. Smaller ones link bigger ones. Goals pile onto goals and birth plot somewhere down the line like some massive writing orgy.

I want to start this 'project' out in Syka, on a small scale, though it would be open to anyone who would be interested even if they aren't in the city. I want it to be focused on the Writer's RPG aspect of Mizahar where we create a micro community of support.

This community would be focused on not only the writing, and by that I mean the act of writing, but on the act of plotting as well. What I mean by 'act' entails so much more than just thinking about doing it. It's a whole act of making that promise, to ourselves more than anyone else, that we’re going to make this whole thing work and that we are going to follow through with it. It's also a 'held accountable thing' by that community. And its perfectly timed with NaNo, now isn't it?

This community is also a promise would entail that we are going to succeed because we can't fail with all the support. And it also includes the fact that the plots we make are going to be cool because we’re putting effort into them. And the community is also help. Lots of help. So that when we don’t know how to do something or if something we want to do seems impossible to make work, it’s okay to seek help, a second set of eyes, and ultimately more opinions. It's a risk, putting our ideas out there, but there's no stupid or bad ideas. And if we don't know how to accomplish our goals it doesn't make us stupid or bad. Such a thing would help us tremendously all get more thorough characters that are created so thoroughly that we know who they are.

This lets us factor in a whole bunch of aspects people often don't want to factor in. Pasts. Past Lives. Bloodlines. Curses. True evil. Ultimate nemesis'. The list goes on and on. All we need to do is avoid Plot Snags and we are golden.

This scrap has dragged on though so I think I'll make Plot Snags a second installment. A Part Two. Tell me though, if you don't mind, what you think of such a thing.

Plot Scopes & Snags II :
Plot Scopes & Snags II

So first let me talk about mindset that derails the ability to plot.

We have all these preconceived ideas in our heads, in regard to writing, but also about life and all it entails. We are taught to 'succeed' at all costs. And the definition of success is often linked with trying harder or doing more or having more than the next guy or the 'masses'. This equates in the world to having a good job, your own home, 2.5 kids, a great first marriage, etc. Who the hell cares if you are a twenty something global corporate startup that runs his business from a beach in Hawaii? You aren't successful if you don't drive the right car, have the right education, or wear the right clothes.

Bullshit. We all know that's not true. But society feels it is true. Before we can really get things going in what I consider the right way in our brains, we need to change some of these mindsets.

What does this mean on Mizahar? Word count higher? SUCCESS. More posts? SUCCESS. Bigger stats? SUCCESS. Again bullshit. Who defines what is better? Do we? Does our fans? No. Whomever defines who or what is better is technically whomever we let define it including society. The truth is a brand new player can have just as much impact on the game as a veteran of 9 years. It's not a stats game. It's a writing game. If you can write the shit out of something you can make it work if you use plot, avoid plot snags, and really master the art of overarching stories connected by micro plots. Remember the train? Keep that in your mind.

Now, I'm still on the mental issues. We all have them to work through. Here's another issue.

When is enough enough? It's almost as if being content with what you have or your lot in life is completely at odds with success itself. Society tells us if you are content, you have been battered down or have given up on the vertical climb. If you can only post every tues and thurs, that's not failing mon, weds, friday and throughout the weekend... yet thats how society conditions us to think. We should instead be thinking of how much we win on tues and thurs when we get to post. So what we have are people who are scared to create things bigger, larger, stronger than what they have at the moment because they might be judged harshly (called a metagamer, a godrper, etc) by the rest of the whole.

Again bullshit. Define your own reality. Think about how powerful those words are.

Define your own reality.
Define your own reality.

Decide what you are winning and loosing at. Make your own rules and start by breaking one of the most damaging detrimental cycles out there when it comes to writing and even when it comes to life.

Break the guilt cycle.

Guilt is a huge snag in any plotting. We hate guilt as individuals, as a society, and even as a planet. We really do. Guilt is like the weight of an anvil on your chest pressing down on you and making it hard to breathe. Yet we get in this cycle where as if we don't post, we feel guilty. We don't celebrate when we get to post, we just think 'Yea! I posted.' Guilt vanishes, and then when someone else posts and its your turn again we panic because between work, job, eating/sleeping/watching Friends on TV there's no time to post until a later date. And boom... guilt has returned. That's probably the number one reason why people quit writing and quit playing characters. There's a reason this is a 'guilty pleasure'. This is the absolute wrong attitude and it drives people away from playing. It drives me insane. If there's more guilt involved than the pleasure of a good post to reply too, then you are doing something wrong.

