On RPing II
by, 27th May 2012 at 05:27 PM (307 Views)
In my last blog, I mentioned reasons an RP might live or die. That is to say, the relationships between characters. But I also mentioned there are other factors, and I feel like I should elaborate on them. After all, what writer leaves his audience with a cliffhanger? Character relationships and the emotion we derive from them are important to RPs. But almost as important, if not equally so, is plot.
Having a plot is absolutely necessary to an RP. From what I've seen, most RPs die in their early days due to lack of plot. It doesn't even matter if the plot is particularly deep; The player characters usually are the ones that create depth. All that matters is that it gives the characters something fun to do, such as killing demons or fighting da powah. I think Stellar Haze's Bounty Hunters is a good example. The plot mostly exists as a device for letting the characters fight; Most of the depth character development is left to the players. Which is as it should be.
An issue a lot of RPs have is that the Game Masters don't do their jobs. One of the GM's jobs is making a plot. But a lot of GMs neglect this. They expect the players to do so. Now, to some extent, players should be expected to contribute. But only to the extent that they control their characters. The GM's duty is to make events for the players to react to.
Now don't misunderstand. Players have every right to react to what other players do, and as I elaborated in my previous post, that's a good thing. But that can't be expected to drive the entire plot. Simply put, players usually lack the control of the game world the GM has, and thus, their actions usually can't support an entire RP.
It's a GM's duty to make a plot, events for players to react to. That's more or less the definition of an RP: The GM creates a situation, and players decide how their characters react. Players might contribute to the plot on occasion; The GM might let them control a villain for the others to fight. But that's simply a player taking on one of the GM's roles for a time. It's the GM's duty to set up the plot, and tailor it to the player's reactions.
There are some RPs which might seem to be an exception to this. Journey RPs, for example, usually require little guidance from a GM on their plot. But this is simply because due to their nature, they already have a plot. That is to say, players know what their character's goals are. The only NPCs that absolutely need to be controlled are the gym leaders, and those jobs are commonly given to other players. One way or another, all RPs need some sort of plot to be successful.
This is because most players want to see their characters interact not just with each other, but with the world around them. They want to see their characters work towards their goals, to progress through their lives.
Everyone has a dream, whether it's to rule the world, or become a Pokemon master, or just sit around all day watching game shows and eating junk food. It's part of what makes us human. When characters have goals, dreams, it makes them more human, and lets us relate, makes us care for them. Without a world to live in, it's a lot harder to create goals.
If character relations represent emotion we derive from our characters interacting with other people, plot represents emotions we derive from our characters interacting with the world around them.
In the end, players and GMs make up two halves of the world within an RP: Players represent the people within the world; GMs are the world itself. But they both have the same goal, more or less: To create a successful RP. To create a work of art.
To create emotion.
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