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Old 01-23-2012, 10:18 AM
StaciD StaciD is offline
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The Player's Plotting Toolbox: Opposition

If you're content for your character to sit around and wait for something to happen to him or her, you can stop reading now. However, it you're a little bored and looking for ways that you can more proactively guide your character's in-game adventures, then here's one way you can get started.

A few years back, in an essay I wrote about the much-lamented Mortalis Victtus, I presented one storytelling strategy that any player could use to generate dramatic action and storylines: opposition.

Opposition is akin to conflict, which has long been heralded as an essential element in storytelling (in this game, and more generally speaking). The term "conflict," however, has collected a lot of negative connotations (like aggressive behavior and violence) that make some players leery to initiate actions just for the purpose of "starting conflict."

Opposition is a less-loaded word, and much more flexible in the long run. Because it defines character motivations, it avoids the intimation of "random conflict." It should also lead to more personally relevant storylines -- stories become shaped by the characters, instead of the characters filling slots in a pre-defined plot served up by staff -- and, if carried far enough, can even result in a fulfilling character arc.

By the dictionary, Oppositon is:
  1. the action of opposing, resisting, or combating.
  2. antagonism or hostility.
(lesser meanings snipped for length and not being strictly applicable)

That should be pretty self-explanatory, but I want to emphasize that Opposition (as a plotting tool) is much more than a simple dislike. Not liking the color green, for example, is a character quirk. You avoid wearing it, you complain about it to your friends, maybe frown disapprovingly at those who do wear it. It's fun for idle RP, but it's not going to launch any real plots.

Being opposed to the color green, however, suggests a more active stance. A seamstress, for example, who is opposed to the color green can choose not to make clothes of that color, an action that has consequences (potentially serious consequences, depending on whose clothes she's refusing to make). A non-seamstress might try to more actively persuade others against using the color green, to the point of petitioning the seamstresses to remove green from the available colors, or stealing all the green pigments from the workroom.

That's an extreme example (or is it?), but I'm trying to make the point that Opposition is active, while dislike is passive. This is the most important distinction, because it doesn't do any good to be opposed to anything without using it to incite action of one sort or another.

Usually, it doesn't take much effort to figure out something for your character to Oppose. You probably have some idea of things he or she doesn't like already, so all you have to do is focus on one that presents the most opportunities for you to act. Here's some suggestions:
  • A particular individual
  • A particular group (Duelists, Watch, Chroniclers, males in general)
  • A behavior (discourtesy, lawlessness, tea parties)
  • Nobles
  • Magic
  • Winter
  • Summer
  • The Prince
  • The Consort
  • The Queen

When you're figuring it out, keep in mind that the bigger your target (like the whole last half of the list), the more likely you're going to end up depending on Staff interaction in order to get your story told - and since the point of this essay is to suggest ways to tell stories without relying on staff, I recommend against them.*

(* Well, that's not entirely true. Do oppose any of these as your character sees fit, but a "lesser" opposition will fill in the time while you wait for the next staff move on the big ones.)

Setting yourself up in Opposition to something a little less grand, whatever it turns out to be, doesn't generally require elaborate "plotting" ahead of time. They key is to be prepared to take advantage of situations that allow your character to act against whatever it is they happen to be opposed to. An impulsive action or a heated word at the wrong moment, driven by your character's avowed Opposition to the thing in question, can lead to a chain of consequences that is an exciting ride on the Roleplay Roller Coaster.

Action, of course, is the most important thing. If you're character isn't taking action in one way or another, then you've got no one to blame if you end up sitting around doing nothing. Opposition is just one of the techniques you can use to help give your character motivation to act.

Anyone have thoughts and personal experiences they want to share along these lines?
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  #2  
Old 01-23-2012, 10:56 AM
Jonen Jonen is offline
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Two thumbs up for this.

I love opposition as a tool because it allows a "good" character (Jonen) to clash with other characters who are not necessarily "evil" in any real sense (Rikka, Falke, etc). There are certainly degrees of opposition, but even a little dash can make things interesting.

