This workspace is an upstairs office with two windows overlooking the yard and the tranquil tree-lined street. It has pale beige walls, a hardwood floor with a decorative oriental rug, a 5-shelf bookcase packed with RPG rulebooks, sci-fi and fantasy novels, and non-fiction. Several corkboard panels are affixed to the wall left of one window, with colored index cards pinned to them. Family photos, as well as quite a few pics of dogs, cats, and the outdoors, hang around the room. There’s a black desk and chair with a two-monitor computer setup in one corner, facing one window. You can ENTER OTHERSPACE or EOS to use the computer to connect to the game universe invented by the guy who spends so much time in this office.
Brody waves. “Sorry that I was running late today. On the upside, I burned a lot of calories, so maybe I’ll live a little longer. Thanks for attending MUSH 201: Basic Event Planning. If you’re here, presumably it’s to get a grasp (or help others get the knowledge) of how to run a fairly simple RP event.”
Brody is going to start by reiterating a point made earlier today: When you’re planning an event in a place that is owned/controlled by another player, it’s generally considered courteous to make sure at the very least that they’re aware it is coming so that they can be around to advise about things you should know. “If you don’t do this, you run the risk of some nasty repercussions, both in character and out.”
Brody says, “However, if we’re talking about beginner events, I think it’s probably a mistake to start with a ticking time bomb event in most circumstances, anyway.”
Brody says, “For me, it’s sometimes hard to remember back in the day – about 17 years ago – when I first started running events on TOS TrekMUSE. But I *do* remember. I was participating on a game that didn’t like giving players a lot of tools to work with. A builder character would be unheard of. Alts? Fairly rare. I spent a lot of time changing my name to represent the new character I was playing to interact with my crew.”
Brody says, “The earliest events that I ran were actually sims, like the Kobyashi Maru exam you see in the Star Trek movie. I’d test my crew in simulations to see how they functioned, then evaluated their performance in the test. It was a simple sort of event where no one was really in any danger of getting hurt, but I could make them panic a little “
Brody says, “That’s when I really started homing in on the idea of this game format as a sort of improvisational theater/storytelling. I’m throwing out a situation for consideration and the players are trying to deal with it based on their character’s motivations and behaviors. And that is almost always what I do anymore. Even a sort of sit-and-watch event like the San Angeles Wildfire game became a difficult choice moment when Faith ran into Dmitri Volstov and decided to punch him because he was hijacking the case.”
Brody says, “Also, to make the San Angeles Wildfire game more interesting, I had the players rolling for the teams – so none of us knew how it would work out.”
Brody says, “I’m going to spend a lot of this session taking questions to answer. But I’ll open by saying that the first rule for any storytelling effort on OtherSpace really ought to be about the provision of adventure and chances for glory for the people who come to participate. If it’s your character running things, try to stay in the background or do what you can to elevate others the important things to do. Avoid self-aggrandizing activities. That’s going to be a huge turnoff. You might get a nice turnout for your first event, but if it smacks of all-about-meism, you will not get much of a crowd for the second.”
Brody says, “Any questions so far?”
Rynn says, “Nope!”
Kolek shakes his head.
Brody says, “Wrong answer!”
Brody waits for someone to ask a question!
Shadow says, “Ok, so remain in background, but what if it is something like your character running an auction?”
Brody says, “As long as your character doesn’t win the auction or thwart the bandits trying to rob it or…whatever might constitute showboating and make everyone else feel like they wasted their time coming, then you should be okay.”
Rachael says, “I wouldn’t say ‘provision of adventure and chances for glory’ are all event running ought to be about. With that said, the players should have the spotlight rather than the one running. With the auction, if your character is running it (as the seller), that’s probably okay, so long as the focus is on the players bidding and whatnot and not your character.”
Brody nods at Rachael. “It’s definitely not what the events are all about, but it is something you should keep in mind. Behind these characters are real people, playing in a game where they can do things that are impossible in the real world, hopefully to a very successful degree. Ego boosts are good. It’s also good to have occasional downturns to make the ego boosts mean more – but that’s something for a story arc discussion.”
Kemetti says, “For example, right now, I’m running that event on Materi Syna (which you should all be at instead of here, of course), but Razor’s not actually there. NPCs are handling the whole thing, just because I don’t want other characters who have similar skill sets to even _feel_ sidelined.”
Brody found that the Kamsho commando adventures really were successful because many participants had moments to shine, for example.
Brody nods at Kemetti.
Rynn says, “Here’s a question about shining and shine-related things:”
Rynn says, “Back in my heyday I ran a ton of events. It was pretty much all I ever did. I felt that since my main character was a ship captain, that was my job – keeping the crew entertained. I think I did a pretty good job (if I do say so myself!) but the catch is this.”
