Swith's Informal Morning Panel and Coffee Klatsch
Sponsored by the NationStates Mentor Program
Overgoat Coffee Brands™ - Bleating away your sleep one bean at a time.
**NS Roleplay Symposium 2017**
LOCATION: Symposium Hall
TOPIC: "OP Management and GMing Roleplays" (Broad Panel, Early Hour)
TIME: 12 PM EST, Monday, July 10th
Good morning. Welcome, panelists. I'm Swith, your discussion moderator for this session.
We're looking at OP Management and tips for GMing your own roleplays. This includes ways in which to keep your game moving, suggestions for framing your OOC OP to draw players in, how to handle disputes between players, how to implement an archive into your OOC (rather than separate threads), and the responsibilities that fall upon an OP or GM's shoulders.
Panellists, please introduce yourselves and tell us which subforums you haunt.
I also thank guests for their patience. We will pull your questions from the #questions_chamber. To make it easier on us, please keep chatter to the main #ns_mentors channel.
Dutch - Today at 12:02 PM
Hey all, I'm Dutch (or The Armed Republic of Dutch Coolness, to be more precise!) and I'm one of the P2TM Mentors. It's where I've been RPing for the most part over the past few years, and I should have the time to finally take part in a panel I have some knowledge on, although I might run away to get some dinner - if there's any questions specifically aimed at me during that time feel free to message me and I'll get back to you ASAP! o/
Gren - Today at 12:05 PM
I'm Gren, from P2TM. I don't have any serious experience as an OP, but I can definitely answer questions about styles of OPing I prefer.
Swith - Today at 12:05 PM
Good morning, Dutch and Gren. Welcome. This morning's session is a bit informal, as we don't have a full crew. (A reminder - this topic will be presented again tomorrow night.) As such, pull up a chair, grab some coffee, and let's dish.
As players, what qualities do you look for in an OP?
Gren - Today at 12:06 PM
I prefer an OP that's open to worldbuilding.
Dutch - Today at 12:07 PM
Personally, my preferred OP is active enough to be able to resolve disputes, answer questions, address any potential issues, etc. in a timely manner. They'd preferably be open to player input regarding the direction of the story/game and potential events and such as well.
Swith - Today at 12:08 PM
We've all had the CoOPs from hell ruling over our lives and games. Is there anything you dread about unknown CoOP/s or, if you OP/GM, what qualities do you look for before appointing one?
Gren - Today at 12:09 PM
I really can't say I've seen COOPs who were that bad, but ones that abuse the privilege are definitely problematic.
Swith - Today at 12:10 PM
I personally hate power-trippers, or those that behave as though they held more sway than an OP. As an OP, I look for people that can keep balance, and handle business with a fair amount of diplomacy. Being a CoOP is a hard task.
Gren - Today at 12:11 PM
I always figured the relationship between OP, COOP, and player should be akin to the one between Mod/Staff, Mentor, and poster, respectively.
Swith - Today at 12:12 PM
Exactly. It's teamwork. Communication is key as well. The OP should make an effort to keep their CoOP/s updated, and hand them enough information to keep the game afloat in their stead.
That brings up a common issue, at least in P2TM: We've all had OP vanish in the middle of a good game as well. Gren, any advice on how to handle that as a player?
Gren - Today at 12:14 PM
You knew I've got some experience in that area, didn't you, Swith?
Personally, we just hung out in the OOC thread and chatted about mutual interests and things sort of related to the setting until the OP came back. Which was a good year or so.
Swith - Today at 12:18 PM
A quick clarification here: Jutomi~ asked us to define some terminology.
OP stands for Original Poster. This is the person that starts the RP thread (usually both the In-Character and Out-of-Character threads). They are frequently the game's Game Master (GM). Their responsibilities include:
Coming up with a decent game
Providing information necessary to play the game (a setting overview, a character app, a basic explanation of their rules, details about the game's purpose)
Reviewing character apps to see if the character works in their game
Keeping track of signed-up players and their approved characters
Keeping track of the plot/s
Updating their threads
Answering player questions, moving stalled stories along, mediating disputes between players
A CoOP is a Co-OP, the OP's assistant. Often, the OP will give some of the above duties to their CoOP in order to avoid a nervous breakdown. The OP trusts their CoOP with their "brainchild" (or intellectual property). The CoOP does NOT have permission to use that material should the OP vanish, nor do they have thread ownership (for Moderation purposes).
