May Q&A – Quest Involvement Writeup

by Iskvarren on May 4, 2012

in Instructional, Q&A

May’s Q&A focused on how players can get involved in quests.  We talked about the specifics of RP nights and went over some examples of how a character can respond to a quest hint in different exploratory ways.  Much of the event was like an interactive seminar with some general questions at the end.

I’m not sure how RP nights work. It’s first come first serve, right? If we want to do something, we have to wait in line then?
RP night is time we’ve set aside in our schedules to puppet mobs for you guys so you can continue and investigate quests.  You can go get confirmation or more information about the leads you’ve found. Test the theories you’ve been making.  All you have to do is go to where you want to RP and then send a tell to the staff member in charge that night.

You don’t have to worry about us being busy because we’ve set aside that time specifically for you. You can ask us to help with anything where it would be unfair for you to determine the outcome yourself.  For example, if you talked to a mob from a staff plot, you wouldn’t have the right to make up what it said to you by yourself or else you would be manipulating our plot for yourself.

The thing about the first-come, first-served bit is that there’s only one of us available on each night, so we need you to send us a tell so we A) know to come RP with you and B) can help everyone in the order they ask us to come RP.

It normally falls on the weekends, doesn’t it?
The times for RP night are continuously updated at the bottom of HELP RP NIGHTS.  Usually there’s two times per week: one on the weekend and one on a weekday.

There are in-game plots?
Yes.  There are two immortal-run plots going on right now.  We try to get a lot of people involved, so you should keep your eyes peeled.  See also: The later note on MOTD.

Let’s move on and talk about plots and the general flow of them.
The easiest way to start a plot is for us to have something unusual happen.  Hopefully, something that makes people want to go ask questions and figure out what’s going on.  For example, a giant snowstorm might cover Seria in snow when there’s never been snow in the city before. You might get a mob muttering about losing something. These cues aren’t intended to be hidden or hard to notice.

Is there ever a definite ending to the plot already from the very beginning?
For some plots, yes.  For some plots, no.  We don’t script everything beforehand.  RP is coming up with the concept, then throwing it out and letting people interact with it as they see fit.  We take into account a lot of how players respond to the initial concept.  Although we usually have an ending in mind, it’s generally a flexible ending, or it’s very open as to how players get there.  Sometimes we incorporate character speculation (“Maybe such and such happened.”) and that changes the storyline.  Characters’ decisions shape the endings of plots and often the reward they might receive.  If we run a plot and you have to investigate to get prizes, and then an entire group doesn’t do any of that, we won’t twist the plot to give them freebie prizes at the end.

I, as a new player, have little to no idea what plot is going on or where in the story we are. Is there something I’m missing… like a mail or a notice?
Sometimes there’s mails out, but it’s less consistent plot to plot.  We may mail out as an NPC sometimes, like when we started up the plot with Farmer Mack.  You may also have mails about plot if a player has mailed to a city.  A more reliable way to know what’s going on is to look at the message of the day (that screen you see when you log in, accessible with the “MOTD” command), which we try to keep updated with bits of generally-known information about whatever’s going on.  You can use the information in MOTD as publicly known information and ask questions about that to get involved.  HELP PLOT UPDATES has more focused, but sort of OOC hints on certain plot goals.

Of our two metaplots, one of them is more focused towards groups in Seria, and the other one has been giving cues to almost everyone we can catch online. We actually have a pretty low response rate even if we give direct cues to one person alone in a room.  I’d like to pose a question here. Why might you not respond to a direct echo in a room while you’re alone?
Some answers we got from players:

  • botting (bad!)
  • spellspam
  • not paying attention
  • nodding off at the keyboard
  • don’t know how to respond
  • think it’s something that happens in the area

My only real comment on this is if you’re in the game, you should be attentive.  If someone’s tried for 15 minutes to get you to respond and you haven’t noticed, you’ve wasted that person’s 15 minutes.  We might also suspect that you’re botting.  If you genuinely aren’t interested in RPing, you can do something to signal this such as looking at <whatever> disdainfully and walking away, or thinking about going somewhere quieter and leaving.  That’s more helpful to us than ignoring RP.  I’ll be able to know for sure you didn’t miss it and now I can go on to someone else.  We decided to go with not knowing how to respond for the rest of our sort-of seminar.

