How are your role-play stories born?

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How are your role-play stories born?

Post by Silvan Arrow on Thu Jun 24, 2010 12:35 pm

I suppose this thread falls along the same lines of the "How are your characters born?" thread. This question has been bugging me for a while, so I thought my fellow FOGgers would be a great sounding board. You see, my muse has been in overdrive lately, boppin' around in my head just begging me to write something. I'm involved in a couple of great role-plays already, but lately I've been entertaining the thought of taking my first stab at being the GM of my own role-play. The only problem is, I have no idea where to even begin coming up with a plot. It's like I have all these un-channeled creative juices flowing around without a purpose or direction. I know I tend to gravitate toward high fantasy role-plays that involve a group traveling around with some purpose or goal, but I don't want to come up with a shallow, cookie-cutter plot or something that's been beaten into the ground. Both of my current role-plays have unique twists on that idea and rich, well-thought out story universes, and I suppose right now I'm experiencing some doubts in my ability to come up with something of such high caliber.

So that long spiel leads to my main question: For those of you who have led a role-play, how do you come up with your plot ideas? What do you use as inspiration? Feel free to explain as much of your thought process as you like. Hopefully this thread will be a useful resource not just for me but for other people who want to try leading a role-play, and we can get more great stories starting up on this site.
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Re: How are your role-play stories born?

Post by Lara on Thu Jun 24, 2010 2:37 pm

Quite honestly.... my ideas tend to just be spontaneous and random, when they do come to me. Usually, I figure out (after thinking about them for a while) that a lot of the idea I've come up with is based, somewhat, on something I've either read, watched, listened to, or played. You know the saying, everything stems from something else. But the trick for me is that I might not come up with an idea immediately after reading something. For instance, I read this fanfic at least a year ago, and just the other day while in the Chat I was suddenly like "hey guys, I just got this random idea...tell me what you think about it. =/ " I realized after receiving feedback and letting it sit for a while that the idea had stemmed from the fanfic, even though it had come to me spontaneously and a year later.

It's kind of like my mind wanders and then suddenly decides to string together the randomest thoughts in a creative fashion. I do this for a lot of things in my life, not just writing and roleplay - for instance, in my volunteer-based fraternity we'd all be brainstorming about what else we could do to help the community. My mind would be blank and I'd be unable to offer any suggestions, but randomly, like, a few days latter I'd just spout out "hey gang, what do you think of this?" I've actually been told on a few occasions by one of my friends that my ideas are fantastic, when I can actually come up with them. But that's just it, there's no warning to when the ideas might pop up in my head, haha.

I don't think I've ever actually GM'd a roleplay, though, kind of for the same reason you mentioned in your post. Even if I come up with an amazing plot (which I rarely think I do, but that's beside the point), I doubt my ability to bring it to life past a plot summary, and I...think I'm intimidated by the idea of being the one in charge of main plot elements and twists. Among other things, but that's the main one.
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Re: How are your role-play stories born?

Post by Mercinus3 on Thu Jun 24, 2010 8:10 pm

I think, from what I saw in the OP of this thread, I need to throw in a few cents here myself, since I've been GM of a fair few RPs, with one of those RPs (which I have created) being highly successful and does a similar sort of thing that you are trying to achieve. As Lara had said before me, every idea that comes to mind will have stemmed off from somewhere (with most of the cases for me, without even realizing it or hearing it came from somewhere that I have never heard of before).

The first (and in my opinion, one of the most important) idea that you would need to think about is this: where would this RP take place (i.e. the world that the RP is set in). For my RP (which will be revamped and posted on the forum sometime mid/late July) I drew a, what it was back then compared to now, a part of the world that the RP would be set in. What kind of features (i.e. mountains, forests, deserts, etc) do you want the people taking part in to face during the RP? Are there any villages/towns/cities that these characters visit during their travels? Are there certain events that happen on a specific area do you want your characters to take part in? These are some of the few questions that you would need to think to yourself when thinking of the world that the RP is set in. For my world, once I created it on paper, I could see a sort of path that my character would follow and leads the characters on and face the challenges that are ahead based on the towns and cities that are in it.

