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Dec. 19th, 2005 @ 02:08 pm NPCed into a Corner
Hello! This is my first post to this community. I was very happy to see this type of community out there and I hope that I can contribute to the discussions.

One of the reasons I joined is because I'm having a little dilemma with the game that I am moderating. It is a Kingdom Hearts storyline based exclusively in journals, and I created an entire gaming system for it completely from scratch. I was very selective in the application process, everyone was required to submit a sample post, pass an interview and then sign an RP contract so that if any ooc conficts arose then that person could be removed easily.

The game began on December 1st and is scheduled to end sometime in January. So far, things have been going great. The members are incredible and the story is progressing at the pace that I wanted it to. The problem is, because I have an RP system in place and require a lot from my members, people were kind of scared to join. As a result, there's certain characters that I hoped would have their own muns, but are currently being NPCed since no one applied for them.

At the moment the SL is progressing fine with this handicap, but sooner or later we're going to end up in a situation where we're pretty much RPing with ourselves because of the NPCs we control. I would like to avoid this by filling in key characters with muns, but no one wants to join because they 1) The SL is short and has been going on for a while and 2) There's a lot to learn.

Now, I do train every person who comes into the SL so they are proficient in using the system, but this doesn't seem to bring comfort whatsoever to potential roleplayers. I've advertised everywhere and have come up empty. All I really need is one new person to round out this group, but no one has stepped forwards who is willing to take a major role in this RP.

So my question is, does the problem lie in my approach, my rules, or is there even a problem at all? Maybe it's the niche that my fandom is in that's limiting the amount of people I can pull in.

For anyone who's interested, here is the inclusion criteria for this storyline:

Community Information

In addition, here is the gaming system that I put into place:

Community Roleplay Guide

If anyone has any comments or advice, I would be happy to listen.
About this Entry
forgotten_gm:
From:maleus
Date:December 19th, 2005 09:47 pm (UTC)
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primarily... i think the problem is that role-players are lazy nerds by nature and many of us are control freaks... like yourself obviously.

from the way it sounds... you have worked yourself into a corner with little room to move around. you already see your problem... you made it too difficutl for lazy nerds to generate the interest needed for something with a short lifespan.

you need to either... loosen up, expand the storyline beyond january to make it worthwhile for people to learn your system and the story

or...

deal with the situation you have and just NPC it to death.

hmm... i sound more bitchy than i mean to... but ive played in games with hyper controling game masters... you would be better off writing a novel than engaging in what is at it's heart a GROUP effort.
From:forgotten_gm
Date:December 20th, 2005 03:55 pm (UTC)
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I really don't think it's as controlling as the average D&D game out there. I'll admit that the application process is strict, but the rules for mini games and fighting are really just there to cut down on god moding and to determine winners in the most objective way possible.

Moreover, I think you're misunderstanding - it's just me controlling NPCs, it's everyone in the group. They are all allowed to take on any NPC they feel like using as long as that NPC won't give them too much in game knowledge of what's going on in the other faction - if that makes any sense.

I can sense from your post that you must have had a lot of bad experiences with controlling game masters before. I can assure you that I'm not the type of person who would just block out suggestions from members or sit there and ignore people's complains. But the thing is, no one ever complains and no one gives me feedback when I ask if they think the rules are too strict. That's why I came here as a last resort.

Finally, I think despite all the rules, my storylines do provide a good experience for the members. It is indeed a group effort, and if you read through the links I provided, you would see that at the bottom of the Community Information page, there is a section outlining the behavior of group members that bring down the group process. In fact, throughout all of the tutorials, I stress the group effort.

This isn't the first time I've done a storyline with lots of rules, but it is the first time I've attempted it in greatest journal. In the ones I've done in the past, we've actually finished our stories successfully and the people who were involved in it were moved to tears because it was a such a good time for all of us and the story was so incredible.

I really hope that the next time you run into a rule monger that you get treated better. I care for all my SLers and I am always willing to listen to them. I will take what you said in consideration as I try to decide what to do.
From:icewinddragon
Date:December 23rd, 2005 04:48 am (UTC)
(Permanent Link)
Well - to begin with introducing a new system rarely is easy. People are suspicious of change and of something that someone whose professionality is not beyond any doubt suggests to them - being someone who designed a rpg-system as well, i learned that first hand. Getting people to try out something new always takes some effort, and if trying translates to learning something new, which sounds dangerously much like "work", you can expect the required effort to rise exponentially.

Quite frankly - while a strict style of leading appeals to me, that is not the case for the majority of other people. I repeatedly have seen how things take a quick downward-slide when no-one feels responsible and no-one takes care that everything will continue to run smoothly. The way it is phrased on the info-page however is maybe in some passages not exactly diplomatic in my eyes (i can point out specific examples to you if you want me to). The impression you give there is maybe not the most alluring for the majority of people (i am not sure whether you really want that however).

I personally do not know Kingdom Hearts - i know that it is actually fairly well-known, but i do not know how broad the fan-base is.

I skimmwed the rules - they do not seem overly compley or hard to understand to someone who is already somewhat acquainted with RPing... but again, i must admit that at least to me the way it is phrased does not sound overly welcoming. I am curious: how does the battle system work out so far? Is it fast enough - it seems like there is a fair chance that if someone involved in a fight is somewhat busy, things might quickly slow down immensely; is this a problem in reality, or has this never come up?

I will readily admit that only being allowed to choose from this set of characters is a terrible turn-off for me. I prefer to be creative and come up with something myself, rather than just make a more or less accurate impersonation of a character that someone else has come up with. Since most role-players are fairly creative and imaginative i believe that might be one of the reasons for the lack of interest in your system as well.

As you pointed out that the game has been going for a while, and will end soon is something that will discourage people to get acquainted with a new system as well.

I hope that what i have written is helpful to you and wish you fun in your endeavours.

Pax vobiscum

IcewindDragon
From:forgotten_gm
Date:December 24th, 2005 07:31 pm (UTC)
(Permanent Link)
Thank you very much for your comments. I really appreciate you taking the time out to review the site and giving me your opinions.

I didn't even realize that the tone of the rules was so harsh, and now that I look over them, I realize that I probably scared off a lot of people from that alone. Thank you for pointing this out to me, I will definitely have my mind on the tone of the rules if I make future RPs.

One of the things I tried to do in order to help people trust me as a game master was to have a random person interview me, which I posted on the OOC Forum here. I honestly don't know if it actually helped, but I tried to make everything that I did as a GM very public. In the OOC forum I record all the character interviews, all the logs for dicing, anything and everything that doesn't give away plot I put up there so that people don't think that I'm doing sneaky things behind the scenes.

I don't think I'll ever change the rules to allow non-cannon characters in because what typically happens is that the story loses the flavor of Kingdom Hearts. It becomes an original character story - because everyone wants to have one - and for that, I might as well have drawn up some random fantasy story from scratch instead of calling it Kingdom Hearts. People played the game to meet their favorite Final Fantasy characters and get drawn in to the triangles of the original characters, and I don't want to lose that in the RP.

Finally, the battle system has worked incredibly well so far, as well as the mini games. It's actually designed so that people don't spend three weeks fighting in the same scene, so we don't run into problems of being bogged down. Before the game was started, interviewed every person and had them present to me the powers they wanted. I put a dice rule to every single thing they picked, and it has worked out fine. They can be powerful and unique in how they use their powers, but there is a still a system of checks and balances in place.

What you have written is definitely very helpful to me. You made me see something that I totally overlooked. Thank you so much for your comment!