Meta vs PrP vs Planning vs Impromptu


  • Admin

    @Lotherio One more thing... it's important to know what your resources are in comparison to your goals. Players - and staff - are fickle and more games have shot for the stars before falling short fast in the past; whatever you are scaling towards you need to plan with an eye on the logistics.

    It's basically a management challenge, not that unlike any other project. If you over-extend with your staff for instance you risk lacking cohesion and spending more time managing that staff instead of doing other things; if you are undermanned then between handling +jobs and making sure theme is on point you risk burning people out. And Storytellers come and go.

    Essentially you want to shoot for something that can inspire people to pour their time into but keep the moving parts under control, ready to step in and try to fix or replace what's not working - that kind of maintenance work isn't what many aspiring game runners have in mind going into it but it's what it comes down to soon enough.


  • Pitcrew

    Why do we, as mushers, tend to stick with a tabletop model, rather than addressing these challenges like a LARP? It seems to me that there is actually more in common between a mush and a LARP than tabletop.


  • Admin

    @Sunny I suspect because most MU* are based on systems and books written for table-top then modified for use on multiplayer games.

    Also tradition. It's harder to break with an existing paradigm than to do what's always been done.



  • @Sunny And I've never been interested in LARP'ing. I've seen you say it before, but why not point out some fundamental differences in how it is done and how it would benefit mu*s, I'm listening ...



  • LARP deals with matters of scale far better than tabletop rules. Matters of scale are, frankly, huge. That's but one of many reasons to look at the way LARP handles certain issues.



  • @surreality said in Meta vs PrP vs Planning vs Impromptu:

    LARP deals with matters of scale far better than tabletop rules. Matters of scale are, frankly, huge. That's but one of many reasons to look at the way LARP handles certain issues.

    I can see this.

    It has the benefit of limited play area and time slot requirement, so a plot that affects its scale, is also obtainable by everyone who is participating in the area at the time. Or are these elements easily lifted or not relevant to translation to a mu*?

    Only curious, I know LARPers that are STs, and their plots are good, but seem limited to just that, an event and whoever can show up at that time slot.


  • Admin

    @Lotherio It's a matter of picking what works best and what you are trying to do.

    A modular event where characters can simply show up and be plugged in regardless of their nature, affiliation etc works fine to create roleplay for new players and as a way to introduce them to each other. It however has the disadvantage that you spend part of the time setting things up, you need to figure out a way for everyone to be there, not to mention by definition the plot is character-blind (and thus not customized at all) since you have no way of knowing ahead of time who's coming.

    A custom-made scene can tug on existent plot elements much more efficiently and utilize your characters' individual natures - their social standing, abilities, relations to each other, etc - plus you can tie it better to the game's theme since you can have a wealth of information about the participants and their backgrounds. However it tends to be suited for established people, and since it's after all tailored for them if a few of them stop playing your plot might be screwed.

    I've done both. Ultimately the success rate depends on how willing the players are to get creative, as one expects.



  • @Lotherio It's more a case of the number of players. Tabletop games are not designed for groups of more than, say, a dozen, which would be a large tabletop group. For a LARP, that would be a tiny group.

    Systems involving GM overhead and player-to-player resolution, as a result, often need to be adjusted to account for the sheer volume of characters in play as compared to tabletop games.



  • Let me rephrase a little. I've planned meta plot on mu*s from whodunit mysteries and find the missing something or other to major factions overthrown and civil war that has included numerous players. I don't tend to look at it like a TT game at all, where I set it up for specific players. I usually don't plan based on system at all.

    I'm honestly curious what is the planning for a LARP that a Mu* would benefit from? What is planned for scale in a LARP? I know it involves the STs spending time outside of sessions in lengthy prep meetings usually. I have friends that say they can't be around for hours each week because they need to plan. I'm looking less at 'why' and more of 'what' is involved.



  • Rock paper scissors is inherently flawed as a metric of random outcome because it can be manipulated both by subterfuge and by pattern knowledge.

    The basics is that LARP was designed around the fact that dice are a bitch to roll in the park in the middle of the night.

    We don't have that problem in a MU*, dice are right there, so why not use them?

    The biggest problem honestly comes from typing speed. That's not going to change based on what system you use, people will still have to type out their actions, and reactions, and on table-top we simply roll the dice, do a quick description of how we hit/got hit, and then move on. In LARP we don't take 5 to 10 minutes describing the results of our actions either.

    What it comes down to is the medium we're using, so we come up with work arounds that work or don't work based largely on personal opinion.

    Unless you're dealing with coded combat, like MUD level coded combat (Some MOO's also reach this level, and possibly other games I do not know about) then combat resolution is going to take a lot longer than it does in table top, or larp.

    So in the end: Ruleset doesn't really matter in the long run so long as everyone understands the rules because it's waiting for people to pose that's slowing things down more than anything else.

