Creating More Enjoyable Events

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magistrasa
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Creating More Enjoyable Events

Post by magistrasa » Thu Jun 01, 2023 5:25 pm

There are few activities more stressful and less rewarding than an Arelith event. It takes a lot out of you to organize a successful event, and it's too often mind-numbingly boring to attend one. Yet they also present some of the most fun and interesting and engaging avenues of roleplay that you're likely to experience on the server. That's why, no matter how badly the last one sucked, you always find yourself looking forward to the next one.

Well, here's the truth that not a lot of people talk about: Event-planning is a learned skill. The people who throw themselves at the effort, get chewed up, and then come back to the drawing board with new ideas of what does and doesn't work, are the ones who end up with the greatest skill. Thing is, they're also usually dog-tired of it after a couple months of work. Even when you've figured out the components of a great event, they're still a lot of effort to run for very little personal payoff. So these people take a break, stop trying for a while, maybe even leave the server, and they often take what they learned with them. So event-planning becomes a lost art, which then is rediscovered by the next batch of players brave enough to throw themselves into the meat grinder... only for what they learn to then be lost again. It's a vicious cycle.

Well, as much as I'd like to, I physically can't handle hosting events at the moment - so in lieu of any boots-on-the-ground contributions to this aspect of the server's roleplay, I want to help preserve some of the lessons I've personally learned over the years, and hopefully help people with an interest in event-planning bypass some of the rookie mistakes I've made in my day. Hopefully you get something out of it, because forum essays are also a learned skill that I am not sure I have fully developed!

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magistrasa
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Defining More Enjoyable Events

Post by magistrasa » Thu Jun 01, 2023 5:25 pm

What is an event?
"Event" is a broad term that can be interpreted a few different ways when it comes to roleplay. Within the context of this discussion, I wish to define an "event" as a scheduled group roleplay session, whether publicly posted or attended by private invite only, planned by one to three individuals (we'll call them "hosts") with the intention of interacting with three or more players (henceforth "participants") under a commonly understood premise. This post is not about DM events, or impromptu get-togethers, or anything beyond the stated definition, although I hope the ideas I talk about here have a broad application that can be used to improve all forms of group roleplay.

What types of events are there?
While they may look similar, no two events are quite the same. Even so, it's useful to try and categorize them based on their similarities. There might be a lot of ways to do so, but these are the labels and definitions I intend to use. Groupings are based on pacing / structure, intentions, activities, mood / tone, and the types of players it might attract as participants. This is not an exhaustive list of every possible variety of event that might be hosted, but I think most unnamed outliers can be attached to these broad categories.

  • Festival / Party

These are less-structured, open-ended get-togethers that can take the form of a feast, a wedding, a parade, a faire - typically with a light-hearted and celebratory tone. They're mostly used as social gatherings, an opportunity for people from different corners of the server to discover and interact with one another. Hosts tend to create a charcuterie board of options for engagement in the form of food tables or games or mini-activities, in addition to there maybe being a big speech or centerpiece of the celebration. These events typically end whenever people collectively get tired of each other rather than being given a set time or goal to accomplish.

  • Lecture / Round-Table / Performance

These events are usually structured around a performer-audience dynamic. In a scholarly setting, one presumed expert leads discussion on a given subject, while the participants either listen and learn, or share their understanding and experiences. In an entertainment setting, these can be acts, stage plays, or group storytelling sessions. The subjects can range anywhere between lore, theory, philosophy, poetry, intellectual curiosity, and creative expression. Generally speaking, the host is presenting an experience for the participants to collectively enjoy.

  • Raid / Group Combat / Tournament

These events highlight the might and combat prowess of its participants. Hosts create the opportunity for participants to demonstrate their skill and set the scene for conflict to develop and resolve from the group's collective actions. This can take the form of PvP or PvE experiences, through settlement raids, dungeon runs, or arena contests. The goal is often clearly defined and understood by its participants, and thus has an easily recognized endpoint to reach.

  • Ritual

These are much more esoteric in nature, typically used as a narrative device to serve some broader story rather than standing on its own. They are often invitation-only and come as the capstone of some personal story arc, or are coordinated with the collaboration of a DM. The participants usually know each other well and are invested - whether that be time investment or emotional investment - in the backstory that has led to the ritual. Its results are rarely represented in-game and its lasting significance is elective and limited to the participants.

