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 Hosting 101

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PostSubject: Hosting 101   Wed Apr 29, 2015 12:34 pm

Yo,

This shit is what defines a good host from a bad one. And its complicated as fuck so pay attention. The difference is one is terrible and you don't want to join it, while the other is fucking brilliant and you're hook into the roleplay.

“Roleplaying is the highest achievement known to mankind” - Some Nerd 2015

I'm not saying I'm good at any of this, not the best way to introduce myself but you know what, I know things. So this is just from experience that I've seen from the amount of years I've done this inside and outside of academies.

"But bote, don't you just need a good story and thats it?" Hell no! You as a host need to guide the party to the objectives set out to them. Your party is like a bunch of fuckin babies. Leave them and they cry and do their own thing. So the host tribe master race has a batch of these tactics they have at their disposal to keep these babies interested in their story, but we’ll cover this later.


Hosting Styles
This shit is significant. As a player, you have your own style of playing the RP. Some dudes use third person, some use first person, and some nerds switch between the two. Some nerds are objective based and straight to the point, while other nerds use imagery. Too bad this is blown out in proportion when you’re hosting. You’re just too dam important because you tell the story, the way they choose to interact with their players in their posts will directly and majorly affect how the game develops.

You set the tone and the pace of the scene. Their posts can force players to detail their actions or to compose shorter responses. If a host likes to have a turn order, the game tends to move slowly. If a host favors quick and short back-and-forth interaction between two or multiple characters, the game tends to give off the impression of a faster pace, though it may not be the case.

tl;dr: How you decide to host your RP boils down to how you host your RPs. But these always follow three patterns.


The Player
This is the host that composes characters that directly interact or participate in the party. Also known as DMPCs, these characters are usually used to subtly (or sometimes explicitly) nudge the players back on track. The player is a complicated hosting style because the host needs to detach themselves from the character they're playing. Put in a situation where you are effectively the god of an imaginary world, it's hard to not make your characters seem to be special... Or as they're better known in the roleplaying community, a Mary sue. Because of this, I'd personally not suggest this to a first-time host. Especially if you are new to actually half decent roleplaying. And even experienced hosts at times have difficulty balancing their own characters with the rest of the world. An example of a player host that I can provide is not done by me, but done by another dude at another forum, but this was taken from a story with a huge focus on character development and character interaction, remaining as true as can be to the archetype.
Spoiler:
 

The Narrator
This host follows a much more indirect means of interaction with the player characters. Detached from the main narrative, the narrator acts as a storyteller, merely stating how the world reacts to the players' actions. The narrator is the most passive of all three styles, and their focus is mainly on acting as the world itself rather than a particular NPC. While the narrator may occasionally control an NPC, even then it's words and actions are described in a much less personal way than a character is usually portrayed. The narrator is a pretty good style for new nerds like you. In good hands the narrator can spin around it a living, breathing world; but if badly executed, they can make the story seem slow, stagnant and uninteresting. Seriously, if your good at this shit, you can outshine your dam players. I mean dam, that must require talent. I mean look at this Narrator that isn’t me.
Spoiler:
 

Gimmick Puppet Driver (IE the puppet master)
Now if we were to use polymerization on “The Player” And “The Narrator” Hosting styles, you would get “The Puppetmaster,” the combination. This hosting style stands as a narrator that controls the world, plot and characters in minutia, usually having several different characters, overlapping storylines, and weaving complex tales. The puppetmaster is controlling by nature. They manipulate the story to guarantee it will move the way they wish, and they usually alternate between styles to better adapt to the situation at hands. But this shit is bullshit level hard. Don’t try this at home kids. The puppetmaster stands as the most effective and interesting storytellers, and are capable of creating the most interesting and memorable stories of all; Their biggest strength can be their downfall, however, as the puppermaster's controlling nature can lead to frustration when things don't go their way, and their actions can border on dictatorial or authoritarian, making the players feel like they don't have a choice in their actions, which is the quickest way to kill any interest in a game. This shit is like the wolfman, no one seen this shit done effectively. Atleast I haven’t. So I can’t show an example. But this style can have the following trait(s): Large amount of character background and information, as well as a large cast of NPC characters that allow the host to take an active approach to storytelling without ever actually joining the party.

Now that we finished going over the styles, do whatever works for you you damn nerd. Somes styles are described better then others, but this is what I’ve seen. Any way you write, could be a great story to any dude.


Worldbuilding
Now this shit is hard, and its important, so fucking up is not an option. Unless you want to return home in a box. This shit can be separated as “Plot and Setting.” Now you're probably either Dumb as fuck or just too lazy to get a dictionary, so let me define this shit for you

Plot: The story of the game. How it will proceed and how it will play.
Setting: The world your game is located in.

How fucking simple is that? So damn simple. But this shit takes some damn practice  Much like everything else when it comes to hosting, world building is very subjective in nature, often the point where most hosts disagree on. I will explain a bit of my own guidelines when it comes to world building, as well as discuss the pros and cons of my own style as we go along.

Step 1. Define your goal. What’s the end game? What does the party want to achieve? What’s the goal of this game? The win condition?

Step 2. Antagonist. What is stopping you from getting this goal?

Step 3. Narration. “No shit you fucking idiot.” This shit can adapt to the style of game you are doing.

Step 3a. Your characters, IE the Important NPCs

AND BOOM! Theres your plot. You can have heavy detail if you wish, but you can also be simple and straight to the point. What happens next depends on the players choice.

The main drawback to this will usually be a heavy dependence on the host being confident in their ability to not only create on the spot, but to remain faithful to the world they build, and failing to do so will cause inconsistency which will kill a story off quick.

