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[Summer Series] Chapter 9 Commentary

Posted August 11, 2014 at 03:00 AM by Straylor Leonard

Thanks to those who have been following Chapter 9!

I've been experimenting a lot as a Peer Mod since returning last March. It's been a wild ride with lots of ups and downs IRL, IC, and OOC.

I want to preface this blog by stating that this moderation style was inspired by Kaelon, Amalthea, and Charybdis. Lots of new players seem to think this is new and original. It's not Giving adventures a predictable, even exciting cycle really maintains the momentum of a thread. I prefer this kind of momentum personally, so I enjoy writing with others with the same preference.

Some things I learned during this experiment:

The Setting
Players need adventures to be accessible. Big threads like this need a hook for PCs to logically join. "Dream Sequence" adventures have an easy way to pull players in -- they dream, the FT is fluid, and that's all to it.

Chapter 1-3 was like that (in a dream). But then Chapter 8 came down and it was real-life. Fortunately, the MT provided the groundwork for Players to be able to get strange dreams which led them to Arkamat. Otherwise, the general consensus was that it didn't make sense for their PCs to travel that far away.

Risk & Reward
This is a big one. I tend to go overboard with the Rewards with seemingly little Risk. But there are great resources and fellow players / mods on the site who gave me really solid advice! It'll be more challenging and the Rewards will be better tailored to suit the individual Player rather than random lootz with little or no meaning for the character(s) left standing.

Alternate Storylines
This is a new thing I'm trying. It's kinda hard to do since the one BIG thread takes up most of my posting-time. So I will probably not let it happen again, depending on how things go in Chapter 9. I think that it's great that Players stick to their PCs motivations, etc. But if a Player or Players decide to go against the main story, I might provide a suitable curtain call for those players and their PC in future quests.

Questions? Concerns? Comments?
I want to hear from you! Even if you're just a spectator who didn't get to join the thread this time. There will be more in the future!
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  1. Old Comment
    I'm super impressed with how you're accomodating seperate character motivations Quill wanted to stay back and be a healer/support in Chapter 8, you made that a mechanic that people could work around!

    Too often in these sorts of adventures, you get a "Well, you've got this thing you need to kill, best hope you're a combat PC because that's all that's gonna count!" attitude. In this, it makes me actually want to do my own thing, instead of thinking that it'll somehow detract from the mod's storyline
    Posted August 11, 2014 at 03:33 AM by Quilantes Zil'aven Quilantes Zil'aven is offline
  2. Old Comment
    I love these adventures, I really do. I love the speed of it - the 24 hour mod is fantastic and I like the touches like rep for doing things (but I am a rep hound, as well you know!)

    And I'd echo what Quil said above - you allow people to play their pc's etc - what's great is the way that you've thought the plot through enough to be able to accomodate the healers, the crazy bikini-clad elf (ahem) and all of that.

    I'm really positive about them and can't thank you enough as a player for doing these threads, and they've impacted my pc big time too.

    Total kudos, thanks bunches - all good here.
    Posted August 11, 2014 at 07:01 AM by Hay'aan Malinconico Hay'aan Malinconico is offline
  3. Old Comment
    I've been involved in the threads from the first one you started Stray - I LOVE THESE ADVENTURES! I like the 24 hour turn around (post or you miss your turn) and the active rep that is passed around from moderator and pcs.

    A lot of adventures are very 'one-way' without twists and turns, and all of these adventures are like the old 'choose your own adventure' series. Great job and I am really enjoying it!
    Posted August 11, 2014 at 08:18 AM by Wiz Gil'dae Wiz Gil'dae is offline
  4. Old Comment
    Ein'nasar Mythranthil's Avatar
    I love these! I just wished the sign-up had more length like in Ch.8 (I think it was 2-3 days?), I just saw the sign-up thread and it was already closed :< :< :<

    PS: we totally need to do a continuation to Lost Isle.

