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  • Getting Involved in Plots

    "How do I get a plot?"

    This is probably one of the most frequently asked questions SPs hear, and it comes from newbies, middle-bies, and oldbies alike.

    It is also one of the most frustrating questions we get, not because we don't want to help, but because it's simply impossible for us to create individual plots for each and every player in the castle. On top of that, it is seldom accompanied by any sort of information about what sort of plot the player wants to be in.

    StoryPlotters create and drive plots create that affect the entire castle or a significant portion of it. Plots like the visit of the Fae ambassadors or the mystery of the Dove Tower or the intrigue surrounding the Owl and the Unicorn are designed to draw in a large number of players and, usually, have relevance to the history and/or future of the Castle. It is rare for an SP devise a more personal plot that directly affects only a small handful of people.

    So, the first thing you should do before contacting an SP with any variation of "How do I get a plot?" is decide what kind of plot you want to be involved in. The larger, SP driven plots tend to have a particular goal in mind: some peice of information revealed or action accomplished. The focus of that plot is achieving that goal, and the players involved are incidental. These plots generally offer rewards of some sort: advancement, special objects, favor or simply noteriety.

    Smaller, player run plots (things like love stories or kidnappings or duels of honor) tend to focus instead on the individuals involved, and the effects of the events upon those characters. They generally require little to carry out in terms of props or special effects, but rely upon the interactions of individuals to complete. Rewards are seldom tangible, but the satisfaction is derived from good roleplaying and the sense that your character has been somehow changed by the experience. Future posts here will discuss how to go about developing this sort of plot in Castle Marrach.

    Getting Involved in the Big Plots

    Does it seem to you that there are certain people who always seem to be on the forefront of anything big? There are a few tricks these people know that can help you get a bigger piece of the action yourself.

    One, assert yourself. Regardless of how shy or unassuming you would like your character to be, if you sit quietly about in the courtyard waiting for something to happen to you, you will likely be sitting there a long time with nothing to do. You must make an effort to involve yourself in any given action because (most) people will assume that if you don't, you're not interested and move on without you. So, take an interest in what's going on around you: pay attention to that murmured conversation in the corner, react to the inflammatory statements of the malcontent, offer to assist someone in distress. Get involved with the people and events that are going on around you, not just some times, but all the time. Nine times out of ten the events may lead to nothing more than a few minutes or hours of distracting (or occasionally frutrating) RP, but that tenth time will be the one that pays off and leads you into an exciting plot.

    Do not hide behind the cop-out that your character would never speak out or act out in public, because they are shy and reserved. If you have chosen to create a character like this, then it is up to you, the player, to ensure that your character finds situations where they feel comfortable getting involved. Arrange private lessons and meetings that allow you to talk to others one-on-one, and use the opportunity to learn about on-going events in the other persons' lives. Remember this good rule of thumb: not everything is about you. Encourage others to talk about themselves, and you may find a way in which you can become involved.

    By getting involved in events around you, you will become acquainted with your fellow castle denizens. You will make friends, lovers, rivals and enemies by taking action, and these relationships will draw you into further plots and adventures. Which leads to our second trick: It's all about who you know.

    This may be disheartening to some people, but it's true. Knowing the people who are most involved in the action is a sure-fire way of getting a little bit of it yourself. When it comes to getting involved in SP run plots, the best way to get yourself included is to become known by the numerous NPCs who are out and about the castle. In case the reasoning for that is not obvious, it is because we SPs use the NPCs (both those run by staff and by veteran players) in order to drive the plots we have created. Naturally, those people the NPCs know and interact with are more likely to be nearby when the plot is launched. Additionally, because we know more about the characters with whom we've interacted (and the players behind the characters) we will have a better idea of how they will react when presented with certain information or events, thereby ensuring our plot moves in the desired direction.

    How to get to know the NPCs, or those well-known PCs who always seem to be in the middle of things? Go back to number one: assert yourself. Take opportunities to interact with them, or make an effort to create such opportunities yourself.

    Finally, the third trick for getting yourself involved: the power of OOC. Sometimes, your best IC efforts fail to provide the hoped for results of getting you involved in a plot. When this happens, don't be afraid to step Out-of-Character and ask. Use the OOC command (if it won't interrupt ongoing action), send a scroll or email or private message to someone you'd like to be involved in a plot with, or talk to an SP. Be frank with your interest about getting involved and ask if there isn't something you can work out. I have faith that, for the most part, players of Castle Marrach will try to accomodate you if you are clear about what you want and use common courtesy in presenting your desires.

    As far as SPs go, we will make every effort to help out, but I should mention that the more specific you can be in your initial request the more we'll be able to help you. Don't say, "I want to be in a plot." Say, rather, "I want to be in such-and-such a plot...it looks really interesting," or "I want to accomplish such-and-such a thing with my character...is there anything going on that can help me do that?" In general, the more information you can provide when approaching SPs the better response you will get. Don't be afraid to contact us for help, but do be prepared to be flexible -- we have our own needs to fufill and (to be utterly honest) nothing gives us more pleasure than twisting the lives of Castle Marrach's residents in unexpected ways.