Kemetti says, “Which ship was that, by the way? >.>”
Rynn says, “Jackal.”
Kemetti says, “Aaaah. Ok. “
Rynn says, “Anyway there’s always gonna be grumblers and parade-rainers. I’m mostly used to this and I’ve learned to ignore it. But there does come a point when one character and/or crew is very much dominating every event and plot – not because of (zomg) FAVORITISM but because they’re the ones who’re always doing something, regardless of the number of hooks thrown out.”
Rynn says, “What do you think is the best way to sidestep that backlash?”
Brody says, “Personally, I’d encourage the people doing the grumbling to get out there and make more of a splash. Nothing…NOTHING…would have happened on Kamsho without the Confederacy folks, Razorback especially, coming to me and saying they wanted to do something.”
Brody says, “If there’s a way we can help people get into trouble, we will certainly try to help!”
Brody says, “But…”
Brody says, “One reason this kind of thing can happen is you ARE doing this for your crew, because it’s your ship and you get pretty much carte blanch as captain to do what you want within reason. You don’t have to get admin permission to wreck your own engineering room a dozen times. So, you can get bad blood from jealous people because you’re running events on your ship all the time that they can’t get to. This means you should maybe try to work with other location owners on team-up events, to spread the love around.”
Rynn says, “Oh sure. ‘The more the merrier’ is the best policy to have!”
Brody says, “That’s good on a number of fronts, because you’re showing other people how you do it, what they might be able to do, and it’s spreading knowledge.”
Brody says, “Right!”
Brody says, “People who run bars or planetside ops should have it much easier. And yet…how many dormant bars are on the grid? It’s kinda crazy.”
Rynn says, “Well, there’s only so many times you can have the same ‘shooting the shit’ scene before it gets old, which is sorta the point of this pow-wow here.”
Rynn says, “But to elaborate on the point you just made, if I might…”
Brody says, “Feel free.”
Rynn hates to use myself as an example here but nothing else immediately comes to mind, sorry. Take the recent Nall Mall scene for example. It was a blast. That was bred by me paging Bro and going HAHA YOU KNOW WHAT’D BE CRAZY? and then making sure everyone else on +orion was fine with it OOCly. That wouldn’t have been near as much fun if I’d kept it a Mika-only plot thread, and not gotten Olympus and the Confederates all tangled up in it. That maddening shootout never would’ve happened.
Brody nods. “The Shopping Nall event, just like the Kamsho commandos, was a great example of an event inspired by one player asking for action but involving lots of others.”
Rynn says, “So getting as many people involved, even if they’re not your ‘circle’, even if you have to kinda stretch, can be way more fun than you plan on.”
Brody says, “You can even shoot strangers in the belly with a turret gun!”
Kemetti says, “One of the reasons that the Orion Confederacy began, and one of the reasons we were so excited about the Dominion system, is that it gave us free reign to run whatever we wanted, not in one room or even on a ship, but a whole world. More than one, actually, though the others aren’t spaced. _We_ get to decide what can and does happen without having to go to the staff and check if something is ok. Those that are members of the org have nearly as much freedom in that regard, depending on how long they’ve been with us and how much we feel they ‘get’ what we’re about.”
Rachael says, “Though certain bits of that go into org/area management and such. Matters such as ‘how to talk to those who want to run things in your areas.’”
Tango says, “On the matter of people who may want to run things in your areas:”
Kemetti wouldn’t mind some help in that area.
Brody nods to Tango.
Tango says, “I think it would be prudent to have those people who own areas put a page up on the wiki and to put those ‘player run areas’ into its own category so that it’s easier to check who owns what. Asking is always a great way to find out, but it’d be nice to have things neatly catalogued.”
Brody nods. “That’s reasonable.”
Kemetti says, “That’s not a bad idea, but my biggest concern is the use of NPCs in a manner which isn’t consistent with the vision of those who OOCly control the area.””
Rynn concurs. It’s a fine line.
Kemetti says, “For example, really poor service in a player-run bar…”
Brody says, “Getting back to running your first event, though, there’s another good reason not to put your character anywhere near the center of the action: Because you also need to ref it. It’s like directing a movie or a TV show – if you’re acting in it, make sure you’re only involved in a limited fashion so that you can focus on the meddlesome bookkeeping.”
Tango says, “That’s why I like to make pages for my NPCs with directions on how to RP them. But, it’s not a guarantee. The thing is, none of it is.”
