Functional & Dysfunctional The Nature of the RP
Okay first and foremost as everyone knows there are things that work, and things that don't work within the RP group, I want to list these things so that we can discuss as a group what we like, what we don't like, and how to create more of the former, and less of the later.
Things That Work
- Consistent and Continuous Story-line
- Character Growth Over Time
- Character Interaction
- Large and Complex Arcs
- Available for New Players
- Lack of Rulesets
Consistent and Continuous Story-line
Here is where I think this RP shines when compared to other RP's. The lore is large and complex, with room for malleability. This gives storytellers unmatched flexibility with creating this world, and due to the relative nature of MLP's universe, it gives players a lot of content to play around with, and keeps the RP fresh for a very long time.
There is a con however. Since we have so many Storytellers, and different interpretations of the MLP universe there can be some confusion towards what OC content to include versus not include. While the easiest option would be to limit storytellers, I think that would take away the massive amount of prospective inspiration that each of us have. To that regard, it would likely be a safe and reasonable action for people planning arcs to mention them with a few others, and bounce ideas off people who already have done successful arcs. As the arcs are quite long, we want everyone to enjoy them, and so feedback is important, both when building the arc, and after the arc.
Character Growth Over Time
This is a cornerstone of this RP relative to others. As we grow and mature as people, our characters also grow. Looking back over previous parts of the RP, the content has improved immensely, and previously unpolished designs have become refined, leading to a better, more mature RP. By mature I do not mean graphical content, but storytelling, since that is what the key part of this RP is, good storytelling.
As the characters go on more arcs, and learn, new things, it would also seem appropriate to give them new abilities as well. It is strongly, strongly recommended to stick with side-grades, and utility rather than power upgrades, since making a hero more powerful would comparatively weaken the impact of other characters, unless such power was limited in a pretty encompassing fashion, like going full on evil, demanding worshipers, and scouring the planet in fire. Coincidentally a comment by Guildmaster Grovyle stuck with me about "moving the goalposts". While it is perfectly reasonable to move the goalposts, they have to be adjusted for everyone. One or two characters who are vastly stronger than others diminishes the impact of other characters, including universe-centric characters such as Princess Twilight, and Princess Celestia. Powerful characters create checks against certain plot and character elements that I think everyone in the RP would like to avoid.
"Blackheart, Lucifer, Abaddon, Mephisto, Malebolgia, and all five of the Phlebiac Brothers have manifested in the same realm, and they're all trying to run their own shows. There just isn't room for-"
Moving the goalposts too much ends up with a situation like this. After some point the posts can't be realistically moved anymore, and something has to be done, whether by creating a character to check a problem character, or temporary upgrading a primary character to deal with the carelessly moved posts.
The easiest way to deal with this in my opinion is to carefully plan out which protagonists you want to include, and which ones to leave out in a specific arc, as not all characters are equal, or will not be engaged in the arc in the same way other characters are.
From my own personal experience, the fewer protagonists of my own that are involved in major parts, the more enjoyable the RP is for everyone involved. Also, keeping character pages updated is super helpful for those planning arcs.
So character interaction is a tricky topic, just because of how nuanced it is across games, PvE, PvP, all these things influence how characters behave. The big thing here is to keep characters open to new adventures and ideas. Storytellers appreciate it when players swallow a plot hook, and players appreciate it when storytellers give them enough of a plot hook to chase after. A trail of bread crumbs is a little less interesting than a big ole fat fish running away with Princess Twilight in a pot. Good hooks also let players know when a new arc is starting, and what to expect, whether action, mystery, drama, horror, etc.
To return to character interaction try something new, chase after a storyteller's arc, since designing good plot hooks is a hassle. Characters can still goof around and interact, but remember, they're heroes, at the end of the day they still need to help those in need.
Large and Complex Arcs
I love the arc size, and the nuance within, which is what brought me to this particular RP in the first place.
Normally the large arcs work out great, however with many authors, we do run into problems with many different arcs, sometimes conflicting with each other. Normally we get a good split but sometimes all the major players jump on a single arc, and leave the other one empty. I do not have an easy way to deal with this, other than to be courteous. We're all here for the same thing so sometimes an arc has to be side tracked to accommodate others. I don't really have much to say here since there is not an obvious solution I am aware of, other than being communicative.
Available for New Players
This RP is the easiest one I have been able to join, and I think that is a great thing, however I think that we could use some better documentation if we want more players, or better educated players. If a character is centric to a plot, it can get problematic if they leave. I'm not sure how to combat this, or whether it even needs combating.
Lack of Rulesets
I want to do a separate blog for this one since I think additional categories and sub-categories would help break things down.
The Big Problem
The big problem, as I see it is having too many characters at a single scene. When we have lots of characters, and lots of players, we need to wait on them for action sequences. The most obvious way to combat this is to ask people to post more often, but that is stupid. Instead, what other players can do, is have flexible sub arcs and conversations, that don't detract from the primary arc, so that everything is ready to go when slower players post. Another way is to limit the arc protagonist selection in order to have one arc for faster players, and one for slower players. They can even meet and interact if the storyteller plans for it. The part to be careful about is gobbling up too many characters with a single hook, since that doesn't leave players for other storytellers, and slows the pace for other players.