    To conclude for the moment, it is not the responsibility of the StoryPlotters to enterain the players. We are here to provide the means for you to entertain yourselves. We create the tools you need -- characters, conflicts, mysteries, surprises -- but it is entirely up to you to take advantage of them.

    [Originally posted by StaciD and copied here for your convenience.]
    -StoryHost Xios

  • #2
    SP Approved and SP Supported Plots

    Without yet getting into the dynamics of how to design a good plot, this post will discuss the hows and whys of getting the SPs involved in you player-designed plot.

    First and foremost, you don't need to ask an SP before running most plots. While we do like hearing what plans you might have, in order to better understand all the different threads in the castle plot fabric, we do not presume to hold any draconian authority over what players can and can't do. Players run plots all the time without that nebulous stamp of "SP Approval", plots that entertain and engage the players involved and thus make us happy as well.

    So, when is it necessary to talk to an SP before launching your plot? Broadly, when your plot will potentially affect any SP-controlled aspects of the castle. More specifically if:
    • NPCs are directly involved and/or affected significantly, i.e. death, imprisonment, change in status, etc. Example: Skout wants to kidnap Launfal, Geograd wants to cast a love spell an Amoret, etc.
    • It affects the physical make-up of the castle or world, i.e. holes in the floor, a different color sky, a broken door, etc.
    • It relates to the background and history of the castle in anyway.
    • It involves intervention from forces outside the castle.
    • It assumes magical abilities/effects that are not part of currently coded
      system.


    If you run a plot that touches upon these areas and that is not approved by
    a StoryPlotter, we reserve the right to step in when we find out about it
    and say, "No, sorry, it didn't happen." This has happened to plots before,
    and it can cause no end of frustration to those involved, so do yourself a
    favor and talk to an SP first.

    However, just because you don't have to talk to an SP about your plot, there are many good reasons to do so.
    • We can help refine your plot so that it tells a better story
    • We know what else going on in the castle plot-wise, and can make suggestions that will help your plot fit in more effectively
    • We can tell you how other players might react to your plot
    • We can suggest other players who might want to be involved
    • We can keep different plots from conflicting with each other adversely
    • We can answer questions from people about your plot if need be


    Getting SP approval for a plot is usually pretty simple: it just requires an email to an SP that outlines the details. In most cases, a brief overview is all that is required. If we need more details, we can always ask. Keep in mind that plots are more likely to get approved if they have clear beginnings, middles and ends. "I want to start an evil cult" is not a plot; "I want to start an evil cult that will attempt to capture male virgins and sacrifice them" is better; "I want to start an evil cult that will attempt to capture male virgins and sacrifice them, but is ultimately brought down by a cadre of angry women with swords" is best. It is also a good idea to include a list of the people who will be involved, an idea of who might be indirectly involved, and whatever long-term effects the plot might have. All this information will help the SPs determine how worthwhile the plot is, and how much support it should recieve.

    Now, here's a tricky matter: just because your plot is "SP Approved" does not mean that it's "SP Supported", and just because your plot is "SP Supported" does not mean that it's "SP Approved."

    Confused? Here's what I mean.

    An SP Approved plot means that we've seen your plans and didn't say "no." It doesn't mean we like your plot, it doesn't mean we want to be involved in it, it doesn't mean that we're going to do anything to help it along. While we may discourage suggested plots for various reasons (too repetitious, too annoying, not defined enough, and so on), we recognize that we do not hold the definitive opinion on what makes a plot good or enjoyable, and so as long as a plot does not directly contradict the Greater Story, we're not going to stop you.

    An SP Supported plot means that the SPs have, in one way or another, provided something to further a plot along. These can be big things or small: objects, NPC interactions, an alteration to a body, etc. Frequently, such support is given without the SP knowing the details of the plot in question. For example, we recieve a page asking for someone to be wounded: they have a weapon, both players are willing, so we comply. An object might be requested, and as long as the IC means of acquiring that object are reasonable, we will provide it. An NPC may become involved just by being present and reacting as their character would. All these things can happen without the plot ever having been reviewed by an SP, and should not be construed as "SP approval" for your plot.

    The more extensive the SP support needed for a plot, the more likely you will need to have it officially approved. For instance, we're not going to jump in and turn the sky red because you page us and tell us that "my character just cast a spell that changed the color of the sky". That kind of large-impact support will only take place after the plot has been approved.

    Obviously, the plots with the greatest cache are going to be those that have won both SP Support and SP Approval. People who claim to have either SP Support or SP Approval when they don't, simply to convince other people to play along, are going to find themselves in an unpleasant situation when the truth comes out.

    However: We don't encourage people to choose which plots they will or will not be involved in simply by the degree of SP approval and support. There are many excellent RP opportunities happening around you that we know nothing about, and likewise many SP approved and supported plots are, in the end, weak and uninspiring. Your desire to engage your player in any plot should be based soley upon your respect for the other players involved, and your understanding of the plot they are trying to run. As always, the best policy if you have any doubts is to step OOC, and ask.
    -StoryHost Xios

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