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A very much overdo blog post from Sir Muffonious about stuff which may or may not interest you if you happen to be inclined towards roleplaying.

Posted by Sir_Muffonious, 21 February 2011 · 1,174 views

Well, Frontier did not go quite as I anticipated. I was very excited for that RP at first, but once I posted the sign up topic and started reading over some of the sign ups I got, I started to feel hesitant. It wasn't because the characters were bad or anything (though I felt like I had to really push some people to make their characters more interesting), but I just didn't feel right about the RP. It was like I hadn't conveyed to the players the atmosphere of the world I was creating, which was my fault. The RP was wrought with self-doubt from its inception. I eventually started to feel better about things, but a whole ton of my plans didn't work out when I tried to set them into motion and by the time it was close to ending I was just exhausted with it all. I had no motivation left to continue fighting against a story I no longer wished to tell.

So that's over now. I don't really know what to do with myself, but I don't want anything to do with RPing for a while. I'm going to finish with the one RP that I'm still involved in, and then after that I'll have to find something else to do. Right now roleplaying feels like a chore to me - more work than its worth. I'm sure I'll become inspired again, but for now I need a break.

In my free time I've been slaving over D&D stuff to keep up with the weekly sessions I'm running, with Lord Cheese Con, Anonymous SoFar, and Grim Malevolence as my loyal and unfortunate group of players. My work involves planning adventures, creating NPCs, preparing monster encounters, creating new monsters (a recently discovered hobby of mine), and rolling lots of dice. I roll so many dice. It makes me wish I could organize a legitimate D&D game with a bunch of you guys, but there are so many complications involved with that that I don't even want to think about it...but that's entirely different than what I'm talking about now.

What I often notice about our D&D sessions is that they seem a lot better on paper than they do in real life. Planning out a campaign beforehand I can sort of tell which encounters are going to be most challenging to the players and which moments are going to define the adventure. However, oftentimes when we get down to actually playing the game I find that some of my tougher monsters are killed more easily, my puzzles prove to be too contrived and needlessly complicated, and a good deal of important rules are forgotten about in favor of some DM improvisation.

To return to what I was talking about before, I believe this is why Frontier failed; it was better in my head/on paper than it ended up being in real life. I did something wrong, whether it was in the way I wrote some of my posts or the manner in which I chose to run battles and skirmishes. I don't know exactly what went wrong, but in my head this idea was awesome and then when I tried it out it sucked, as sometimes happens in D&D as well.

So, the topic of discussion for this blog post is for Dungeon/Game Masters only: Have you ever had this problem yourself? How do you make up for this issue of poor translation (from paper to players) in your roleplays?

And just 'cus:

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I certainly don't have the sort of experience to talk about all the various rps I've done because I've really only had two, and one of them was a failure on my own part. Rise worked out pretty darn well, and I plan to conclude it in the summer. I think what worked well for this rp was that it was so random and silly that I never really wrote anything down and just kept on going with ideas formed in my head. That, and I had a great cast of rpers. I think that it really helps to not have everything so well planned, because as soon as the rpers start going in a different path it becomes a problem. Did I know that that the Vegas portion of the rp would set up a fight between Muffy and Moonlight? Of course not. But because I had nothing planned to stop them from doing what they wanted, it just worked, and we had some really cool characters come out of it.

The only time I did have a problem with this was with Bloodhounds. Bloodhounds was handled in a similar way like I did with Rise, and we had some great rpers, but I think the rp didn't work because the idea didn't sound as cool on paper as it did in my head. I'm a big fan of freedom for character creation, but with Bloodhounds I gave too much freedom. Way too much. I literally allowed people to make their own universes. Making one is hard enough. So yeah, didn't work out. :P
...

