GAMEMASTER How do you drive the story forward without rushing?

sun.

What good is just one wing?
Original poster
DONATING MEMBER
Roleplay Invitations
Group Roleplays
Posting Speed
A Few Posts A Day, One Post a Day, A Few Posts a Week, One Post a Week
Writing Levels
Intermediate, Adept, Advanced, Adaptable
Genders You Prefer Playing
Primarily Prefer Female
Playing Style- Passive or Aggressive
It varies, slight tendency towards passiveness. Can do either.
Favorite Genres
Anime-esque concepts, sci-fantasy, adventure, cyberpunk, high-fantasy, Victorian fantasy. comedy slice of life
Genre You DON'T Like
Pure romance, smut, koreaboo stuff, hard sci-fi
I don't GM very often, and when I do, I usually don't do it because I love GM'ing so much, I just really wanna do a certain idea, and have to do it myself. But, I'd like to get better at it, still. So I'm hoping the more experienced peeps can offer me some advise.

Often times I feel like I'm not good at pacing the roleplay at all. I feel like when I set a scene, a lot of times people just kinda passively react to it, and I just NEED to let everyone get their single(!) reply in, then make another story post. But then, when I try to keep everything a little more fast-paced and tightly written, it seems people are unhappy with the lack of downtime.

I've seen (and been in) other roleplays, where the players seem more engaged with the pacing. They'll react to the GM's story post, but also drive each other to reply with one another. In my own roleplays, I often get the impression that everyone's just kinda looking at me to post, then posts once, and then that's it. And I feel really discouraged by that sort of development. Since I know this doesn't have to happen, I think I'm doing something wrong. Or a lot of things, maybe.

So, how do I pace my roleplays better, and in a way where people don't feel bored, but have enough freedom to mingle with each other, too.
 

Joan

"You'll never be alone."
DONATING MEMBER
Roleplay Invitations
Group Roleplays, One on One Roleplays, Not Taking RP Invites at this Time
Posting Speed
A Few Posts a Week, One Post a Week, Slow As Molasses
My Usual Online Time
Anytime I have internet access, honestly.
Writing Levels
Adept, Advanced, Adaptable
Genders You Prefer Playing
Male, Female, No Preferences
Playing Style- Passive or Aggressive
I do like to have a hand in the plot if I can, but it doesn't matter that much.
Favorite Genres
Science fiction
Modern
Fantasy
Horror
Survival
Naturally developed romance
OC Fandom (ask about my fandoms!)
Genre You DON'T Like
Romance-centric/Pre-planned romance
Sex-centric
Furry
Trope-y anime
Fandom with canon characters
Plain slice-of-life
In most cases like these, I don't think it's often a pacing issue so much as an engagement issue. I think one of the most important parts of making a successful roleplay and engaging your players is talking to them OOC and encouraging them to talk to each other and hash things out. If people are active and having fun OOC, I find that that often carries over in a huge way to IC.

So, yeah. Be friendly with your players and encourage them to plot with each other. That's the best advice I have. To note: I haven't actually GMed in a while, but I've been a part of several roleplays since I joined this site, and I've seen various methods of GMing and how they've worked out.
 
  • Love
Reactions: Quincunx and Eru

sun.

What good is just one wing?
Original poster
DONATING MEMBER
Roleplay Invitations
Group Roleplays
Posting Speed
A Few Posts A Day, One Post a Day, A Few Posts a Week, One Post a Week
Writing Levels
Intermediate, Adept, Advanced, Adaptable
Genders You Prefer Playing
Primarily Prefer Female
Playing Style- Passive or Aggressive
It varies, slight tendency towards passiveness. Can do either.
Favorite Genres
Anime-esque concepts, sci-fantasy, adventure, cyberpunk, high-fantasy, Victorian fantasy. comedy slice of life
Genre You DON'T Like
Pure romance, smut, koreaboo stuff, hard sci-fi
In most cases like these, I don't think it's often a pacing issue so much as an engagement issue. I think one of the most important parts of making a successful roleplay and engaging your players is talking to them OOC and encouraging them to talk to each other and hash things out. If people are active and having fun OOC, I find that that often carries over in a huge way to IC.

So, yeah. Be friendly with your players and encourage them to plot with each other. That's the best advice I have. To note: I haven't actually GMed in a while, but I've been a part of several roleplays since I joined this site, and I've seen various methods of GMing and how they've worked out.
Oh, yeah, I definitely agree with you. Thing is, I at least think I'm doing that. I run most of my OOC on Discord, which I keep open whenever I'm home and free, I try to be available to everyone, join in on banter etc. I just feel like a lot of times nobody really has interest in, like, being proactive and chatting/plotting with each other. Like, I'll nudge them towards it, start ideas and conversations, or just encourage them to start their own, but then it's like... silence.
 