What are the components of a successful event?
This isn't intended to be an exhaustive list, and not every event necessarily needs to incorporate every element I'm about to share - but my experiences have shown me that the more of these boxes you can cross off, the better your events tend to be. They're almost always going to serve as an improvement to the experience, so utilize them wherever possible. This section will definitely and loosely explain these terms, while following sections will give examples for how they might be applied.

  • Inspired Premise

The premise of an event can exist both on an in-character and metatextual level. The in-character premise may hinge on a character or group's experiences as the basis of the event's inspiration, while a premise inspired by the meta-narrative may come from an observation on the present roleplay environment, and the desire to enrich that environment by providing something of depth that is presently absent. Drawing out an inspired premise will create the foundations for a unique experience, as opposed to fulfilling some perceived obligation or merely copying the premise of a similar event that came before.

  • Shared Goal

The best events have a clear purpose that give shape to their existence, and invite its participants to join in and contribute to that purpose. A shared goal provides a reason for players and characters to invest their time and attention into the event, which in turn truly makes it a collaborative effort. Failure to adhere to this principle leads to a meandering sort of event that has no idea when it's supposed to end, or players that have no idea why they're even present for it.

  • Consistent Engagement

When you are given something to occupy your mind or your hands (or ideally both) - that's engagement. To give your participants constant and consistent engagement will stave off boredom and retain attention. Without consistent engagement, you don't have participants; you have spectators. Spectators quickly become AFKers once the player realizes they're not going to be doing anything for the next couple hours and they may as well play Age of Empires on the side. If your event doesn't actually involve any of the people there, what's the point of inviting them?

  • Meaningful Interactions

This is by far the most difficult thing to incorporate into an event, or into roleplay in general, and could easily be the subject of an entire essay unto itself, but here's my best attempt at condensing the principle: Interactions are an exchange of causes and effects between two entities; Person A performs an action which affects Person B, which causes Person B to respond in some manner to Person A. To do so meaningfully will require that this interaction is rooted in some deep personal conviction, and is reciprocal between its participants. All parties discover something about themselves as much as they discover something about each other, and this knowledge is traded and incorporated in a way that opens up new opportunities for interaction in the future. Events which only entertain shallow interactions rarely create opportunities for its participants to explore one another further, because little to no connection has been able to establish itself. Notably, it is exceedingly difficult to accomplish this in large group experiences, as the depth required of a meaningful interaction is less likely to be delved when that effort and attention is split between a multitude of individuals.

  • The Takeaway

This is something that the participants will carry with them and remember from the event. It can exist on a physical level, as trophies from a raid or contest, or maybe party favors from a festival; or it might exist on a metaphysical level, as a theme or message you impart through the process of running the event. It should be something that someone is able to justify and define; "I got this ornate ritual dagger that was blessed by the priest of Orcus at the cult ritual, because I helped summon an undead horde," or, "I swore an oath at the Heartstone to protect and defend the sanctity of nature, because at the druid moot I learned a new appreciation for all living things." Something about the participants should ideally be changed as a result of the experience you've given them, and the takeaway serves as evidence of that change. Events with no takeaway, no recognizable personal significance, quickly fade from memory - and if no one remembers what happened, it may as well not have ever happened at all.

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magistrasa
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Examples of More Enjoyable Events

Post by magistrasa » Thu Jun 01, 2023 5:26 pm

Examples
In this section I'll go through each of the components of a successful event and give an example of how I've seen them play out in an event I have personally experienced, either as a host or participant, and then suggest ways they might be incorporated into the various types of events that have been described.

Inspired Premise
I'm going to cheat a little bit for this first anecdote, because it's sadly not a personal experience - but I could see and hear the joy and enthusiasm in Bat Country's retelling, and it left such an impression that I can't help but think of it any time I imagine an inspired premise for an event: Members of the Erudite Arcanum were sick and tired of dry copy-pasted language lesson lectures, and decided to do something completely different by framing the lesson around a hypothetical hostage negotiation, wherein a dozen languages were all being shouted at the same time in an emotionally fraught and strenuous scene that involved live ammunition and lethal use of force. The lack of universal fluency in these languages accentuated the experience, and attendants were still able to gain proficiency while actively participating in the event and contributing in ways they wouldn't have if they had all just been sitting semi-AFK in chairs while being barked at in colorful gibberish about a topic they don't actually care about.