Gren, oh yes. I've seen some good games to flat, including ones you were involved with as a player. It's heartbreaking at times.
Being OP isn't a popularity contest. Sometimes OP quit because they've bitten off more than they can chew. I always recommend that players join other people's games first. Get a feel for what goes into a game before trying to run one. Learn from your OP's mistakes, and avoid making them when you finally decide to take the plunge.
Gren - Today at 12:21 PM
Well, we got him back, in my case, so its all good.
Swith - Today at 12:21 PM
As Sarejo points out, "In my personal experience as an OP, activity usually starts out fast, burns out quick, and the motley crew you have left will either flow with activity like the tide, or the RP will die a slow, or sometimes not so slow, death."
This is perhaps the worst feeling for a GM. Any suggestions, from a player's standpoint, on how to keep things running... how to avoid burnout?
Gren - Today at 12:22 PM
Try to keep things interesting. I guess that's vague, but its the best I can come up with. Make the players feel invested in continuing the story.
Dutch - Today at 12:24 PM
I agree with what Gren said. It can be hard, really, but I think that's the best way to keep things active and going. Get people involved. It doesn't always work, unfortunately, and I wouldn't know what else there is one can do.
Swith - Today at 12:24 PM
That's a good point. It may be the OP's game, but players are investing their time and talents into it. Don't steamroll them. Incorporate their ideas, add their suggestions for setting expansion. We're nothing without our players, so we should make an effort to make each one vital to the best of their ability.
Sarejo also wanted some insight on OOC drama and handling it. "How long much OOC drama occur before socially acceptable to eject the offender?"
Gren - Today at 12:26 PM
I think its best to get rid of it when it starts. Its kind of like a staph infection.
The longer you let it fester, the worse it gets.
Swith - Today at 12:26 PM
(In honesty, the best rule: if you have a problem with a player, take it to TG. If you can't resolve it that way, bring it to the OP. The OP has the final say. Don't disrupt threads with bitter arguments. If you can't resolve it, hunt down a RP Mentor and let them help you mediate it.)
Dutch - Today at 12:27 PM
If it's drama, it's best to try and solve things ASAP rather than letting things linger. I'm personally pretty patient when it comes to this, but if someone refuses to cooperate I think it's fine for you as the OP to boot them. It's all very situation dependent.
Gren - Today at 12:29 PM
I've seen different ways of handling it ICly.
Swith - Today at 12:29 PM
Gren, that is so true. We want to give people a chance, and we let them remain. Yet they continue the bad behavior and our group falls apart. As an OP, it's our job to address things when they first spring up. We can't be assholes - we should try to be fair and approach things civilly.
Moderation allows us to ban any player for any reason. However, it's good to lay out why a person is banned. It leaves no room for questions.
"Dutch, you are banned from [game] for bickering with Gren over rules, and for ignoring my repeated requests to stop doing this." <- example.
Make sure you note the banned player in your OOC's first post, as well as a link to your post stating the ban. Mods will go by that post's timestamp should the offender return after you've kicked them.
Dutch - Today at 12:30 PM
^ Definitely a thing to keep in mind for thread bans - timestamps!
Gren - Today at 12:30 PM
In one case, the OP just ghosted the character of the offending player, and it was like a collective hallucination that was conveniently forgotten. In another case, a different OP had the character(s) die brutally.
Swith - Today at 12:30 PM
We've had a few rounds with that in my games. We learned the hard way.
Eridani Imperium would like to know, "How do you end a plot on the spot if things are going in a bad direction?"
Gren - Today at 12:31 PM
The art of the asspull is difficult to teach in one chat post, young grasshopper.