But again, its only something you can control. You are the one inside your own head making decisions and thinking these thoughts. You are even the one thinking that's what others are thinking. Unless other people are actually voicing displeasure or some other sort of nonsense about how dare you not post or not play or not do things the same way they did... don't assume they are.

And don't think that about them. Its making gross assumptions!

To me those are the two biggest mental hangups for not being happy on this website. A. Definition of Success. B. Guilt. The third is tied to B, but its actually more of a category of its own.... C. What Other People Think. You'd be shocked at how many times people start out a HD ticket or say to me... "I know your thinking __________." And it drives me nuts. First, its not very often that someone gets that statement right. And more often than not what they assigned me automatically thinking about them is so far off the wall its not even funny or realistic... and yet THEY BELIEVE ITS ABSOLUTELY TRUE.

Hasn't anyone told you that your inner critic is a sonofabitch and probably the worst sonofabitch alive? Yea. Ignore that fucker. Its just that voice that protected you as a little kid .... you know that one that said stuff like 'Don't touch that hot burner on the stove, Johnny.." All grown up and pissed off and jaded by life. Who needs it? You smell fine when it tells you that you stink. You are more often than not beautiful when it calls you uglyass. It rarely says nice things. And truthfully it needs to get out more and relax... date... maybe take up drinking as a hobby or learn to meditate or some such shit.

Okay so that's definitely D. Our Inner Critic is A Sonofabitch.

Recapping here's the list.

A. Definition of Success Needs Changing.
B. Guilt Sucks. Why Do We Guilt Trip Ourselves.
C. Stop Caring What Other People Think.
D. Our Inner Critic is A Sonofabitch. Ignore That Fucktard.

So those are the mental things. Lets move on to the physical things in writing we do to fuck ourselves over and then ultimately give up on writing or give up on finding the pleasure in writing. I think I'll do that in a part III.

Plot Scope & Snags III :
Plot Scopes & Snags III

So with mentality discussed and scope defined, what else can we work on as a group or as an individual in writing on this website and even on our own projects? We need to start avoiding plot snags. We do this by knowing what they are - understanding what they are - before we ever begin plotting.

I hope I'm coming across well enough. Define your plot. Whip you mind into shape. Avoid pitfalls that snag up your plots and hold them back.

Good writers get tangled up in snags on a regular basis if we aren't mindful of them. Being mindful means being able to separate ourselves far enough from our writing to recognize and defining these 'snags'. It's virtually impossible for me to actually define all of the snags possible on Mizahar in regard to plot. However, I can point out a dozen or so of the big ones out there and get them on your mind. Perhaps others can identify more? And while snags can be applied to any writing project, I'm going to tailor them to Mizahar since this is our context.

1. Your Plot Is Predictable.

It happens! It especially happens when you've plotted with overused themes or you write in a way that means your making the direction the story is going super obvious. Sometimes this can be offensive to readers because in a way it implies that they need help navigating your super awesome plot and huge glaring road-signs to get from point A to point B. Yea. When you give them too many hints and make things obvious, its the same as calling them stupid. Don't do that. Be mysterious! Be elusive. Drop hints but not sledgehammers upside their heads. They will move on to an author that seems a whole lot less assuming of their readers IQs.

2. Your Plot Is Too Complex.

'If it is possible to cut a word out, always cut it out' - George Orwell The same can be said of plot. How do you know if your plot is too complex? There's actually an easy litmus test. Try this. Explain your plot to yourself out loud. If it takes a while or you stumble trying to explain it then it is way too complex. If you can explain it out loud to yourself in a short and sweet and completely non-stumbling manner, you've nailed simplicity!

Remember, just because a plot is short and sweet doesn't mean its less clever. A lot of people confuse complexity with cleverness. Don't be one of these people.

Simplification also involves 'events'. Can you accomplish the same thing you had planned for five battles in one battle? Do it if the answer is yes. Can you learn all the information you need to learn from one conversation rather than multiple conversations with an NPC? If the answer is yes then do that as well.

Also remember that too many subplots and divergent storylines will bog your plot down and destroy good writing. Cut them if you can and streamline to make your writing stronger. I would personally keep a list of my subplots and trim them as necessary... limit them to a specific number so you don't feel weighed down or overburdened by juggling all of them. If a new subplot comes in that you are interested in pursuing then cut out one of two more by wrapping them up. Honestly, just keep your A+ subplots that make your main plot more interesting.