  • Festival / Party

Whatever you do, don't settle for predictable; always aim to be sensational. You might be celebrating a prominent figure in the local community, like throwing them a birthday party - well, what if it's a surprise party instead? Or what if it turns out it's not actually their birthday, and you got the wrong date? On the metatextual level, your premise could be based around crafting an amusing spectacle for participants to enjoy, like maybe your character is putting their best effort into hosting a party that "sucks" by player design (in an exaggerated slapstick comedy kinda way, not the "we've been standing around for hours and done absolutely nothing" kinda way), and then very publicly freaking out about how much of a failure they are. Maybe the fashion show is manufactured to create a dramatic vendetta between two local tailors, who sabotage each other's work and things descend into anarchy with the well-timed throwing of a comedic cream pie. Incorporate a hidden agenda into your premise, and you'll give your participants a night to remember.

  • Lecture / Round-Table / Performance

Make sure that whatever you're presenting is something you are actually deeply fascinated about and can incorporate many streams of inspiration and experience into. If you're not passionate about the subject, you won't be as likely to actively search for ways to challenge the audience. You can't make people care about something you don't care much about it yourself. The best inspiration often comes from real life, and these styles of events can very easily bridge the gap between reality and fantasy. Put on a play based loosely on an FR-ified version of your favorite musical, or incorporate real-world myths into your lectures about the Demon Lords of the Abyss, or repackage the thoughts of your favorite German psychologist during a philosophy roundtable about the meaning of life and divinity. Search for inspiration outside of yourself, and bring your audience with you on the journey.

  • Raid / Group Combat / Tournament

In the case of raids or group combat events, the inspired premise can come from the reason why your target has been chosen. Maybe the raid organizer has a personal vendetta that causes them to act more and more irrationally as the mission progresses. In the arena, maybe your tournament has a WrestleMania-esque narrative layer for the audience to enjoy. Try to make things personal as much as you can, and communicate that personal grudge to your participants so that they can follow the effects and evolution of that motivation. Alternatively, maybe the unique element of the premise can be in crafting a scenario where your "side" is designed to fail or come upon some seemingly insurmountable odds, and thus the event becomes more about struggling against those odds and adapting to unfavorable circumstances rather than a demonstration of raw might.

  • Ritual

This is usually baked into the reason for hosting a ritual, but an interesting premise in this avenue can come from what it requires of its participants. This can easily be tied to what a ritual is attempting to accomplish - if you're trying to gain something, what is an equal or related thing that can be lost? If you're trying to summon something, what is a behavior that the ritualists might embody to coax it forth? If you're trying to cure something, what are the side effects of the intended medicine? The server has a long history wherein "let's do a ritual" has been the solution to most of its problems, so an inspired premise in this avenue means finding a way to make the experience unique and personal.

Shared Goal
I once ran a semi-private event with a group from Myon that was presented as a "housewarming party" for a recently wedded couple. The invitations I gave out to everyone made it clear that this was going to be a celebration of the two characters, and that there was an encouraged dress code, potluck, and talent show to prepare for, which were intended as a surprise for the couple in question. Knowing the expectations and already having a preestablished friendship with the characters that were the event's centerpiece, everyone was equipped with the information and motivation to participate on the same level and work towards the same secret goal: A competition to see who could give those two characters the best possible time.

  • Festival / Party

Whatever the cause for celebration, it needs to be something that participants can relate to. If it's some sort of religious ceremony, center it on some broader tenet of the faith that is universal in its application - such as remembrance of the dead, or gestures of neighborly consideration - so that even those participants who don't adhere to the faith or don't know the lore of the deity can find something to attach themselves to. If it's a campaign fundraiser for an election, make sure everyone knows that they're here to be convinced to vote for whoever it is that the event celebrates, so that they can approach it with the right mindset. If your participants don't understand the point of the party, they're going to feel detached from it, and detachment leads to disinterest.

  • Lecture / Round-Table / Performance

Once again, relatability is key. Present something to your participants in a way that makes them understand how this knowledge or information can be practically applied. Have a clear and concise theme or message that can be conveyed to your audience, and reinforce it as often as you can. Don't meander to your conclusion, or else the message will get lost in the sauce. Keep your lecture tight and on target, with as few tangents as possible. If the roundtable discussion ends up following some semantic side argument, guide the conversation back towards the relevant topic. Give the audience of your poetry contest a list of criteria to fairly judge its contestants on, so they all know to look for the same markers of quality. Always mind the message. When the message is lost, your participants end up feeling equally lost.