If we’re unsure about whether it’s a quest prompt rather than an atmosphere message, is it okay to ping over the question channel and ask?
My suggestion is to respond to it.  If it responds to you, it’s probably not random.  We’d rather see you respond because if you’re not sure, then it’s still something strange to your character so you should react anyway.

Let’s say I am a new character, maybe not even a new player. I may not want to RP my new character with the staff if I haven’t really thought about their personality.  Maybe I’m afraid to look silly if I decide on a different personality a little later?
This wasn’t mentioned at the Q&A so much because our question was directed towards why experienced players on old characters might ignore RP cues.  Our event cues aren’t meant to grill you on your backstory.  When you created, you chose an alignment, race, and a class.  You should be able to come up with a minimal response since it doesn’t take much to wonder why something weird happened or pick up things that fall on the ground.

Let’s talk about ways to respond to strange things.
Players mentioned running away out of fear or wanting to kill any creature that appeared.  While these may seem reasonable, both of them will likely terminate any quest possibilities immediately.  If all you do is run away, we can’t tell if you’re ignoring it, missed it, or genuinely scared; it can help to yell, think, or say something if you choose this route.  It may also lead to interesting RP if you tell others about the terrifying thing you found in the woods.

We looked to other responses.
There are two primary ways that people emote to respond to things if it’s not killing or running away.  1) Emote staring/watching to see if something else happens. 2) Try to get it to do something by poking it with a stick.  Watching is okay once or twice, but it’s hard in general to RP if all you get in response to something you do is “em watches.”  If you’re talking to someone and they just “em watches you talk,” the RP is going to end pretty quickly.

We went to some concrete examples so players would have something to brainstorm around.  They are as follows:
Example 1: The Demon Sheep

A BLINDING BOLT OF PURPLE LIGHT ERUPTS FROM THE GROUND and leaves behind a small sheep in its wake.

A sheep baaaaas.

“What do you do?”

Suggestions: “Poke it with a stick,” “Kill’it. It’s clearly an abyss-spawned demon.”  We went with:

Lyseri watches a sheep.

A sheep chews on the grass as its eyes glow an evil red.

Elana edges away from a sheep.

Lyseri says in common, in light tones, ‘So watching isn’t bad, but the sheep isn’t going to do anything else. What else could you do?’

Lyseri says in common, in light tones, ‘Watching has served a use to give you another clue about the sheep, but what can you do afterwards to learn more?’

“If it just baas, I would pet it.”
“React like normal? Shield eyes from light, see sheep, scan area for more demon sheep. Prepare to run away like a bitch.”
“Clearly it just has pink-eye and needs medical attention.”
“I will let the avian pet it first… if it pulls back an intact wing, I will just watch from the sideline.”
“Possessed sheep = hit squad. Or an exorcist. Probably both.”
“Cast sleep.”
“Feed it.”
“I would LOOK at the sheep, and carefully read the description, to make sure its eyes are not glowing red, or purple, like the bolt it came out of… etc…”

Lyseri says in common, in light tones, ‘These are all really good suggestions.’

You say in common, in a listless drawl, ‘Let’s pick one and do it.’

Lyseri says in common, in light tones, ‘The point is to do something that’s going to elicit action instead of just watching it chew more grass.’

We fed it a blood spring.

You utter the words, ‘blood spring’.
A fountain of blood flows from the ground.

Iskvarren makes a fountain of blood near a sheep, then edges away quickly.

A sheep lifts its head, sniffs at a fountain of blood, and moves over to drink deeply.

As a sheep drinks it begins to grow and its fleece begins to darken to a rusty red color.

Now what?  Responses: “RUN!” “Claim it.” “Make it sleep!”  We went ahead and tried to put it to sleep, but it attacked and got stunned.

