Leadership, Spotlight, and PCs of Staffers



  • This came up in The 100 advertisement thread, but as the MUSH has closed, and I have some questions on this specific topic, I figured... hey, this is what this forum is for...

    It has come up a few times that Staff PCs should not be in leadership positions or story spotlights, but I feel like I have a mixed perception on what this declaration means.

    So.

    I want to engage ya'll in a discussion.

    Here's been my perception/notions so far:

    1. Staff should not play characters in positions of IC power; by default, they have OOC power because they are staffers, but abuse is always a concern when a Staffer has both OOC and IC power, and that IC power comes through their PC; if a Staff PC does end up in a leadership position, their character should be the minority (i.e. if they end up on the Senate Security Council, they should be easily outvoted by non-Staff PCs on the same council). In general though, Staff PCs should not hold IC positions of power.
    2. Staff can play characters on their games, and these characters can have their own story arc that is significant to the character's development as long as this story arc does not violate point #1 or take a significant role in the metaplot.
    3. Staff can play their characters in metaplot events, as long as they are there to to participate solely as just another PC (i.e. "I'm here to blow shit up" or "I'm here to get pissant drunk and sleep under the table" [or any other variant]).
    4. When a Staffer is on their PC, they are not operating as a Staffer, but as another PC on the game. There should be a clear boundary, and the PC bits should not be used as an arm of the Staffer. If the Staffer has something to say/do, they should say/do it on their wizbit.

    Here's where I feel like these perceptions/notions are being challenged:

    1. RP from Staff PCs should be solely to help other PCs grow/develop.
    2. Staff PC stories should be minimized, and PC story arcs should be mostly downplayed.
    3. Staff PCs should not receive any mention in the metaplot (for good or ill). A by ill, this could be an Staff-controlled NPC being an antagonist of a Staff PC, or results within the metaplot actually causing bad consequences for a PC of a Staffer.

    Ultimately, I think the question here is... what role should Staff PCs have on a MUSH, and how does their role differ from the roles of non-Staff PCs?



  • At any point the direction of focus of meta is in queston staff should not make the decision as npc or pc; this focus should be given to players.

    Its the age old argument of NPC vs DM-PC.

    Staff and gamemasters know the rest of the world that PCs (key p- player, not staff or gm) do not. Even if as staff is a fully randomized determination for PC, it will always come off as railroading or going on the direction the staff wants.

    No good analogy, but it's like playing backyard ball and player A on team one is the ref. If they win, ref played favorites. If they lose, ref threw it in purpose.

    Objectivity vs subjectivity.


  • Pitcrew

    It is one of those topics where a right answer is hard to define. absolutely believe staff should be free to enjoy and play on the games they put effort into. I also believe that staff should not be excluded from having spotlight or leadership completely.
    I do think staff need to be extra careful not to go over their fair share of the spotlight. No one should have to play a character then never gets a chance to shine and that definitely includes staff, but any character staff included has to share that spotlight.
    I will be honest I looked at Playing 5th World when it was open the first time. I didn't for one reason when I looked at the plot logged there were three or so characters who seemed to be the center of everything. I have no clue whether or not they were staff alts or not but I didn't want to be a bit part I MU* to be part of an ensemble.
    To the outside it does not matter if the chars are staff alts or not but to the inside it does. While there are definitely cases of non-staff monopolizing a game, staff being perceived as doing the same tend to lead to greater hard feeling among the player base because right or wrong they are perceived has harder to oppose ICly.
    I don't think as a community we have reached any sort of real consensus for how much is too much but like the wording of the famous pornography case we do know it when we see it.


  • Pitcrew

    @GirlCalledBlu said in Leadership, Spotlight, and PCs of Staffers:

    1. Staff should not play characters in positions of IC power; by default, they have OOC power because they are staffers, but abuse is always a concern when a Staffer has both OOC and IC power, and that IC power comes through their PC; if a Staff PC does end up in a leadership position, their character should be the minority (i.e. if they end up on the Senate Security Council, they should be easily outvoted by non-Staff PCs on the same council). In general though, Staff PCs should not hold IC positions of power.

