How in depth do you go with plotting?

Discussion in 'THREAD ARCHIVES' started by Yuuki_Tatsunohi, Sep 21, 2015.

  1. Pretty much the title speaks for itself, so how far and how specific do you get when plotting, whether it be in group or 1x1? Are certain events and/or characterizations kept secret due to being significant to the plot? Or do you blatantly state it out for everyone to know in the OOC? What's your opinion on the "surprise my partner/group/audience" factor? Do you plan events in order or wing it and then discuss once something pops up?

    I prolly have more questions but I can't remember X)
  2. Are certain events and/or characterizations kept secret due to being significant to the plot? Or do you blatantly state it out for everyone to know in the OOC?

    If you mean kept secret from an IC perspective then yes, otherwise we're meta-gaming.

    If you mean kept secret from an OOC perspective then generally no, reason being a forum RP is in most cases a Group Effort.
    Sure you might have a GM running the ball, but the plot line can very easily be taken charge of or led by any player. The groups where it's the GM leads the players on a campaign/questline are honestly the minority in forum RP's in my experience. As a result it becomes vital for players to know this stuff OOC to prevent them from accidently sending the RP off topic.

    Now if this was a tabletop RP, or those minority of forum RPs where the GM really is running the show on most respects?
    In that case I would keep it secret even OOC, that helps add to the immersion and there's no longer the giant risk of players randomly leading the campaign astray.
    Sure the typical "Players did something I never expected!" is still a risk, but they are still pawns players in the DM's overall world/creation so it can still be steered back with proper applications.

    What's your opinion on the "surprise my partner/group/audience" factor?

    Depends on the how the RP is generally ran.
    If it's an equal group effort (like all 1x1's or the majority of Groups) it's a case-by-case basis.
    But as a rule of thumb it comes down to "Is this just a nice surprise? Or is it game altering".

    If it's game altering...*Slaps you over the head with a ruler* No! No! Bad Player! Bad Player!
    That NEEDS to be discussed in advance because it alters the campaign in a drastic manner.

    But if it's just a fun thing, and it obeys the rules? Then I can see it being fine as a surprise.

    However, if it's one those DM's leads the pawns players scenarios? Then go nuts, it's the DM's world to do with as they wish.

    Do you plan events in order or wing it and then discuss once something pops up?

    Personally I tend to wing it. In both of the scenarios above it's impossible to fully predict the others.
    Plus sudden inspiration could hit which launches you elsewhere completely, it's important to give yourselves the flexibility to adapt like that.

    The only cases I might do it in a set order is if it's something openly discussed among the group.
    That way everyone knows what's coming and knows to push it in that direction.
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    That depends entirely on who I am starting out with. I don't need a lot to get started on a roleplay. A setting, a concept, boom, I am ready to go. BUT I FEEEEEEEEED ON PLOT BUNNIIIIIIEEES. So if you blabber with me about the rp and wanna talk about ideas, we could plot ourselves in to a novel before the RP even gets started. .__.; Plotting is sometimes more fun than the rp itself.

    This depends on the roleplay I am running or playing in. XD Sometimes directing people is necessary if they aren't playing in to my hands. I'll state what I need to happen in order for us to get to the next scene or for goal that we have to accomplish later down the road. But I also love secrets and surprises. So will DEFINITELY keep special little things to myself for the in character reveal!

    I love it, so long as it's not something assholey that screws over players. XD Plot surprises are fun!

    I do a combo of both. O__O Because roleplaying is unpredictable, I don't set things in stone. I have a few jotted down goals in mind, and then as the roleplay goes along, I adjust my ideas where necessary. Sometimes players will do everything I expect and fall in to my string pulling. But sometimes they'll go a different route, surprise me, or give me an entirely NEW idea and I switch things around to accommodate. I am very very flexible with my plots.
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  4. I don't plot very much in the way of specifics for anything that's not immediately coming up in the future of the roleplay. I'll come up with various events that could be cool that might come up given the right opportunities, but I don't really care to force a story toward certain scenes because that usually kills the pacing and makes the plot progression feel less natural. I do keep those possible events secret, partially because there's no need for the other people to know what may or may not come about in the future and partially because surprising them with cool things is more fun than them seeing it coming from miles away.