  • Raid / Group Combat / Tournament

Combat and conflict tend to be straightforward in their goals, but there is an additional layer of depth that can be added in the form of a shared motivation. "We're all bored and want to go kill stuff!" is not sufficient shared motivation. The target of your assault should have a reason to be picked over any other potential victim, and that reason should be shared with your participants. If you're getting a group together to sail to Monkey Island so you can kill all the monkeys that live on the island, your group should be given the chance to understand that you organized this expedition because your family was slain in a brutal chimpanzee attack, and ideally they care enough about your character to share in that motivation and invest themselves into that goal. If Andunor decides to attack the Radiant Heart, there should be a reason why it was chosen over Bendir or Westcliff, and the raiding party should understand and be made to appreciate that reason on a personal level. If you've introduced wacky rules into your tournament for the sake of audience entertainment, the tourney contestants should understand how to accomplish this and be encouraged to modify their behavior to maximize the spectacle of the fight. Bring everyone into the fold wherever you can, instead of dragging your participants along for the ride.

  • Ritual

The goals of a ritual tend to be well established as part of the storyline it serves, but even so, sometimes the participants can get left out of the details and find themselves stranded in esoterica which leaves them ill-equipped to perform on the same level. Before the ritual begins, make clear to everyone present what the dangers might be, what the intended results are, what means and tools are at your disposal, and why you've chosen these people or this location or these materials to conduct the ritual with. Get everyone on the same page, and make sure they each generally understand why you want them there in the first place.

Consistent Engagement
I know it's got a reputation for boring wiki copy-pasting, but I swear that scholar RP can be good sometimes. Once, I attended a lecture at the Arcane Tower that incorporated its audience so well that I was inspired to write an in-game book about it. Not only did the lecturer draw inspiration from real-world astrology and occult practices, but he also conducted the lecture in such a way that it invited audience input and actively incorporated the thoughts and theories of those present into the framework of the presented subject. He encouraged our participation in a way that shaped the course of the lecture and ultimately made it feel like our being there contributed to the event and made a difference in how things played out. He constantly asked for our thoughts and ideas about the subject he was presenting, challenging us and setting the stage for us to challenge one another, which made it an exceedingly engaging lecture to take part in.

  • Festival / Party

Depending on the nature of the celebration, different avenues of engagement can make themselves available. In a festival setting, you can set up a bunch of different booths or activities for participants to enjoy at their leisure, although I'm tempted to think the best among them might be the kind of activities that leave something tangible and permanent behind. For example, a message board containing the notes and thoughts of everyone who came by, perhaps directing party-goers to answer a question or muse on a topic - which creates more engagement over time, as participants come back to read the new additions. Maybe that board gets compiled into a book, to be treasured later.

  • Lecture / Round-Table / Performance

Like in the example I gave, audience participation can really elevate the experience for everyone involved. Ask the students of your lecture questions and prompt their thoughts to keep them tethered to the moment. Direct the conversation towards the quieter members of your round-table discussion to pry them out of their shell. Add some kind of call-and-response to your play to encourage the audience to contribute to the performance, heckling the antagonist or cheering the protagonist. Make people feel like they're part of the action, and they'll look for ways to chime in and add to the experience for everyone.

  • Raid / Group Combat / Tournament

Giving your participants specific roles or tasks, especially if these assignments highlight their specific strengths, is a great way to make everyone feel like they're contributing to the event and that their presence makes a difference. They're going to be looking for ways to apply themselves in accordance to this assignment, and if you reinforce and acknowledge their effort, it can really highlight the experience for everyone who chose to follow you.

  • Ritual

In the same vein as the point before, delegation of specific tasks or roles can allow for your ritualists to have a clear sense of how to engage with the event, and also give them each a sense of ownership over the end result of the ritual. It introduces a more interactive dynamic, where perhaps one person can choose to handicap the ritual through their own mistakes, while another can play out their best efforts to pick up that slack. Give your people something to do other than type "-ce prays" or "-conjure" every 5 minutes to avoid the AFK timer.

