From WoD Gothamchat rooms you are considered to be in a scene. Scenes are a concept that is covered in all core books of the Classic World of Darkness and should be familiar to everyone. Players will often hear other players ask if anyone wants to do a scene. What they are asking is if anyone is up to going IC and RPing.
World of Darkness: Gotham's Scene Style
In a nutshell, WoDG is a blend of 90% LARP and 10% Table Top.
In LARP people assume roles and act them out as if they were an actor on stage or a kid playing at pretend. In WoDG players are mostly playing at pretend and doing what LARPers do but in the digital or virtual format of a text based chat room. Players collaborate with each other and with the STs by taking turns writing out their actions and spoken words.
The Table Top component comes in when STs host more formal and structured storylines. Storylines are a series of scenes strung together over several separate RP sessions. It's like your weekly gaming group meeting up but in virtual space instead of your living room or dining room table. You may at some points go OOC and articulate character actions that way or you may always stay IC as you would with the more LARPish scenes.
Types of Scenes
There are a few common styles for scenes and they are as follows:
- Open Scene. This is random RP where players just meet up IC without the expectation of ST involvement. This is the default setting for any chat room and it follows a LARP format entirely.
- Private Scene. This is RP intended for certain characters. Private rooms are used for mature scenes, but they can be used for any number of other purposes.
- Player Led Scenes. This is led by the player base like Open RP, however there are times where a player or a group of players (like an Alliance) takes the initiative and runs a little story with fellow players or for them. We have some tips later in the article for players interested in running storylines.
- Forum Scenes. These are scenes that are conducted via our IC Forums. They follow a play by forum format (PbF) and are usually reserved for large scale scenes, scenes where the participants have drastically different schedules and the forums are the only way to come to a IC resolution quickly, and/or for scenes that take place online such as the characters speaking over a social network, forum, etc.
- Storyteller Led Scenes. These are ST led scenes which can be a one off encounter like a ST inhabiting NPCs in order to spice up a scene or bring the setting to life, a ST simply officiating pvp, an impromptu scenario, or a planned storyline event spanning several scenes and multiple sessions. ST scenes can be private or public or a combination of both.
It's worth mentioning that while we've neatly broken scenes down into four categories, those need not be the only scene formats. These are only the most common ones. Sometimes scenes might morph into one format or another or they may be a hybrid of more than one format.
ST Storyline Events
When a ST hosts a formal event, they will post it in the Event Calendar and give specific details there. Criteria for sign ups varies with the event type and the ST so be sure to check it out and ask the ST any questions as you sign up.
When you sign up, you're expected to attend unless you give advanced notification that you can't attend for some reason. STs are in full control over their events and are free to bar players from participating if they find the player disruptive or for some reason the storyline is only suited for specific character types. For example, if they are running a story for characters who are all part of the NYPD homicide division, don't expect your barrista to get involved or be prepared to have the character's involvement and access severely limited.
Also, STs go to a lot of work and trouble to organize events and have to plan out who is going to be participating. Often times key preparations are made based on who has signed up and with what character. So if a player burns a ST and flakes or creates other problems, they shouldn't expect to participate in future events.
Perks of the Job
Although we follow a predominantly LARP format in digital form, WoDG does not fill key positions within any venue's hierarchy with player characters. We've had plenty of experience with this sort of policy and it's always created more headaches than it has RP content. Players should not expect to be able to become Prince, Primogen, Grand Elder, Deacon, etc.
There are some great reasons for this:
- The nature of the internet and its population is highly transient. Players come and go too often from games in general. Having to replace them and explain each replacement within the story is just too much of a headache for the STs and the wider player base.
- It creates bad blood among the player base to have any player character have authority over another. It usually creates too much OOC drama for the potential rewards it might have.
- There's a certain lack of stability within the game when players take over key positions as they drop the ball on things and it takes extra work on the part of the STs to fill the gaps.
The alternatives we offer are in the form of perks, status distinction, minor positions, and of course a real IC powerbase. Player characters can earn real power and influence and wield it and via their venue's Status systems and be recognized by PCs and NPCs. The only difference is that they will not sport titles and have official authority over other characters.
Player Led Scenes and Storylines
So, what are player led storylines anyway? Good question! They are storylines that can be handled over few different scenes in which one of the players takes the lead in Storytelling something. The more minor or mundane it is, the easier it will be to hit the ground running. Say, while doing a scene one of the players decides to spice things up by tossing in a ordinary pickpocket being spotted in action. Nothing dangerous really and just a bit of excitement without much prep work needed. For more involved stories, it is best to work out a few details ahead of time.
Players should feel free to interject minor encounters as long as the others in the scene are comfortable with it. Players don’t have to exactly explain what they have in mind, but remember some people have limited time and they might be in the scene to accomplish something that they’d rather not get disrupted by something unusual happening. After the scene, give the STs a brief scene summary in the Poke a ST forum. Everyday encounters are the exception. STs don't need scene summaries every time players elect to NPC a bartender giving their characters a drink or every time a wait person recites to them the chef's specials. STs don't want to know if you inhabited a NPC for one post while your character was picking up something at a newsstand kiosk.
Communication with STs becomes more important with some of the more serious scenes and stories that someone might come up with. So if you are thinking of doing something, put in a post on the Poke a ST forum with Player SL Proposal or Planning or something similar in the title so we know the nature of the post and can fast track it.
