Short-Term MU*s

  • Pitcrew

    So I'm thinking about trying something I wanted to do a couple years ago but didn't have a good system or structure for, but think I do now.

    A series of short-term, limited-run survival horror stories where there's a set beginning and end. A mistake I made the last time I tried this was having everyone make whatever they wanted, which is fine on a long-term, ongoing game but hard to pull off on a short, focused story. This time I'd be treating it like a LARP at a convention, where everyone picks or gets handed a pre-made character to play for the weekend. I would go roster-based, so characters are pre-gens - they'd all have roles in the plot, ties to other characters (good and bad), and come with goals to accomplish. Stories would be anywhere from a few weeks to a couple months, depending on need.

    No, it wouldn't be for everyone. People looking for long-term character development, growth and XP building would hate it, I imagine. But it would be a game where you could do minimal reading, pick a character, and get guaranteed plot X many times a week. The finite nature of things means there would be real consequences and risk, anyone could die at any time, and anything could happen. I liken it to the difference between The Walking Dead and Breaking Bad. Regular MU*s are like the former - ongoing, most key characters are safe, the threat and danger feels artificial. This would be like the latter, where no one is safe, there's an end game planned, and how you get there is the thrill of it.

    I'd use the modified version of Slasher Flick I'm running now on Welcome to Lovecraft with a few last tweaks. It's great for a game where fighting the evil is a deathwish and surviving is what matters.

    Would there be interest? I wouldn't want to make a bunch of characters and story if no one really wants it.

  • I think it's a decent idea. TGG ran similar short-term campaigns and the players who liked it liked it a lot. You have to accept it won't be for everyone and it'll be a niche game. You have to accept that people will like campaigns more than others. You have to be consistent about actually DOING other campaigns (consistency in general is a trait MUers lack). But the idea itself is a good one.

  • I agree with @Three-Eyed-Crow that TGG proved that short-term games are possible in the MU community - especially if you can center it around a theme (like TGG's war theme, or a Twilight Zone kind of thing) or develop a core group of players who become friends (like an extended tabletop gaming group) and are willing to try new themes.

    I would caution against roster chars, since I think even folks interested in short-term games mostly like to make up their own characters. You can avoid the "everyone make whatever they wanted" by providing guidelines. To use the TGG example again: "You can be a British pilot or a nurse." or "You can be a British or French infantryman." or whatever. Limited and focused, but still allow people the creativity of having their own characters.

  • Pitcrew

    @three-eyed-crow Oh I get that, yeah. Shorter runs also means less attrition in the playerbase, I'm hoping.

    @faraday Hmm. True. I guess if I kept it tightly focused like that it could work. They'd lack the allies/enemies and goals being built-in, but get more freedom.

  • @botulism said in Short-Term MU*s:

    @faraday Hmm. True. I guess if I kept it tightly focused like that it could work. They'd lack the allies/enemies and goals being built-in, but get more freedom.

    You could always offer both. Creating a whole 'stable' of pre-built chars every time the theme changes sounds like a ton of work though.

  • Pitcrew

    @faraday Hmm. What about a hybrid? I give a rough outline of a concept, but leave gender, first name, personality, etc up to the player? Give them a minimal background, a position, and a few allies/adversaries and goals?

  • How about if you offer bennies for people who are willing to chargen in with prebuilt ties?

  • Pitcrew

    @kay Not sure how to make that work. If most people make original characters, nobody plays the pre-gens to be tied to, and hooking up originals to each other can be a logistics nightmare.

  • @botulism
    Then tell them not to play if they'e not willing to make the ties. Make the ties mandatory, none of this 'oh so dark and brooding loner' shit. Give them rules like a tabletop game. If they can't abide by them, they're not welcome to play. It's that simple.

  • Pitcrew

    @bobotron I'd still end up spending a lot of time managing it, pointing them at each other, recording who/why, etc. I do appreciate the suggestions, though!

    I'll probably just go with a very narrow range of what's playable, like TGG did, and let people make OCs within that range, Supporting characters (NPC allies/retainers/hangers-on) can be their backup.

  • @botulism
    Well, I more mean make engagement with the setting and each other mandatory. Direct 'you can make X, Y and Z' is good, and have them build using ties to the background you design for the scenario. Give lists of things to build off of and engage with.

  • Pitcrew

    @bobotron Right. We're on the same page, then. :)

  • Pitcrew

    I have wanted to do a few murder mystery games. This would only work as very short term MU*s.

  • Pitcrew

    @ominous See I think things like that would be fun.

  • Pitcrew

    So if I do this, I need to decide what theme to start with. I had an Aliens universe setup to start last time, but never got farther than the opening scene.

    I have a few ideas.

    1. Recycle the Aliens story. Alien: Mutation. Set between the Alien: Isolation game and Aliens movie on a station that's part gas refinery and part travel destination. Aliens in a giant mall in space, basically.

    2. Hotel California. A bunch of paranormal 'experts' attend an invite-only convention in a long-closed hotel that's supposed to be one of the most haunted places in America. What's supposed to be a week long event turns into something unexpected. (Hint: it goes longer than a week.) Haunted mansion/supernatural.

    3. Isle of Dread. A month long music festival on an isolated, exclusive island filled with wealthy millennials, poor local employees, and various performers takes a dark turn when all communication is cut and no one is coming for them for 30 days. Survival/slasher on a tropical island.

    Adding a poll to the main post!

    Even if it says a week or month, they'd run longer. Things can happen to stretch the duration longer IC, time decompression can be used (slower than 1:1 time), and so on. I'd see these three going about 6 to 8 weeks at least.

  • Tutorialist

    I would play the Alien game. Huuuuge fanboy.

  • If Alien, can I play a Xenomorph?

  • Pitcrew

    @jennkryst Only if TS is allowed. Let's get that hot, hot facehugger action going.

  • Pitcrew

    The Alien one would be easiest, as I have it all developed already. The others would be fun, too. I'm cool with whichever.

  • Quick question: Do you already know what time ranges you'd likely be doing your X number of plot things in? I don't personally have direct experience of it but I imagine that trying to join into a MU* with a defined base storyline told in a limited time frame without being able to be around when the bulk of that actual story is being told would not be great for that player. Or, really, for any of the other players either.

Log in to reply