Text Games: An Imperian God's Tale V
One of the biggest pulls for people to play one of the many Iron Realms online games is the opportunity for role play, not just with the players, but with the Divine. I am going to share some of the things that go into planning role playing game events in the text based RPG Imperian, and what I look out for when running one.
What makes a role play event?
Let's start off with a definition; A role playing game event can be anything, really, that involves players interacting either with each other, with a Divine, or with a (or a group of) non-player characters. For brevities sake, we will just focus on role playing game events involving interactions between a player and one too many NPCs. Now this type of interaction can be broken down into an unplanned role play experience, which would be the random possession of a mobile in order to interact with someone briefly with little to no intention to revisit the interaction, or a planned experience.
We have a type of worksheet that helps us to plan a role playing game event for you. It gives us a place to put ideas, keep track of names, and ideally plan what should happen when. I say ideally because we cannot predict everything that will happen, but we can put down some ideas for what we think might happen. Some of us use this format to help plan smaller text game events, and some of us do not. For the most part, everyone uses it for the larger scale events, especially when multiple people are involved, so there is a place for people to keep track of things.
How to plan for small events:
Small text game events may not need a lot to keep track of them. They are usually ran by one or two people, use only a handful of mobiles, and last less than a few days (occasionally a week depending on the availability of all parties involved). Small role play events can be anything from helping a lost child find its way home, to defeating an oppressive bad guy from doing whatever it is oppressive bad guys do for that instance. Small text game events do not always need to be planned, and are sometimes spontaneous mini-role play events that just become so interesting we keep them going. Occasionally small role playing game events turn into big events, and then we need to sit down and write out a plan to help us keep track of things.
How to plan for big events:
Big role playing game events generally require us to use the sheet to keep track of who is doing what, and when to implement certain changes. We can break a large scale event down into phases like Phase 1 - start dropping hints about what's going on. Phase 2 - earthquakes and other bad stuff happen here. Phase 3 - Release the kraken, etc. The phases can be anything from a general "this should begin happening here" to a more complex "Person A will now be able to find Object Z in Field 7 while wielding the sword of unnamable horror in his left hand, while Person B should be rallying players to help him stop Person A from succeeding." You get the idea, right? This helps us to make sure a role playing game event is running on schedule, for the most part. Large scale events can be very difficult to plan for, however, because you often times have to have a contingency plan in case what you were hoping would happen would. Otherwise you'll just be railroading the text game event, and unless you're a talented leader of the play, it can be fairly obvious to players that that is what is happening.
What to expect:
First off, you cannot predict what a player will do. In the case of small role play events, that is usually fine. They are often times "winged," and reliant on a player's decision to setup for the next step. With larger events, though, the unpredictability of the players can sometimes throw a wrench in the plans we have. Don't get me wrong, I am not complaining. Your unpredictability and uniqueness is what makes running role playing game events exciting. If you reacted to every step exactly the way it would not be interesting to us to run the events.
Second thing to remember is that nothing will ever go as planned. Either because of the unpredictability of players (see above), or just the general bad circumstance that leads to key rpg game players not being available when stages are supposed to progress. Either way, one of the biggest things to running a role playing game event is to be able to hold on to the seat of your pants and improvise. That's right, all the planning and detailed skills in the world cannot save you if you are unable to improvise, evolve and change your event to suit the available resources.
The third major thing to watch out for when running a text game event is the dreaded railroading of an event. Railroading happens when players get off the main story line that an event is supposed to follow, and the person behind the role play tries to force them back on track. Tracks and railroads, get it? Anyways, railroading can ruin a text game event, or a players fun, if it is done in a forceful manner. The best way to get an event back on track is to use improvisation to gently coax players back to the closest possible solution, but sometimes, it becomes impossible. As such, the railroad is a major problem we have to watch out for running events.
In the end, running text game events for the players is enjoyable to me and many other members of the Imperian Divine. We enjoy getting to interact with players and seeing them respond to the world around them. I hope this offered you a little bit of a glimpse behind the curtain of running a role playing event without spoiling the magic of it.
Megan Elizabeth is a text game enthusiast who enjoys the best role playing games from Iron Realms!