3. You Don't Let Your Plot Breathe.

ACTION ACTION ACTION ACTION just kills the joy for a reader/viewer/etc. Lets talk about The Walking Dead Season Premiere. Intense right? If your a fan you saw two of your favorite characters die and the main hero get physically and mentally tortured the whole episode. A week passed then another episode comes on. Was it more of the same where everyone's heart was pounding and all across the world people were shaking their fists at the tv? No. It was a feel good episode with Carol and The Kingdom. The writers of Walking Dead were letting the plot breathe, giving the viewers a break, and drawing them back into the humanity of the show. This Sunday you'll get hammered with ACTION ACTION ACTION again. The break will be over.

Fillers are important. Fillers can be any type of downtime. Fillers can be conversations, characters introspectively reflecting, eating, flirting, or doing their jobs and they can GET THINGS DONE too. Use these types of scenarios to punctuate the action - battles, confrontations, discoveries - and they are important in their own right because you can use them to move plot if your again that word clever.

4. The Plot Is Frankly Boring.

"My parents were killed by bandits. Now I'm out for revenge!" Sounds familiar doesn't it? So does the whole "I was so traumatized in my past that I now have two personalities." These, at least in my mind, are yawnfests out the gate. Why do you have to write a plot that's so boring? Boring is the paving stones that make up the whole 'path to predictability'. Is there a way to make a boring idea a more interesting idea? Oh... wait... your parents were the LEADERS of the bandits and fell in love and gave up the bandit life when your mother became pregnant with you.... and wanted out. Only once a bandit always a bandit unless death parted the posse?

Now we're getting more interesting. We've wrapped a romantic tragedy into the past instead of a predictable one line statement. Sometimes the easiest thing to do is take your ideas and turn them into wild far fetched ideas and then dial them back to more workable elements in your plot. For some reason, its easier for us to come up with far flung extremes than not come up with ideas at all. Just avoid boring... it's a PC killer. A boring PC will soon be an abandoned PC and that will be entirely your fault.

5. Your Plot Is Frankly Shallow

I'm going to be brief here. Some writers feel free to sacrifice plot in the name of other things... things like witty dialog, sugary sweet metaphors, thick symbolism, etc. They stand on what they think is cleverness to make up for the lack of plot. Have plot. Don't just fly by your pants and make it up as you go along. PLOT PLOT PLOT. Give your characters a chance. Let them grow, change, and go through shit in their day to day lives. It honestly makes the writing worth while.

6. Your Plot Isn't Original Enough

"Nothing is ever original." That's what people write and say routinely. I cry bullshit. I honestly read two to five books a week usually sacrificing sleep. I read new ideas all the time. I think that "Nothing is ever original." Is a battle cry to the lazy, weary, and uninspired. They cling to it like toddlers cling to security blankets as an excuse for not being able to think of great plots. Don't let this be you. You can also litmus test your plot by writing it out on notecards and then looking at each element and seeing if you can see it in popular books, tv shows, movies, etc. If there is a 'mimicry' how can you make it different? What twist can you give it? Think about all these things. You are a writer here... a plotter... a planner... a coordinator of events. You don't get the same pleasure as a reader who gets to be entertained. Writing is work... work on this one.

7. Your Premise Sucks.

Google defines Premise thusly. "“Premise” comes from two Latin words, meaning to put before. ... Thus premise is the underlying idea of your story-the foundation that supports your entire plot. If you can establish what your premise is at the beginning of your project, you will have an easier time writing your story." So, naturally, there are good premises and bad premises. The weaker the premise the worse the foundation to your plot will be and thus the worse your plot will be.

A sucky premises consist of anything that is weak, lacks interest, or simply doesn't compel the reader to want to see where the story goes. A premise can be a transformation journey, a survival story, living under the shadow of cruel masters, etc etc etc. Mizahar's whole premise is 'post apocalyptic world rebuilding'. That is NOT a plot in itself. It is an abstract that sums up what will be the backdrop during the plot. But in and of itself, premise is not plot. Your premise should be compelling and make a reader curious about what could happen.

8. The Destruction Of Suspension Of Disbelief.

We are fantasy writers here. We have to set aside the real world rules a great deal of the time. Wikipedia defines the SoD as "The term suspension of disbelief or willing suspension of disbelief has been defined as a willingness to suspend one's critical faculties and believe the unbelievable; sacrifice of realism and logic for the sake of enjoyment." We do this as readers ALL THE TIME. However, there is a line in the sand. There is a critical point where instead of asking a reader to suspend their disbelief, you ask them ludicrous amounts of trust and they finally shake their head and say 'that's stupid' and cast you as a writer aside.