    I've experimented with a few different methods over the decades, and the one I found I liked the most (Just my opinion) was when running a scene I had everyone do their dice actions /without posing/ and then at the end of the round everyone did a pose of their action/reaction. That way people could prep their pose after their turn while waiting for the dice resolutions and it went much quicker.

    Not a perfect solution, but by far the best I've discovered for our hobby.

    Just my opinion.



  • @Lithium I don't think anyone is suggesting eschewing dice in favor of something else, as, yeah, the code for the rolls is right there and there's no reason to not use it.

    It's more a factor of how much is left vague and up to GM judgment calls.

    Here's how numbers factor in here:

    • Larger group of players == need for more than one GM.
    • Need for more than one GM == need for guidelines to keep judgment calls consistent amongst GMs.

    A lot of systems, by default, assume there's only going to be one GM for the game. Shifting from one to multiple GMs, by necessity, means a lot of the deliberately vague 'up to the GM/ST' situations in the books are going to need at least some clarification or additional guidelines to keep a measure of consistency. (WoD/CoD, I am looking real hard at you here; other systems are more clear, it varies a lot, but the problem is universal with that shift in who is running what.)

    If you're creating the system from scratch, minimizing the instances of 'the results are up to the ST' judgment calls also means players can handle more things on their own without the need for ST oversight (which is not always available and/or timely in our medium). The more players you have, the more that autonomy becomes important. The ability those players have to be able to reliably handle the outcome of a roll or power without the need for additional oversight or interpretation to get the results allows them to do more with less top-down guidance, and that's a critical tool for players that's often overlooked in tabletop game design -- since it's not relevant at the table; play stops and starts when the GM/ST starts the game and they're typically present throughout. MUX/MUSH/etc. has 24 hour game play. Heavily coded games take this into account by having the code handle it, but in the same way, a system with clearer, more defined outcomes and result parameters can be a huge help without the need for heavy code.


  • Pitcrew

    I've always felt that mu*'s would benefit from more clear setting of stakes at the start of a conflict (not necessarily a scene, just when the gloves come off). What am I risking here? What is my goal? So often the risk is "as little as possible" and the goal is "pound this person until they cannnot resist". Both of which are rather boring IMO.

    Some people handle this informally but there are rules systems that have this baked in and it helps.



  • @Ide said in Meta vs PrP vs Planning vs Impromptu:

    I've always felt that mu*'s would benefit from more clear setting of stakes at the start of a conflict (not necessarily a scene, just when the gloves come off). What am I risking here? What is my goal? So often the risk is "as little as possible" and the goal is "pound this person until they cannnot resist". Both of which are rather boring IMO.

    Some people handle this informally but there are rules systems that have this baked in and it helps.

    I like how they baked "Intent" into CofD rules for violence. Most STs I've seen don't use it, but its a great addition. The one ST that did really use it in game made things much more interesting.

    CofD p.86 - 87: By stating her character’s intent, a player is setting out how much her character is willing to hurt, or even kill, someone else in order to get it. If a character’s intent has nothing to do with hurting people and she ends up killing someone, she loses a point of Willpower, in addition to probably suffering a breaking point.



  • @Lotherio As I have found that sooner or later, on every game, some one bad gets in to staffing and wrecks things. Because of this, I focus on creating RP with out the need of staff intervention. I like to see staff setting up TPs that players can get into if they wish, but I'm not fond of the sorts where players are forced into it. Invariably something comes up and plots get delays, information is lost or scrambled, or times just don't match up leaving some people stuck in something they can't really be a part of.

    As a staffer, I try to offer events that people can come in and out of as they like and work to prevent 'lock in' on things. I also try to ensure that there is something for any one that happens to wander into it. I normally do a mail plot line, then work out several events and side things that can be shifted around based on who's involved at that moment. This is a lot of work, and volunteers can't be expected to do that much work constantly. The places where it seems to always be going on rend to fail faster, as staff burns out so quickly, and there are many more opportunities to get a bad one in.



  • @surreality said in Meta vs PrP vs Planning vs Impromptu:

    If you're creating the system from scratch, minimizing the instances of 'the results are up to the ST' judgment calls ...

    This is what I was looking for as far as what benefit of GM’ing or plotting for a LARP might have to the medium. Thanks @surreality.

    This can be done with a simple system ... folks can hate on it, but FS3 could get plugged here, a few attributes, a few action skills, unlimited background skills, simple resolution, faster for combat, easy difficulty system, simple results. RNG and mechanics buffs can argue either way, but I'm less interested in probability, just offering the plug.