Another thing that you would need to think about is what setting you would want the RP to be (which you have mentioned before being high fantasy). What kind of things the characters can or can't do in this established world? What is the technology level when the RP takes place? The main reason why I ask the second question is something to do with my RP, with it mainly being high fantasy with very small traces of steampunk and the early flintlock pistols (which both of them were technologies that had started out and the latter being something that was extremely expensive since the refinement of gunpowder was in its initial stages and only one source of where it came from is established). A few more of the questions to ask yourself are: What sort of creatures are in your world? Are some of these creatures well known? Are they domesticated? For my world, I am generally lenient as to what races/creatures go into the world (so there are the usual vampires, elves and dwarves, for example). However, since it is my world that I want to share with everyone (plus I had a lot of time on my hands at the time) I have created an extra 20+ new species that would roam it with a guarantee that it will increase when I carry on with it once I get back from Kenya.

Once you have those two things in mind, now it would be the time to think about the plot in more detail. Why are the characters following the path that you have now laid out in your mind? What are they trying to achieve from this 'quest' that they are about to take? Initially, for my RP, I had set out the group of characters to fight an uprising evil who has a motive to try and take over the world. It is a clich├ęd plot, I know that. However, what I don't tell people is how the evil is trying to achieve this, who is leading them and are there any links between the two sides that would come to pass during the RP. When this RP was first released, I added informations that has confused people with the purpose of what it is and I incorporate it later on. Another possibility with this is a possible sequel that would follow the events of the plot (which I have formulated another two RPs after the one I have in the Advanced Interest Check) and try to think of ways to make the plot follow something so that something during the RP would bridge the gap between the RPs, as if trying to make a story (or epic if you think about Lord of the Rings, which is what my RP had been compared to along with something else that I have forgotten) out of it.

There are a fair few things that you could consider, but it is getting nearer to 1am here as I am typing this post and I need to think about going to bed shortly. But before I finish my post for the night, I need to say this: Everyone will think that taking on a GM role would be scary before making their first RP. I certainly know this because I have been through that. The only thing that you would need to know is that the role of GM and the role of RPers in the RP are exactly the same thing; making the posts that would allow events to unfold in it. The only difference between GM and RPer is that the GM would need to think a little more for the original post (or OP as I refer to it) and that they have an idea on what is going to happen in the RP (sort of metagaming, but it's legal on your behalf as GM). My advice for future GMs is this: Believe in the writing abilities that you have developed during your time in other people's RPs. I have seen so many people who have brilliant qualities in RPing itself but when it comes to creating RPs themselves, the writing falls apart as they try to think harder for their RP. Which leads me onto another bit of advice for RP making (using what I think is quite an old phrase which someone could clarify): Think smarter, not harder. This usually allows you to think about how to write things for your RP and make it clever enough to leave out things that you don't want to reveal until much later in the story itself.

~M3~
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Re: How are your role-play stories born?

Post by Guest on Sat Jun 26, 2010 2:52 am

My role-play ideas are usually spawned by something I've seen or read. For example, my idea for Emoria came from Kalon's avatar characters that he was making on request. I saw all these characters and thought that they all had a story behind them. And then I thought: hey, wouldn't it be cool for everyone with one of these avatars to be in a role-play, so that these characters they put thought into creating and Kalon put effort into making could really come to life!
I didn't have any ideas beyond that, so I made the role-play completely open and let everyone who joined make the role-play as much theirs as mine.