    I generally prefer to give my characters a driving motivation with some long term goals, then just let them loose and see where things go when they do their thing. Maybe things will get around to certain potential plot points I came up with, maybe they'll sit unused forever, it's all good. I care more about telling a good story as I go than about outlining a story and making sure to hit all the marks to tell it as I planned it in my mind.

    Roleplays are more fun and entertaining when there's some surprise and spontaneity for all. If I wanted to plot everything out in advance and then execute it I'd go write a book.
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  5. How far / how specific?
    Generally, I like to plot at least a few things ahead of time so that I know the general direction we need to move in, and then let new plot ideas kind of surface organically from there. In 1x1 especially, I prefer to do this. In group RP, I find that there can often be so many players with so many different ideas that it helps to have a more concrete sort of "long-term plan" or outline so that the game doesn't derail.

    Anything you keep secret? Or do you blatantly tell it?
    Depends! Most things I will discuss openly, unless they're so SO significant that I want to elicit a genuine sort of surprised/shocked response from the other player(s). For example, in a long-term romance arc I am running, my male character sprang a proposal on his girlfriend, played by my partner, who had no idea it was coming.

    Well... after a little bit of OOC banter she KIND OF had an idea, but still! She was ecstatic, as was the character. These kinds of reactions are the things I LIVE FOR so if I can keep it secret, I will, but only if I think it's really, really significant like this. Despite the fact that I am admittedly terrible at keeping secrets >:[

    Plan it? Or wing it?
    As I mentioned earlier, for groups I like to plan. Plan plan plan. Otherwise things get unruly and everyone wants to chase their own arcs and it becomes a mess! If you plan out group things, you can often work in everyone's individual arc along the way or on the side and everyone stays happier that way.

    But with a 1x1 or really small groups (three or four usually), it's not so bad to just wing it.
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  6. Look at all the replies! *0*

    What about stuff such as symbolism or foreshadowing? Or any other literary plot device? I love putting these in stories that I write by myself, but when it comes to roleplaying it's much harder to do. The habit still carries and I can't seem to stop! T_T But in OOC discussion are such ideas ever brought up? And are they ever put into action? ooh what about character arcs? As GMs or even AGGRESSIVE-PLOT-DRIVING partners do you divide a story line into character arcs if you can see such arcs happening?

    Yes @Diana I have a lot of question I'm sorry not sorry.
  7. What about stuff such as symbolism or foreshadowing?

    Personally symbolism is a weakness of mine, I'm not that good at it so I don't tend to do it often.
    But foreshadowing is stuff I will take part in more often if there actually is a next step planned in advance.

    Or any other literary plot device?

    I guess plot hooks?
    But I assume this goes without saying because characters will always need motivations or incentive to do what they're doing.

    It should be noted I'm the kind of writer/roleplayer who to this day could not tell you what's a noun, verb, adjective etc.
    I've read and spoke english all my life to the point I know what words belong where and how everything works.
    But I never learned all the different categories, techniques etc growing up.

    In OOC discussion are such ideas ever brought up?

    If we're in a position where we know ahead of time where the RP is going then yes this stuff will come up time to time.
    If it's the kind of RP where we improve/wing-it as we go though? Nah, because there's nothing to foreshadow to in the first place.

    And are they ever put into action?

    Yea, if this stuff get's discussed it's usually implemented since it's usually just an extra line or two of detail.

    What about character arcs?

    For Long-lasting RP's these will pop up.
    But not short ones, because usually the RP's need a solid foundation in the world and the overall plot line before one can start diverging into specific characters.

    As GMs or even AGGRESSIVE-PLOT-DRIVING partners do you divide a story line into character arcs if you can see such arcs happening?