Katja reaches out to get some wool off the demon sheep.

Elana gathers some wool off the sleeping sheep.

Lyseri says in common, in light tones, ‘What do you want to do with our immobilized sheep now that we have a specimen from it?’

Suggestions: claim it, kill it, get a necromancer to send it back to the abyss, lock it up and teach it to eat your enemies, raise it as a zombie.

Lyseri says in common, in light tones, ‘Let’s say we herd it somewhere to teach it to later feast upon our enemies.’

Lyseri purges a sheep.

What we’ve done is interacted with the strange thing and retrieved something that can help us investigate it further.  Maybe you want to take that nice piece of wool to the Tower of the Arcane and ask one of the mages about its magical properties.  On RP night, you might go “I got this off of a demon sheep, what can you tell me about it?”

Example 2: Falling Shingles

People were much better at coming up with ideas now.

Lyseri says in common, in light tones, ‘What if you’re walking along a nice street in Seria one day and suddenly a bunch of shingles fall off the roof and almost hit you?’

With a soft rattle, the shingles on a nearby building slide off the roof and land with a loud *crash* at your feet!

 Rythe looks up at the roof to see if anyone is there.

Zihin emits a loud hiss as he shuffles hastily to the side in an attempt to avoid the falling shingles.

Lyseri says in common, in light tones, ‘Okay. Let’s say you jump back and look up to see why the shingles are falling off at you.’

 A dark figure is momentarily backlit by one of the moons before a cloud blocks the light.

 Zihin says in common, in a low-pitched gravelly voice, speaking in a slow and deliberate manner, ‘Levitate myself and the mammoth and pursue said figure.’

You say in common, in a listless drawl, ‘Could you yell at him?’

You say in common, in a listless drawl, ‘If you couldn’t levitate?’

Zihin thinks in common ‘Hey, you…stop…or I’ll disrupt the energy around your face.’

 Rythe yells in common, in a low, calm voice, ‘You there what business do you have on that roof?’

The figure jumps to another roof and small piece of paper falls from its pocket, drifting down to the street below as the figure vanishes deeper into the city.

At this point, everyone went and picked up the paper.

Rythe picks up the paper and begins inspecting it.

Nozeraak quickly glides forward, using his small wings for thrust. He deftly snatches the paper.

Though torn and worn, the sigil of Seria’s armor shop is clearly visible on a corner of the paper.

So now you have another clue and something else you can go investigate.  If we’re running the plot right then, you can investigate right then.  If we don’t want to puppet further, we’ll say “You can investigate more on RP night.”  You could go to the armor shop now, and maybe it’s mysteriously closed and we say come back on RP night, or maybe we puppet the mob for you to ask questions then.  Either way, you have a lead to investigate.  We usually use non-RP nights to give you leads, then RP nights for you to explore yourself.  You can choose not to pursue a lead, but we might give it 2-3 tries before deciding you really don’t care and then go on to someone else.

Example 3: Injured Bird

You’re in Center of Seria.  A rainbow-colored bird crashes on the ground.

A bright multi-colored bird flops around squawking, one of its wings dragging uselessly behind it.

You say in common, in a listless drawl, ‘What can you do?’

Take it to the temple to have it healed.
See if it’s related to an avian you know.
Stare and poke it with a stick.
Eat it.
Take it and try to sell it.

Lyseri says in common, in light tones, ‘I do want to say that staring is generally less useful than other available options.  If it’s squawking around and injured and you stare, it’s probably just going to keep squawking around injured.’

Rythe says in common, in a low, calm voice, ‘Think this example would vary greatly depending on the character. good characters would try to get it aid, evil characters may just watch it struggle til it dies.’

You say to Rythe in common, in a listless drawl, ‘Even if you’re evil, you can sell it for gold.’

You say in common, in a listless drawl, ‘Let’s try Elana’s scenario.  She takes it to Marissa, who heals it and says it’s weird that this bird is in Alandis, because it’s from Haphen.’

You say in common, in a listless drawl, ‘What could you do?’