Another role-play idea I had, Exiled Saviour: The Udapak Child, actually came from a video game. I've never played the video game, but I read up on it when it came out. I really loved the background story for it, so I used the base of it for this role-play. But I didn't want it to be a direct copy, so I modified as much as I could and only used the parts that I wanted from it. Those parts helped direct where the story would end up, and the new parts I created also helped morph the story. So, in the end, while the original idea did come from someone else, the majority of it is my own.

I also have two role-play's that I am currently working on which I likely won't release for a long while. One of them is a high-fantasy role-play. I got the idea for this role-play while playing the space MMORPG Eve-online. I was flying in my little space ship and looking at all the cool new planet skins that had just been released. I flew toward one of the interesting planets and took a few screen shots. While looking at them in photoshop, I had an urge to place some cities. That was the beginning of an elaborate story that I am attempting to form for FOG.

The other role-play idea I'm working on comes from my own novels. It is a sci-fi role-play, and hopefully quite different from most sci-fi role-plays you typically see. The idea for this role-play, despite the world being my own creation, actually came from the television show LOST.

So my inspiration for role-plays almost always comes from other things. I think: Hey, that is a great idea! I take that idea and morph it into something, hopefully, even greater.

Hopefully that helps you find something you want to role-play!

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Re: How are your role-play stories born?

Post by Kalon Ordona II on Tue Jun 29, 2010 1:21 pm

I'm GMing 3 role-plays at the moment. I haven't finished any yet, but I've been at it for a long time. Smile

The first RP I created was based on my love of the PC game Lords of the Realm II. Just that opening introduction where it starts with a bell toll and choir voices.

*BOOM* "1268" *choir*
*BOOM* "The King is Dead" *choir*

That moment was just like... "OK, now FIGHT FOR THE CROWN!" Muhaha
Just that gap that WILL be filled, somehow.
Anyway the RP ended up nothing at all like the game, but that was the seed I used to grow what became Tales of Inari on GaiaOnline. I just let the story grow as it would, stringing it along on a vague plot as things progressed.


Sephiris was a bit different. It started as a collaboration, but the other guy disappeared, so I took the reins on my own. The interest check was for medieval fantasy, and that's why I signed on. ^^ So I went all out. I scribbled up a map and started to work on it. I brought in stuff from my novel, too, because I'd already been experimenting with my language in a previous role-play on Gaia (which died).

So Sephiris, for me, was about making the epicest Fantasy RP ever, giving it everything I had, since it was obvious that FOG could more than handle anything I could add to it, and more.


The other RP I'm GMing, Errands of Mandor (yes, I recycled the name), is on Gaia again. Inspiration from that one came from two places. One was this old painting of a knight on horseback in the distance crossing a wide field. The other was the movie Dragon Hunter, with its epicly tall mountains and castles. I wanted to combine the two, 'cause I love epicness and I love knightly chivalry and just the idea of Quests -- something I never really role-played before. And voila!


So, in summary, I think it's like everyone says: ideas come from experiences. It's growing role-plays from those seeds that is really fun.

But it doesn't HAVE to start from that. It could be as simple as drawing a map. It could be as random as searching images on Google and making a role-play from one.

You could start with what kind of story you want to tell. Will there be romance? Is there a main question or message that you want the RP to deal with? Is there a concept you want to explore? Say, for instance, a type of villain you've always been wanting to try out. Or maybe some animal you thought of that you could build a world and a story for.

Or you could look at it from the out-of-character standpoint. What kind of experience do you want for yourself and your players? What sort of setting would achieve that?


I'm sure it'll be some sort of combination. If you want something different, one way to do it is fiddle with the world setting. Are your mountains 10 miles tall? What sort of cultures would inhabit such a world?
Are the trees in your forest as big as mountains? What sorts of elves would live there? What if some dragon sets it on fire?
Are there dragons in your world? What kind? Are they nice or mean, or both? Do people slay them or are they the gold-hoarder type? Or both?
What about architecture? Is there some way to build unusual structures?
And magic? A good magic system can really power a story. Nod

Pick something that calls to you, and make it the seed. Water it with your experiences and imagination, and watch it grow. Cool
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Re: How are your role-play stories born?