The thing is, you can push the SoD a lot further if you prep the reader for what's to come by dropping hints or prepping the canvas so to speak. Many writers don't do that. Many just ask for the reader's belief cold turkey without giving them anything to go on. That's nothing but bad writing. Pave the way for readers to believe the impossible. For example, does the bad guy repent in the end and do the right thing? Why would they off the cuff with no reason behind it. People won't believe that one bit. Changes of consciousness almost never happens unless the bad guy has a series of things happen to him or her to alter their mindsets. Think of the movie Despicable Me. This was the perfect set up for a stretched SoD.

9. Your Sequence Doesn't Work

Sometimes your plot elements get out of order and the whole plot feels jumbled and awkward. That's why when plotting for a PC go ahead and do what most writers do. Note your major events on an index card and put them in the order you want to write them out as. If they don't work, feel free to rearrange your events (ie. Your index cards). Keep working them until you get a spread that works for you. Don't give up. Sometimes it might take an addition or subtraction of a plot element to make the rest flow together well. Just play with your index cards and make sure they work in your mind and more importantly make sense.

10. Unsatisfying Conclusions

This normally isn't an issue on Mizahar since we are an ongoing collective collaborative storytelling situation. But when you write a conclusion, make sure you make it satisfying so the reader can sit back and proverbially hug the book in joy at a good story well written. This is the one place where sometimes more is better. More anticipation. More romance. More suspense. More anxiety. More rage. Sometimes you just need more.

Goal Setting :
Goal Setting


So many people here set goals and fail. I hate seeing it, though honestly I see it over and over again. There are many reasons for such failures. People site lack of time, others dropping the ball that were critical to their plans, or even cities closing or storytellers dropping off the face of the planet. But from my perspective there's a simple reason that people fail over and over again.... and it stems from their actual lack of planning.

Its a fantasy game, I get that, but honestly planning huge for a fantasy game rarely works and rarely leads to happiness. I have some advice for all of you. It works in a lot of other areas of life too. Its a way to see your goals through. RP wise. Organizational wise. Even paying off bills wise.

Its simple. Make a list of all your goals. Write them all down. Humans are reward based creatures and we need to see progress so we get encouraged. When you make this list, include all the little things along with the medium things and even list the big things. Then... once you have all these goals on paper, organize them. What you want to do is list them in order from smallest to largest. What? Why this way? Why not from the most important to the least significant? Well, I'll tell you. The smallest goal is usually the quickest easiest goal. The largest goal is usually the hardest one that takes the longest to achieve. So say you have all these goals... and you need to tackle them.... once they are listed from the smallest to the largest you suddenly have a doable list. It's a list that doesn't defeat you before you even get started. It's a miracle list that encourages you and teaches you along the way. It's one that will HELP you achieve your goals instead of destroy them.


Lets take an example. It can be an rp one, but right now lets say I need to clean my kitchen because it looks like a wreck. Its the holidays so this isn't far fetched and maybe a costco run happened and nothing got put away... feasible as well. Lets take that as an example from the real world then I'll give you an RP one.

So what do I need to do with my kitchen? I need to clean it. When I clean what do I do? Im going to say there's a sink full of dishes (I hate even doing dishes) and the refrigerator needs cleaning out. There's a bowl of potatoes on the top of it that has something bad in them, and the counters are cluttered and overflowing with stuff that needs to be put away (that costco run?). My spice rack was a victim of a scared cat that climbed it and rather than take the time to organize and repack all the spices neatly... I just shoved them all in (true this, not a made up fact). The breakfast nook needs to be pulled out and cleaned out from under. The floor needs to be cleaned and mopped. The cupboards need to be organized. Under the sink needs cleaned too. The garbage needs to be taken out.

Okay.... so certain things need to come before certain other things. Why? Well, once you clean the fridge out there will be even more dirty dishes. You are defeating your purpose to wash dishes if you make more dishes immediately after you get the dirty ones clean because you don't get that sense of accomplishment. Why take the garbage out if you are going to throw old or outdated stuff in it because that means you'll be taking it out twice or letting food sit in it overnight. Ugh... again... you won't feel like you have gotten anything done. You can't drag all the cobwebs off the ceiling after you clean the floor... because gross... you'll have to do the floor again and holy hell what a fucking waste doing it twice in one session right? Smell what I'm cooking here?

