Crafting a Story

Last week, I’d talked about the effort put into a collaborative story on one of the CoH SGs sites I’m involved with.  That’s hardly the only kind of role-playing thing I’ve been doing for the last month, though.

At the same time, I-along with the other officers there-put together a storyline for another SG, with a difference:  this was all done in-game.  And honestly?  It’s gone pretty well.

It all came about at the beginning of the month.  The SG involved had always been an RP SG, and one of the big draws on it is that we have ongoing storylines going on that we pick up on a couple nights a week.  But what was occuring to me was the fact that most of the stories we had rolling involved direct threats to the characters in the SG.  For example, my character was kidnapped, another character was possessed, another character was being singled out for psychological torture, another was nearly murdered (and one did!), etc.

Nothing wrong with these; they were decent stories-even good ones.  But…there was something I felt was missing.  CoH is a game about super heroes, at the core.  I wanted a storyline that didn’t feel so much like an SG under constant siege.  I wanted something that-for lack of a better term-would make the members feel heroic.

The plot I came up with was hardly the most original, and there are holes I could drive a truck through if I really wanted to-but that wasn’t really the point.  This was about making a fun story that-for once-didn’t directly involved any specific member of the group (and thus, didn’t require the presence of any one member-even me!).

I was helped in two major ways.  One, the membership of the SG is very flexible; with help, we were able to create a couple setting areas-which requires creating a separate SG for the base stuff.  One was a prison, the other was the front office of a tech corporation (which took on its own life, and may be involved in future stories).  I needed help to pay for the settings with the in-game building currency, and I got it.  Additionally, the members were also willing to play “NPC actors” which helped move the plot along.

The second big help was the existence of the Mission Architect-and this was a huge one.  Before it came along, any confrontations would be limited affairs-an SG against a single opponent, usually.  And it would be resolved through “text fighting”, which gives more flexibility as to a character’s capabilities, but can drag on-and it’s hard to feel a natural resolution.  With the MA, we lost the flexibility-but gained a large number of opponents, with boss fights included.

So how did it all work together?  Very nicely.  The set pieces allowed for the RP experience-interacting with another character, coordinating, allowing the members to express their personalities.  The MA missions allowed the heroes to BE heroic-beat the bad guys, and learn more of the plot.

It’s quite likely we’ll be reaching the end of this story this week, and I cautiously feel optimistic.  I feel like this month’s work has been a great success, and with that, I can finally rest easy.

Until I remember I need to figure out what to do next month.  ;)

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