Swith - Today at 12:32 PM
I grouse when it happens. snorts I've seen a variety of ways to handle it. Usually, the OP communicates with the players. They state why the plot is shifting/ending, and they do a "time-skip" to advance to something new. They'll update players and help them settle into a new plot. Again, this is all part of being the OP. But yeah, it's the Art of Asspull.
Good morning, Malt.
Maltropia - Today at 12:33 PM
Hi folks, Maltropia, N&I Mentor, here. This is a trickier question; are we just talking about abandoning ship or tying up a hundred loose ends? Sometimes the best trick is the fast forward - move to some later date, and yeah what Swith just said while I was wondering why my keyboard feels damp. 'ello.
Swith - Today at 12:34 PM
It's coffee. Sorry about that, Malt.
Daddy Deramen bought up archive threads just now. "Whats your opinions on archive threads and such? I know moderation talked about it but im curious as to what you think on it."
I don't know how N&I approaches them. I've had lengthy discussions for those found in P2TM.
Maltropia - Today at 12:35 PM
Apology accepted. Yeah, if you're averse to the whole idea of closing the thread with no narrative closure, you probably have to weave through the bits of string and sew them into a quilt that might look like the way things were probably going to go.
Gren - Today at 12:37 PM
I mean, I really don't see the point in archive threads for brand new RPs. For well-established ones like PL or EH, sure, they're infinitely useful. But I wouldn't even recommend an archive thread for something like Excalibur.
Swith - Today at 12:37 PM
To be blunt: OP, DO YOUR WORK. There is absolutely NO reason for a brand new RP to have an archive thread UNLESS there is so much world data that it would take up the entire first page of your RP's OOC thread. When you create your OOC, add "reserved" posts under your first post. These are your archive spaces. You can transfer world data, character information, and other details to these boxes.
Why does P2TM currently have a few archive threads? These belong to megathreads (games that have run for years, contain many IC and OOC threads - sequential - and need a place for storage apart from the OOC. An example is Personification Life, the P2TM (unofficial) training roleplay managed by Cerillium. forum.nationstates.net/viewtopic.php?f=31&t=386061
As Gren said, megathread games like PL and EH have far too much data to store on the first page. The archive is organized for quick access, a gaming compendium intended for reference and easy access. It requires organization effort.
Gren - Today at 12:40 PM
I mean, we all know each post has a 60k character limit. Lets assume you have 4 posts underneath the OP, for a total of 5. That's a 300k character limit. There's no way a brand new RP could fill all of that.
Not unless it contained the entirety of the old SW EU, or the WH40K canon.
Swith - Today at 12:41 PM
A quick rewind: Eridani Imperium - "Clarification in regards to Mal's request: just cutting a plot thread when some idiot tries to take it over."
As an OP, I have very little patience for godmodding in my games. In our P2TM training RP, we did have to occasionally REDACT [edit posts] because a nood royally screwed up. This doesn't happen anymore. Not since Cer took over as OP.
Screwups happen when players aren't paying attention to the OOC and prior IC posts. It frequently happens in one-liner or blitz (rapid posting) games. One person's posts creates a chain of chaos.
You have two options, really...
Maltropia - Today at 12:42 PM
I've not really encountered archive threads in N&I. I run (I'm using the verb loosely; I don't think it's been posted in yet) a 'lore repository' for the PT region I started to set up, the purpose of which is to give definitive IC answers to OOC questions framed as the queries of wayfarers from across the continent to the archivist of the last major imperial library. That's probably atypical of N&I regions, since their canons extend over many multiple threads, often move onto offsite forums and places like IIwiki, or are contained in each nation's factbooks, wherever those might be.
Swith - Today at 12:43 PM
REDACT (all players blank their posts... an ugly site in any IC thread) or Resolution. Resolution is handwavium at times, with the OP/GM stepping in to correct the mistakes. Sometimes, the OP and CoOPs have some ungodly powerful characters (powers, influence, skills, whatever) that counter anything stupid players throw into the mix. These characters exist explicitly for that purpose.