And as always, players with initiative will always have a leg up on others in terms of dramatic entertainment value.
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Old 01-23-2012, 12:17 PM
Kaori Kaori is offline
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Makes think of a different route that I could have taken Kaori. She dislikes helping newlies, but I now imagine a character that opposes them.

I'm not thinking of someone that just avoids them, but a character that gives them bad advise on purpose.

"What? You didn't have a sword in your room when you woke up? I suggest writing to Quilp and demanding that this be rectified. Don't waste your time with gental words, he messed up big and he needs to understand that you won't stand for this."
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Old 01-23-2012, 12:30 PM
StaciD StaciD is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Kaori View Post

"What? You didn't have a sword in your room when you woke up? I suggest writing to Quilp and demanding that this be rectified. Don't waste your time with gental words, he messed up big and he needs to understand that you won't stand for this."
Hah hah hah! Now that's like like of wicked thinking I like to see!
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Old 01-23-2012, 02:09 PM
Euphelia Euphelia is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Kaori View Post
Makes think of a different route that I could have taken Kaori. She dislikes helping newlies, but I now imagine a character that opposes them.

I'm not thinking of someone that just avoids them, but a character that gives them bad advise on purpose.

"What? You didn't have a sword in your room when you woke up? I suggest writing to Quilp and demanding that this be rectified. Don't waste your time with gental words, he messed up big and he needs to understand that you won't stand for this."
While I like the theme, and think it funny (the Quilp example), I sort of worry that a truly new player may be turned off by such behaviour. But anyone besides new players, I'm totally behind. Ask Keiran. Bwahaha.
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Old 01-23-2012, 02:27 PM
Ezraella Ezraella is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Euphelia View Post
While I like the theme, and think it funny (the Quilp example), I sort of worry that a truly new player may be turned off by such behaviour. But anyone besides new players, I'm totally behind. Ask Keiran. Bwahaha.
I agree with Euphelia about worrying.

As someone who has played an Awakener and knows all the OOC work and IC work that goes into helping a brand new player immerse themselves into this game and help them know all the intricacies. I think it would be very insulting to the Awakener Players who are putting in a lot of effort to help keep the atmosphere of Marrach true to theme and time period.

I am all for conflict and opposition that is well thought out. Opposition also does not have to be in-your-face, but subtle and clever (hence, intrigue!).

Also, remember that most of us pay to play this game and we are paying for co-operative RP with our fellow gamers. If you want to create conflict and opposition, do it with style, taste, tact and cooperative play!

Anywho, do it so that new players will be intrigued and want to play more! Not pop in, and go "Geeze, this game is stupid/immature/insert negative view here". Let's make more (new) players want to be a part of this neat community and make it awesome! We all want Marrach to be what it was meant for (Intrigue, romance, mystery, inspired atmospherically (is that a word?) themed, fantasy and period based of a medieval era).

Okay. Done.
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  #7  
Old 01-23-2012, 04:33 PM
Adalyn Adalyn is offline
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In regards to purposely misleading newly awakened chars vs turning off new players, you could have your character 'appear suspicious' and 'maliciously advise' ect... And drop an OOC line welcoming the new player. Can't you see all sorts of fun potential there?

Great thread, great topic!
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  #8  
Old 01-23-2012, 04:44 PM
Jonen Jonen is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Euphelia View Post
While I like the theme, and think it funny (the Quilp example), I sort of worry that a truly new player may be turned off by such behaviour. But anyone besides new players, I'm totally behind. Ask Keiran. Bwahaha.
Time for me to respectfully disagree here.

Now, I am totally for supporting new players, which is one of the reasons I love threads like this. I think that it is vital to the game to nurture and encourage new players, to forgive some of their faux pas, and to give them the tools needed to succeed.

However, I think that being too nice to new characters, and superficial "niceness" in general, is unhelpful to the game and tends to produce stagnation, particularly in the Outer where there are less of the twisty-turny intrigues that Ezraella's P pointed out.

Besides, oftentimes what are negative experiences for a character can be incredibly positive and growth-enhancing experiences for the player.