Meaningful Interactions
I don't get a lot of exposure to PvP due to the nature of the characters I play, but there was a tournament in Soulhaven that I participated in mostly on a whim, and a big reason why I found it to be such a delightful experience is because of the team-based nature of the tournament. If I recall correctly, the teams were chosen by a team captain, and my character was placed on a team with one person she'd never really met before, and against one of her closest companions - which was an interesting dynamic for sure! In between rounds of combat, each team was given a riddle to solve amongst themselves to earn a boon for the coming skirmish, and the process of whispering amongst each other to find the answer created some fun character interactions. The other team was largely comprised of people my character was vaguely acquainted with, but never really spoke to, so this violent encounter laid the foundation for our relationships going forward. It led somewhat directly to a new friendship with the teammate that my character had little exposure to, and explored a facet of the relationship she already had with her close friend that ultimately deepened their connection. It was probably the most fun I'd ever had with PvP. Viva la Team Night Hawk.

  • Festival / Party

Think of the space you're hosting your party in, and try to leave room for intimacy between guests. Set up tables with limited seating - maybe assign places, if you're feeling bold - and give people the space to enjoy each other, even if that means they might not really be enjoying you. Or, give them a reason to reach out and engage with each other, especially outside their established circles, like maybe they have to collect favors from strangers. If the event's premise centers around some kind of deeper, personal topic, that's usually enough for people to run with and take as an opportunity to discover meaningful interactions themselves; all you need to do is create the space for it.

  • Lecture / Round-Table / Performance

Lectures and performances can be difficult to instigate meaningful interactions out of, because so much of the spotlight necessarily fixes upon the presentation. Even so, a lecturer can take pauses in their class to pair people up for discussion on the subject, which can naturally lead to a deeper examination when thoughts can be freely exchanged back and forth. A performance can incorporate its audience by singling out specific people in the crowd, giving them an opportunity to shine or shrink away, which might leave a lasting impression and help them realize this unexamined aspect of their character. Round-table style events usually feature meaningful interaction as a key feature of their structure, so it's less of a concern for them, so long as individual speakers are given time to talk through their thoughts and be challenged by their peers. All-in-all, the role a host plays when pursuing this principle is merely to give players the opportunity and guidance to find meaning within themselves. This is something players already inherently thirst for, so as long as room is made for it to be explored, they're usually happy to take what you give them and run with it.

  • Raid / Group Combat / Tournament

For raiders and giant groups of condensed violence, consider splitting your forces up into smaller parties rather than having everyone move in a big ol' blob of wanton chaos and destruction. Delegating different responsibilities to strike teams lets people assume leadership positions and better organize their actions amongst themselves, which can further lead to new explorations of teamwork and more focused attention to the individuals within their squad and the experience they share. If they ordinarily might not work together, you might be kindling a longer-lasting alliance. If they end up not working well together at all, you've inspired a spark of conflict for them to work out between themselves. There's no downside! And likewise for tournaments, you can randomly pair contestants with the same intention in mind. Every group event can be an opportunity to bridge gaps between strangers and introduce long-lasting relationships. It might not always be efficient in terms of combat strength, but a bland and uninteresting victory is so much less valuable than a friendship that might be forged in the fires of defeat.

  • Ritual

Magic is inherently tied to emotional states. Remember that when you engage in a ritual event, and you should find plenty of opportunity to cultivate meaningful interactions from it. Encourage participants to play out the intensity of the moment and what these rites might demand of them, and create the opportunity for them to make themselves vulnerable to each other. Magic of a certain strength should theoretically take its toll, both mentally and physically - or, it could draw out some inner strength or hidden emotional wellspring that participants are not typically connected to. In exploring these ideas, meaningful interactions and examinations of the characters can very easily arise as a natural consequence. Put the idea out there, and see how readily it's going to be received.

The Takeaway
To give Andunor an event that wasn't related to surface raids or language lessons, my character and Basclyne Yande put together something we called the "Dead Dark Festival." Its premise consisted of a skeleton parade, shared stories of glorious slaughter, and a few other elements that I can't fully remember. Sadly, I wasn't able to attend the event that I had put so much effort into planning - but I came back to the game a day later, feeling pretty bummed out about the fact that I had missed my own event, when I noticed that people in the Hub were still talking about it, because they were showing off the items that I had prepared for the festival: Colorful skull masks enchanted in the basin with a glow effect, which were handed out for the parade and kept as souvenirs. The event was intended as just a silly goth festival to break up the daily monotony, not expecting it to have much lasting cultural impact, but the fact that people had something to show for their attendance really seemed as if it made the moment a little more special to them.