Brody says, “The truth many people don’t realize until too late is how much OOC back and forth stuff goes on in the making of a fairly simple RP event, especially when combat is involved.”
Shadow says, “Well, on some places I’m at, if it’s something like where player death is imminent even if it is a player run even, we always have an admin present to judge to make sure it is a fair player death. We even have a command to call a judge…maybe we could do the same here…if someone feels an event needs an admin judge, they could use that button and it notifies the area owner he’s needed there, or something like that.”
Brody says, “We don’t need shiny buttons. When a ref is needed, and available, we can be paged or called on the channels.”
Brody says, “We used to have the red phone and other buttons like that. It’s just adding a layer of crap to the system that seems to set us apart as staffers. I’m not keen on that. We’re here when we’re here to help out, if we can.”
Rachael says, “Though I would argue one of our objectives here is to lessen the need for that. –https://www.jointhesaga.com/oswiki/index.php/Basic_Event_Running_Guide is a decent ‘low level’ guide as well as this discussion, for those who want a more ‘step by step’ thing.”
Brody nods. “Thanks for that, Rachael – it’s a good guide.”
Kemetti agrees. Even after more than a decade of MUSHing, I still find tips in there if I mine it a bit.
Rynn admits to being something of a softie with player death – I learned the hard way that killing someone off by accident really sucks. If I shoot a guy, and the guy’s about to die, I always ask the ref if the shot can be disabling instead. If I’m the ref, I always give pull the punch. Maybe not the best approach, because death can be powerful, but I’m a soft little woman who belongs in the kitchen.
Rynn says, “Hey that’s a neat guide.”
Rachael says, “And find a mentor.”
Tango says, “Rynn, git in muh kitchen”
Brody nods. “I want death to be rare and, whenever possible, with the player’s consent. I’m not saying death should never happen without consent – sometimes it’s gotta happen. But I prefer the crippling injury too. The problem is that some people will not RP through the crippling injury. They’ll just not RP until they’re healed.
Kemetti is now considering writing up an event running guide specific to locations that I care about not having messed with too much.
Brody says, “Mentors are great. So are buddies. One thing that can help if you’re running a scene is having someone with you to be active in the event, helping to field questions and assist in reffing as needed.”
Kemetti says, “Guide’s’ rather.”
Kemetti says, “And then when someone does something that really peeves you, you can vent to your buddy rather than taking it out on the players. >.>”
Brody considered both Colchek and Razorback to be “buddies” for purposes of the Kamshoan commando adventures – both were great at keeping scene poses going, or keeping me apprised of stuff I needed to remember.
Brody nodnodnods at Kemetti.
Brody says, “And in the Shopping Nall adventure, Mika was my go-to.”
Rynn says, “This raises a good question!”
Brody says, “Yesss”
Rynn says, “Bro and just about every other staffer out there knows I tend to uh… keep a pretty open line of dialogue. There is pretty much not a day that goes by where I’m not paging someone (Brody, lately, with DTE in full swing) about HEY WHAT DO YOU THINK OF THIS IDEA or WHAT’S GOING ON HERE or generally making myself a nuisance in regards to where I can stir up trouble. (And any kind of trouble. I tend to not care if my ideas are good or bad ICly – just so long as stuff happens. Again, Nall Mall is a good example.)”
Rynn says, “Where do people tend to draw the line? When I’m running events, hell, I love it when people nag me with questions on how to monkey it all up.”
Brody nods. “I remember talking on the Director channel after you and Griss hacked into the Nall commnet to talk to Antazvril that I feared it would not end well, but it would end amazingly.”
Brody says, “Personally, I don’t like to get a lot of spam when I’m in the middle of the event, but that’”
Brody says, “But that’s why I have Cambot around now.”
Brody thinks he SHOULD be reachable during these events, and people should feel free to ask “Can my character try THIS?
Rynn nods. I should clarify. I don’t mean mid-event, I mean in the process of generating an event. Nobody likes mid-event spam.
Brody says, “Nobody likes it, but it can sometimes lead to great moments.”
Brody says, “How do other folks feel?”
Rynn says, “(sorry some of us are currently trying to not die on MS, speaking of events)”
Brody says, “No worries.”
Rachael says, “Generally, ooc conversations during events should be limited to what needs to be said. Asking what an NPC looks like in more detail if it seems important, or pointing out a trait that enables an option not usually available. Beyond that, I find most OOC on the screen during an event troublesome.”
Kemetti says, “I have no problem with people asking me about things they can try, but I prefer it to be kept to page rather than OOC. But I tend to follow a very cinematic rolling scheme where if I can, I sometimes have the player +roll before posing the action so he can fit the success/failure into a single pose. Saves time and it looks cooler.”