    Nah, it's never anything that strict.
    Generally the RP will hit a point where we can just naturally transition it over to a character Ark.
    In which case we then bring it up OOC first and decide how the transition will work.
    Never apologize for asking questions.
    It's how people learn, grow and improve. :)
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  8. Literary plot devices like that... I'd have to say they kind of depend.

    I do love a bit of foreshadowing, as well as symbolism, and both of those things are made even better when other players understand them and can implement them as well so that it's not just you driving the symbol or foreshadowing.

    So my answer remains more or less the same. If I want the WOW surprise factor, I'll keep it secret. Otherwise I'll let them know.
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  9. Foreshadowing can be done without extensive detailed plotting. Drop hints of possible things to come, then they become legit foreshadowing if the events happen. If those events don't come around, oh well, no big deal. It may leave some things feeling like loose threads to the plot, but that's fine, you're only gonna get perfect plots with no wonky bits if you're writing by yourself.

    Symbolism doesn't require any plotting whatsoever. Same with lots of other literary devices. You can throw random symbolism into a post as you please, no need to know what's coming next. As for other people coming up with such ideas, hell, they can throw in all the symbolism and foreshadowing to personal revelations they like. Neither of these things require strict control of the plot, so players can do it too.

    Character arcs can happen independent of the main plot, and that's how I prefer it because I do group roleplays. Trying to center the plot on a particular character's arc can very easily turn into a GMPC becoming the main character of the roleplay and making others feel less important, or it can do the same if you're focusing on one of the player characters. As a GM it's good to nudge character arcs along a little, give players things to do that will allow them to push it forward themselves, but in the end it ought to come down to the player deciding they want to develop something for their character rather than keeping them static. Totally static characters can be okay, perhaps ending up being a bit dull for others to read but not particularly harmful for the story, so I don't see any reason to push them hard. Tying the main plot directly to character arcs is not only unnecessary, it also adds potential for awkward things that can kill your roleplay, such as the player whose character arc is the current focus disappearing or dropping out. I think it's better to keep the plot as something all characters have an equal stake in, both to avoid that odd avenue of roleplay death and to keep everyone feeling equally relevant.
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  10. New question!

    For you aggressive players and gms, how often do you make a post that advances the plot? Is there also a general rule of thumb for plot-advancing posts?
  11. Pretty much the title speaks for itself, so how far and how specific do you get when plotting, whether it be in group or 1x1?

    I never start a roleplay without the proper thinking. I think of the when, where, why, how, who, buts and ifs. Everything under the sun from language, culture, history, biology, science, mathematics, to really anything you can think of, I plan out. Because I believe that you can't fully understand your own character without these factors. Without the knowledge, you won't be able to know exactly how your character is going to react to each and every situation granted to them. At least, for me.

    Are certain events and/or characterizations kept secret due to being significant to the plot?

    Yes! There's certain things I will go out of my way not to tell my partner(s) because I want some surprise to come into play. I think if you completely plan out exactly what's going to happen, it ruins the experience and fun. Life isn't planned out; things happen out of your order constantly. Why should you hold a roleplay in order when we can't even keep track of what happens in the real world?

    Or do you blatantly state it out for everyone to know in the OOC? What's your opinion on the "surprise my partner/group/audience" factor?

    Now I'll be the first one to admit that I'm an organized man. I plan things, but I tend to let the wheels roll on their own. I'll plan some things, but some things I leave to fate.

    Do you plan events in order or wing it and then discuss once something pops up?

    I do sometimes when the thoughts come up, but mainly I just stick to my random thoughts. My mind doesn't work on the levels most people's do; while I may think one thing, my mind links the idea to another idea that I thought of a day ago and I ask to plan it. But for the most part, I wing it and hope for the best.
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  12. As for whether or not I plan things: It's largely a case-by-case basis, for all sorts of reasons.

    On the one hand, I tend to daydream about my roleplays a lot and think about potential future scenarios that could happen, but these things are rarely set in stone. I might aim to make some of these things happen if given the opportunity, but, they're generally just cool possible ideas.