  • Festival / Party

I'm a huge fan of souvenirs, which are also usually the easiest and most practical way to give people a takeaway from your event. Fashion show or masquerade? Give participants a new outfit to try in the future. Temple ceremony or religious festival? Leave people with a little symbol of the faith to carry around with them as a good luck charm. Bake sale or campaign fundraiser? Hand out a badge for "Most Money Raised" or "I Went to Ginny Fairlen's 36th Chancellorship Inauguration and All I Got was This Sticker." Things that are fun, cute, unique, or just carry a fond memory of the past will keep the event alive in the hearts of its participants well past the date of its occurrence.

  • Lecture / Round-Table / Performance

Ideally in events like these, the take-away is the theme of the subject you are presenting, imparting some sort of valuable lesson that the participants can carry with them beyond the theater or tavern or classroom they heard it from. But that's not easy to accomplish, so if you're wanting to give something a bit more tangible, perhaps distribute a book at the end of your lecture related to the subject matter. For a performance, give your audience pamphlets about the show, or give them little masks to wear during the event that is thematically incorporated into the play as a way to make them feel like they're part of the world on stage. For a storytelling or poetry contest, give out little trophies to contestants that highlight their skill, or put together fixtures to display in the local tavern or social hub that publicly celebrate their accomplishment.

  • Raid / Group Combat / Tournament

Probably the coolest thing you can give someone as a takeaway from a combat-based event is a new title to honor their achievement in battle. It's a recognition of prowess and prestige that's unique to their character's accomplishments, and it's the sort of thing that spawns stories and legends that grow beyond the event itself. Did your sorcerer dispel the other team's death wards before throwing out a well-timed Banshee's Wail, dropping 4 enemy combatants and securing your collective victory? "All hail the Banshee Queen, harvester of souls and bringer of death!" Did the underdog rogue employ some clever tricks during the final round of the tournament to take down his opponent in an unfavorable matchup? "Three cheers for the Shadowlord, victor of the arena and champion of the city!" The reputation that comes with an officially recognized title can be so significant, I've seen characters change their names to incorporate it into their very identity. And remember that not every reputation has to be positive!

  • Ritual

These events usually carry a lasting significance to the participants within them, simply due to the intimate nature in which they are traditionally conducted, but using them as an opportunity to establish new character quirks or distinguishing features that can even be shared between and unify the participants of the ritual can turn out to be very meaningful. Especially if it's the sort of thing that introduces new problems to be solved down the line, or new points of interest for characters to use as a means of connecting with others. And of course, let's not forget the number one rule of ritual roleplay: All the cool kids change their character description for a ritual gone wrong.

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Observations on More Enjoyable Events

Post by magistrasa » Thu Jun 01, 2023 5:26 pm

Additional Observations

  • Fun Doesn't Happen On Accident

I feel like the worst events I've been to have been the result of a host who decided to bring a bunch of people together, some of whom including some truly phenomenal roleplayers, and then they just sit back and wait for interesting things to happen under the assumption that fun will spontaneously manifest from the space between the gathered group. First and foremost, that seems like an unfair expectation - if it's your event, don't expect other people to make it interesting for you while you put in minimal work. An enjoyable experience requires effort. Yes, some of that effort has to come from the players participating, but the fact of the matter is that a lot of the burden rests on the shoulders of the host. That's what makes event-planning so difficult, but also what can make it feel so rewarding when you accomplish this successfully.

  • Use the World

We have so many tools at our disposal to make our interactions unique and memorable. You can use abilities and spell VFX to accentuate a scene in countless ways. Rods, wands, scrolls, grenades, all kinds of unique items can be thrown in a basin, renamed, and used to show up in the combat log. Redescribe and repurpose whatever you can get your hands on. What you see is what you get, and what you can see is so much more real than what you are asked to imagine.