    I'd also like to point out how I love that PCs tend to go really crazy in your threads - all the evil and good PCs doing their own stuff and ultimately affecting the story in a unique and unpredictable way. I think this owes a lot to your moderation style as well; people seem to feel more comfortable doing crazy things in your thread since they know that the mod is fine with it and accommodates us crazies
    Posted August 11, 2014 at 09:55 AM by Ein'nasar Mythranthil Ein'nasar Mythranthil is offline
    Updated August 11, 2014 at 09:58 AM by Ein'nasar Mythranthil
  5. Old Comment
    Dara Hakim's Avatar
    As the PC who got the alternate storyline, I totally understand if you decide to give Dara a curtain call I just found there wasn't a reason to follow the plot hook into the desert. She had no impulse to protect the npc, she didn't know/care enough about the other PCs to tag along with them for the sake of companionship, and she also didn't dislike them enough to follow for the purpose of thwarting them either. Sheer curiosity could have done it, I guess, except they were heading into the desert, not walking into the Prime countryside It's a problem I've come up against in the past with other alts - the storyline becomes something which just doesn't make sense for the PC to investigate further, no matter how much you want to continue writing with the mod and other players.

    So what does a player do? On the one hand you want to play the game, you want to adventure, you want to write stories with other awesome players and mods. On the other hand, you want to stay reasonably plausible for the sake of a consistant character. I dunno. I tried a character that was chaotic neutral - and thus not requiring motivation as a prerequisite to join something. And while I loved the freedom of playing Phoebe, in the end it all felt a bit pointless in terms of developing a character and story. She felt a bit like a cartoon character ^^

    Anyhoo, it was a tough call to make not taking Dara into the desert as I actually thought at that point I would be leaving the adventure as a result, so I understand if you want Dara just to jump on a camel and head home ^^ I'd be happy with her just gaining some knowledge about the people in the settlement, so she can have that knowledge as a jumping off point for something next season really.
    Posted August 11, 2014 at 11:29 AM by Dara Hakim Dara Hakim is offline
  6. Old Comment
    One comment of criticism (of which you have identified yourself, I believe)...

    "Massive" increase in wealth, as a reward, is a little...difficult to manage with the new wealth tier system. Of course, in the previous system you could have been more exact, but the use of vague words is perhaps a little far the other way. Find a happy "inbetween". Otherwise, those of us asked to re-evaluate tier levels afterward, pull out our few remaining hairs...

    Apart from that, as USUAL, you are a great asset to this game, and always someone with only positive things to say and do.
    Posted August 11, 2014 at 01:48 PM by Shalafi Shalafi is offline
  7. Old Comment
    Straylor Leonard's Avatar
    Shalafi -- yes, I'm going to be shifting the rewards a little this thread. Hopefully it's easier to manage for balding, middle-aged MDs Sorry for the headaches, lol

    Angus - it's taken me a looong with my trial/error threads to figure out what to do with non-combat PCs! So you have a generation of non-combat PCs to thank for this new development in my moderation.

    Annie and Wiz -- glad you guys like it. Try not to die! >: D

    Ein - yes, I made the registration window pretty narrow this time in hopes of capping the thread at 10 newbs plus a few veterans from Chapter 8! Don't worry, we'll find the Lost Isle!

    Dara - I definitely respect that I always say that moderators should be helping write your story as a Player and character. That's really the best thing about Aelyia: we all help write each other's stories for years and years. Sometimes there are surprises, good and bad, and other times it's fantastic or terrible. That's all part of the story!
    Posted August 11, 2014 at 04:45 PM by Straylor Leonard Straylor Leonard is offline
  8. Old Comment
    Isolfr Olafson's Avatar
    I'm enjoying myself so far, the fast paced turn around keeps me actively posting, and the 100 word limit in combat situations is great for firing off a quick post after a long day. Though, I do hope to hit something other than myself before the end =P

    Also, hope you don't mind the less serious nature of my PC, I really haven't developed him much beyond being a drunken brawling brute.
    Posted August 11, 2014 at 07:06 PM by Isolfr Olafson Isolfr Olafson is offline
  9. Old Comment
    Well we can't all be young, hair covered non doctors, now can we?
    Posted August 11, 2014 at 08:30 PM by Shalafi Shalafi is offline
  10. Old Comment
    Igrainne Birch's Avatar
    I... maybe was gone for all of this? What have you been up to? I'm wondering if this is one big, connected adventure or a bunch of shorter ones that aren't necessarily the same story.

