Text-based RPGs were a passion of mine from 10th grade (2002) until very recently. Right now my life is too busy to commit to much gaming, but a break from the hobby can do wonders to renew passion.
Despite my distance I find myself ever-lurking, observing mistakes players make and acknowledging my own failures in the medium. With 8 years experience playing and 6 years modding, I’d like to think I’ve learned a thing or two. So, here I pass on some wisdom and welcome comments supplementing my knowledge.
“All I know is that I know nothing.” -Socrates.
6 Fatal Mistakes Commonly Made in RP Plot
1. Blowing The Load
You heard me! So many great plots get rushed through. A story that could have beautifully, slowly developed over months takes two week and then it’s over and done with. This happens most commonly with relationships. Two players get so excited by a ship that they fall in love, get married, and consummate (usually not in that order). Any tension from a forbidden romance, any secret love, gets rushed and done with so that plots have to loop or fizzle out because they were over too quickly.
Worst of all, none of the other players care about these fast-developed ships because they see them as too little development with too much enthusiasm.
|Credit Hannahtess on DeviantArt
2. Becoming Romantically Dependent
Too many players make their romantic plot their only plot. Then if their ship gets boring (because good relationships make bad TV) they end up in an endless loop of fluff/smut or fade away. Even worse, if their ship partner drops they have no friends or plot to fall back on while they NPC the ship and find a new player or adlib a breakup.
Like becoming Romantically Dependent, if all your plot is with one other character, this spells doom. This is really specific to communities and not personal story lines, but it’s a boundary that is dangerous if confused. Other players will come to dislike you if they see you as a pair playing out a personal story line in a community and it will be hard to get involved in the community should your storyline partner fade away.
It’s easy to come up with an epic plot and barrel ahead, but it’s always a good idea to find little ways for others to play with you. I’m not saying that everyone has to cater to your plotlines, but that you should give others opportunities to fill slots in yours. Offer up roles that an NPC might play to the community for grabs or find a way someone else can complicate it.
Further, don’t just stick to plots you came up with. Volunteer to help others and even if you have an amazing plot running with plenty to do, tag open threads. Don’t get stuck in your own world. You are part of a community.
4. Hitting an Emotional Dead End
Sometimes plot is so epic that it breaks a character. If you are going to horribly scar your character for life you have to decide if you will be willing to realistically deal with the emotional fallout of certain traumatic events.
Killing a spouse, for instance, makes a character very unpleasant to play for quite a few months.
This is not to say that you’re a bad writer if you don’t want to deal with it. Writers in prose fiction generally have the luxury of summing up a character’s emotional breakdown in a literary montage or at least reflecting it off of a supporting cast of characters. You play one character in role-play and you really shouldn’t play anyone who interacts with them. You don’t have the luxury of summing it up because games are played in real time. You have to wallow in it.
Consider before you do it.
|Credit altana on Deviant Art
5. Ignoring Plotholes and Flaws
If there is a simple way your character could solve all of their problems, but they aren’t, you’d better be ready to point out in your narrative what psychological reason your character has for ignoring that out or you will be seen as a Mary Sue player.
Too proud to apologize to win her back? Make it clear that this is a flaw in your character and not just you being too attached. It’s admirable to make your character flawed, even stubborn. It’s annoying when we can’t tell if it’s the character or the player who thinks they are right.
6. Failure to Recognize the End of an Arch
If a plot has nowhere to go without going in a circle, end it. Sometimes you need to do this with characters, too. If you have a character you’ve played for years and you love their plot and arch too much to upset it with drama, retire the character. Nobody will fault you for saying that you have no more stories to tell with that character.
Only write the book if you have a story to tell.