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First Time Planning RP Storyline

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Hello Fellow Rpers. First off, if this is in the wrong thread, please let me know and I'll be happy to move it to the corresponding thread.


So, As the title states, I have never hosted or created an RP storyline within the game, but I do want to attempt to. This is basically a cry for help asking for any tips/tricks/advice to those who have hosted an RP event/storyline. I feel kind of lost and don't know where to start. Please, any help would be appreciated. 


Some preliminary information/questions:



I do not have any fermented Roleplay connections within the game currently, so it will just be me trying to set this up. 


When thinking of a story line, would you typically say it is better to have the beginning/middle/end planned out from the get go, or would it be better to just have a concept and let the rpers take it from there?


How effective would it be to have player made NPC's play integral parts into the story line? as I said I don't have many friends online and this is one way for me to make some (hopefully). Would it be too weird? Would it be better to try and find people to fill some of the roles? 


If you weren't planning one with friends, how would you go about advertising, to get random people interested? In chat? Or maybe Pf? 


Please, any and all help will be appreciated!:D:D

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If it's your first time, gosh, keep it simple because most of it will be about the mechanics of running the story and the type of RPers you get to do it.


Ask yourself what the best RPs you have done were like, and how the person running it dealt with managing the players. That should help you decide how you would like to approach it.

  • How will you start the RP
  • How will NPCs be dealt with
  • How will things like order of actions occur
  • How will outcomes of actions be resolved
  • How will you move from one scene to another
  • What will you do when the players miss the plot and miss the clues
  • How will it end, will they know they won

Now, in doing that you can choose to be as regimented or not, from using some rolling dice system, or something like Fate-14, and even free-form self determination. The idea (well for me) is to have just enough so that the focus is RP and not mechanics.


The story itself I would suggest keeping it simple to start with, and leave convoluted things for another day when you have the mechanics down. So start with very simple, small scenarios.

  • Remember you are facilitating the RP of others, and you are supposed to loose while providing a challenge
  • What is the starting point that initiates the plot
  • Why would the characters care
  • Make sure there are ways to progress the story
  • Avoid single points of failure, because the players will mess up and that kills your plot dead
  • Do some work on fleshing out the main NPCs
  • Be prepared to wing it on general NPCs
  • Be open to players coming up with things you never thought of and accommodate them as best you can (in fact welcome and reward it)
  • I find it useful to write a separate bit on "what is really happening" rather than what the characters see. This lets your plot/NPCs respond to what is happening, rather than you responding to the characters.
  • The RP on adventures happens a lot in the still moments between the activity, let the players enjoy that before hurrying them along (there is no need to rush)

There is much much more but really, do something very small for a few friends and learn. That's the best way. And these can be as simple as the quests in the game:

  • Take item A to person in other place
  • Go and retrieve item A from the bad folks
  • Help for someone on the road
  • I have to go to the ball and I have nothing to wear.. help!
  • The Bishmark has run out of flower! - what will the characters do
  • Go and unload the ship and report back what they are carrying
  • etc..

Hope that helps.

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I would really suggest working with your FC or any RP LS you may be in first, especially if you know few people on the server. They are a ready source of friendly contacts so you don't have to try and bake a cake without any ingredients.


Structured vs unstructured is really a matter of personal preference. I tend to run only unstructured plots with a lot of twists and turns and intrigue, but this means the plotline can drag out for a long time. Many people prefer a Monster of the Week style where they sign up, go to location, defeat Evil Thing, then go out for beers.

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One key thing, in any RP related situation, storyline or otherwise.

Always plan for the players to do something completely unexpected.  The more you structure things, the more you can expect things friction as things go 'off the rails'.


Nebbs has a really good list so I'm just going to add a few things that really worked for me when I was DMing on NWN persistant worlds:


- Keep a journal (A google document works, but I use a physical small ruled notebook.)  Every player interaction goes in here so you have a reference point of who interacted with whom.  


- Plan out your beginning (aka your hooks), and create background information.  Your story rarely started when the players become involved. There's usually some interactions that happened before.  Bits of history to the story.  Plan those, build those, create little interesting tidbits from that which you can use moving forward to make the npc's and situation more 'real'.  


- Give people a reason to care.  You can do this by seeding important plot NPC's with the players early.  If you want a death or a problem to be something the players care about, give them a reason to care.  


- Don't use important characters you don't control as direct parts of your plot.  IE: You can do something -for- House Fortemps without directly using named members of House Fortemps.  This proofs you against FFXIV devs deciding to murder someone in a cut-scene or some such.


- Have an exit strategy aka an 'end' condition.  


This bit from Nebbs I can't emphesise enough so I'm just going to quote it again:

"The RP on adventures happens a lot in the still moments between the activity, let the players enjoy that before hurrying them along (there is no need to rush)"



I cannot stress how important that is.


PC Character development doesn't really happen in the heat of battle, or in mid crisis.  That can be the catalyst, certainly. The real development happens when people have downtime to process what happened, when the adrenaline wears off and there is time to look on what your actions have wrought.  