Take it to Haphen, or chain it up in the throne room.
Find a ‘bird’ person to find out why the bird could possibly be in Seria.
See if there’s more of them around the area, maybe there’s a sudden migration or something.

I’d investigate about their origin, and possible reason for why it would be there. Then it be off to geta raft for haphen to find out more.
Tie a necklace to it, release and monitor through locate item spells.

You say in common, in a listless drawl, ‘Let’s name some people you might ask about birds or migration or whatever.’

Anyone who might have knowledge of rare or strange birds. probably start at arcane tower, or find a known ranger or some such.
Avian pigeonkeeper atop the apartments.
Pet store.

This is what we mean when we’ll adapt to how you decide to RP. This could end lots of ways. You can follow up on any of those paths to find out more information.  Now back to questions:

Tell us about rewards for participating in plots.
It really depends on the plot.  The little ones will give you rpool/level and possibly a small restrung item.  Sometimes we’ve given away bags with good reduction on them for participating in a small plot.  For bigger plots we give out nice equipment and things like that.  If we give you 2 months to do something, you’ll get very nice rewards.  A long plot will reward you along the way because they’re frameworks for lots of miniplots, so the more you participate, the more rewards you get.

How do the rewards from long plots compare to items from mobs?
We don’t give you things you can get off of mobs, but we often provide things that you can’t get in the game.  The things we hand out aren’t overpowered based on item standards but they’re often of comparable niceness to gear from supermobs.  For winter quest, we gave out fire damage type weapons that had a chance to increase fire vuln per hit. Most of them don’t exist in other forms in the game.

Are players permitted to come up with plots that we could ask for imm assistance on? Or should we leave all those up to you?
We encourage you to run your own plots and adventures.  Of course, be sensible.  Since you’re making up a premise, you shouldn’t use a plot to handwave a huge advantage or a huge penalty. For example, you wouldn’t run a plot where mobs are poisoned and they point fingers at the enemy clan.  And as always, if you like running plots, we encourage you to join RP Team.

Are there exceptions to this? For example… if I have a plot idea with someone else? Or is this even allowed?
It doesn’t matter how many people are involved in a plot.  Mostly be sensible.  We won’t let you run a plot that ends up with you finding an imaginary super god weapon.  You can try to find it and change the ending, but we’re not going to create one and give it to you.  Don’t handwave a magic powder that resolves the current metaplot.  If you’d like to run your own plots, see the second-to-last paragraph in this.  You can run quests without being RP team.  There are limits on what you can do with them, but you don’t need mobs puppetted or big echos for a lot of things.

Would the number of people involved with a custom plot affect whether we might get help?
Any number of people can participate.  One person can do something for himself.  If you want to draw attention to it, announce it and we’ll post it on the website.  It can be IC or it can be OOC.  Part of what RP night is for is if you need things puppetted for a little quest, you can ask us to do that, too.  We won’t do things that are like “I wore this cursed necklace and I want a handwavy spell to get it removed,” but we will provide help if you’re searching for why this glowy star you found fell out of the sky.

Something that has bothered me slightly, for a LONG time.  when trying to find armor items, it is sometimes difficult to find an item for a specific slot, cause nothing really says where it goes.
Most things you can guess. A hat goes on the head, a robe goes on body or torso. If it’s on a mob, you can look and see where it’s on the mob.  If you see a mob wearing a piece of equipment where it shouldn’t, tell us so we can fix it.  Some items are slotted a bit badly, such as cloaks (half on neck, half on body), and robes (half on body, half on torso).  Maybe we’ll revisit a shop peruse command.

I’m still curious about potential ideas for visardi revamping. The all languages is very useful for RP, but everyone has some sort of attack thing.
We haven’t gotten to visardi.  If you like, you can start a brainstorming thread for visardi racials like how there’s a taurlok one.  It’s better than everyone showing up and nobody having ideas.



Thanks to everyone for coming.  Lyseri will hand out the door prizes when she remembers.  Hopefully you found this Q&A session helpful!

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