29 Jul 2016

potatodialogues: (Default)
This blog will discuss random thoughts on my tabletop activities in particular, and life in general.

In the last year (well, less, more like eight months), I've met more new people than I expected to do so at my age, and became extremely engrossed in tabletop as a hobby. So much so that discussions of it have become a constant in my day to day interactions with friends -- discussions lead to ideas that need to be articulated, and so here we are.

Social media websites like Facebook lack a certain archival ability to them because they're largely meant as a memory dump with not many features to enable reflection, which is why I'm always reluctant to put anything there that I would like to read back on later. And, well, I was lazy to make my own website, so here I am, returning to Dreamwidth.

The question, I suppose, is why the new account? There's nothing wrong with [personal profile] yukitsu, and in fact it has nothing in it to even clean up, but compartmentalizing my fandom life from the rest of my existence seems appropriate and, also, just easier for everyone involved.

A recent discussion on Nosfecatu's blog reminded me of the days I had as a moderator for a rather large LJ/DW roleplaying game. In his article, Nosfecatu talks about the GM's role to facilitate communication in the table to ensure that everyone is on the same page. This is a great thing to remember, and applicable to all settings.

For example! I actually spent many years in both Livejournal and Dreamwidth roleplaying characters in various games. Text-based journal games do not necessarily have anything in place to systematically facilitate conflict, challenges, and obstacles, so playing in them required a constant stream of communication for the narrative to work for everyone involved in the scene. A game could have anywhere from four to a couple of hundred players, each armed with a multitude of characters using multiple accounts (akin to individuals who own their own spaces, really). There were no gamemasters, only fellow players who handled the administrative side of the game, and in some cases, to come up with the setting, events, and the highest level of overarching plot for the rest of the players to play in.

Interaction could be random: I often made "setting" posts to explain the time and overarching plot for the event and let everyone break off into threads that were planned between players or entirely spontaneous. Characters painstakingly interacted with each other, had romance and conflict, and fought monsters that the players themselves often controlled. Players inflicted puzzles and problems on their characters with the fervor of writers who liked to make their favorites suffer. In all of this, most beginnings and outcomes were simply determined by talking to and collaborating with fellow players.

It could get messy, but it could also work like a disciplined machine depending on the culture cultivated from group to group. And in all of them, the rules were typical: keep OOC drama out of IC interactions, communicate with your fellow players, and don't be a dick. Somehow, this all just worked. Some games are more successful than others, of course, and there will always be drama when you put more than a few people into the same space, but in my experience it is entirely possible to wrangle a community of sixty players into being mostly nice and considerate to each other.

An interesting dynamic to journal-based RPGs is how everyone goes at a thread at their own pace, and can participate in multiple threads regardless of completion of their current ongoing ones. I have had threads that took months and months to complete owing to timezones and simply a disparity in writing speed. This means that in order for me to keep "up to date" with the constant stream of new events and happenings in the game and still reflect that scene in my character's narrative in more current activity, I had to actually discuss and agree on scene outcomes without yet roleplaying them.

I find it a fascinating mechanism of collaboration and very different to other RPGs, now that I've spent the past few years heavily invested in pen and paper games -- hours upon hours of sitting at the table with a group of friends, having fun exploring the world as it is presented and created. It may be the modicum of anonymity and comfort provided by the Internet that may not be present when you have to actually meet a person face to face in order to even play games, but upon comparing my experience of facilitating communication between journal players and tabletop players, I find that it's actually just a little easier to handle the former. There are less factors involved in trying to get your thoughts across, I suppose. Less of a personality to watch out for and constantly assess. People are actually really awkward in real life!

At the end of the day, I suppose what I am saying is that both are collaborative activities that benefit from open and considerate communication between the parties involved. They have their ups and downs, and I have taken from either experiences different things, but I can't say I would have had fun without being able to create something with someone else, as an involved and invested party.