This is actually a big project with lots of little parts, and we need it done this week. So.... lets organize.

  1. Clean out Fridge
  2. Wash a load of dishes
  3. Take out garbage
  4. Dust ceiling
  5. Clean off Ceiling Fan
  6. Wash curtain over window
  7. Wash light fixture covers over sink
  8. Deep clean stove and run a 'self clean' on the oven.
  9. Organize 1 cupboard (x10?)
  10. Clean off counter (x3)
  11. Clean off table
  12. Clean off bench
  13. Clean off breakfast nook seating
  14. Sweep Floor
  15. Mop Floor

That's a hell of a lot of work for 'clean the kitchen' right? But say if you want this all done in one week and are working 40 hrs etc.... you have just broken this task into smaller jobs that are more easily managed and if you start on a monday and do a few each day.... you'll be done by friday with a sparkling clean kitchen. You might just have to repeat taking the garbage out every few days or once you run all the dirty dishes, remind yourself to load the dirties straight into the dishwasher instead of leaving them in the sink.... and run a load when you have enough etc. But you've just broken the task down into a manageable method.

This works for paying off your bills too. List the smallest bill you owe first through the largest bill you owe last and make it a hobby to work on paying them all off one at a time until they are all gone.

This also works on RP. Each of you have a character plotnotes page. Place some goals on there. List them smallest to largest. Work through the list and reward yourself along the way with a sense of accomplishment as you get things crossed off. Don't DELETE Them... just cross them off... so you can see how far you've come. I also list things my PC needs or wants to own as well and cross them off as I buy them IC. That works well for getting goals done too.

I hope you all take this to heart and start using this method go get some things done. Use it here. Use it real life. Start succeeding! Make things easy on yourself.

Threading & Quest Etiquette :
Threading & Quest Etiquette
The Player Section


Quest Etiquette can be a real make or break thing in terms of a quest. Players sin and moderators sin. Sometimes I wonder if its because players have no idea what true quest etiquette is? Do moderators? From years of D&D tabletop I've formed what MY OPINION of quest etiquette is. I go by it now on Mizahar. Be sure you review this if your in one of my quests and try to adhere to the basic premise of this post. If your a moderator, make sure you are trying to enforce these things in your quests. Otherwise, your quest party is full of douchebags and you should just run their horses off a cliff and end the bad behavior once and for all.

  • Acknowledge the other people in a quest. Note their actions in your post by reacting to them even if its just a brief line or two. Don’t ignore their presence. It’s rude beyond belief to come into a quest and solo it without paying attention to the others in the party. The same thing is true if people break into subgroups and ignore the other subgroups. Subgroups are fine as long as everyone is a part of one and they note each other’s actions and include each other and everyone else in their posts.

  • Acknowledge the actions of others in the quest. You aren’t in a solo moderated thread. Note others actions as part of your response and put some opinion of the action in there. Do you approve? Are they being stupid? Make that part of your post. Argue with their action if you disagree or try to block it. That’s all part of the fun. Agree with it? Help them do the action! Step up and say great idea and lend a hand. The biggest crime in a quest thread is to ignore a fellow quester.

  • Establish what your PC is wearing/wielding/and has on their person. Magically appearing gear is annoying in any sort of quest. That goes double for the whole ‘its in my bag at all times things’. Please make sure in your initial post to establish to yourself and the others what your PC is wearing, holding, and carrying for the duration of the quest. If your allowed to take the time to ‘gear up’ then go get your full gear and re-establish what you have in a post following a ‘gear up’ session. That way one can avoid the magical bag of ‘everything even the kitchen sink is in here’ and yet your pc moves unencumbered through the quest.

  • Don’t poach information. If one character learns of something by their actions, its up to them to share that information with the party. If they don’t then you don’t know it. So long as they are paying attention to you and acknowledging your actions, its perfectly fine to withhold information.

  • Stick to the posting order. This goes along with information poaching. Try very hard to post in the order the original postings were made. This gives everyone an equal chance to post and react in the order they carried out actions and learned things. Skipping posting order is only okay if a moderator says it is or the moderator is tired of waiting for one slow poster to post.

  • Don’t stand and do nothing. No one likes a PC who’s in a quest just to observe. This is a huge waste of time too. Don’t do nothing and don’t actually join a quest thread if you think all you are going to do on your first post is observe. Moderators hate that and might get spiteful towards your PC if all you are doing is lookilooing the whole time. Perform actions, ask questions, and think heavily about what might be going on.