This downtime is also where your story can reach more people as characters talk about it in taverns with others not involved.  That's the sort of thing that makes this a living world instead of a bunch of disparate 'quests'.

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Everyone has already offered great advice. I'll try to add some info that hasn't been already! 


First off, I would recommend joining an RP FC or Linkshell, one that is active and you can experience an RP event for yourself. The best way to learn is to observe, watch and participate. What were your favourite parts of the event? What parts were a little wonky? Take notes, especially on how it is paced. It is very, very easy to make an event go on for too long and bore people. 


Also, joining a group or making some RP connections first will help a lot in terms of inspiration. When planning plots for my FC, I keep in mind my FC members and what they can do. Pay attention to their skill sets and jobs, mercenaries will want to do adventure-y type stuff, healers might want to treat a mystery illness, culinarians might need a rare ingredient for example. Remember this RP will involve other people and their characters, try to provide them some entertainment or development! People will appreciate it.


Moral alignment and their goals are also very important for character motivation, a Lawful Good character will not want to go on a mission to rob a house, nor would a Chaotic Evil character have fun rescuing kittens from a river. Conflict is good, but you have to be careful that characters don't just simply turn and walk away from the problem at hand or spend the whole time bickering on what to do. So tl;dr, know who you are writing for, or if you decide to recruit for the plot before making connections, be explicitly clear in your PF or event post what kind of RP will be taking place so you attract the right characters for it. 


Another thing to consider is combat. There are many combat systems used, from simple /random when a difficult task or attack comes up, to very intense character point systems and the like. I would recommend keeping it real simple for now, perhaps one or two enemies. Freeform is also a valid option, and you don't even need to have combat to have a good storyline! 


Google and the game are your friends for inspiration. Well, at least for me! If I come along an interesting lore tidbit in the game, or perhaps I'm just browsing D&D campaigns, that can spark an idea. Anyways, I've rambled enough, good luck in your plotting and have fun with your RP! o/

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As someone who had made a very long campaign myself with arcs, here is a tip...




What does that mean? Let's say as you rp with your pals, you feel the urge to get 1-2 involved with something they get to see but others don't. This could be as simple as finding a weakness or as mind blowing as finding truth in all this. Or even gold hunt.


you are not intentionally leaving players out but rather giving each person a more personal event to compliment the campaign. This also gets your friends asking or saying they will do something out of left field like storm the castle on their own to which you can make it a surprise or what not.



Of course one downside to adding smaller events can be that certain people would enjoy it only. Those who are hooked on the story and mystery of it and it should only be in small dosages.


My favorite: after sometime from a major fight, one of my pals got a letter to go alone to a secluded location to which the big bad tried tempting their character to join their side. They declined and a small escape scene ensued when fighting her wasn't the smart thing.

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I've been doing the GM thing in this game for 3 years now, so while everyone has answered I want to give my perspective haha.


~ Have a great hook. Just like music, have something that will draw in the players in. For me, that usually means a really elaborate, scripted opening scene with a few people who know the deal and a bunch of people who don't - something that really signifies "Yes this is the beginning of an arc". The beginning is what's really going to make or break a story, as you want at least 2-3 people interested. How you want to do it is really up to you, but I've found an actually Go-time scene helps get people immersed.


~ Don't script too much though. I usually only plan the beginning and certain hooks along the way, most of the time I only have a vague idea on how I was the ending to go but generally leave that up to the players. Let your players create their own hooks. build their own plot threads. Then take those and twist them to make plot hooks out of that. RP is a cooperative story, they should be building off of you and you should be building off of them.


~ Have NPCs! If you have some friends willing to help (Or if you are willing to not play your own character sometimes) I've found playing NPCs really helps with people's immersiveness. ESPECIALLY villains. If they can see the villain there, doing villainy things and talking all villainous, then it makes them want to take them down much more than a shadow figure you just talk about. I had a friend who only played villains to help advance our plot. He was the real MVP (RIP Denn).


~It's okay if not a lot of people are involved. I think this one fucks with people a lot, I've seen way to many people want to start a plot then get discouraged if only 1-2 people show up and they never finish. RPers are a bit timid, honestly. They hear plotline and they get interested, but they also think "Someone is going to control my character" and shy away. There's a lot of RPers who don't like relinquishing some control of there characters to people who they don't trust. What if the GM says their character dies? What if the GM makes them do something they don't want to do? You have to earn that kind of trust for more people to be interested later. You'll always be able to find some people who are willing to take the risk (Especially those who are tired of trying to find plot) but keep your expectations realistic. If it goes well, you're going to find like 20 people sign up for the next one (And that's a whole different monster...).


~Roll20 will be your new best friend. Elaborate dungeons and artifacting searching just aren't possible in game, same as bug epic combat with big epic heros. Roll20 is really great for those kind of scenes. Someone here said to create a system for combat and I agree with that. The NB has their own R20 system and the most popular one on here is called FATE (I believe). It makes it much much easier to deal with combat turns.


Everyone else pretty much said the rest.

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