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Wed Dec 28, 2016 3:18 am by Sentinel

Hi all,

We're aware of a peculiar forum glitch that's causing some subforums to be locked.

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A Thought on Character Interactions and Character Arches

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A Thought on Character Interactions and Character Arches

Post by Michael DeathFlame on Thu Feb 04, 2016 8:11 pm

Before I begin, I'd just like to get two quick things out of the way. Firstly, I'm still concussed, so this all might come out in a jumbled, confusing mess. I apologize in advance if that happens. Secondly, whatever I say is in no way openly or discreetly pointing out members or RPGs in a negative fashion. Most of the things I'll be thinking/talking about are things I've seen all over the place, both here and on Central, including in my own roleplaying. This is by no means a criticism of anyone's writing or thoughts. If it comes across that way at all, I also really apologize for that. I don't want this to come across as shunning anyone, or like I'm trying to educate you or anything. It was just something I thought about, and wondered what everyone else thought about my thought... yeah, once again, I'm concussed. Sorry.

Anyways, enough rambling. Most people here know I was heavily involved in the Hunger Games roleplays on Central; most of my time spent roleplaying was on those threads. As the RPGs went on, you generally could tell who the good characters were based on whether or not they were involved in some sort of arch, ie they were a piece in the creator's larger picture. This obviously wasn't always the case; some of my favorite characters created by other roleplayers weren't involved in some large, overarching plot line. They were just solid, awesome characters. But generally the more well-thought out characters were involved in these big arches, and towards the end of the roleplay there were a bunch of those going on.

That seems to happen on CC as well, based solely on the RPGs I've been a part of. I'll use IR as an example, mostly because I've spent the most time there and because more people have been a part in it here over something like Hunger Games. IR (obviously) is a really awesome RPG, and a lot of the big characters in IR are involved in similarly big arches. Which is awesome. Arches definitely bring a lot to the table, and spice of the RPG. I myself am constructing an arch in IR in particular. And I definitely enjoy creating that arch, watching it happen, and watching other people get their arches spinning as well.

However, I was thinking all that over a bit while I was thinking up stuff in IR2. When I'm creating this arch, what story am I trying to tell... a subset of the larger story of IR, or my own story that just so happens to be in IR?

Let me explain that a bit. Most of us here are, in some way, writers. I mean, we all roleplay via writing, so we all share that in common. When we roleplay, as you know, we're all writing one, big story together. Which is awesome, absolutely awesome. A lot of us would also consider ourselves authors, in that we write our own stories or novels on the side. I'm one of those people. I personally wrote my own stories before I came to roleplaying; I consider myself an author first, and then a roleplayer second, just because I spend a lot more time writing my own stuff. Obviously these two things often interact with each other nicely. I mean, roleplaying is essentially just writing a story, as I said above. The big difference lies in the fact that when you're writing your own story, it's yours. It's no one else's. It's your characters, your plot, your world, your baby. You're a single parent with one child, and you're doing your best to raise that child to be the best that they can be. With roleplaying, though, you're not the only one telling the story. Rather, you and everyone around you are adding certain elements to create a solid, sound story. In this, it's more like you're in a poly-amorous marriage with a bunch of different kids, and you're all trying to get these kids to be the best glee club in America (I don't even watch Glee, not entirely sure why I made that reference).

Let's keep that stupid roleplaying analogy that I made up. When I'm creating arches (particularly right now in IR), I'm worried that I'm just trying to help one of those kids in the glee club sing better so that they could go on and do a killer solo someday. Depending on how good I am at my job, that kid might go on to become a great solo artist. And, sure, by making them a better solo singer that makes them a better singer in general, so they're still technically making the glee club better. But I'm focusing on them, and not the entire club. Instead of trying to teach them how to be a better member of the club, I'm focusing solely on them and ignoring the rest of the club, hoping that by focusing on this one kid the club will benefit.

Essentially I'm afraid I focus on my arches over interacting with other characters in the RPG and driving forward the general story. Sure, by creating this great character with a great arch, naturally your character interactions will be more natural and fun to watch. I'm just afraid that I might put too much emphasis on my own plot, and in doing so take time away from interacting with other characters and creating interesting, unique relationships with other characters in the roleplay. Sometimes, I'm not sure if the RPG is a bunch of people helping to tell a story, or a bunch of people making their own stories and hoping that the conglomeration of these stories creates something good.

I guess my question is... do you agree? Do you think we sometimes lean too heavily on creating our own character arches? It's totally possible that I'm just thinking too much about it, or that everyone thinks otherwise. Which is fine, of course. I'm just curious. If you agree or disagree, I'd love to hear why. Not so that I can argue right back at you or pat my ego, just because I'm genuinely interested what you all think about it.

Once again, I definitely didn't mean any offense to anyone. The only reason I used IR specifically as an example is because it's the only RPG that I've really been a longish-time member in. I don't mean to offend Hermy or anyone else who is involved in IR, or anyone else in CC for that matter. If you felt attacked or insulted at any point during this post, I really do apologize.
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Re: A Thought on Character Interactions and Character Arches

Post by Comrade Squid on Thu Feb 04, 2016 8:20 pm

Well, I don't play in IR... but yes, I do agree. A lot of us have our own ideas in mind and essentially try to force those ideas into fruition, sometimes alienating other players. I know this because I myself have been especially guilty of this and have been trying to rectify it.