    A lot of these sound good and responsible on paper, yet I've seen examples that break that rule to the benefit of the game. I've seen staff/worked with staff with their PCs in positions of power that helped the game run smoother because they were always active with the organizational responsibilities. So that breaks #1. However, they were also staffers who were actively and consistently concerned with optics, ethics, the spread of story, etc. They also weren't coming in from a negative reputational aspect -- if you already have a reputation for being bad at sharing story with your PCs, then yeah, I'd say you should follow most of these wholesale. If you've already established that you kind of have a bad eye for your own play in this matter, you should err on the side of caution.

    1. When a Staffer is on their PC, they are not operating as a Staffer, but as another PC on the game. There should be a clear boundary, and the PC bits should not be used as an arm of the Staffer. If the Staffer has something to say/do, they should say/do it on their wizbit.

    This one I both agree and disagree with. I disagree in that you will never fully separate your staff identity from your PC, and it should be something you're always aware of. You're still representing your game's leadership with how you behave as a regular player, and you're going to be held to a higher standard of behavior.

    Here's where I feel like these perceptions/notions are being challenged:

    1. RP from Staff PCs should be solely to help other PCs grow/develop.

    No, I don't think that's true. Staff PCs are still allowed to develop themselves. Staff is allowed to have fun.

    1. Staff PC stories should be minimized, and PC story arcs should be mostly downplayed.

    I think some people can balance this better. Again, if you've identified that you're maybe not great at this balance, err on the side of caution.

    I don't think that all of these rules that you laid out are necessary for every game. I think they might be a place to start if you're trying to teach yourself to be a better staffer in an area you've been failing at.



  • I'm probably going to be the voice of dissent here, but I come from a MUCH different MU* background than the traditional WoD MU*er.

    1. Staff should not play characters in positions of IC power

    I've never understood this, but I have never been in a game where a staff PC, who was in a position of power, was abused. Now, maybe that's because of some of the background of games where I've been have most all been consensual RP, but at the same time, that doesn't seem to be an issue. The issue is asshats who abuse their power, not the fact that they're staff. On Megaman MUSH, I freely admit that I was a staffer and played a fachead. I also did this at a number of Transformers MUs, particularly my own Beast Wars MU, and Transformers: Genesis. And it was something that just happened on games. People apped for their characters, they got them or got denied, and... they played. They did their stuff as fachead and staffer and never really had issues. Or at least in my experience.

    I don't feel that having staff in positions of power is bad, no. Though I feel that, positions of power should really often be considered 'semi-staff' in general. TF2k5 treated the facheads and XOs of factions (for a while the XOs, anyway) as TP staff, responsible for helping out the flow of the game. It's something I am debating doing as a policy at Houses of the Blood, in order to help maintain cohesion. And it worked okay at 2k5, especially in the pre-trololol days.

    1. Staff can play characters, etc.

    Mostly there, except for violation of point 1. If you don't play on your own game, you'll lose track of what's going on, on the ground. And most of us, I think we build games we'd WANT to play on (I know I do).

    1. Metaplot/stuff

    That's fine. That's pretty standard.

    1. Staff is not operating as a staffer

    Unless the caveat is that PC is treated as part of staff, and has a responsibility as described above. Otherwise, yes, no murderkills for pissing someone off and such things. You can't fix this without removing asshats through, which is the hard part.



  • The thing is, being staff and having a PC that you want o play like a regular PC is a tightrope to walk and takes practice to do well. It is though easier when you have multiple staffers. Then you can have your PC in events the other staffers run and have them adjudicate issues that crop up with the staff alt.



  • @ThatGuyThere said in Leadership, Spotlight, and PCs of Staffers:

    I will be honest I looked at Playing 5th World when it was open the first time. I didn't for one reason when I looked at the plot logged there were three or so characters who seemed to be the center of everything. I have no clue whether or not they were staff alts or not but I didn't want to be a bit part I MU* to be part of an ensemble.

    Okay, if I can just ask for some clarification here, that'd be great!

    When you were stalking the wiki, how did you determine who was the center? Was it based on how many logs they were tagged in, how many events they were in? For example, if you were looking at a wiki and Sam's name was the biggest name on the tag cloud (which I decided tonight are probably pretty detrimental if people are judging "spotlight" on how big someone's name on the cloud), and he's been in every log posted, is he the center of everything, or is he just always around for when RP happens?