  • Do things you can do. Don’t do things you can’t do. Are you a fighter? Fight then. Are you a wizard? Perform magic. Healers can heal. Everyone can look and observe for things. But if your unskilled at something like say disarming traps, don’t try to disarm traps. You’re going to get your stupid ass killed and probably those around you. Quest parties form organically and come together in a way where everyone has a role. Play your role. Don’t suddenly think your superman when you’re a three inch pycon. Those roles don’t work. Play roles that work.

  • Make quest posting a priority. If you are in a moderated thread, post to that FIRST before you post to your solos or socials. They are important to the moderators and the players so be sure you make it a priority to yourself as well.

  • Keep information organized in your mind. Understand and keep it straight in your mind what is ‘general’ information that everyone learns and what is ‘private’ information that someone finds out. You can act on general information but not on private information unless it is private information you earned.

  • Know your character limits. What is your characters size and strength? Can you lift that? Can you wield that? Does your character know what that thing is even if you do? Make sure you are aware of your lores and your skills. If you don’t have say a huge physical presence, don’t think you can lift a knight in full body armor as an average female and carry him out of a burning building. That probably won’t happen. You probably can’t even roll him over.

  • Be aware of YOUR location and the locations of the rest of the group members. Describe where exactly you are standing carefully in the scene in relation to fixed objects or things that are the focal point of a scene. Are you right next to another group member? Are you standing behind the group ready to heal them? Are you kneeling in front examining something? Be specific. Remember, let everyone know where you are. Don’t stomp on anyone in making an action. Slide around someone if they are in front of you and what you want to do. This goes back to acknowledging someone is somewhere doing something. Acknowledge them.

  • Just ask and you’ll know. Sounds like a simple thing right? But don’t assume anything. If you want to know more about something specifically examine it in your response. Ask in your post. “John Smith wondered how the man had managed to carry enough water to traverse the desert without dehydration. He should have been dehydrated right? So John decided to check his gear and see if there was any evidence as to how it was done.” Boom. You’ve just asked the Mod how something happened and made it clear you were looking for the answer. Now it’s the mods turn to do their job and tell you in their response to your actions. “After a few minutes of searching, John found a bag of holding that had five hundred canteens, most of which were still full, all stuffed inside it.” Don’t assume. Ask!

  • Let the Moderator know how you’re feeling about their quest. Are you bored? Have your PC yawn in boredom. Are you feeling left out or ignored? Write about that. It’s their job as a moderator for everyone to have fun as they tell a story to you. If you’re not having fun or there’s nothing for your PC in the quest so far, let them know by writing about it. They can and will adjust the story accordingly. Though remember, there are two types of quests. One is a sign up quest where a story should be tailored to every PC that signs up. And there are random posted quests you join. The random posted quests are the luck of who shows up first and its less about the PCs and more about the story in that case.

  • Don't criticize the moderator. They are doing it for your fun and their own enjoyment. Go easy on them. Understand that a good moderator might be flexible with the rules to preserve pacing or flow and add an element of the fantastical to the story. This goes for undermining the narrative, too. “This seems straight out of last months' Letters to Penthouse, Jen. What's the deal?” NoteYou know I'm just throwing this in there as a humorous reward for reading this far right? That might not be cool to point out. Just go with it. A good mod will change the ending or the middle and if you hate the quest you can not opt in on another one of theirs later down the line. Also, if you’re noticing inconsistencies, and can’t help it, try phrasing it in the form of a question. E.g., Is this the same begger we met in the last scene? If so, why is his peg leg on the right now instead of the left? Is that really necessary to point out? Probably not. The whole point is that hes a peg-leg dude and leave it at that. It might even be intentional. Is he an illusion that has changed over time? The changes might be hidden clues.

  • Don't engage in non-rewarding conflict or squabbling. Everyone knows that fighting among party members can be hugely distracting. try to limit this type of conflict to those instances which are dramatically rewarding. Contribute to the narrative as a PC rather than distract from it. This game is a social cooperative one. Players forget that. They like to grandstand defiance under the banner of staying true to a character concept. That's bullshit and everyone including themselves know it. The exception to this rule comes when tension or opposition within the party results in dramatic role-playing rewards. In order for the latter to work, remember, all PC’s need to be on the same page and it needs to be fully IC. OOC contempt for another players actions can't creep into the overall narrative or you're violating this rule.