    I checked out the link and it looks amazing, but I'd love to hear more about your system and how it's been working out for you! Is it hard for you to post every day for this adventure/ or do they need to post every day and your modding is more spread out? How has this differed from your previous modding/ what's working better this time?

    Basically, I want to pick your brain as much as you're willing, because despite wanting to mod, I've never been very good at it. I'm interested in what works for other people.
    Posted August 11, 2014 at 11:30 PM by Igrainne Birch Igrainne Birch is offline
  11. Old Comment
    Serion D'Rinishad's Avatar
    These are a nice change of pace on the site Marwin, and I enjoy being everyone's most hated troll

    I was going to write more in this post but I am so beat and just barely had the energy to get my post in on the thread for the day lol, so I'll give more feedback when I'm not being run ragged by work
    Posted August 12, 2014 at 12:32 AM by Serion D'Rinishad Serion D'Rinishad is offline
  12. Old Comment
    Straylor Leonard's Avatar
    Isolfr -- I highly recommend reading a few fantasy novels and discovering ways to give your character a unique "voice". Remember that your post is your character's point of view. It could be completely contradictory to what the moderator and other Players wrote! The most important thing is not to get stuck in the stereotypes. Your character is a living, dynamic being. They can change with their experiences, adapt to new things, and reject ideas altogether I'm glad that you can use this adventure to discover what Isolfr is all about -- especially when being drunk is not an option, haha.

    Igrainne -- this is what I've been up to while you were having fun IRL! lol For the most part, the chapters are meant to keep things 'together' like in a collection, but they don't necessarily blend together. These are more of a collection of short stories than one epic tale. But we'll see what happens. The PCs have been driving a lot of the story. I only have a very basic hook, a few main NPCs and villains, plus a potential 'endgame' whenever I propose these Mod Plans to the MT.

    The system works well for me. I get home around 7pm and I usually begin the "sequence" posts throughout the day in a Google doc. Then I re-read the posts, my sequential moderation for each PC, and start to tie things together in my head under "Everyone".

    This type of moderation really works well when people post daily. So far, so good. When people miss a turn, it's not too bad (yet). This differed from my last experimental methods because I didn't really give a timetable. It was mostly wait-for-everyone-then-post-whenever. I found that the Juan-style posting worked only toward the beginning of a huge thread with lots of PCs. Toward the end, it slowed down and we often lost the momentum. This time, I made sure everyone was aware that I would post every 24-hours(ish).

    When I'm getting ready to post, I create a reply with "Posting in Progress" to tell people who jump in a few minutes after me that I'm basically cutting things off at that point. So whoever posted before me gets a moderated directly. Then I just copy-paste my prepared post from the Google doc, go through it again to make sure it's neat and makes sense, then click post.

    I really, really like this way of handling a large group of PCs (15-20) because it allows us to maintain an active 'image' of what's happening. It's too hard for me to remember what the hell happened to 15-20 PCs if I don't post to it for 1-2 weeks. I'm not smart enough for that lol. I keep mentioning the momentum, because it's something I know works for me as a mod. If I am excited to post to your thread, the post will happen. If we lose steam, posting becomes a struggle and it will likely take a long time and a lot more effort. I need the mental images fresh in my head to moderate. It's one of my many flaws, haha.

    Serion -- glad to hear that you're having fun bud! We need the veterans to enjoy themselves, too. Can't let all the newbies have all the fun!
    Posted August 12, 2014 at 02:08 AM by Straylor Leonard Straylor Leonard is offline
  13. Old Comment
    Trying not to die - check.