Brody says, “Pages are definitely preferable to me.”
Rachael says, “Pages are much easier for those with a support logger object.”
Rynn notes that I have spawn windows in SimpleMU. I see OOC and pages (both with sound triggers set to my alts’ names; Sunfire/Sun/Sunny for example), but my chans are in a completely separate window. I know on +orion we like to peanut gallery. This lets me peanut gallery without having a window of chanspam.
Brody nods. “A good practice.”
Kemetti can’t do that … so he just has to struggle.
Brody chuckles. “Any other questions coming to mind?”
Brody says, “While I’m thinking of it – with the advent of new crafting/Dominion and the new Event Reward items, you’ve got a little more at your fingertips when it comes to shiny things to attract players to your events. Bribery isn’t always the worst idea. It’s good to see people using crafting materials or customized/creative Event Rewards as incentives to come play.”
Rynn says, “Unless you’re Razor and gen like 40k SP in like an hour like a big fat furry jerk.”
Grut says, “Wow.”
Rynn noogies Kemetti.
Brody says, “Yeah, I think we fixed that…now.”
Grut says, “Honestly, if it wasn’t for you saying the word ‘spawns’ I would never have found out how to do that.”
Tango says, “Belatedly, I tend to temporarily invite people onto say, Olympus channel for events i’m in – running or not – so they can spam a different window at least with ooc questions/chatter.”
Brody nods at Tango.
Rynn doesn’t really have any questions but throws a topic out anyway: sometimes events tank. You can always feel that moment when people are starting to turn sour toward how things are going. How to recover?
Rachael says, “You can do worse than an abort switch, depending on the situation.”
Rynn says, “You most certainly can, agreed.”
Brody says, “Depends on the event, but…a lot of this is seat of the pants and instinctive. You have to find a way to reroute it if you can. Aborting may be unavoidable if people are ditching or getting really cranky about it. But you can also just ask people in the scene for advice. We don’t have to just say THIS IS HOW IT IS.”
Brody says, “You can say THIS IS HOW I PLANNED IT, but how we plan it and what happens when it comes into contact with players isn’t always a close match. That’s why now, to be very honest, I do LITTLE actual planning of individual events.”
Brody says, “This event I’m doing tonight? No clue what’s happening except very vaguely.”
Brody says, “The Wildfire game last week? Didn’t know how it would work until that afternoon.”
Brody says, “Oddly, I find that events with low infrastructure planning tend to go smoother, because I have no set expectations.”
Rachael says, “It also depends on the level of experience by the runner. – The abort switch is more about this idea of ‘provide an out the PCs can take.’ Is it ideal? No. For those newer and lacking the developed instincts, though, it can save your skin enough to let you try an event another time.”
Brody nods. “True.”
Kemetti says, “Is this like when you realize your D&D encounter is just _way_ to hard for the experience level of your players (not their characters) and you throw in some extra NPCs to help them out? “
Brody nods. “Or they find a secret tunnel to get the hell out ;D”
Rachael to Kemetti, “Yeah. The point being you give them a way out of the situation and give yourself some breathing room while you come up with a Plan B.”
Kemetti says, “Then there’s the ever-popular: Rocks fall and you all die, thank you for coming. “
Hess prefers that method personally.
Brody did have rocks fall during the Kamsho asteroid event…
Brody says, “No one died “
Brody says, “Although Dean came close.”
Tango FLIPS A TABLE.
Rachael says, “Long ago, in my first tabletop game I ran, I had a player do something so insane that even my ‘light planning’ method couldn’t handle it. I paused, thought about it, then just admitted to the players: ‘I got nothing, I need a bit to regroup.’ My players understood and forgave me.”
Tango says, “No one died?! TABLE FLIPPED.”
Brody nodnods. “Which raises the other important point: Just like players, the person behind the event is also a person. We can get frustrated too.”
Rynn nods at Rachael. No shame in that.
Brody flips Tango!
Brody says, “If there aren’t any other questions, I’ll probably end the session here. It will not be the last. I think we can all get a lot out of these kinds of discussions. In future sessions, we’ll get into more advanced stuff like creating interesting NPCs, dealing with mods, and crafting longer storylines. Sound like a plan?”
Rynn’s always got a Plan B. Also I try to know at least one thing about every character (not player) involved. If someone seems to be lost or lagging, I have something ready to lob at them that is Theirs Alone.
Rynn says, “sounds peachy”
Tango says, “Plan.”
Brody says, “Thanks for coming “
Brody says, “Now try not to die on Materi Syna.”
Rynn says, “I just rolled really low man, no promises”