Let's follow this particular scenario down the rabbit hole for a bit. So sera Kaori, who is sick of needy newlies, tells sera Gullible to write to Master Quilp to get a sword, obviously setting her up for a fall. Now sera Gullible gets a chance to interact with one of the most entertaining VCs in the game, played by one of the best RPers in the game. In terms of memorable scene potential I would rather be chewed out by Quilp than go ballroom dancing with Amoret any day of the week.

So sera Gullible is now incredibly embarassed, but now she has a real bone to pick with Kaori. Kaori may be more established than Gullible, but she's not some unassailable villain like Caletus. Kaori is a very assailable nemesis. Maybe Gullible dimes her out to the Awakeners (and their rather powerful Patron) or is inspired to become an Awakener herself to warn newlies away from Kaori. Maybe she manages to incriminate Kaori with Quilp in such a way that the feisty old dwarf gives her tools for a comeuppance. Maybe she comes across a hot-headed Duelist who coaches her to challenge Kaori to a duel for violating the Virtue of Honesty. Maybe she gets some newlie friends to corner Kaori in the lecture hall and beat her black and blue.

It sparks opportunities, which in turn sparks growth, learning and roleplaying. The biggest issue most newlies seem to have isn't that other characters are jerks to them, but that they lack any sort of direction or plot hook that would compel them to log back in.
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Old 01-23-2012, 04:45 PM
Avaria Avaria is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by StaciD View Post
Usually, it doesn't take much effort to figure out something for your character to Oppose. You probably have some idea of things he or she doesn't like already, so all you have to do is focus on one that presents the most opportunities for you to act. Here's some suggestions:
  • A particular individual
  • A particular group (Duelists, Watch, Chroniclers, males in general)
  • A behavior (discourtesy, lawlessness, tea parties)
  • Nobles
  • Magic
  • Winter
  • Summer
  • The Prince
  • The Consort
  • The Queen

When you're figuring it out, keep in mind that the bigger your target (like the whole last half of the list), the more likely you're going to end up depending on Staff interaction in order to get your story told - and since the point of this essay is to suggest ways to tell stories without relying on staff, I recommend against them.*

(* Well, that's not entirely true. Do oppose any of these as your character sees fit, but a "lesser" opposition will fill in the time while you wait for the next staff move on the big ones.)

...

Anyone have thoughts and personal experiences they want to share along these lines?
General Thoughts: It's fun? Yes, it is!

Really, some of the most exciting and memorable scenes Avaria has had have come as a result of innocently (or not so innocently) taking exception with something or questioning something that was assumed to be absolute.

Tips on Opposing Big Things: Don't be afraid to do it!

While there is a general sense that opposing big, established things (like most of the latter half of Staci's list) will hinder your character forever and ever, that's not necessarily the case. That's just what they want you to think!

Do you have to put a little more thought into your methods and actions? Yes. Is your opposition going to have a big impact or make changes in the game? Maybe yes, maybe no. Are you going to be entirely reliant upon Staff to progress your opposition? NO!

Here's the thing to keep in mind. If you're going to oppose something big, find it's little parts.

For example, your character has decided to oppose Winter. That's a very big thing which will require at least some major Staff action to reach any significant resolution. Resolution, not progress; progress you can make on your own at any time. However, as big and pervasive a concept as Winter is, it has a lot of little parts. Opposing the little parts, on the whole, should not require the intervention of Staff.

How you find the little parts? Look around and pay attention. Who is most closely associated with Winter? What do they want? What sort of things do they favor? How do they go about doing what they do? Why do they think their stance is important? And so on and so forth. Investigate and attack, either subtly or overtly.

Now, all of the above can be applied to anything. Heck, it can be applied to the opposition of beets -- something which would have serious consequences within the game. Opposing the little things that are connected to your chosen big thing can not only give you something to do, but it can also help put you in a better position for those times when major, Staff-assisted plots roll in that invite opposition of that big thing.
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  #10  
Old 01-23-2012, 06:44 PM
Odjit Odjit is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Euphelia View Post
While I like the theme, and think it funny (the Quilp example), I sort of worry that a truly new player may be turned off by such behaviour. But anyone besides new players, I'm totally behind. Ask Keiran. Bwahaha.
No worries there, I am usually -very- careful with the audience when Quilp is... at his Quilpiest.
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  #11  
Old 01-23-2012, 10:45 PM
Tristana Tristana is offline
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I can only assume where this thread came from.