Elle Joyner

I guess...
Roleplay Invitations
Not Taking RP Invites at this Time
Posting Speed
Several Posts a Day
My Usual Online Time
8:00 AM - 4:00 PM
Writing Levels
Prestige
Genders You Prefer Playing
Male, Primarily Prefer Female
Playing Style- Passive or Aggressive
Probably a mix. When I GM I tend to prefer mostly aggressive, but with input from my players. I like to offer ideas and receive them. I don't like when people just take the reins and run with it though...especially in a 1x1.
Favorite Genres
Political intrigue, fantasy, futuristic, sci fi lite, superheroes, historical fiction, alternate universes. Smittings of romance, but only as side plot.
Genre You DON'T Like
Anime. Ever. Just not my jam.

Smut. Romance as a main plot. Horror. Grimdark.
I can't find the guide... But Kestral wrote one a long while back with a similar mindset to your question. Basically, within that guide she offered a pretty comprehensive outline of how an rp should run... Each rp breaking down into structures of acts, with the main plot very loosely planned ahead into scenes. Each act has action scenes and lulls, with more action being the focus for those scenes that are intended to drive a story forward

For example

Act 1:
Scene 1 - action
Scene 2 - lull
Scene 3 - action
Scene 4 - action

Act 2:
Scene 1 - lull


And so on. Effectively it's important to remember that tavern scenes are where roleplays go to die... You want to allow for development and growth, but the longer you hold off on action, the more quickly your players are likely to lose interest or get ansty. Lulls should be quick scenes of rest between actions... One or two posts per players or even collab posts. And Always. Always. Always... remember to give your players something to do. Even in lulls. Something to react to, to drive them forward. To make writing fun or interesting. Never do for your players what they can do themselves. Resolution of a problem should always be in their hands... They are, in essence, writing the plot... You're simply controlling the broad direction it goes in. Keep it loose and flexible and communicate OOC!!

Hope that makes sense!!
 

Bone2pick

Minority of One
Roleplay Invitations
Group Roleplays
Posting Speed
One Post a Week
My Usual Online Time
Weekdays, Monday-Thursday
Writing Levels
Advanced, Prestige
Genders You Prefer Playing
No Preferences
Favorite Genres
Fantasy, Scifi, Horror, Superhero, and nearly all adventure genres
Over the years I've participated in a variety of forum roleplays. One thing I've noticed about my own engagement, it's affected by the GM and the structure of the RP. For instance, my proactive content decreases whenever I play under a tightly controlling GM. The type who pilots nearly every NPC and antagonist, and who expects my character to immediately jump on any conflict they hint at.

While I rarely signup for those roleplays anymore, I occasionally get suckered into one. And as much as I try and make the experience fulfilling, more often than not my character is reduced to being reactive, as opposed to proactive. I simply don't feel like I have the story space to explore my character's personal goals and agendas.

In contrast, when I play more open world roleplays my content is almost entirely proactive - which I experience as far more rewarding. I feel closer to a storyteller than a puppeteer. I can showcase my imagination rather than just react to the GMs.

I'm not sure if any of this helps, but it's what came to mind when I considered RP engagement.
 
Last edited:
  • Thank
  • Useful
Reactions: RX Inoxia and sun.

sun.

What good is just one wing?
Original poster
DONATING MEMBER
Roleplay Invitations
Group Roleplays
Posting Speed
A Few Posts A Day, One Post a Day, A Few Posts a Week, One Post a Week
Writing Levels
Intermediate, Adept, Advanced, Adaptable
Genders You Prefer Playing
Primarily Prefer Female
Playing Style- Passive or Aggressive
It varies, slight tendency towards passiveness. Can do either.
Favorite Genres
Anime-esque concepts, sci-fantasy, adventure, cyberpunk, high-fantasy, Victorian fantasy. comedy slice of life
Genre You DON'T Like
Pure romance, smut, koreaboo stuff, hard sci-fi
Over the years I've participated in a variety of forum roleplays. One thing I've noticed about my own engagement, it's affected by the GM and the structure of the RP. For instance, my proactive content decreases whenever I play under a tightly controlling GM. The type who pilots nearly every NPC and antagonist, and who expects my character to immediately jump on any conflict they hint at.

While I rarely signup for those roleplays anymore, I occasionally get suckered into one. And as much as I try and make the experience fulfilling, more often than not my character is reduced to being reactive, as opposed to proactive. I simply don't feel like I have the story space to explore my character's personal goals and agendas.

In contrast, when I play more open world roleplays my content is almost entirely proactive - which I experience as far more rewarding. I feel closer to a storytelling than a puppeteer. I can showcase my imagination rather than just react to the GMs.