Post by Chainlinc3 on Wed Jun 30, 2010 1:04 pm

For me, it's all in music. Even music I normally wouldn't like can give great inspiration, and makes good background music for writing. So, that kinda summarizes the main source of my inspiration, but as for actual thread crafting, I go through three basic steps.

1- Design the RP. This is separate from making the plot; you might have a rough idea for the plot, but mostly it's about shaping the dynamics of the RP you want to write. How do you want the players to feel? What is the mood of the RP? How should it play out? If you are going to have behind-the-scenes gameplay mechanics at work, you would also design them here. So for example, this could just be determining "I want to do an RP about a group of carefree mercenaries on their space ship, the ISS AwesomeSauce. The RP will be divided into episodes, each detailing a particular mission of the crew as they move towards their ultimate goal (probably destroying some Big Bad.) As each chapter closes, I will award each character "credits" depending on how well I feel their post quality has been, or other similar factors. Credits can be used between missions to obtain better equipment for the characters, or donated to the ship fund for better ship equipment. There will be a "Bad End" if the characters are spectacularly awful, but it is unlikely to play out."

2- Craft a plot. I do this a little backwards, as many would design the RP to fit the plot, but I feel this way makes the RP more enjoyable, and causes minimal, if any, damage to the plot. Plot crafting is usually pretty easy, because hammering out the details of the RP structure usually yields some rough ideas for scenes and situations that would fit the structure. If it's flowing slowly, find some good music that fits the style of RP, and try to imagine the songs as characters. Then just let the characters play themselves into a plot.

3- Make a pitch. Music is instrumental here, I highly recommend playing it loudly while writing the pitch. Although it's only useful for the interest check, a pitch is the first thing someone sees about your RP, and if it sucks, it'll often be the last as well. Play the music, and write the music as it effects your story. As a potential RPer reads your pitch, you want them to feel those same emotions that you identified in step one, to give them a sample of the RP. It's like a trailer to the RP, if it has points that seem iffy to you, brush over them in the pitch and emphasize its strong points.

Anyway, that's my three step plan for threads. Also, I just want to let everyone one know that I wanted to make if a five step plan, like so:

4- ???

5- Profit.
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Re: How are your role-play stories born?

Post by Kalon Ordona II on Thu Jul 01, 2010 4:13 am

Step 4 would be Finish the RP & Publish. xD
which leads naturally into your Step 5. ^^
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Re: How are your role-play stories born?

Post by xraineyesx on Thu Jul 01, 2010 4:49 am

I haven't GMed many stories, just the one, which is on the another site (but I'm thinking about bringing here, because I know the quality and what I envisioned for my baby will be oh-so much more successful here). I've done a lot of one-on-ones and am often in charge of setting them up, but those generally don't go as in depth in the creation or the running, because it's a mutual process between two people.

The one that I am GMing currently came from my obsession with fantasy, horror, and writing. It was just an idea that somehow popped into my head. I can't credit one source for the influences but it came from the books I read, the (horror) movies I watch, and even the music I listen to. I wrote out the plot, the background, and even made a cast of characters. (I was originally planning to write it as a story.)

I wrote out all of this, organized it, named everything. And then I came up with the setting, which is fairly detailed. I draw maps to go with my stories. I picked the time setting.

Next I made the rules that governed their world and some of the socially accepted behaviors/customs and the general notes. And then I made the rules for the actual playing and writing of the roleplay and posted it for application.

When I put it up as a roleplay, I kept the cast the same (if you saw the roleplay you'd understand why) but left the personalities completely up to those playing them.

I think one of the tricks is to keep everything well-organized and of course, to find talented and dedicated writers, which is why I will almost certainly move that roleplay here.

But anyway, that's how I went about the one that I GM.
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Re: How are your role-play stories born?

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