It's only natural, though, and I really don't see much of a way to prevent it.
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Re: A Thought on Character Interactions and Character Arches

Post by Omni on Thu Feb 04, 2016 8:28 pm

I'd definitely have to agree, at least in IR's case. The other major RPs, I think, aren't nearly as focused on plot-driven narrative arches as they are character-driven arcs, which tend to be somewhat more flexible--at least, not as much on a player-by-player level, and at least in my case, I've had pretty good success tying my overarching plans for both Anaphora and Fairy Tail to others' characters (with permission, of course) and larger story arcs within the RP to make what I'm doing much more of an organic part of the game, and I'm confident I should be able to pull that off with IR2 as well, which is where things really get going for me. I've found that it's usually helpful to approach others with your ideas and proposed interactions, especially the leaders of the RP you're working in, and to encourage others to come to you with their ideas as well; that way, the whole process becomes far more collaborative, and consequently more interesting to all involved.
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Re: A Thought on Character Interactions and Character Arches

Post by Sentinel on Thu Feb 04, 2016 8:58 pm

I think that's the biggest regret I've had so far in IR.

I love my subplot. I'm so glad to have established a certain history with my characters and have them connected to each other in some way, and I think that's one of the reasons IR is so successful - the innate ability to be open-ended with things like that. But the only other plot connection to a different character other than my own is probably with Kane's, and this is prior to the actual events of the RPG. I kind of regret not having my villains interact more with the Row as a whole - actually scratch that, I really regret it. Which is why I plan for my next villain to interact with much more characters, while keeping my next arch as a whole related to the previous one.

But I totally get it. Using what I've learned in IR1, I'm hoping to expand upon my overall plot and tie it in with the Row much more in IR2. I think part of the reason I kept my characters to themselves this time around is because I didn't know what everyone else was doing, or I didn't want to seem like I was stepping over some kind of boundary by introducing my villains as part of the "main cast," so I subconsciously made my arches more personal. Quite honestly, I'm glad someone brought this up, because I kind of felt this way for a while - since at least Renaissance.

And thank you, Michael, for being respectful about it. I know our subplots mean a lot to ourselves, so approaching something like this might touch some nerves. But it's certainly nothing to feel ashamed about - in fact, if anything, it's natural, like PyRobot said. It's just a generally good idea to be aware of it.
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Re: A Thought on Character Interactions and Character Arches

Post by Mythie on Thu Feb 04, 2016 10:51 pm

I Roleplay in a very reactive sense. I'm lazy af and most of the time that lazyness means I don't go out of my way to plan some huge plot with my characters only interacting with various others of my characters and NPC's. I find the fun in interacting with other people and partly the element of surprise when you don't know what is going to happen next (though a loose plot is always important). So I guess this doesn't really apply for me. This also cross applies to the fact that I try not to have more than 2 or 3 characters in a given rpg because I want to make sure that I don't ignore them. (Yes I'm looking at you Fawn).

But yeah, while I enjoy interacting with others most the individual/ side plots that people come up with in various rpg's never cease to amaze me. One of the things that I often find myself wishing is that I could write one of those someday but that just leads me back to the opening of this post. I'm lazy af.
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Re: A Thought on Character Interactions and Character Arches

Post by Salphirix on Fri Feb 05, 2016 5:47 am

I know I personally tend to go that route, especially because when I have multiple characters which makes me connect them all to some storyline or plot. I know this happened in IR with Caroline, Keiran, and Melana because I connected them all through my own little story and never really found an opening to interact with a lot of people. This also happened/happens in Anaphora where I sort of secluded myself in Avaditas for Charitia's own thing. I think I'm making up for it with Nivia though, who actually is one of my characters who isn't tied down to a sub plot or anything. . . But yea I understand and see where you're coming from.

I guess that's why in IR2 I don't have an actual subplot planned out and I'm going to try to do a lot more character interaction outside mine. . . Not sure how well it'll go or if I'll just revert back to my own subplot. . . Idk, I'll see how it goes because to make the character interaction a thing it revolves around how everyone treats it rather than just one of us. . . Idk if I'm making sense so I'll hush now, lol.

But yea, I agree with you. It's something I need to work on myself.
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Re: A Thought on Character Interactions and Character Arches

Post by Athena Lionheart on Fri Feb 05, 2016 11:22 am

I tend to lean the other way, not doing enough for my characters outside of the given story. When I do plan things, it's usually conditional: if this happens, this will be the result. I've found that to work fairly well, but it's far from perfect. I can be too passive.

I think it's all just a matter of balance. Sometimes, we misjudge the world or the characters and overshoot one way or the other. Both extremes can be bad. We can't have all reactors, or all people trying to tell their own story. As long as we're more aware of each other, I think it'll be better. Thanks for this post, Mike.
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