  • Understand your role in a quest as a party member. Your PCs presence in a quest should be to strengthen the bond of the party, support each other player’s character-concept in game, weave your story alongside the other characters’, and finally work together towards your goals. That's it! Everything else like comedic humor or superfluous knowledge is icing on the cake.

    And finally…

  • Don’t void the social contract of quest fellowship! Remember, when you are joining a quest, you are agreeing to join a group and work towards a common goal for the benefit and fun of all the player and the characters in the group. This is a social contract! Avoid slavish behavior meaning a character acting in a way that makes no attempt at originality, constructive interpretation, or development. We all know the pc types. There’s always that pc who won’t go with the party even though the player has joined the quest because they don’t know the others, don’t trust the others, and can see no benefit in it for them. It’s your job as a player to suspend disbelief and find a reason to go and help and be in that group. It’s not the moderator’s job. It’s your job and your social contract of RP QUESTING that you signed. Follow through.

Quest Etiquette
The Moderator Section

In my mind there are two types of quests. There is a quest you want to run because you like the story and think other people might enjoy it as well. Then there's the quest you might want to run tailored to a individual or a group that has a few goals in mind.

  • Always remember who you are storytelling for. Tailor the quest to the party members. Don't force the party members to tailor themselves to the quest. This is especially true of 'sign up' quests where you know who exactly is going to be in your quest. Don't make it a fighting quest when there are thinkers and craftsman in the quest. Don't make it a magical quest when there are no magic users in the party. Always be mindful of who is in your group.

  • Be willing to adjust your story/plans accordingly always. PCs don't do what we want them to do all the time. In fact, they rarely do what we want them to do as moderators. So be willing to adjust your plans and rewrite your quests if the quest gets off track and you can't seem to get it back on track.

  • Don't overplan your quests. At most you should have a brief outline of events, perhaps even broken into sections with an abstract description of what the quest is and what its end goals are about. Any more planning than that and your in for a world of hurt because PCs break the social contract of questing all the time either knowingly or unknowingly and make your life miserable as a moderator. If you have monsters in the quest or protagonist things like evil npcs or encounter npcs, loosely plan them, and be willing to adjust numbers accordingly. Shit happens. Roll with it. Usually downhill. :)

    ... and finally.

  • Don't let one or two PCs grandstand a quest. Get everyone involved and let everyone have a chance to be center stage. Pull the shy PCs to the front and center a little bit. You don't have to do it all the time, but give them EQUAL time. If someone is grandstanding, invent a way in the middle of your quest to sideline them a few rounds. It's more than they deserve if they are stealing the show.

Moving Plots Forward :
Moving The Plot Forward

When Mizahar gets addictive for me and especially when I have a lot of threads as a pc or a moderator, I notice one big blaring problem that becomes a constant source of ire for me. I don't know if I can cure it or not, but I can certainly point it out so people are aware of it and maybe try to avoid it... and that's moving the plot forward.

What do I mean by moving the plot forward? Just by having your PC yammer away or carry out actions doesn't mean you are moving the plot forward. Movement = Change. You need to change up the plot, take it from point A to point B. To many times people assume just because a post is full of stuff like epic battles, heros climbing hero mountain, lovers falling in love, etc... that the plot is moving. So many times it is at a dead standstill and it gets dead boring for readers. Why? Because if a plot isn't moving, a plot is predictable, boring, and stale.

Post for post, if your post ends at the exact same point my post ended at.... even if your PC did stuff in that post... you haven't moved the plot. You've failed your writing partner(s) and your audience. You... have... failed.

I tend to write a lot. I do so because scenes come alive in my mind and I like to hit on a great many aspects of them, not limited to the details of the surroundings but also the details of what my PC (or NPCs) are thinking and feeling. So I tend to throw out quite a few actions in a post that move the story onward. I might ask questions. I might react... but unless I'm feeling like a total bitch, I move the story forward by giving the person something to do in my post or something to react too. If I didn't want to do that, I'd stick to solos.

And if I am being a bitch? I'm doing it purposely because your doing it to me and my inner nasty toddler is out slapping you in the face with it.... though most of the time people don't realize it. How can you spot it? I end my post - like I said above - exactly where you ended yours and refuse to move the plot forward. I did it to someone recently in a whole series of threads until I finally ended the whole thread with a single line of 'taking them home...' After a while it became a game, mind you a frustrating game, of how long I could stall the action in one thread and have the plot be parked at a dead standstill like a car stranded along a deserted highway in the middle of the night. It was a lot of posts, mind you.... a lot of posts.