I'm not sure if any of this helps, but it's what came to mind when I considered RP engagement.
That helps a lot, because that's exactly what I want my players to be - I want to play with the people who sign up in my roleplays, rather than have them be spectators to my story, so to speak. Perhaps the way I write story posts or even just interest checks is too suffocating and it makes people feel like they HAVE to be reactionary rather than proactive? Do you have certain telltales that make you think "I won't be able to be creative and do what I'd like to" when you look at interest checks and GM posts?
 
  • Like
Reactions: Bone2pick

Bone2pick

Minority of One
Roleplay Invitations
Group Roleplays
Posting Speed
One Post a Week
My Usual Online Time
Weekdays, Monday-Thursday
Writing Levels
Advanced, Prestige
Genders You Prefer Playing
No Preferences
Favorite Genres
Fantasy, Scifi, Horror, Superhero, and nearly all adventure genres
Perhaps the way I write story posts or even just interest checks is too suffocating and it makes people feel like they HAVE to be reactionary rather than proactive? Do you have certain telltales that make you think "I won't be able to be creative and do what I'd like to" when you look at interest checks and GM posts?
Let me be the first to admit that my experience may very well not be apart of your problem. There are definitely other factors that can lead to poor player engagement. To answer your question though, I try and look for clues in the interest check as to how confined the GM plans to keep my character. For instance, if it's a superhero RP, do all of our characters have to live in the same facility? If so, that's one creative boundary. Are we all expected to jump on every GM handed assignment? If so, that's another boundary. Can we stray from the facility during our down time? If not, boundary. Can I create an opponent/adversary for my character to have personal reasons to tangle with? If not, you get the picture.

In the above scenario my character's location is fixed until the GM 'taps' them into action. Also, every significant conflict my character can face is in the hands of the GM. That's the point where I feel more like a puppeteer than a storyteller. And if I'm not encouraged/permitted to be a storyteller, then my enthusiasm to be proactive dissipates.

At the risk of contradicting myself, boundaries aren't engagement cancer - in some cases they're even appreciated. You can layer several and still have a fertile RP for players like myself to engage with. It depends on what they are and how strictly they're enforced. Some questions you might ask yourself are: how comfortable are my players at asking for things they want? Do I, as the GM, encourage players to have personal goals for their characters? Do I reward players when they take the initiative, or am I guilty of overcorrecting those moments?
 
Last edited:
  • Love
  • Useful
Reactions: RX Inoxia and sun.

sun.

What good is just one wing?
Original poster
DONATING MEMBER
Roleplay Invitations
Group Roleplays
Posting Speed
A Few Posts A Day, One Post a Day, A Few Posts a Week, One Post a Week
Writing Levels
Intermediate, Adept, Advanced, Adaptable
Genders You Prefer Playing
Primarily Prefer Female
Playing Style- Passive or Aggressive
It varies, slight tendency towards passiveness. Can do either.
Favorite Genres
Anime-esque concepts, sci-fantasy, adventure, cyberpunk, high-fantasy, Victorian fantasy. comedy slice of life
Genre You DON'T Like
Pure romance, smut, koreaboo stuff, hard sci-fi
Let me be the first to admit that my experience may very well not be apart of your problem. There are definitely other factors that can lead to poor player engagement. To answer your question though, I try and look for clues in the interest check as to how confined the GM plans to keep my character. For instance, if it's a superhero RP, do all of our characters have to live in the same facility? If so, that's one creative boundary. Are we all expected to jump on every GM handed assignment? If so, that's another boundary. Can we stray from the facility during our down time? If not, boundary. Can I create an opponent/adversary for my character to have personal reasons to tangle with? If not, you get the picture.

In the above scenario my character's location is fixed until the GM 'taps' them into action. Also, every significant conflict my character can face is in the hands of the GM. That's the point where I feel more like a puppeteer than a storyteller. And if I'm not encouraged/permitted to be a storyteller, then my enthusiasm to be proactive dissipates.

At the risk of contradicting myself, boundaries aren't engagement cancer - in some cases they're even appreciated. You can layer several and still have a fertile RP for players like myself to engage. It depends on what they are and how strictly they're enforced. Some questions you might ask yourself are: how comfortable are my players at asking for things they want? Do I, as the GM, encourage players to have personal goals for their characters? Do I reward players when they take the initiative, or am I guilty of overcorrecting those moments?
Thank you, that's really, really helpful. I do my best to encourage people in those ways, but now that you mentioned specific examples, I'll DEFINITELY look further at how my interest checks and sheets and such things articulate "You can't do that" to some degree. I also think that last point is a very good one; I do think I could reward (as you said it) people for being proactive a little more. I'm always super happy when a player voices an idea, but at the same time, maybe I'm not getting that across properly, and the last thing I wanna do is deflate someone's enthusiasm over an idea.

Thank you, really!
 
  • Love
Reactions: Bone2pick