    I think that it's a very good example of the changes that have been happening across Aelyria, these threads of yours. They *feel* (to me) player driven. That is helpful and empowering and fun, too. For me, they've given me the opportunity to use them - because Hay'aan has really thought about them. And for me and Barthelme, they added a really fantastic twist to an existing subplot - we'd become "frienimies" and were fond of each other in a crazy sort of way. And we kept running into each other - then, we saw each other's faces here, not the Dreamwalking / Twisted faces (or bikini elf etc). That has led to some fantastic stuff for the two pc's and some difficult stuff too.

    So, I suppose (long and over explained? Me? Never!) what I'm trying to say is that another really useful thing from these threads for me personally has been the meeting of new people, the solidifying and changing of relationships with all sorts of folks, Barth, sure, but also Dara and Theldor, Quil etc.

    So yes, I like. How you keep it going is beyond me but I'm very glad you do!
    Posted August 12, 2014 at 10:13 AM by Hay'aan Malinconico Hay'aan Malinconico is offline
  14. Old Comment
    Straylor Leonard's Avatar
    Quest Notice:
    I'll be posting on schedule around 10pm Pacific Standard time! That's in about 10 hours! Please try to post for this round before then. As a fair warning, this is a very, very important round so make sure to get your actions in!
    Posted August 12, 2014 at 02:45 PM by Straylor Leonard Straylor Leonard is offline
  15. Old Comment
    Diamea's Avatar
    Let's say that i'm a newbie here and this is my first adventure; personally I'm really enjoying the fact that Straylor do one post always about the same time so I don't have to continue to keep an eye on when there will be a new post. Overall I'm really enjoy this adventure!
    Posted August 12, 2014 at 04:13 PM by Diamea Diamea is offline
  16. Old Comment
    Barthelme's Avatar
    Hello, Straylor! Let me start by saying that I've really enjoyed this series of quests. The large number of players involved give them a truly epic feeling, and the quick posting cycle keeps things moving along very nicely.

    I've also appreciated the diversity of scenarios you've provided and the cool twists and secret achievements you throw in along the way. It's neat to see how the adventure can develop in unexpected ways based on what the players are doing. And like Hay'aan says, there have been great opportunities for character development in these stories.

    That said, I do have one suggestion. In my opinion these adventures could use a little more IC motivation built into them, instead of relying on OOC factors such as us players knowing we're going to get treasure or reputation by doing certain things.

    For example, in the latest thread, you gave us the option to try to kill Negev back at the market. Almost nobody went that route. Because, really, why would they? OOC we knew we would get red rep if we decided to do that, which might motivate players who wanted red rep, but IC? Most of our characters never even got told exactly why the crowd wanted her dead. So unless your character was just a totally random troublemaker by nature... or had a special hatred of beggars, women, or beggar-women... there was little IC reason to attack her.

    There might have been more takers if there had been an NPC in the crowd offering a reward for her head. Or a powerful NPC indicating that he wanted the beggar dead and would look favorably on those who helped kill her. Or, heck, even just a rabble-rousing merchant or whoever explaining to everyone in detail why the woman had to die.

    And then there's the current situation. We know OOC that helping Negev will be a good idea and can lead to rewards, but IC? All our characters know is that Negev has told us diddly squat and is now asking for our help against some unknown threat, for reasons she has not yet elaborated on. That's why you've got Quil and Barthelme, among others, being all pissy right now.

    Same deal, really, with the option to help the bad guys in chapters 3 and 8. While it was nice to have the option to side with the evil dudes, and again there was a red rep award in the cards for OOC motivation, there was little IC reason to take it. The Dragon Lich didn't even offer to spare anyone that followed it, and the Necromancers were basically asking people just to help them out of love for the Aeternians. Not much motivation at all for non-Aeternian worshiping PCs.

    Hence Barthelme being super grumpy about Corwin pestering him to side with the Necromancers, anyway. (It was like, "But why? What do we get out of it? Nothing? Dammit Corwin! I don't even worship the Aeternians!")

    Please note, I'm not suggesting a bigger reward for siding with the bad guys. Maybe just an alternate reward. (Good side? "Join us, and we will give you this Wand of hugs and cuddles." Bad side? "Join us instead, and get this Wand of punting puppies." That sort of thing.)

    Speaking of Barthelme: Why is he helping the other PCs in Chapter 9, you ask? Because he has no reason not to.