  • Settlement Raids Kinda Suck

Sorry, I'm about to get real opinionated here - although this is sort of a milquetoast opinion that most people agree with anyways. Settlement raids are the lowest form of entertainment. Even setting aside the lag, the contrivances our PvP engagement rules place on roleplay, the generally dull nature of group combat, and the requirement of DM oversight - at the end of the day, it's inherently an exercise in futility. What do you even hope to accomplish in a settlement raid? What are the actual, tangible results that can come from the effort? Surface crusaders are never going to completely and totally destroy the Sharps, because that would make the server worse and the admins would rightly never consider it. The Underdark is never going to establish a settlement on the surface, because Irongron is worried about what might happen if he makes the server TOO COOL. Most of the time these kinds of events are planned and executed in total secrecy with the aid of gratuitous OOC coordination, which makes them feel sudden, confusing, pointless, and forgettable. I know I just used a lot of words throughout this entire thread to encourage better raid event planning, but it's something I feel compelled to reiterate as someone who is currently playing in the Underdark and is sick and tired of the ceaseless fixation on going to the surface and "starting up a drow outpost" or "destroying those filthy dwarves once and forever." We all have better things to do with our time than pursuing a narrative dead end. If you're going to organize a settlement raid, the bare minimum that you should do while planning is to try making it interesting.

In Conclusion
These are by and large the extent of my thoughts on event-planning - or at least, as much as I'm able to fit into the structure of this essay. If this spawns much conversation as a result, I may just have even more commentary to add, but I've been working on this post for like 3 days so my brain has been reduced to a gelatinous semi-solid. To inspire conversation, I would like to pose the following questions:

  • What are some events you either hosted or attended that really stick out positively in your memory?
  • What elements did you appreciate about that event, and how might that be extrapolated into future endeavors?
  • What advice would you give based on your own experiences?

While it's certainly worth examining negative experiences with events, please try to keep this thread focused on the positive! I don't want to see anyone making snipes at specific players, because we're all doing our best to make things fun for each other and we shouldn't discourage one another from putting in the effort and putting ourselves out there.

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Re: Creating More Enjoyable Events

Post by Cthuletta » Fri Jun 02, 2023 1:29 pm

As somebody who has planned events in the past and found myself going 'Why did this go well so I can replicate it?' or 'Where did I mess up here?', I found this very informative and nice to read!
Thank you for sharing your ideas, I'm definitely gonna take them on board next time I'm planning something. It's nice to have something to reference!

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Re: Creating More Enjoyable Events

Post by Edens_Fall » Fri Jun 02, 2023 1:33 pm

Well written and explained! Thank you for this topic and post!


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DM Monkey
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Re: Creating More Enjoyable Events

Post by DM Monkey » Fri Jun 02, 2023 7:21 pm

My advice on these is that usually "less is more", and that you really don't need DMs to help you pull off something fun. Great posts magistrasa!

Try harder! Help set a good example of roleplay for the server culture.


Ellisaria
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Re: Creating More Enjoyable Events

Post by Ellisaria » Fri Jun 02, 2023 10:38 pm

A lovely guide! Thank you for posting it.


MintoCloudpaw
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Re: Creating More Enjoyable Events

Post by MintoCloudpaw » Sat Jun 03, 2023 4:04 pm

Perhaps this could be merged along with Aradin's post?

viewtopic.php?f=14&t=36684

That way it's easier to find!


As someone that runs a ton of events (I currently have four upcoming planned), I still find posts like these invaluable. Getting other insights into event planning gives me a ton of new ideas, but it also helps me understand more what different people enjoy, and what other event planners find successful.

Thank you for writing it and sharing it!

Also I miss your Emily! :D


Anomandaris
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Re: Creating More Enjoyable Events

Post by Anomandaris » Sun Jun 04, 2023 10:12 pm

One of the things that would be amazing to see more of specifically from the team is more focus on micro events or “random encounters.” Big epic plots are cool but hard to keep up with, get involved in sometimes etc.

This could mean a small dm controlled response by stronger enemies in an otherwise predictable dungeon. It could mean possessing an npc to ask for help rescuing another npc in a dungeon.

The details don’t matter as munch as injecting dynamism into the world which is otherwise fairly static. Players start to take for granted that an npc wont respond to illegal behavior because it can’t.

DMs possessing NPCs more would also help with setting and rule enforcement in a non ooc manner. Doing something blatantly corrupt in front of an NPC guard? NPC guard can report you to a PC commander. People would respect the setting more if the setting “pushed back.” Team sees some alignment cheese, take their divine gifts away and make them run a redemption arch. Stuff like that could actually add fun plot devices while creating better continuity.


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Drowble Oh Seven
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Re: Creating More Enjoyable Events

Post by Drowble Oh Seven » Mon Jun 05, 2023 2:43 am

This was a wonderful read, thank you. I don't often (read: ever) run events and I've been meaning to start for the longest time, but dread giving that many people something meaningful to do. So, this was an excellent starter; and the THUNDERDOME art was even better.