    @Bobotron said in Leadership, Spotlight, and PCs of Staffers:

    I've never understood this, but I have never been in a game where a staff PC, who was in a position of power, was abused. Now, maybe that's because of some of the background of games where I've been have most all been consensual RP, but at the same time, that doesn't seem to be an issue. The issue is asshats who abuse their power, not the fact that they're staff.

    I agree here, Bob. But, we've entered a point in our community's history where bad experiences really influence how someone feels about a game the moment they create or guest log. I have, personally, had issues with Staff playing a Head of a House on a L&L game and their house abruptly becomes the biggest, baddest around despite non-Staff PCs putting in lots of effort in other houses. So, I get where people want to limit Staff from having their characters in leadership positions to avoid that kind of thing.

    @TNP said in Leadership, Spotlight, and PCs of Staffers:

    The thing is, being staff and having a PC that you want o play like a regular PC is a tightrope to walk and takes practice to do well. It is though easier when you have multiple staffers. Then you can have your PC in events the other staffers run and have them adjudicate issues that crop up with the staff alt.

    This is where I get mixed perceptions on things. So, let me give a scenario here:

    Yolo is a Staffer on a game, and he also has a character. He is good about not having his character in scenes he runs, and he tries to make sure someone is always his back-up in major metaplot scenes where his character shows up so there's someone to GM his actions if necessary. He is also, while on his character, telling a pretty intense story about an NPC family member being murdered, and there's a handful of other characters participating. It's dynamic, has lots of character building stuff going on, and there's quite a few logs about it. Some other players think that Yolo is making it so his character is in the spotlight because his character is a pretty important character to this plot about the murdered family member.

    Is he?

    I think this goes back to what @Roz was saying about balance. If Yolo is trying to make sure his character isn't a major lynchpin in the metaplot, but has decided to run this story for his own character's development, is he balancing his role as a Staff with his role as a Player? Or should he have not run this story, because he is the main character of that particular storyline even if it he's running/telling the story as a Player and not a Staffer?

    I've been give the impression that the example above is an example of a Staffer putting the spotlight on his character despite the story not having much or anything to do with the metaplot, and the story is being entirely run/told from the Player of the Character not the Staffer of the Game.

    Additionally, is Yolo being an irresponsible Staffer because he decided to take his character and others through this story arc (about a murder in the family) instead of running this the story arc as a Staffer for someone else?


  • Pitcrew

    @GirlCalledBlu I tend to think PC-centric plots are always better served by a different GM running things, whether or not the PC is a staff PC.

    But also, there are two different answers here: is Yolo generally known by the playerbase as being a very giving and player-centric staffer? Does he have a reputation for making lots of story for other people? Then most folks probably won't be bothered by him getting his own story. And if they are, there's a certain defense in going, "Listen, I've run a lot of story for the game and for other players, I think it's fair for me to have one plot focused on my character right now."

    Does he have a history of issues balancing spotlight as far as the rest of the playerbase is concerned? Then it's not going to look great.


  • Pitcrew

    @GirlCalledBlu
    I wouldn't characterize it as stalking since that has all sorts of shady connotations when I was actually honestly checking out a game I was considering.
    And for me it was both the number of the scenes posted and the role within the scenes. I didn't read every log but i looks for the ones that seemed plot-y in title and spot read. I do that for most games just to make sure my style fits with the general style of the game.
    It is a very unscientific method just a feel thing if the same name appears in a lot of scenes in a significant role it starts to feel like they are the star. Think of it like a movie, in the first Star Wars trilogy the highest ranking rebels on screen are Mon Motha and Admiral Ackbar but if you jumped to random scenes in those films it would be fairly obvious after the first few you picked who the important characters were.
    As far as the tag cloud I rarely remember those exist and never use them as any sort of guide.

    I think this goes back to what @Roz was saying about balance. If Yolo is trying to make sure his character isn't a major lynchpin in the metaplot, but has decided to run this story for his own character's development, is he balancing his role as a Staff with his role as a Player? Or should he have not run this story, because he is the main character of that particular storyline even if it he's running/telling the story as a Player and not a Staffer?

    In this example I would say it was perfectly fine for Yolo to have a central role in a personal plot. Staff PCs are PCs too. Though I would be concerned about anyone staff or just a player running a prp who was running a plot with their character as the centerpiece.