    Again, it comes down to motivation. Barthelme isn't a "do evil for the sake of being evil" type of villain. Really, he's more of an anti-villain. He's generally nice, or at least merely clueless, unless he feels the situation calls for being nasty. And right now he's traveling with these people and depending on them to help keep him alive. So of course he's going to help them.

    And besides, he has fond feelings for Lyna, and even (oddly) Hay'aan, so he might have helped just for their sake in any case.

    If there was a PC or NPC he liked urging him to kill everybody, then it might have been a different story.
    Posted August 12, 2014 at 08:52 PM by Barthelme Barthelme is offline
    Updated August 12, 2014 at 08:54 PM by Barthelme
  17. Old Comment
    Lyr Tlansson's Avatar
    Yeah, I really like these adventures too. I like that they're fast, and that the action in them moves fast, and that they can accommodate so many pcs - super, super impressed by that. But I think having so many pcs is actually benefitial because it allows for a lot of variety of pc motivation in a single thread, whereas if you have only two or three pcs in a thread it's actually not that easy to balance out if pcs start working against each other.

    I wouldn't want to have just these kinds of adventures - at times the very overtness of it is kinda hockey (but that's part of the charm, too!) - but as an alternative to the usual, I love it.

    And super huge kudos to you for having the guts and creativity to just try something new like this. That in itself is super inspiring. <3
    Posted August 12, 2014 at 11:14 PM by Lyr Tlansson Lyr Tlansson is offline
  18. Old Comment
    Straylor Leonard's Avatar
    Diamea -- I'm glad that you were a part of this adventure! The best part about Aelyria is that every thread you join has the potential to make lifelong friends, rivals, and even enemies while you write your character's story with us.

    Barthelme -- your character is definitely one of the more complex ones I've ever moderated. But thank you for your comments and your suggestion. You're right. I definitely struggle with giving a stronger "IC hook" -- which is why I make use of explicit objectives (inspired by Kaelon's own moderation during the famous Ancient Aelyrian / Awakening plotlines. I think the IC motivation should rely more heavily on the Player and his/her character. At the end of the day, this is a game, and I'd love for it to feel like that while I'm playing and moderating Why don't you give me more suggestions from the previous chapters? What other IC motivations would you have given if you were the mod? I want to know!

    Lyr -- thank you My personal motivation for the series was to get as many Players together this summer so that we have events to think back on when the forums slow down again in the fall. So I definitely want to add to the different types of adventure threads we offer on the site, not make this the only kind we offer.
    Posted August 13, 2014 at 01:00 AM by Straylor Leonard Straylor Leonard is offline
  19. Old Comment
    Big fan here, but you already knew that.

    Thank you so much for running these adventures. Faen is a new PC and I don't think she would have taken off so quickly or been so much fun without you! Lots of plot and character stuff coming up now just because of a few crazy Straylor adventures.

    Posted August 13, 2014 at 08:23 AM by Faengwen Tash Faengwen Tash is offline
  20. Old Comment
    Dara Hakim's Avatar
    To be honest I don't like the ooc boxes. I personally find them to be a too heavy-handed tool to corral PCs into taking certain actions.

    I can understand why they are used in an adventure of this scale. When you have over 20 PC taking party, they certainly help to keep the momentum and focus going. And they are may be useful for players who are new to Aelyria and who need direction and having things flagged up in this ooc fashion.

    But being told that if 'x' doesn't happen, then the adventure is over, or that if a PC chooses to do 'x' they'll get loot or rep (of whatever color), or being told that you have x numbers of turns to achieve an objective, feels like I'm being overly directed as a player as to what to do next. Often it feels like I am taking an action to fit in with the direction that is being flagged up, and then afterwards thinking about what could motivate my PC to have it make sense. Which is a bit like putting the cart before the horse.

    I like to think that on the whole I ignore these ooc boxes but in the end I do know they have an influence on what I decide to do. Cos I'm only human in the end
    Posted August 13, 2014 at 09:25 AM by Dara Hakim Dara Hakim is offline
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