Player Agency, Clean Slates, and Progressing Your Story

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The Medusae
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Joined: Tue Sep 05, 2017 7:01 am

Player Agency, Clean Slates, and Progressing Your Story

Postby The Medusae » Sun Feb 25, 2018 6:31 pm

So, I've talked to quite a few of you recently regarding three related things:

(1) the impact of various kinds of plot being on hold/unfinished,
(2) the impact of other players/PCs disappearing without notice and leaving scenes hanging, and
(3) the stress of trying to catch back up after a period of low activity or absence.

I'll try to address these one by one.

(Meta)Plot Holds

Real talk time, guys. Right now, we are effectively down to one staff member who is able to work on game related things on a daily basis - me. Many of the other STs and Totems have been sick, needed break, or are dealing with serious real life situations ranging from graduate school to legal proceedings to family emergencies.

At the end of the day, I'm only one person. I'm also a person dealing with her own real life issues, including caring for my spouse through serious mental health issues and struggling with my own depression, which has rendered me essentially nonfunctional for almost six months. Everything I do related to game, whether it's answering a PM, posting to scenes, trying to do stuff with my PCs, or trying to close out the plot threads currently dangling takes energy, and I don't always have a lot of it to spare. The fact that I have unintentionally ended up the de facto player rep, and have been the sole person through whom most of the complaints related to game have been funneled through since last fall, has further compromised what energy I do have for game.

That being said, I have committed to continuing to do what I can to make Newberry function. Despite the stress, I enjoy this game, this setting, this community, and I want to ensure that other people who feel similarly have the opportunity to continue playing. I can't promise that things will always get handled in the most timely manner, and I know a lot of what I spend my time on isn't always visible on the public facing portions of the website. What I can promise is that I'm trying to do at least a little bit every day to chip away at the game's massive to do list.

I recognize that being patient under these circumstances is difficult, and I appreciate how accommodating everyone has been so far. If you can keep bearing with me, then-while it might take a while-I can promise you that, one by one, the outstanding items you're waiting for will be taken care of.

Since I know some of you will ask if there is anything you can do to help: yes, absolutely.

But what?

The easiest answer: exercise your agency.

Player Agency

While I knows Mists has said it before, I want to take the opportunity to reiterate that Newberry Glen is intended to be a space for player-driven story. That means that while ST-created plot does exist, it shouldn't be your sole source or even primary source of character development, story arcs, etc. At the end of the day, it's up to you (and the people you roleplay with) what kind of stories you want to tell, and we encourage you to tell them. All we ask is that they fit within the world/sandbox Mists created, and that if it involves something seriously life altering or with far reaching impact, you talk to staff first to identify potential problem areas and address them before they become an issue.

From what some of you have said, the main problem here is not being sure what that means specifically - i.e. what you're empowered to do. So, here it is:

As a player, you are empowered to:

  • Create plot ideas/storylines involving or for your PC and others (with advance consent of the other people involved)

  • Create and play minor NPCs needed to facilitate those stories (it's a good idea to check with staff to see if there are existing minor NPCs you can use, and if not, to let us know who you are creating so we can put the information out for other people)

  • Flesh out the physical world of Newberry Glen and the surrounding environs with new locations, common knowledge, etc. (again, put this out there so other people can use it too!)

  • Invite others to participate in your storylines

  • Ask other players to do any and all of the above for you/your character

A great example from game so far is the dispute between the Redwoods sept and Lost Coast over the wolf kin at the sanctuary where Baz works. That situation-and the current plot that is underway to challenge the Redwoods Garou for claim to the wolves-was an idea that the player of Baz had and brought to staff. We had a little back and forth about the parameters of the story, who would be good to involve, what the NPCs would have to say about it/the extent to which they would participate, and then TPO Baz took that and ran with it.

The scenes related to that plot, the organization of it, etc. have all been generated by Baz or by other people invested in the plot (for example, Ava). Staff has had minimal involvement in the progression of that story up till now; their primary participation will be in portraying the members of the Redwoods Sept when it comes time to challenge them. This kind of thing is exactly what we would love to see more of, because it means that personal plot and character goals don't have to wait on staff to be accomplished - it gives you the ability to move at your own pace rather than ours and to focus on the things that are important to you/you are most interested in. It allows you to be part of the process of building the world and the overall narrative arc of the game, and at the end of the day, that is what Newberry is all about.

Other People Disappearing and Trying to Play Catch-Up

Recently, a lot of you have commented that the slowdown in game activity (which looks like it may be passing?) has left you with a large number of incomplete scenes. Those of you coming back from hiatuses and breaks and periods of absence have also talked about feeling overwhelmed by the amount of stuff there is to read, do, catch up on, etc.

Effective immediately, you should consider yourself empowered to:

  • Hit the 'mark all forums read' button. Seriously, it does amazing things for alleviating stress.

  • Close/bow out of scenes that have gone un-responded to or have been ongoing for longer than you are comfortable with.

    My personal threshold is 30 days. It's polite to post something to the scene or PM the other people involved to say you're dropping the scene to catch up with present day, but you don't need permission to bow out.

  • Throw out/clean slate any (or even all) your unfinished scenes so that you can start fresh (again, please have at least a cursory chat with your scene partners about this, unless they've vanished completely).

  • Move needed scene or plot resolutions to PMs, bulleted notes to staff in your private forum, or a summary post in a public facing thread.

    If there are answers you need or something you have to accomplish, work with your scene partners and the staff OOC to decide 'this is what happens, when, and where' in the simplest and most expedient manner possible.

In the near future, I may very well be taking this route as a storyteller - effectively, posting a bulleted list in the Staff Announcements section of "here is what happens with various plots and scenes; here's common knowledge; here are things that, forsooth, your character can have/did participate in". While it's not the most narratively satisfying option, it would allow me to get the game workload back to a manageable place and, I suspect, would alleviate stress for a number of you.

Ok, I think I've wall o' texted at you enough. As always, if you have questions, don't hesitate to contact me.

~The Medusae

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