I gave up. :mellow:

I had tons of plans for Over the Sea: Part 2, and I thought, "OH THIS WILL BE SO AWESOME AND FUN," but frankly it just didn't work out. Too many players wanted to go in too many different directions, and I honestly never would've anticipated so many mutinous characters. Sure, it was fine and all, but it did kind of screw with the plot. Of course, I know that the biggest problem was my own: including my explorer trio was a mistake. I needed expendable characters that could actually die (which, no, none of them could; and yes, I just admitted that). I realize that was probably my biggest problem with the whole RP.

Of course, I am always so tempted to put some of my important, recurring characters into my RPs. One reason? So that I can have the great fun of actually playing as them; of having them faced with these situations/characters/dialog that I might otherwise never put them in in my own stories, and I think that's always really fun. I have, for instance, always wanted to put Tom and some of my other characters into a Wulfgard RP. I think it'd actually help me expand them as characters, since they'd get the chance of being confronted by that totally unpredictable factor that is a character controlled by someone other than myself. Plus it'd let other people get the chance to learn more about them as characters; to see how they act, what makes them tick, what they think of certain things that they might never even see/hear these characters discuss in my own stories (if anyone really cares about that, which I'm holding the high hope that they might).
But I never get to do that, really. Things either die too fast or I realize that it'd be stupid to put in my super-important, 'invincible' (while in the RP at any rate) characters into the RP at all.

I had planned for lots of things to go differently than they did... when I actually got down to trying to DM it, I often felt as if it had not enough action, so I'd throw some random enemies at the players; then, after I did it, I felt as if it was too contrived, and that made it boring. It also dragged on for a long time, usually, which was never good. But I have a lot of qualms with that RP when I look back on it, and when I re-read some parts of it again recently, I actually got quite a bit angry at myself for some of the things that I did. I felt like I should've known better... and yet I wonder if I wouldn't make the same mistakes again if I tried to do another RP right now.

But hopefully I'll get a chance to improve that story, bang out the defects, and restart it sometime. I still want to make that same general story idea, with its general choices that it would've had later on, into a successful RP.

I have yet to prove myself as even a decent DM. :P But I'm gonna keep trying.
I think I had the same problem as you (Muffo) in Memento Mori. I didn't convey the universe arcuratly to the players. Many thought that it was a survivaly horror/zombie RP when they signed-up, and while it did have these elements in it, it was actually closer to Doomsday or the new game called Rage.

Another thing that kills me in RPs is REAL LIFE. I'm just away from my keyes so much that often times my RPs will run strong until I go up to camp for a weekend. But I'm not sure about that though, because in my one and only complete RP, I wasn't even home when I started it and I gave all authority to another player while I was gone. So go figure :P

I've pretty much given up with RPs now. I know that my reputation definately won't help me.
@Hawk: Yeah, what you mentioned about Bloodhounds is more or less a problem I often run into myself. When I'm thinking about how I'm going to go about character creation, I come up with an idea that I think is really interesting and unique and I expect the players to sign up in a certain way, but when I implement my new idea the players use it in a way I hadn't really wanted them to. You gave us freedom to create whatever character from whatever universe we wanted, and that didn't go as you planned.

In Journey I introduced the stat system and let people do what they wanted with it, but everyone ended up min/maxing their stats instead of balancing them, and when we got into the actual RP hardly anyone played their characters according to their stats. In Frontier I introduced perks and expected a healthy balance of all the different abilities, but instead I got a bunch of people with the same two or three skills.

@Werewolf: Yeah, I get what you mean when you're talking about the mutiny stuff. You plan something like that in your RP and you don't think for a second that the players will react the way they do. You might build your entire RP on the expectation that your players will do one thing, and then they turn the tables on you and do something entirely unexpected. At that point it's hard to throw your plans out the window and make something from scratch.

@Wiffleball: That's one of my biggest issues. I have a hard time conveying the feeling of the setting to my players, but when someone comes up with a really cool and interesting character that doesn't fit into the setting you had planned, it's really hard to tell them to redo it. From now on I'm going to try a bit harder to steer my players in the right direction when they're creating characters.

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