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Foxfire and Afira's Handbook to Role-Playing

As previously mentioned, a storyline is like a script for actors in a movie. A storyline functions as a guide to what you wish to accomplish during a session, or several hundred sessions of roleplaying. However, more times than not, certain parts will be edited, left out, or just plain changed to help move the plot along. Don't get frustrated if this happens to you! Be versatile, and learn to adapt to it.

Where do I start?
Itís easy-first, you will need to determine if you want to have a main storyteller (usually for table-top roleplaying games like Vampire), or if you want to set a scene, and roleplay action from there (the method most commonly used for online gaming). If you choose to have a main storyteller, then you need to sit down with the storyteller, and establish what sorts of scenes, and conflicts you would like to have. This helps the storyteller create a world that is suitable to you, and your character, as well as helping you to enjoy the game. If you opt to set a scene, and determine the storyline yourself, ask yourself if you want the storyline to explain why your character is the way they are-a historical or personal narrative storyline, or if you want the storyline to change who your character is, and will be-a transformational storyline.

Secondly, look at the situation you want to create, based on the types of characters you want to be involved. If you wish to have gigantic hairy trolls learning how to ballet dance, thatís fine, but consider the limitations that may create. Choose something that would be pertinent to the time, place, or character attributes. Also, always make sure to design the storyline to help characters change or grow by creating conflict, challenges, and even friendships. Ask yourself, what do I want to do or accomplish? Establish a basic plan, and begin to flesh it out by adding what you know has to be accomplished. Do you have to find a specific artifact, or thing? Do you have to meet someone who alters your life? Remember your high school English classes when you build the plot-there must be conflict, climax, and resolution to make a full story.

Next, be wary of trying to devise too much or too little of the storyline. Usually you know when you have a good balance if you have to improvise and change parts of a storyline to fit the scene, but you do not constantly have to do so either. Another downfall is making the plot too big to handle. If you are new to the concept of roleplaying, donít get involved in a storyline that may take several years to act out fully. Instead, opt for smaller, less complex, and more flexible storylines that will allow you to explore the depths of your character. Understand that it is not the involvement in an excellent storyline that makes you a good roleplayer, but the extensiveness of the development behind the character.

Isn't there an easier way?
Of course there is an easier way to develop storylines. Another way type of storyline development is called free-form roleplay. Online gamers are infamous for free-form roleplay, as they use it by playing off one another without a set parameter of what is going to happen. While this is fun, it does have its downfalls. The deterioration of a plot is one of the worst problems in free-form roleplay. Certain individuals who are not part of the scene may barge in and start their own plot. While this is rude, and disruptive, the point is to not let this spoil the original intent, or to incorporate the newcomer into the plot. People may disappear for days on end, which causes gaps in the story. Individuals, who were major characters, may choose not to participate in the story any more. Another problem is the probability of a lack of resolution. Then again, it does have its benefits; free-form roleplay is the easiest type of roleplaying, it also has extensive improvisational opportunities, and it is the most dynamic-it can change at any moment.


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