Gren - Today at 12:44 PM
Collective hallucination that is conveniently forgotten is best resolution. :stuck_out_tongue:
Maltropia - Today at 12:44 PM
In re the cutting a plot thread - it depends how outlandish and unwelcome the diversion is. Sometimes the captain of the ship just has to come over the intercom and say "it's okay, it wasn't an iceberg, it was just some spillover from my bubble bath."
Other times you want to revert to a time long before it existed.
Swith - Today at 12:45 PM
Malt, in N&I, do your OP run Player Characters, or do they treat their characters as NPC to advance a story?
In P2TM, a common new OP mistake is to use their characters as protagonists, becoming the heroes to every story. "Ma, look at me! Look how badass I am! Ma!" doesn't fly with players.
(If I had a dime for every "collective hallucination" event I've endured, I'd be rich enough to buy Kyru exotic food)(edited)
Gren - Today at 12:46 PM
I can imagine so. :stuck_out_tongue:
Swith - Today at 12:48 PM
Gren, you brought up a good question in the other channel. "Is there any advice you would give to somebody who would like to start an RP, but is nervous about doing so?"(edited)
We can hold off on that while Malt answers. Apologies, Malt.)
Gren - Today at 12:49 PM
I admit, that was my not-so-stealthy way of saying I've got some ideas, but don't feel adequate enough to implement them. :stuck_out_tongue:
Maltropia - Today at 12:51 PM
It's a bit of both. The OP is usually as much a participant in the story as the other members, but he invokes NPCs as needed to advance the plot. My guy is the local Order Master in charge of organising this crusade. The thread mostly follows his leadership and the events caused by his decisions. But others' characters will have their own plots to carry out, and I'll introduce the odd merchant or bishop to be as much of an NPC or actual character as he needs to be to flesh out that world and make it one in which the NPCs aren't just backdrops but help to advance the plot.
Swith - Today at 12:51 PM
Thanks for clarifying, Malt.
You are, Gren. I think you'd make a fine OP.
Honestly, starting an OP is rough. Will people be interested? N&I and P2TM both have threads that allow hopeful OP to gauge interest, IIRC. This is the first place to stop. See if the idea is popular. Gather interest by discussing it.
The one thing we frown on in P2TM is "interest threads". That's why we have a megathread for it.
Dutch - Today at 12:52 PM
To get to Cer's question... If you want to start an RP, do it, basically. There's no reason not to! If you want to start an RP, you go and create that RP. What is there to lose for you, in the end? I know it's how I started out. I had an idea, I really wanted to see it turned into an RP, so I went through with it and did it!
I think Swith already nailed down a good way of seeing if there's interest for [idea that you have].
Swith - Today at 12:53 PM
Eridani Imperium asked, "What the the signs you should look for in a player that could be a potential problem?"
Gren - Today at 12:53 PM
Dutch - Today at 12:53 PM
Refusal to cooperate, listen, or learn, in my opinion. Those are the biggest "uh oh"s for me.
Gren - Today at 12:54 PM
Maltropia - Today at 12:54 PM
Just to quickly go back to Gren's question (but Gren's here! he can answer his own questions!), remember that if you want other people to participate they have to have something to do. People want to write, but sometimes an OP doesn't realise that other people can't just start with nothing. Give them an opening and they'll take it.
Gren - Today at 12:54 PM
Refusal to read the information in the OP, as well.
Dutch - Today at 12:54 PM
That, too, but I'd put that underneath "refusal to listen"
Swith - Today at 12:55 PM
For me, the answer is easy: trifling behavior in the OOC. Purposeful disruption to gain attention. Applications that have loopholes they can exploit.
Pin your players down. If their characters have a skill or ability, make sure the limits are defined. If they have a power, there needs to be a counter. Superman has his weakness. For nation play (wargaming), I scrutinize ORBAT. I'll keep an eye on it as the game goes, and I'll notice if someone sneaks crap in.
Gren - Today at 12:55 PM
True. And Malt, I technically could answer my own question, but it wouldn't be a very good answer to my question, and certainly wouldn't have the insight of a Mentor, or even somebody who's OP'd before.
Swith - Today at 12:56 PM
Ched, who can not be here for the morning session, wanted to know, "If you can go back and talk to your younger self who was first starting to OP, what would you tell them?"