    But I agree, direct port of TT systems to MU suffers from this. including Pendragon, but I still enjoy Chaosium d20 and the passion/trait system for helping shape RP. This is not only for those instances of ‘up to the GM’ but also rules lawyers are more abound in established systems and with good cause when rules can contradict in instances in most systems and splatbooks change mechanics (once included, literally staff need to decide which instance of mechanics suits the greater good of the game, the core rulebook or the splatbook).

    An issue relevant to plot in this could be addressed here. That is having enough info up front to help players run plot, helping with the player freedom side of the totality of meta and PrP.

    One approach is levels of mu* ‘player’ (@ powers) and access to boards and chans. If I throw out plot as a staffer, I immediately try to put up something on the staff board with info, so any other staff can handle this should a player ask when I'm not on-line. This still leads to moments of plot happening when driven by players and staff intervention still being needed on a mu*. A player could be out running some plot, police are involved. Nothing world damaging, all fine under do what thou wilt PrP stuff (short of world damaging); not needed staff approval and hoops to be jumped through. But maybe something weird comes up. The police are called to get the supernatural cultist because one PC is law bound and wants justice, and at the cultist house there is blood all over the basement, the occultist pins it on the players when police arrive. One player +requests for staff to determine what police do instead of leaving it up to the player ST, or even the ST player isn't sure how this particular authority would handle the reverse accusation.

    Mu*s come built in with a quick handle, @powers. It was used extensively back in the 90s, I’ve seen places using it, but more limited. There were flags added even to help access to bboards, this is done more with attributes now. Having various behind the scene theme info available to those willing to run things could help, but this goes back to hoops and no one wanting to jump through them.

    I am curious of other solutions to this concerning plot, and breaking the necessity for what/when/where folks feel the need for staff intervention. I do know good STs roll with it, let outcomes and staff deal with it after the fact (the above situation, they'd probably research through google how this is handled and play by ear). There is nothing wrong with this, most willing to do that are comfortable enough with theme to know the boundary of when staff may have say. I’m curious how to make theme feel open enough to other players to feel free to run plots as they like, or to make it so others feel they can approach staff to ask if they want. I’m always approachable as staff, but I realize some bad staff have probably ruined this for some players by always saying no, or by responding negatively to creative ideas as offered.



  • As for combat and typing speed, as @Lithium noted, this can't be changed and is always an issue.

    Similar to the CofD intent as mentioned by @ThatOneDude, my preference in mu* is to roll dice before a pose. Instead of posing intents, rolling, posing outcomes, I tend to like +rolling then posing. Some players aren't comfortable with this, or don't know the rules well enough, and may need to ooc ask, but this can save time. It can even bypass the 'intent' or 'declaration' phase in some games, if there is trust between ST and players. If someone is going to throw a punch and rolls the dice relevant correctly, they can pose landing it without it being a power pose, the dice handled that. Leaving it to the other to pose the damage and return action, +rolling what they need before starting their pose.


  • Pitcrew

    I hate the posing in the declaration phase that some STs use. Where it becomes pose attempt, handle mechanics, pose result, move to next person. That just gets to be painfully slow. And I will be honest leads me to start mentally disconnecting to the scene.
    I agree that handle mechanics for the round then pose the round is likely the best solution. It helps with pace of the scene and still lets you get creative with your poses.



  • @ThatGuyThere

    Yet consider your favorite tabletop scenes. Did you pose? No, you say "I throw the spear." / "But it's made of iron! You can barely lift it already!" / "I want to throw it anyway." / "Sigh, fine, but you're at minus three steps to even hit." / (rolls, hits) / (everyone bursts out laughing.)

    We have no "Mushlike" way to enable this, and no matter what you do, the pose will be removed from the action. I would be happy if combat scenes had no posing and allowed table-talk, aka OOC, for the interaction.



  • @Thenomain said in Meta vs PrP vs Planning vs Impromptu:

    @ThatGuyThere

    We have no "Mushlike" way to enable this, and no matter what you do, the pose will be removed from the action. I would be happy if combat scenes had no posing and allowed table-talk, aka OOC, for the interaction.

    In such instances I've played with roll than pose results, OOC and table talk is allowed. Some places use combat chan (FS3 softcode installs an FS3 chan). For me it comes down to that trust between ST and players, if everyone is trusted players can just roll. If they're unsure of modifiers and circumstance, the OOC or page for clarification, then roll away.


  • Pitcrew

    @Thenomain said in Meta vs PrP vs Planning vs Impromptu:

    We have no "Mushlike" way to enable this, and no matter what you do, the pose will be removed from the action. I would be happy if combat scenes had no posing and allowed table-talk, aka OOC, for the interaction.

    Honestly I would likely be happy with this. I am also happy with what I have seen done on a couple of occasions and that is do all the tolling first to determine who wins and to what degree and difficulty then posing out the whole thing.
    But not every one in the medium is a table top gamer, so think round of mechanics round of pose is a good middle ground to have be the standard.


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