  • Pitcrew

    @GirlCalledBlu said in Leadership, Spotlight, and PCs of Staffers:

    Yolo is a Staffer on a game, and he also has a character. He is good about not having his character in scenes he runs, and he tries to make sure someone is always his back-up in major metaplot scenes where his character shows up so there's someone to GM his actions if necessary. He is also, while on his character, telling a pretty intense story about an NPC family member being murdered, and there's a handful of other characters participating. It's dynamic, has lots of character building stuff going on, and there's quite a few logs about it. Some other players think that Yolo is making it so his character is in the spotlight because his character is a pretty important character to this plot about the murdered family member.
    Is he?

    I think this goes back to what @Roz was saying about balance. If Yolo is trying to make sure his character isn't a major lynchpin in the metaplot, but has decided to run this story for his own character's development, is he balancing his role as a Staff with his role as a Player? Or should he have not run this story, because he is the main character of that particular storyline even if it he's running/telling the story as a Player and not a Staffer?

    I've been give the impression that the example above is an example of a Staffer putting the spotlight on his character despite the story not having much or anything to do with the metaplot, and the story is being entirely run/told from the Player of the Character not the Staffer of the Game.

    Additionally, is Yolo being an irresponsible Staffer because he decided to take his character and others through this story arc (about a murder in the family) instead of running this the story arc as a Staffer for someone else?

    Is he running this story as a player-style storyteller, or is this part of the larger plot? I lean towards never being GM/storyteller in a story I'm also trying to be a player in. They're really two entirely different mindsets.



  • @Kanye-Qwest said in Leadership, Spotlight, and PCs of Staffers:

    @GirlCalledBlu said in Leadership, Spotlight, and PCs of Staffers:

    Yolo is a Staffer on a game, and he also has a character. He is good about not having his character in scenes he runs, and he tries to make sure someone is always his back-up in major metaplot scenes where his character shows up so there's someone to GM his actions if necessary. He is also, while on his character, telling a pretty intense story about an NPC family member being murdered, and there's a handful of other characters participating. It's dynamic, has lots of character building stuff going on, and there's quite a few logs about it. Some other players think that Yolo is making it so his character is in the spotlight because his character is a pretty important character to this plot about the murdered family member.
    Is he?

    I think this goes back to what @Roz was saying about balance. If Yolo is trying to make sure his character isn't a major lynchpin in the metaplot, but has decided to run this story for his own character's development, is he balancing his role as a Staff with his role as a Player? Or should he have not run this story, because he is the main character of that particular storyline even if it he's running/telling the story as a Player and not a Staffer?

    I've been give the impression that the example above is an example of a Staffer putting the spotlight on his character despite the story not having much or anything to do with the metaplot, and the story is being entirely run/told from the Player of the Character not the Staffer of the Game.

    Additionally, is Yolo being an irresponsible Staffer because he decided to take his character and others through this story arc (about a murder in the family) instead of running this the story arc as a Staffer for someone else?

    Is he running this story as a player-style storyteller, or is this part of the larger plot? I lean towards never being GM/storyteller in a story I'm also trying to be a player in. They're really two entirely different mindsets.

    Player-style storyteller is my vision for this scenario. So the way any PC would run a storyline.


  • Pitcrew

    @GirlCalledBlu said in Leadership, Spotlight, and PCs of Staffers:

    @Kanye-Qwest said in Leadership, Spotlight, and PCs of Staffers:

    @GirlCalledBlu said in Leadership, Spotlight, and PCs of Staffers:

    Yolo is a Staffer on a game, and he also has a character. He is good about not having his character in scenes he runs, and he tries to make sure someone is always his back-up in major metaplot scenes where his character shows up so there's someone to GM his actions if necessary. He is also, while on his character, telling a pretty intense story about an NPC family member being murdered, and there's a handful of other characters participating. It's dynamic, has lots of character building stuff going on, and there's quite a few logs about it. Some other players think that Yolo is making it so his character is in the spotlight because his character is a pretty important character to this plot about the murdered family member.
    Is he?

