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Advice on starting a Quest thread

HamSandLich

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Salutations!

I've been sporadically lurking for a while and i've been thinking of running a quest, but i don't have any experience GM-ing, online or otherwise. Anyone here have any advice for someone who wants to get into running a quest?
 

baakyocalder

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A quest is a major part of any RPG game, since that is an arc that will take several sessions to complete and have the characters face many different challenges and experience personal change along the way.

In my experience playing and GMing and writing some fan club adventures over 25 years, the good quests share the following:

1. Whatever is being quested for is something the players enjoy the idea of going after. So, standards like stopping the evil ruler, saving people considered helpless and finding lost treasures are good starts. Then the tone and flavor has to be right.

2. The players need the characters they will enjoy playing through the quest--or have characters who they will enjoy playing for part of the quest and other characters they will play later. Think of The Lord of the Rings. Samwise and Frodo go through the whole thing, but they gain and lose companions throughout the quest.

3. The GM manages the game appropriately so that while the quest is important, there can be moments where it's not all about the quest. Think of an action movie or other movie where there's a strong focus, but the protagonists got through a really intense moment and it's time for the comic relief or some other story to give the viewer a break.

So, if you do run a quest, the most important thing is to communicate with the other participants. Authors like Tolkein can make characters do what they want--live players in the flesh or playing over the internet can and will refuse to participate in quests they don't like. Live players might go along grudgingly and then act in a way you don't expect. So, setting expectations and managing them as you go forward is key.

Finally, take good notes so you remember what happened along the way. . .
 

HamSandLich

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Any advice on basic scheduling and pacing? I want to do something relatively casual. I've seen quest threads on other forums and they seem to differ a bit from actual play-by-post games.
 

baakyocalder

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Well, I'm not sure precisely what you mean by a 'quest,' since my experience divides playing of the game into sessions, adventures and campaigns.

Play-by-post games and games that are live are very different types of games. I've rarely found play-by-post to work, so I'll defer to the expert's opinions on how you'd run a quest in a play-by-post.

From where I stand, and this is pretty common terminology:

A session is one sitting of play.

An adventure may take one sitting, or multiple sittings, but has clear challenges completed by the end. For example, if the adventure is to defend a fort, the adventure would begin with the defense of the fort and end with the invaders driven off or the player characters having failed in the defense of the fort (assuming not all PCs die, it could end when they abandon the defense).

A campaign is a series of adventures with continuity of some of the characters where they work towards larger goals in shaping the world. How big a campaign is depends on the scope of the quests. I've had some games where the campaign was three sessions and the goal was to stop the villain and it's just one adventure with some distinct parts. Other campaigns have lasted for years and focused on bringing down major empires or they have focusing on the newly-minted heroes rising to the status in game where they earned their place in the nobility.

I recommend any of the books by Engine Publishing, the publishing arm of the Gnome Stew blog, for help on figuring out how to run a game. Odyssey is the volume on campaign management, which would be good to read if a quest is the main focus of the campaign.

For schedule and pacing, you have to talk with your group. If they are casual, a quest is going to be more difficult if it involves many moving parts than if the players are dedicated players. No one has perfect memory and playing regularly and enjoying the sessions tends to keep characters involved in a quest. If the quest isn't that much fun and you play irregularly or don't stay focused on the quest, well then you have to adjust.

My preference is for about 6-hour sessions if live (including eating of snacks) or 4 hours if online every other week on a regular basis. If you don't play regularly, it's hard to stay on task. If you play once a week, that is a major schedule commitment and although it can be fun to play every week, it's hard to schedule with most people.

Many people here talk about a 'Session Zero,' where you spend time discussing the campaign with the players and help them create characters that will work for the story elements you plan to provide. While not every great game has a 'Session Zero,' the games that fail quickly and end unsatisfyingly in my experience are the ones where we did not figure out our expectations beforehand.

Talk more about the game system and genre you want to run and you'll get more specific advice on how to run a good game. While gaming is a matter of taste, the first quality in a good GM is enthusiasm. If you have an idea you want to play with others and do the effort to get it started, well the other tricks you can learn from the collective or pick up as you play.

Welcome to the forums.
 

HamSandLich

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A Quest is a thread in which multiple participants vote to determine the actions of a single character. Options are presented at the end of each of the GM's posts. I've seen a fair amount on other forums.
 

zedturtle

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A Quest is a thread in which multiple participants vote to determine the actions of a single character. Options are presented at the end of each of the GM's posts. I've seen a fair amount on other forums.
Ah. I've seen a few of those types of threads here, but only in the context of a "Let's Read" of a Choose Your Own Adventure style book. If you're going to writing the adventure as it is playing out, then those threads home (Other Media) is probably not right. We do have a Play by Post section, but you'll probably want to be really clear in your recruitment/starting thread that you're looking for a non-traditional setup. Most all PbP games here try hard to represent the traditional tabletop roleplaying game structure and it sounds like you're more familiar with freeform roleplaying.
 

HamSandLich

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A quest thread seemed like it'd be lower maintenance than a general play-by-post thread. I don't want to get overwhelmed
 

baakyocalder

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Ah, my advice is for traditional RPGs. I'd check with the PbP folks for more ideas. You can use the PbP forums here to host the quest if you want.
 

hippokrene

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You might want to look at the Sufficient Velocity forums as they're some of the largest and most popular for Questing.


Ah, my advice is for traditional RPGs. I'd check with the PbP folks for more ideas. You can use the PbP forums here to host the quest if you want.
My personal experience is that you'll get 0 traction that way. People in the PbP forum are not interested in Questing; they're there for traditional RP. There are a few 'Let's Plays' in Other Media and Video Games that got interest. I'd start there.
 
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