Grimey Straatwalk
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Re: Creating More Enjoyable Events

Post by Grimey Straatwalk » Mon Jun 05, 2023 8:15 am

Excellent post, thank you for it.

I've only organized a couple of events so far. Both have gone reasonably well. It's shocking how much time and energy it takes, tracking down people and getting the right people involved and interested.

From the experiences, I think I will steer away from standard events by simply plotting performers in front of people hoping that will be enough entertainment, or a tournament that few people have the right skills to sign up for. From now on I'm going to try simple games, races, or anything to make people interact in a new and fun way.

However, after only two I don't have the energy to do it. :) After a bit of a break I will try again.


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The GrumpyCat
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Re: Creating More Enjoyable Events

Post by The GrumpyCat » Sat Jun 10, 2023 4:35 pm

Anomandaris wrote:
Sun Jun 04, 2023 10:12 pm

One of the things that would be amazing to see more of specifically from the team is more focus on micro events or “random encounters.” Big epic plots are cool but hard to keep up with, get involved in sometimes etc.

This could mean a small dm controlled response by stronger enemies in an otherwise predictable dungeon. It could mean possessing an npc to ask for help rescuing another npc in a dungeon.

The details don’t matter as munch as injecting dynamism into the world which is otherwise fairly static. Players start to take for granted that an npc wont respond to illegal behavior because it can’t.

DMs possessing NPCs more would also help with setting and rule enforcement in a non ooc manner. Doing something blatantly corrupt in front of an NPC guard? NPC guard can report you to a PC commander. People would respect the setting more if the setting “pushed back.” Team sees some alignment cheese, take their divine gifts away and make them run a redemption arch. Stuff like that could actually add fun plot devices while creating better continuity.

This is absolutly true and a good idea - but I think they're also already happening? Or happen quite a bit. Keep in mind that because they're 'micro' events - people don't tend to talk about them, so you don't hear of them - so the perception may be that... unless you're lucky enough to be there, they don't happen.

Still, yes, small environment things are fun. Must run some soon.

This too shall pass.

(I now have a DM Discord (I hope) It's DM GrumpyCat#7185 but please keep in mind I'm very busy IRL so I can't promise how quick I'll get back to you.)

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Aniel
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Re: Creating More Enjoyable Events

Post by Aniel » Wed Jun 14, 2023 2:02 am

this is a really cool & based write up


MarkRed
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Re: Creating More Enjoyable Events

Post by MarkRed » Wed Jun 14, 2023 12:38 pm

The GrumpyCat wrote:
Sat Jun 10, 2023 4:35 pm
Anomandaris wrote:
Sun Jun 04, 2023 10:12 pm

One of the things that would be amazing to see more of specifically from the team is more focus on micro events or “random encounters.” Big epic plots are cool but hard to keep up with, get involved in sometimes etc.

This could mean a small dm controlled response by stronger enemies in an otherwise predictable dungeon. It could mean possessing an npc to ask for help rescuing another npc in a dungeon.

The details don’t matter as munch as injecting dynamism into the world which is otherwise fairly static. Players start to take for granted that an npc wont respond to illegal behavior because it can’t.

DMs possessing NPCs more would also help with setting and rule enforcement in a non ooc manner. Doing something blatantly corrupt in front of an NPC guard? NPC guard can report you to a PC commander. People would respect the setting more if the setting “pushed back.” Team sees some alignment cheese, take their divine gifts away and make them run a redemption arch. Stuff like that could actually add fun plot devices while creating better continuity.

This is absolutly true and a good idea - but I think they're also already happening? Or happen quite a bit. Keep in mind that because they're 'micro' events - people don't tend to talk about them, so you don't hear of them - so the perception may be that... unless you're lucky enough to be there, they don't happen.

Still, yes, small environment things are fun. Must run some soon.

These definitely do, or did happen. One that I remember vividly is a few months back during one of the Guard training events in Cordor, one of the Helmite Guard NPCs in the state building's lower floor was snickering at us whenever a question were answered incorrectly or in general something was done wrong. And he hated Halflings :p

Or the "Big Wet" if anyone remembers that from more recent time! But regardless I'd love smaller RNG events, in addition to the bigger more world changing ones.

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Communication, the only thing that matters.


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