This is where players would then explain what the overall storyline or scene they want to run, who they expect to be in it or if it will be open to anyone around, what types of NPCs do they plan to use or create, what type risks there will be or danger level involved, and what type of rewards could be expected to be gained. STs will then ask any pertinent questions and then after everyone is on the same page and it's determined that the storyline is appropriate for the Chronicle or doesn't conflict with anything already established within it, the green light will be given.
Scheduling Player Led Scenes and Storylines
Players are free to advertise that they want to run something and see who bites before setting up a schedule. The appropriate forum for such a post is the Announcements forum. Once you have decided when you want to run your scene or storyline and have the approval of the STs, you can post your event on the Event Calendar with any details or an intro post. It's recommended that you enable a sign up sheet so players can sign up and confirm their attendance by checking the track attendance check box.
Reporting Player Led Scenes and Storylines
Once the story is in progress, players can keep STs up to date on what is going on through the Poke a ST forum. There should be one summary for each scene in the storyline. When the storyline is over you can also let us know how it went and what the final outcome was with a scene summary. We'll review and make sure that the resolution is appropriate and that no one went overboard on any of the elements. Of course for a single scene, there would only be one summary and conclusion rather than consistent updates.
Players should use common sense with respect to their scene and storyline content. These scenes shouldn’t be game changers for anyone involved. For example, players shouldn't create a supernatural bad guy for encountering mortals so that their eyes are opened to the greater supernatural world. No discovering mystic artifacts, or the deed to some old building, no bumping into the mayor and saving his life or anything like that. If you think it might be overboard or too much, then either pull it back in your planning or contact and ST to confirm. We want everyone to have fun and be able to express their ideas fluidly but we don’t want to see things degenerate into utter chaos either.
The Impromptu Encounter
Sometimes the creative spark hits you and getting ST approval might take a little turn around time. The impromptu scene or encounter is like a one shot spur of the moment something that will likely get reported as an after the fact summary on the Poke a ST forum - who was in it, what happened, etc. It differs from a planned storyline put forth prior to the first scene for approval. Players should feel free to impromptu should they feel the urge so long as the encounter in the scene is mundane.
Anytime there is something supernatural involved, you must seek prior approval from staff through a Poke a ST forum.
We don’t want to hinder the creative flow of anything spur of the moment, but we need to keep things under control for obvious reasons.
Helpful Tips and Some Reminders
So here are some points to remember and general rules to follow when thinking up these scenes and storylines.
- Minor NPCs only, or as we call them Redshirts. These are basically disposable, fairly average character types, and certainly not famous or anyone of consequence. The random cop, Joe the snitch, Olaf the Thug, Timmy the street kid, and so on are all examples of this type of minor NPC. Minor encounters might be something like running mortal prey for a vampire hunting scene or chasing down a pickpocket.
- Limited supernatural involvement without prior approval and nothing that would reveal the supernatural world to a mortal. A mage or Garou could do a scene where they summon a minor spirit to help reveal more of the cosmos to their fellow mage players, but they certainly should not include a mortal there and reveal the nature of the Umbra to them. A small time Nosferatu could make a request to one of the vampires player characters to try and get some information that he is having trouble getting. A group of werewolves could have a scene where they visit the Umbra to chase down a mischievous spirit that is causing trouble.
- Generally crossover scenes should be handled with care and STs should be notified ahead of time if players start getting deep into it. If it does get complicated, stop the scene and put it on pause. Players can notify STs and then regroup later. It's better to do that, then make a mess that will have to be cleaned up later.
- No rewards should be given for these scenes, events, and storylines. Players running them instead should notify the STs of the outcome of their event in their summaries. They can recommend rewards or give happy gold stars to the players that performed well or seemed to have developed as a result of the story. Then the STs will decide if anything should be rewarded. Most often a good scene will give justification for various types of Exp expenditures.
- Remember the timing and scale of a scene or story and consider the impact on other players. These are especially important factors to consider when looking to start an impromptu scene or encounter because not everyone will be able to participate or have the time to do so. Allow players to exit gracefully or remain unengaged if they so choose. Sometimes scenes and encounters can escalate into complex events. Then they tend to run much longer than anticipated and force a scene lock if matters can't be resolved or someone can’t be written out easily and fairly. Try to be flexible to avoid such complications.
- Don't bite off more than you can chew. Be patient and take your time. Storylines can take months to complete and this is especially the case when everyone involved can only get together once in a while. If there is combat involved, don’t get upset if ST assistance is required as there might be a wait time.
- Be prepared. Everyone should feel comfortable with the process and it does take some time to get comfortable. Try and review rules in advance, make cheat sheets, bookmark wiki pages, etc. Good preparation will keep scenes running smoothly with a good tempo.
- If your SL is going to require the STs to step in with main NPCs, then your SL is too large in scope.
- Have fun! The Team will adjust things and clarify as needed and try to make the process as simple and painless as possible. STs might have to make changes to the process or rules, but in the long run this should be a great tool for players and STs to generate more RP content for everyone.
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Hosting player led scenes and stories can be a great way for players to get their feet wet on the idea of maybe becoming full time STs or Narrators. It's a way to build confidence, practice your ST chops, and get to know your fellow players.