Step 4. The Setting. Society. What Communities will the player be involved with?

Step 5. Literal World Building. Where will the game take place? Now it’d be the time to create and define the physical space the game will occur on, and flesh out main cities/kingdoms.
And just like that, our world has been built. Obviously, the setting suffers from the same issue the plot does: it greatly relies on the host’s ability to make things as they go along and not contradict themselves later.

However, even those who are more detail-oriented can take these steps and at this point be left with a structure to build upon.

Don’t post that thread yet, we aren’t done here. Now we get to the hardest part. Really, the real hardest part: Hosting.


Hosting; The reasons why RPs fail.
1 -> Lazy worldbuilding: A direct consequence of my own worldbuilding style, lazy worldbuilding is a huge issue for hosts who don’t fully flesh out a world before letting their players enter it. Once the players are in uncharted terrain and the host is under pressure to effectively create a new setting much faster, corners tend to be cut, and writing tends to get sloppy. At this point, it’s not unusual for interest to slowly die off, with the RP shortly following.

2 -> Bad storytelling: If a host is too adamant on how they do things, they tend to get frustrated when things don’t go exactly their way. This can lead to the host employing at best inane and at worst downright nonsensical arguments to try to steer the story in the direction they want. This will invariably cause both the host and the players to lose interest in the story very quickly a it becomes a tug-of-war between the players and the host to maintain control of the storyline.

3 -> Bad story: Not to be confused with the above, a bad story causes a bad game. This usually happens when the main plot isn’t entirely thought out and the host is forced to start steering the story into the direction of what they actually know how to do, leading to the problem above.

4 ->  Inconsistency: This one is a biggie, and the direct reason why the three above fail. Inconsistency usually occur when the host cannot keep up the pace of the story, or remain faithful to it’s main plot and setting. This is the biggest pitfall a host can fall in, and to avoid it, the advice is usually simple: Keep notes on your world. Main cities, main plot points, anything that will help you remain consistent.

DON’T POST THAT SHIT JUST YET!


Game Mechanics
Firstly we have to look at how we make sure that the babies don’t wonder off and do their own thing and are still interested.

Well, of course theres the old school way which involves oh the host’s ability to write a good story to maintain interest. If you are doing this, you might be a breed known as the Writing Dragon Ruler, the breed of dragon rulers where you are capable of absolutely enthralling their players with their sheer prowess at keeping the attention on them.

You might find some of this in academies. I’d like to think I am one of these powerhouses, am I really? I don’t know. You can still get interest other ways if you aren’t, don’t worry.


Exploration
This is one I usually see in a lot of academies. You get together to get the RP out of the thread and interact with players differently, creating a more engaging experience.

Lieing
This is another way to get it done, not really a mechanic but it can work. And you would lie in Out Of Chracter (OOC)

Never believe what the host says if it has to do with plot


Choice and Consquence
Playing with choice and consequence is also works, often employing every aspect of a player’s personality and backstory into the game in some way, and often having things they did – even before they joined the RP – come back to haunt or support them in some way.

But if the experience is interesting, then the golden apple is creativity. Think of something fun and new and it will always get a positive response.


Do, Don’t, and Exception
DO prioritize story over rules. A host has to remain flexible, and at times the party may be faced with a challenge they cannot surmount – games that employ a level system or something similar will eventually run into something like that – at this point, I’d personally advise you to always prioritize the story, even if you have to come up with a reason why your players got out of that situation, it’ll always be preferable than forcing a party wipe.
EXCEPTION: Games where failure and death are actually a mechanic. Keep in mind that even in this case, you should not go too overboard with the player murder. At least not to the point you risk running out of players!

DON’T be too nice. A host has to be firm, and you can’t bend to the players at every request, otherwise you will end up losing control of your story. Maintain a core set of rules that can never be broken, regardless of everything else, and stick to them.
EXCEPTION: …Games where there is a big focus on player choice and consequence. In these types of game, letting people do whatever they want is usually fine, as long as you’re willing to bite them in the ass just as hard afterwards.

DO get creative. Create a character from a race never seen before, add in a NPC from a long-forgotten magic clan, let the players discover an ancient sword deep within a set of ruins.
EXCEPTION: Although rare in reborn, in shorter games you shouldn’t really waste too much time in events and side-quests and just rush into the meat and potatoes of the storyline, so focusing on something like that for flavor isn’t desirable.

DON’T create or enable Mary sues. It’s hard not to do that when being a player host, and it’s kind of difficult not to play favorites when you will usually have players that are clearly better than others in the game.
EXCEPTION:Counter-intuitive, but there is a scenario where a Mary sue character – though keep in mind I use the term rather loosely – would be encouraged or even necessary. In games where a player or NPC is clearly significantly above others in terms of skill, it’d be wise to try and keep the character performing outstandingly.
This said, keep in mind that this is a thing.

DO alternate between serious and humorous narrative. It’s always great to break the ice and change the mood of the story at times.
EXCEPTION: Stories that follow the gothic horror genre should mostly stick to being dark all the time, since those stories are all about giving the players the sense of being crushed under overwhelming odds.

DON’T try to add shock value to a serious situation by describing it in a light and humorous tone. Important story points should always be kept serious in narrative because humorous narrative usually removes much of the impact. Keep in mind treating humorous situations in a serious manner can beneficiate the narrative, though!
EXCEPTION: An RP that’s focused on a light and goofy narrative to begin with can actually benefit from completely destroying player expectation by playing an incredibly important situation as something minor or funny and calling back to it later.

Now you can go post that RP.
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