Writing Etiquette

This is one of the few things I’m going to be sort of an asshole about, so listen up.

Text games and particularly IRC tag games give the opportunity to actually structure the game in a way that voice games don’t allow. You can compose your replies, feel elegant in a way that’s normally inaccessible in quicker-paced games. With that in mind, I think it would be cool to create something that looks like a real story with this game. My plan for each week is to play at least an hr or two of text-tag with each of you, spaced randomly throughout each week.On Saturday of each week, if I can, I’ll compile the scenes and logs of the game in a narratively interesting way— omitting the sections that are unnecessary or uninteresting, organizing different POVs so that the story flows from one character to another, possibly cutting to “flashbacks” of prelude, concluding at significant moments — such that the end result each week will be a chapter of something like a collaborative novel. During the week, you’ll obviously only understand your character(s)‘s perspective, but every Saturday, you’ll get a glimpse of how the whole story fits together. My goal here is to achieve a sort of Game of Thrones feel. The main characters only occasionally meet each other and interact, but thematically and through the larger events of the world they are all connected.

This also opens up some really cool storytelling possibilities. During a single week of play two separate PCs might get manipulated or interact with the same NPC, and each is kept somewhat in the dark as to what’s truly going on…but at the end of the week, the pieces fit together, and the players can go “OH.” without me having to do the Bond-villain-explaining-their-plan-and-motivation-for-the-audience schtick.

For example, PC A might get blackmailed and stabbed in the back by an NPC for what seems like an utterly cavalier motivation, and PC B might be tasked with guarding said NPC’s adopted family (shoutout to Monte). At the end of the week, though the PCs have separate perspectives of the same character, the players realize the actual depth of said character.

Basically, it lets me show off how artsy I can be.

“Where are you going with this, Izadore?”

Why, I’ll tell you.

In order to create a mostly consistent story and avoid the usual headaches that sometimes come with text games, I’m creating a set of rules that I’m going to be an asshole about enforcing because I think it’s worth it. Probably, I’ll subtract DEM points if you fuck up significantly and consistently, forcing me to edit content before posting on the site.

But don’t worry, none of these should be that tough.

Code of Conduct:

1. First, use third person present tense narration.

For example: “The player is slowly getting tired of the nitpicking ST. Maybe he should check out that ERP forum.” Use the format I posted in Discord. If you want a secret that you really wish to keep hidden, either for dramatic purposes or because it involves another player, write accordingly: you see it all the time in novels. Use objective language and perhaps imply at your thoughts with your actions, but leave your internal monologue inconspicuously absent.

2. Use the right chats.

I plan to use Discord for this game as it works on my phone and I can have separate chat rooms for players in an organized and efficient way. I can add and dismiss a given player to a chat at the drop of a hat. Some of you might wonder why I don’t want to use Skype, and that’s because while I love you guys as friends, I like the idea of being able to immediately know whether a message is game-related or otherwise.

I particularly prefer you guys to use the right channels for in and out of character communication. Each of your characters has a Discord channel. Ideally, these should be used purely for RP and narrative. Anything to do with questions, mechanical information, or anything that isn’t RP should go in the OOC channel. This is so I can copypaste directly from the RP channels into the site. Asking about if you can use DEM points a certain way, asking if I can roll for you, communication about what you can do in a given situation that might make sense, are all OOC topics. You can also definitely imply with your RP to get me to do something (“PC Principal studies the manuscript, scrutinizing it for any signs of microaggressive language.” would get me to roll Perception for PC Principal and reply with something like “Fortunately, the student appears to have checked his privilege so hard it hurts.”) but you can always bluntly say what you’re trying to do in the OOC channel, too.

I may also use the OOC channels to ask you what kind of scene you wish to pursue, what you want to do next, listen to what you want to do, and then provide you a prompt in the RP thread.

Speak as spoken to.

When I summarize an exchange, respond with a summary rather than line-by-line dialogue. Summaries are intended to briskly move the game along, so it defeats the point if you type your response out word-for-word. It also makes the pace and feel of the scene as a whole consistent. Don’t feel scared if you aren’t sure how I expect you to respond. I’m not your boss. ’tis fine. You can ask me in the handy OOC chat. Hell, you can type out your theoretical reply and drop it in the OOC chat so I can OK it.

Keep it short and sweet.

This is more of a general guideline, but it’s actually kind of important. I find the biggest problems in text games emerge when players contradict each other and/or the Storyteller. Not even necessarily in fact, but in theme and tone. There’s nothing wrong with having a unique voice, but keep it on your character. It’s sort of annoying if you go on a long tangent describing a room and then I have to contradict you. This is important when in a dialogue and especially when dealing with other players. Real people don’t talk for several paragraphs (at least, not if they’re good conversationalists). Provide my NPCs the opportunity to interject, provide my setting the opportunity to react to your actions. The best way of doing this is limiting yourself to one or two IDEAS per post, rather than capping length. Posts can be long, but they should deal with a single idea or a few very connected ones so I have the time to address them When talking IC, pause after an idea or two has been submitted, as opposed to a whole speech. That way dialogues resemble conversations rather than Forum debates.

Wait your turn.

This is almost purely for multiple-player interactions. Whenever there’s 2+ PCs in a scene, chats become relatively chaotic. Case in point: Caesar, Lawrence, and Heinrich/Orion visiting Dresden over text. The conversation, already intense and frantic in-game, was incredibly confusing with multiple people trying to put out their piece at once. This is avoided like so: first, by coordination. Use the OOC chats. Talk about who goes first. Decide, together, who should say what when. It’s fine to structure a scene as it happens to create a neater product. When somebody starts typing, let them finish or try and resolve the order in OOC chat. This is probably the biggest headache I hope to avoid.

Take your time.

Generally speaking, the timing of this game will be all over the place. There may be days where I’m completely unable to play. If you want to, you can probably run scenes together (within reason). But don’t feel rushed into sloppy writing. You don’t have to be Faulkner or anything, but you don’t need to rush, so say what you want to say.

Writing Etiquette

The Good, the Bad, and the Dead Jollyginger