Maltropia - Today at 12:57 PM
Thing to look out for: ability to distinguish between, and keep separate, OOC and IC. That's the big thing for me.
Swith - Today at 12:57 PM
("Hey, Swith... run, girl. Run like your ass is on fire, and never look back!")
I'd tell myself not to take things so seriously. It's just a game.
Maltropia - Today at 12:57 PM
Oh, younger me really needed to use :stuck_out_tongue: less.
Dutch - Today at 12:57 PM
Ouch, that's a good question. I think I'd tell myself to think about my ideas for a bit longer, rather than working on them right as soon as I get an idea where I go "hey this could be a cool RP".
Also, tell myself to not be afraid/hesitant to put my foot down and say "No" to someone or something.
Swith - Today at 12:59 PM
A quick clarification request: An ORBAT is the order of battle of an armed force participating in a military operation or campaign shows the hierarchical organization, command structure, strength, disposition of personnel, and equipment of units and formations of the armed force. When I wargame, it's usually off site. We have extensive lists outlining everything. It's not storytelling RP, per se, though we take our results each round and craft them into flowery posts.
Swith - Today at 1:00 PM
Are there any questions or topics our panelists wish to touch upon? We're rather informal this morning, and our session is almost complete. Final thoughts?
Alright, final question: Eridani Imperium - "[What are the] signs of a self-insert character?" What should OP look out for?
This is a difficult one, especially when I'm encountering players I don't know. I can usually make the determination after a few posts. The app may have a few clues as well. Basically, if the character likes all the same things as the player, and holds all the same ideals, and seems flawless in every way, there's a chance it's a Self-Insert Sue.
Dutch - Today at 1:04 PM
Hmm, good question! I'm not really sure, but I think that the character being rather Mary Sue-ish (the original Mary Sue was a self-insert after all!) is a big hint. Like Swith already said, I think it's something that only really becomes apparant after some time. An unhealthy OOC 'link' between character and RPer could be a giveaway, for once. "Hey Dutch, why doesn't Commander McNot!Dutch do [thing]?" "Do you think I would do [thing]?!"
Swith - Today at 1:04 PM
^ Good point.
Dutch - Today at 1:05 PM
It's very hard to nail down unless you know the person a bit better, though (and the character in question!)
I think another good example would be having their character say something not nice to CommanderMcNot!Dutch and me then taking personal offence to that.
Swith - Today at 1:05 PM
To avoid having your character mistaken as a self-insert, don't be afraid to give the character flaws. Limit them. Make them fail on occasion, and let them grow from that failure.
Dutch - Today at 1:06 PM
Character flaws lead to some of the most interesting RP, in my opinion! ^
Gren - Today at 1:07 PM
I will admit, that I do base a lot of characters on one or more aspects of my background, or traits I have, but I do make sure to make them distinct from myself.
Dutch - Today at 1:08 PM
That's fine, really. For instance, when I'm nervous I've noticed I rub my nose - a character I made once did the same!
Swith - Today at 1:09 PM
Alright, I think we can wind down this informal session and hop over to #ns_mentors. Don't forget that we're holding a more-formal one tomorrow evening.
Thank you, Malt, Gren, and Dutch, for coming in early and sharing coffee with us. It's much appreciated.
Monday, July 10th, 2017
OP Management and GMing Roleplays (Broad Panel, Early Hour) — 12PM Eastern
Conflict Resolution and Out-of-Character Drama (Broad Panel, Late Hour) — 7PM Eastern
Observations on Gameplay — 9PM Eastern
Tuesday, July 11th, 2017
Conflict Resolution and Out-of-Character Drama (Broad Panel, Early Hour) — 12PM Eastern
OP Management and GMing Roleplays (Broad Panel, Late Hour) — 7PM Eastern
War and Storytelling — 8PM Eastern (Note: there is a request to bump this up an hour in order to provide enough time for the prior panel's discussion)
NS Roleplay Symposium 2017
TOPIC: "OP Management and GMing Roleplays" (Broad Panel, Early Hour)