    I think this goes back to what @Roz was saying about balance. If Yolo is trying to make sure his character isn't a major lynchpin in the metaplot, but has decided to run this story for his own character's development, is he balancing his role as a Staff with his role as a Player? Or should he have not run this story, because he is the main character of that particular storyline even if it he's running/telling the story as a Player and not a Staffer?

    I've been give the impression that the example above is an example of a Staffer putting the spotlight on his character despite the story not having much or anything to do with the metaplot, and the story is being entirely run/told from the Player of the Character not the Staffer of the Game.

    Additionally, is Yolo being an irresponsible Staffer because he decided to take his character and others through this story arc (about a murder in the family) instead of running this the story arc as a Staffer for someone else?

    Is he running this story as a player-style storyteller, or is this part of the larger plot? I lean towards never being GM/storyteller in a story I'm also trying to be a player in. They're really two entirely different mindsets.

    Player-style storyteller is my vision for this scenario. So the way any PC would run a storyline.

    I do not think anyone should be part of a plot that they themselves are running, staff or player.



  • Conflict of Interest needs to apply to both staff and players, and if staff writes plot that their PCs are the main handlers, decision makers, point of resolution, then the perception is that the plot was written for the staff PC.

    I call this throwing the ball to yourself.

    Constructively, staff needs to be careful when they have PCs involved in their own plots, because if their PC is a major player and the plot has a predetermined outcome (I.e. scene must end with X bad guy being captured), and their PC is used to ensure the outcome is met (Staff PC rushes in and captures the bad guy before the non-staff PCs, who wanted to kill him, can affect the outcome), then the perception is that the non-staff PCs are secondary to both plot and resolution.

    When staff PCs are spread out as major players and are IC plot leaders (I.e. heads of household, battlefield commanders, team leads), and the end result of scenes involving those staff PCs are predetermined (railroaded, etc), then the player base will likely come to feel as if their characters are less important than their attendance in those scenes.

    So, in summary, staff needs to never forget to pass the ball to their players, and not themselves.


  • Pitcrew

    Even when "just" a player, I don't run scenes / plot that involve my own character. In the example of Yolo, I would never approve that for anyone in the first place. If Fred wants to run it for Yolo, great, that's fine. If Yolo wants to run a plot where Fred's NPC family member is murdered, fine. Yolo running an actual plot about his own NPC family member isn't acceptable in the first place.

    Edited to add: As a staffer OR as a player.

    ETA again: Now, if Yolo is a HoH / faction head and it's a situation where while yes, the family member is their family member, and they're running the plot for OTHERS in the House and/or faction, and the entirety of the actual character's involvement in the storyline is 'investigate this, please, other family members' -- that's fine. Things on that level are fine.


  • Pitcrew

    @Sunny said in Leadership, Spotlight, and PCs of Staffers:

    I do not think anyone should be part of a plot that they themselves are running, staff or player.

    I think it's fine if you are player storytelling from your pc, right? Like you run in and say OH NO HELP A WEREWOLF IS HUMPING MY DAD and gather people to help you defeat the werewolf and save your father's furry virginity.



  • @Sunny said in Leadership, Spotlight, and PCs of Staffers:

    Even when "just" a player, I don't run scenes / plot that involve my own character. In the example of Yolo, I would never approve that for anyone in the first place. If Fred wants to run it for Yolo, great, that's fine. If Yolo wants to run a plot where Fred's NPC family member is murdered, fine. Yolo running an actual plot about his own NPC family member isn't acceptable in the first place.

    Agreed. When I run scenes or Tabletop GM, I do not involve my character, and if my character would logically be present, I push them into the background or as a support-only role and allow the PCs to be the big part of the show. This keeps the plot direction and decision making in the hands of my players and keeps the players from feeling as if my preferred outcome still would have been met had they not bothered to show up at all. Doing this makes them feel important and necessary.

    Example: I have a PC in a war campaign, but I'm running a major battle in that war campaign. I will place the PCs where the heart of the action will be, and my GM/Staff PC will be there, a bit faded into the background, as potential backup/story fodder if requested. I allow the PCs to win or lose, regardless of my hopes for the outcome of the scene.