    Buuuut then there's collaborating with other players about potential ways that things could go, generally in PM's and only with one other player at a time as opposed to hashing it all out in the OOC. Planning like this is generally more likely to be something that we actually want to make happen in the IC rather than it being just a cool hypothetical. Plus, I feel like it gets players way more hyped and inspired for the RP! For that reason, I'll sometimes start one of these plotting sessions deliberately if I have a player who's still interested in the RP but just seems to be going through a temporary block or lack of inspiration, or who just feels like they don't know what to do with their character.

    As for planning things specifically as a GM, that depends on a lot of factors, but the main thing is whether or not the RP needs it. If an RP is being driven along well enough by the actions of the players, then there's no need for me to jump in and interrupt all that creativity flow. It makes more sense to let the players keep moving and just see where the RP goes. But, when things become more stagnant and direction-less, that's when a more hands-on approach is necessary, and I spend a lot more time planning where I want things to go and steering the players in that direction.

    @_@ Uuuggghh I am way too guilty of putting in a ton of subtle hints at things that people never seem to pick up on, which makes me constantly question whether I'm being too subtle or too obvious... and I can never seem to hit a happy medium. >.< I most often end up on the too subtle, end, though, which then leaves me dying to tell everyone about all these nuanced little things about my characters that I've been so cleverly incorporating into the RP... but just telling people those things would be boring (not to mention it would feel kind of show-off-y). What would really be awesome is making these things come up in the IC... but... if no one notices...

    WAAAAITWAITWAITWAITWAIT- *stumbles out of bed*

    *scrambles to her feet, looking rather disheveled* Wait, just, just... just don't go anywhere. I... I have something...!! For you....!!!

    I apologize for being off-topic, but, I don't think you realize... just how long I've waited... for this opportunity!!

    And you... you... You and I have been roleplaying together for so long... and you never told me... about this...??!!

    How did this not come up in conversation already???

    But, but no, just... don't worry about that now. What's important is... I have a thing.



    But seriously though I don't think you realize just how much I've wanted an excuse to shove a bunch of Schoolhouse Rock at someone. I also don't think you realize just how much I am in love with these quirky little shorts. Please watch them, just for my sake (same for anyone else reading this). I'll warn you ahead of time about the dated animation (though I personally find it kind of charming), but I will not at all apologize if those songs get stuck in your head.


    But ummmm, *cough* THAT'S ENOUGH OF THAT TANGENT.

    You were saying, OP...? ^^"

    As I said before, it's all about the needs of the situation at hand. Even if the RP is in a situation that would call for me to be more aggressive, the pace at which things progress still depends on what exactly the players are doing, and how much time I think they should need to react to things (if they would need to react to things at all, as sometimes skipping over things is the preferable option). There's no set time-table or rule-of-thumb for this sort of thing -- just something that I have to gauge as things are moving.

    Though it does help that "plot-advancing posts" usually don't come in the form of some big fancy GMly post as much as smaller posts that guide the players into a certain situation or reveal information to them bits at a time, often at least partially through the eyes of one of my own characters in the RP.
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  13. Only when either:

    a) The group has a basic agreement on where to go, so I know that doing so isn't screwing anyone over.
    b) My character is chaotic by nature, so the 'plot advance' is more "WTF is he doing now!? OH GOD WHY!?".
    ... What? o.o
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  14. In One On One RPs, I like to wing it at the begining of the story, until the plot potential starts to crystalize it-self. Then I start plotting, but not too far ahead. I dont think about my roleplays out-side of actualy reading or writing them; I make a post, then until the next time I access that RP, I forget about it (vhich is not to say I forget the RPs plot-details or anything, just that I need to look at the RP for my mind to be focused on it. I'm not a day-dream type).

    In Group RPs, I focus mainly on my own character development, and let the GM direct the plot as a whole. After all, that is their job, right? I'l offer sugestions from time to time vhen I feel like the plot culd use a new direction, but I tend to stay out of plot-building in general. At least those parts of the plot that have no impact on my character.
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