Why? Because I'm fed up with doing all the work. When you don't move the plot, you aren't doing your fair share of the work in a thread. You are letting your partner tell the story and putting the burden of entertaining everyone on them. They want to be entertained as much as you do, so don't let them down. Don't stall the plot.

It irks me when someone reacts and responds and answers and posts all their alive scene material (which I love) but then stops the scene exactly where I did in my post, thus leaving it up to me to move the story on. Its great for perspective, because it shifts the POV from your pc to their pc (or NPC or whatever) and you see things from their side. But if they don't go further than you went (like you went further than they went) you are left with the ball in your court and you simply get beaten back to the role of storyteller without having someone help you do that task.

Everyone following?

Collaborative storytelling is designed so both parties get to be the storyteller. The most common excuse I hear for a PC not moving a story forward by doing one more action past where the last PC stopped their action or story POV is that they have no idea where the story is going.

*deadpan look*

Isn't that the whole idea? Maybe your writing partner wants to be surprised too? Maybe they don't want to plan the whole thing, tell the story, and have you get your ass dragged along for the ride like a cling-on turd I forgot to wipe off my tushy well enough.

I'm a country girl. We can use turd analogies and not be five years old. This is especially true if a plot is constipated. Turds work as examples. I'm trying to teach you how to add laxatives so you can get the plumbing of a story moving again... so in the end everyone is relieved.

There are also bigger examples of moving plots in storylines themselves. Moving the plot isn't just about threading and moving threads along. It can be about a greater story.

Say you are a small time apprentice to a lazy mage master who tends to take all your work and put his name on it and reap the rewards for your brilliance. He never pays you. He rarely feeds you. All your shit is threadbare even though you work day and night to make him or her wealthy. Okay great. This is a good plot hook and something that we all can relate too and get behind right? Let me relate two scenes to you... one... the plot moves. One... nothing changes and it was all for naught. In both scenes, action happens. Can you spot the one where the plot moved?

You march into his office - which is a mess and hes probably got a hooker or two in there since he doesn't have to actually do any work - and confront him. There's a big epic scene where you get everything off your chest and....

He tells you to shut up, get back to work, and you cower because you have nothing and are no one and kinda spineless in spite of working up the courage to confront the mage.... and go back to work. Maybe he beats you... or maybe he cuts your non-existent salary to negative numbers and you start owing the company store funds.


He tells you that he doesn't need you. That you have an over inflated idea of your worth, and he throws your threadbare penniless ass out on the street with no place to go, no friends to shelter you, and nothing to your name. Then of course he puts the word out your toxic and that you steal so no other mage in the city will take you on or supply your endeavors.

Now.... one of these scenarios moves the plot forward like a freight train. One of these actually did nothing for your character, not even any real character development. If you can't tell which one is which, you need to give up writing as a hobby or a potential career and possibly enroll in that motorcycle or diesel engine repair mechanic course you keep eyeing on TV every time the commercial comes on during your favorite anime... because there is NO HOPE FOR YOU as a writer.

So how do you do this? Action, action, action... incite conflict. Throw things in from left field. In the case of Mizahar, your reader is your writing buddy. They are your partner. You need to keep them entertained as much as they are entertaining you. And if they aren't, tell them to do so... be open about your expectations. Fill your writing with moments that thrill you and thrill them. These are called Inciting Moments. They are exactly like they sound.
IM's are moments of crisis, threat, or opportunity.

I don't blame you for being boring writers. You see, from day one we are trained that other people are stupid and that if you don't start your writing with a backstory to explain what's going on in a plotline or say a book, then you are going to loose the reader. School teaches us this. Elementary english classes in college teach us this. The world tells us to explain. But is that really true?

What would you rather read? A long and winding road where someone talks about the proverbial dingo eating their baby way back and how much anxiety they have now... or do you want to launch right into a car chase ala Mad Max? I don't know about you... but I'd prefer the action and have some of the backstory revealed as the plot moves along rather than be overloaded with plot before I even get started. People aren't stupid. Your audiences and writing partners aren't stupid. Don't treat them like they are. They will learn a whole lot from your CS that can be translated into Lores later as the plot progresses and the characters get to know each other.

Move your plot forward. Always do that for your partner. If you don't... you are a turd. A big hard iron-infused bowl blocking turd. And we have poop emoji's for you now.
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