On Plotting: Top 10 tips on how to run a group plot

I have never been a Dungeon Master nor a Games Master on a tabletop game, but I think that being a mod and plot runner on CoT is not dissimilar to something on that scale. Both require planning as well as flexibility, both need creativity and both need awesome players to torment give adventures to!

This blog covers my ten top tips on how to run a plot!

  1. Have a goal. It sounds a bit obvious doesn’t it? However you would be surprised at how many people think that just starting off in a random tavern and expecting it to go somewhere is the best idea. It’s an idea, it sometimes works, but generally it fizzles out and loses momentum. Free form is lovely, I adore it, but when it comes to group plots and group threads you need a direction at least. Somewhere to go. I am not saying you have to get there, the journey is the adventure! However, you must have a path to set foot on to begin with, then let the characters and events change that, or not. Evolution of plot is fun that way.

  2. Be organized as a plot runner. I cannot emphasize this enough. How can you expect anyone to have a clue on what is going on in a thread with ten characters if you don’t have a clue? You’ll get lost and the thread and plot will die. If it does not die it will lose direction and fizzle out slowly. It is time consuming but I suggest you do not run a plot if the organizing and work side of GMing does not appeal. Personally, I adore it, so it is not work to be and just as enjoyable as the RPing.

  3. Pimp out your plot. Advertise. Recruit. Talk about it. Generate excitement! This is a fun thing, enthrall people! Use twitter and the g+ and the plot forum to share, to tease and to titillate! People will inevitably drop out or go silent in your plot so keeping fresh blood coming in and being adaptable is key here. This goes for running a forum and board plot as well as something smaller. Keep the interest high, it is essential to the life of your plot.

  4. Be flexible. Does this seem counterintuitive to “be organized”? It is not, I assure you. Being flexible is about bending to accommodate a player, but not breaking your plot or lore or setting to do so. Don’t hold grudges. Don’t be a doormat. Do be willing to change and listen to your players.

  5. Create adoptables. Yes, you all know how much I love my adoptables, here is why: they inspire plot and they give new players an easy way into your plot. Use pretty images, they always snag people. Not that its all about looks! But the pretty packaging helps. 😛 Ok, not all characters need to be beautiful, haha, I mean use great art, be it of an old woman or broodmother, an evocative image draws the eye. Be loose in the adoptable’s requirements where possible. The more open it is to the player putting their stamp on it the more appealing it will be. It is more a role in the plot you are offering rather than a specific character. A name, face and role should be all you need. Even then do not get attached to the image and if they want a new face, let them have it! The same goes for flexibility with names.

  6. Keep timelines and summaries of threads. This is useful if you have a lot of threads happening at once all over the world, like the Warden plot for instance. It gives absent and new players an easy way to catch up and familiarize themselves with the plot. Use the OP in your plot topic to give brief summaries too. ^^

  7. Use the plot forum. Use your plot topic. Use it to post updates, to recruit, to clarify – use the tools the forum gives you to co-ordinate your plot. The cbox is great for small plotting, but in order to keep everyone in the loop record your discussion and give important developments in the thread for all to see and react to.

  8. COMMUNICATE WITH YOUR PLAYERS! This should be higher on the list, lol. Use the plot topic, twitter, the g+, PM’s, the cbox, there are SO MANY tools available to you as a plot runner, so take advantage of them! Make sure everyone is on the same page, then you have fewer plot holes and headaches.

  9. Create drama IC. Keep them on edge and surprise them. Plot twists are the best. Leave red herrings, keep them guessing, but be clear about what they can and can’t do. Make sure you have a good balance between directing the plot when it needs it and giving the players choices. You do this by being organized as a plot runner and by planting seeds IC. So for instance, I tend to have a goal for a plot, but I manipulate it so the paths characters take can eventually merge, creating conflict and drama. They choose the path, I just try and plot it so the consequences are fair, make sense and keep us moving towards a fantastic climax! Ye,s people makes choices that lead away, but sometimes that forces them to leave the plot and that is fine too! Don’t be offended if a character writes themselves out. Sometimes they might be around for one chapter, or all ten, that is the nature of a story, the cast changes and the plot goes on…

  10. Don’t let it stall and be firm when you need to be. I have a flexible three day skip policy for group threads and in my experience it has a great success rate. Communicate your desires from the get go. If people know what they are getting themselves into they will be less likely to feel left behind. However, speak to people. Give them the chance to stick with it, but do not hold up the entire plot for one person consistently. It is not fair on your other players. RPers can be fickle creatures but if they feel they are missing out on something they generally make more of an effort to be reliable. Yes, RPing is a hobby and it is fun, but when you assemble a group to perform a play you don’t put up with an actor who does not turn up for rehearsal. The show must go on and this is the PoV I have regarding being a plot runner. I am the director and I will find an understudy if a player does not pull their weight in the performance. We all put time an effort in, out of respect for the group be clear, concise and ruthless if need be. ^^

No plot is immune to dying but if you do the above you will certainly enhance your chances of success. Completing plots are sooooo important to character development and though number of posts and closed topics are not the aim of the game, adaption and progress is. Fun is the top priority though, so adapt these tips to your own style and that of your players.

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