I used to be very opposed to conflict (ahhh nice choice of words) .
Actually I was terrified of conflict. I figured that I will lose something every time I go into one. Honestly, I figured conflicts are always a nasty thing, brutal and unpleasant IC and OOC. That was such childish thinking (granted all parties are mature).

Ever since I came back and honestly, ever since I started talking to Stace regularly, I'm learning to really enjoy and appreciate conflict. You might lose some, play your cards right and you might win some.

I often complained on boredom and she just pushed me into conflict without fair warning ... So especially those of you who are castle ancient - I am sure you have agendas. I have one char and like 12 different agendas.

Conflict is fun! Thanks Stace!
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Old 01-24-2012, 09:02 AM
StaciD StaciD is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Avaria View Post
Opposing the little things that are connected to your chosen big thing can not only give you something to do, but it can also help put you in a better position for those times when major, Staff-assisted plots roll in that invite opposition of that big thing.
Avaria nicely points out what I missed! I certainly don't won't to discourage people from getting involved in the big things.
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Old 03-19-2012, 10:38 AM
Qdee Qdee is offline
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I'd just like to take some time to address this thread again because I think it's amazing and pretty important for good storytelling.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Ezraella View Post
I am all for conflict and opposition that is well thought out. Opposition also does not have to be in-your-face, but subtle and clever (hence, intrigue!).

Also, remember that most of us pay to play this game and we are paying for co-operative RP with our fellow gamers. If you want to create conflict and opposition, do it with style, taste, tact and cooperative play!
Particularly I would like to point this out. Conflict is amazing. Conflict creates story. But doing it cooperatively and with taste is just as important, or it becomes obsolete, and, frankly, can be frustrating too. Much like running into a brick wall.

Think to yourself, how can this conflict create interesting role-play and storytelling for myself and the others involved? Cooperatively and inclusively.

If it doesn't create any role-play or storytelling, it's most likely pretty obsolete.

My two cents.
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Old 03-19-2012, 11:58 AM
dragonne dragonne is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Ezraella View Post
I agree with Euphelia about worrying.
...

Anywho, do it so that new players will be intrigued and want to play more! Not pop in, and go "Geeze, this game is stupid/immature/insert negative view here". Let's make more (new) players want to be a part of this neat community and make it awesome! We all want Marrach to be what it was meant for (Intrigue, romance, mystery, inspired atmospherically (is that a word?) themed, fantasy and period based of a medieval era).
I'd like to pop in real quick on Kaori's player's idea and say I think it's great.

While I understand that new players need guides, we shouldn't let our desire to coddle perpetuate the 'care-bear mentality', as I've seen it described.

Too often, new players enter the game and find no conflict - so they create it in romance plots. I, personally, would have been quite taken with the game if I'd been immediately thrust into conflict, as newly Gullible would be.

Perhaps we should teach new players about storytelling, particularly how to effectively utilize opposition in their roleplay - something that I think is best taught by example. They watch us, they play like us.

*immediately begins opposing things*
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Old 03-20-2012, 03:29 AM
Qdee Qdee is offline
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I would like to pose a problem and request possible ideas for the solution of the problem.

Superior A whispers to Inferior A and Inferior B, "You can't talk to sera Jane. She's trouble. If you do, you're in trouble."
Superior A leaves.
Sera Jane arrives.
Sera Jane curtsies.
Inferior A whispers to ser Bob, "Sera Jane is trouble so I can't talk to her or I'm in trouble."
Inferior A bows to sera Jane.
Ser Bob bows to sera Jane.
Inferior B bows to sera Jane.
Inferior B whispers to Inferior A and ser Bob, "I heard she stole all the potatoes."
Ser Bob whispers agreeingly to Inferior A and Inferior B, "You'll probably both be in trouble if you talk to her."
Sera Jane stands alone.

Thoughts?
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