Plot Legwork Primer

Legwork and You!

On Common Descent MUSH, sometimes it's necessary to hunt down leads for stories in progress or inform staff of actions you either wish to not publish on the wiki for public view OR that might not be easily conveyed in a posted log, even if you wanted to. Fortunately, we have +request!

Things often get posted on the game bulletin board that are plot bait—little clues about something going on in the greater game universe. Sometimes they hint at greater issues that aren't fully explored in the course of a GM-run scene.

Pursuing loose ends often leads to the next phase of a plot. It's also not unknown for a GM to take a player inquiry about something the GM didn't even consider a plot point initially, and turn it INTO one just to reward a player's curiosity and investment of effort. GMs like players who take the time to investigate the story, and spread it around. That's how plots gain the most momentum.

Armed with this knowledge, let's say you take a gander at recent rumors or posts and discover something that looks suspicious or vague to you. It could be something big. (It could also turn out to be nothing, but you won't know if you don't investigate, right?) What do you do?

Legwork!

How to Submit Legwork Requests

It is usually unproductive to send a +request or @mail that just says, 'Hi, I'm hoping to look into the rumor post about the Sneeblewhatsit! Can you tell me what I need to do?'

Instead, be as specific as possible about what you're trying, and at least initially varied in your approach.

Think about the resources your character has. Think about their skills, and the circumstances of the thing you're investigating. For example:

  • Are there people who might have witnessed the event that you could interview persuasively, or through intimidation?
  • Are you a hacker with the ability to access security cameras in the area, and obtain footage of something that happened?
  • Are you good at researching in libraries?
  • Do you have contacts in the underworld?
  • Can you research the corporation's public financials, or monitor one of its executives?

Some of the things you may want to try could be really difficult or dangerous, in which case the GM will get back to you and tell you that you'll probably need help. Do you have friends to bring in on challenging rolls? Assisting rolls is key, and it gives you the opportunity to RP with a bunch of people about what you're planning to do, and then RP the actual attempt. RP is good!

Try things. Try ''many different things'', according to what makes sense for your character. You might be surprised what comes back with a promising lead.

If you haven't submitted legwork requests before, you might feel that you've hit a wall at this point. This is because your first request is usually only a ''starting point''. You need to do more. Question what the GM sends you. Keep picking at it. RP about it with other people! Sometimes the GM has given many different people different pieces of the same puzzle, and—by spreading the love around—you not only increase your chances of putting the puzzle together, but you pull in people who have skills you may not have to investigate, too. And, if you don't succeed, someone else might have better luck!

With legwork, it's not just about asking questions. It's about knowing ''how'' to ask, and ''which questions'' to ask. Sometimes you just have to keep throwing stuff out there until something sticks.

Keep in mind, though, that staff is sometimes overwhelmed by the numbers of requests that come in, so please try to be patient if it takes a little bit to get your +request answered.

Scene +requests

Sometimes, you need a specific sort of scene for your character's arc, or you just really have a hankering for a specific kind of scene, but you aren't sure that you are capable of running it yourself — or would really like to just be on the player end of things. On CDMUSH, you can submit a +requests for a scene that TP/RP staff can pick up and run for you.

Maybe you're a sorcerer who needs to obtain spell components, for instance, or you've been told you need to earn advanced equipment through RP. But that isn't its only application (and really, people shouldn't just ask for loot runs all the time, that's silly). So what can you ask for?

Just about anything you need a GM for, really. You need a general concept, should include what you're trying to achieve and a little bit about why you want the scene, and provide a few suggestions about possible outcomes—at least one of which should be fail state.

If you don't provide at least one way in which your PC (or the group of PCs) could fail at the objective, the GM will just figure one out and add that in themselves. ;) This is extra-true for anything that might result in your PC obtaining valuable loot. The cooler the reward, the tougher the scene, probably.

Final caveat about this process: you may experience some some waiting-period before we can run your scene(s), and scheduling gets more difficult with the more people involved. We're happy to do this stuff for you, but doing a formal request and then having a little bit of patience goes a long, long way.

Getting Involved/RP

Most people on this game probably have no problem with this. If you have more RP than you can shake a stick at and feel as though your character has traction, then this section is not for you! Enjoy the rest of your day!

If you struggle to get involved in things that are going on or feel stymied, this may be of some assistance. Here are some suggestions as to how to embed yourself in the story — things that have worked for myself and friends of mine, and will probably also work for you.

Actively support other people's stories.

Showing an interest in and actively supporting other people's stories are probably two biggest things to practice. We all come here to RP our own characters, but focusing on your own story will only take you so far. The world of the MUSH is populated by other characters who directly impact our own story. They are the dynamic forces that change our character's lives. The more you invest in them, the more they will invest in you. Building history and experiences with other characters means establishing emotional context IC that will resonate on all events to happen in the future, deepening the nuances of your character's story.

More simply, though, people appreciate the time you take to lift their characters up and help them to really shine. If you do this, you'll often find that they won't hesitate to do the same for YOUR story. This is a give and take environment, but it tends to go that the more you give, the more you are given. You no longer need to TAKE anything.

Be courteous OOC.

Treat people with respect. Do not constantly complain. Do not constantly attack people OOC for their faction loyalties, even if Imperials are stereotypically baby-murdering bad guys and Jedi are stereotypically whitehats prone to hubris and independents are stereotypically promiscuous ne'er-do-wells. Players are not their characters.

Generally speaking, just try to be someone that people like to have around. God knows we all have bad days, and none of us are perfect beings. We make mistakes and get cranky about game stuff. Just spend some time thinking about how you're perceived by others. Exercise that empathy muscle. Would you want them around, if they behaved the way you do? Frustrating behavior is exhausting, and even though in a perfect world all IC developments would be determined by IC events, sometimes people will just flat-out avoid someone who grates on them. We're only human, after all.

Share.

It doesn't always make sense to share everything—there are secrets out there that have to remain secret, and sometimes you can use information as a tool or a piece of currency. Hoarding secrets, plot-points, and other story doodads to yourself isn't going to win you many friends, though. Sometimes it's worth it to take a risk and bring someone into your story, even if it places your character in danger, because it spreads the RP love around. Find a way to pull people into what you're doing, and the good ones will find a way to return the favor down the road.

Be proactive: Go out there and do things.

Don't wait for plotpoints and stuff to happen to you. ''Go make some.'' Run a scene, even if it's just a small one. Throw a party. Give other people a platform for having fun, and you will have fun. Chase leads, even if they don't come to anything. Don't be afraid to instigate. Meddle. Stick your nose into things (being careful, of course—but taking risks is an important part of doing great things).

Make your own fun, and have an IC agenda.

If all of your satisfaction on the game comes from outside sources, you'll spend a lot of time waiting around for things to happen to you, or other characters to provide your character with what they need to evolve as people. It's important for characters to have long-term goals—things they can't achieve immediately, but have to slowly work toward. Short-term goals are great, but they're not a sustained trajectory, and they don't provide a constant source of drive for a character. A long-term agenda is slow-burning fuel that can give you reasons to get involved in all ''kinds'' of RP, and it doesn't depend entirely on other people to move forward.

And that's one of the other secrets of mushing: people are drawn to characters that have their own momentum. It's compelling, and it inspires people to get caught up in what someone else has going on, because it's interesting. We all play these games to be entertained, and characters who have an active existence and steady momentum are extremely entertaining.

We hope that this is helpful information. If you have any questions about any of this, feel free to ask! Good luck out there, and happy RPing!

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