When multiple people part of that is always a challenge. Let’s start with the reality that not everyone is going to enjoy all plots at all times. If you can’t handle people complaining about your story – whether to your face or behind your back – and being difficult. If you are running a plot for more than a very small handful of people with whom you have previous experience (as a storyteller) you are going to be the brunt of whining and foot kicking.

If that hasn’t deterred you, then keep reading.

Large scale roleplay as a group organizer is challenging, exhausting, and often thankless. However, it is a unique experience I would encourage veteran roleplayers to tackle if you want to push your storytelling abilities to the next level. Running a large plot requires a few skills you will want to polish up before you try running a large event. These skills are:

  • Reading quickly
  • Thinking on your feet
  • Handling complaints and OOC stress and confusion
  • Delegation
  • Creating interactive stories
  • Including players of multiple types

I’m going to go through this list a piece at a time. While I can’t make you able to do these things, I can at least give you some headway. Let’s start with the first item on the list.

Reading quickly is an important thing for the administrator of a plot to know. If you are running a large event you will have a lot of posts to react to coming at varying lengths and times. You will also likely be handling private messages from the people helping you run this plot and from players in the plot itself with questions, complaints, and probably idle conversation because the fact that you’re running a plot won’t make a difference to them. While you can tell the people who just want to engage in idle chatter that you’re busy, the rest of it bears your attention.

During the process of running your plot you will be the focus of many questions, complaints, and confusion. If there is combat happening you will face frustrated players whose attacks haven’t worked or why their character isn’t the star of the situation. There are many frustrations and stresses that come with handling a large-scale plot.

This brings me to the next point on the list: you have to think on your feet. Players will do and ask things that take your carefully-laid plans and turn them inside out while you watch. That means you’re going to need to be able to make adjustments on the fly. Your plot doesn’t have to fall apart at the first test, and you need to know what you’re going to do if players throw a monkey wrench into things. And they will throw a monkey wrench into things. That’s an inevitability you need to be prepared for. The answer to this is the next point.

Delegation. In order to be successful at running a plot of the magnitude I am describing, you are going to need help. This help doesn’t necessarily have to be in the form of other administrators running your plot – it can also be players you know who will help guide others down your paths or ride herd. They can be in IC positions of leadership or power (generals, kings, business owners, etc.) or even handle NPC antagonists (so you don’t have to do all the work yourself). Don’t try and do everything alone; you’re not going to be able to.

So that leaves you with the story. The biggest mistake I’ve seen in storytelling is when large plots don’t let people interact with them. It is vital to your story that you make players able to affect the plot. They need to know that their actions matter. If the plot would play out without their involvement then players have no incentive to be involved. They can sit back and watch. This is a vital step in storytelling. Do not leave your players out of the story. Even if your story has to adjust for their involvement, you must give them the feeling of purpose. Of change. Now, if you know your players well enough you should be able to plan for their decisions. But let them at least feel like they had an impact.

Finally, you need to be able look at your story and plan for multiple types of players. If you write a story that only involves one flavor of player then you exclude all other flavors. That’s no fun for the players of the excluded characters. You should have possible avenues for all styles of play. Sneaky, social, combat, magical, mundane. These are all things you need to consider when crafting your story. Providing a place for everyone means you will maximize player involvement and, in doing so maximize player enjoyment.

While this post doesn’t cover everything that could happen while running a plot, but these are – over my last seventeen or more years of roleplay – some of the things I have learned running plots for fifty or more people at a time. It isn’t easy, and if you walk into it thinking it is you are going to be met with disappointed and frustrated players. And you probably won’t be feeling amazing, yourself. Now, I don’t intend to dissuade you, but if you’re going to do this you need to know what you’re up for.

The best way to prepare for running a plot this size is get used to storytelling. Really know your story, but don’t marry yourself to all the details, since many of them are going to change as you run your players through the story. Write yourself an outline of the important points and keep your friends apprised of changes as much as possible. Communicate with them  and with your players. Most of all – have fun. If you aren’t having fun then they aren’t having fun.

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