    Usage Example: Lord Blackheart's (My staff/GM PC) garrison is fighting on the western flank and holding the western flank, so the PCs do not need to concern themselves with the less-important western flank, and can focus more on the center, where the enemy hero is leading the assault. If they radio Lord Blackheart for assistance if they're losing, then I'll alter the scene to being about them fighting a pitched battle and holding out long enough for reinforcements to arrive. When Blackheart arrives, he will then keep X percentage of the bad guys occupied to free up the PCs to focus on the major resolution points and get their job done.

    I pass the ball to the PCs.

    If I railroaded the plot to be my preferred outcome and then used Lord Blackheart to fulfill that outcome above and beyond the desires of my players, I would be passing the ball to myself.

    Edited for minor highlights and punctuation.



    1. RP from Staff PCs should be solely to help other PCs grow/develop.

    Not solely, no, but they shouldn't be in positions of IC power. Example, if your PC is nominated to run for Mayor of Munchkintown, you have an obligation to find an IC reason to decline the nomination and not participate in the IG race. It can be as simple as 'I don't want to be mayor but thanks' IG.

    1. Staff PC stories should be minimized, and PC story arcs should be mostly downplayed.

    I don't agree with this fully either. The issue is one of optics. Your PC should be able to participate in story and personal PC growth but it shouldn't be a story or growth that solves the crisis of the moment with your PC as the chosen one, for example or pre-destines them to a particular greatness. It's more any PC benefits or suffers based on IG outcomes of the efforts of PCs on games and most especially in plot but the staff held PC probably shouldn't benefit or suffer any more than any other PC.

    1. Staff PCs should not receive any mention in the metaplot (for good or ill). A by ill, this could be an Staff-controlled NPC being an antagonist of a Staff PC, or results within the metaplot actually causing bad consequences for a PC of a Staffer.

    On this one, I think its not just about baring participation or receiving things. It's more that as a staff member, you know things about the metaplot. You might know all the details. It seems to borrow a lot more trouble than its worth to participate in ways make your PC essential, so it's best to again find an IG reason why your PC cannot. It just doesn't make a lot of sense to me cause a lot of strife and drama among players as a staffer for something that should be pretty fundamental to any game around metaplot. It generally only results in your undermining your own authority as players start to look at you with a suspect eye. The running of a metaplot as a staff member has a price of admission: your PC shouldn't participate in a central capacity. That's just how it is.

    Ultimately, I think the question here is... what role should Staff PCs have on a MUSH, and how does their role differ from the roles of non-Staff PCs?

    Staff should play on a game, as both an outlet and as understanding as to what it like to be a PC in their own game world. But they shouldn't find themselves in positions of opportunity or power or stand to benefit in ways that other PCs can't access.



  • @Kanye-Qwest Someone needs to be Dickwolf Exposition Guy.



  • So, if I'm reading these responses right...

    A Player -- Staff or not -- should never "GM" (because I can't think of a better word) a story that leads to the development of their character, large or small, significant or insignificant. That a character's development is dependent on someone else running plot for them, and that the player of that character can't put a plot in motion for their character that may or may not have significant impact on their character.

    For example, I can't decide I want my character to lose an arm, and run the scene where the arm gets lost, but instead should ask someone to run this scene for me?

    EDIT: Just for clarification, when I talk about running a plot for my character, I never intend my character to gain anything beyond development as a character (whether it is to expand a characteristic they already have [i.e. being afraid of drowning] or altering their character path because they're not meshing with the overarching story or something about their character needs to change for them to move forward as a character); I agree with you that a player should never run a story for their character where they gain material goods, power, or reputation.


  • Pitcrew

    @GirlCalledBlu I feel like your summary is a bit of an exaggeration of what's been said, particularly "That a character's development is dependent on someone else running plot for them." There's a really big difference between an ongoing plot (Yolo doing an ongoing investigation of his family member's murder) and a one-off scene.

    Part of this is strange for me to put into words because I'd never want to GM getting my own arm cut off. Like, running stuff for myself is inherently less fun for me. I guess sometimes players are in the position of "I want to explore this story for my character but I don't know anyone who would run it," and maybe I've just been lucky with storyteller friends. (I also did have a PC's arm cut off, but it was the GM's idea and it was definitely because I was using Sebastian Stan as a PB. It made some awesome RP though.)

    So much of my reaction to this discussion is learned instinct that I'm having defining the difference between these two things you're asking about. I would certainly ask someone else to cut off my arm if I decided I wanted it done, though.


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