Lillian How long have you been GMing?
Azseth Ugh. Making an old person think back isn't that nice. I've been GMing for roughly...6 years. Maybe 7.
Lillian What made you decide to GM in the first place?
Azseth I think what made me want to GM was what makes many people hesitant to GM or even jump into RPs. Failed RPs. I had joined a handful of other RPs in one form or another, and they all folded and left me with thoughts and plots in my head, and characters hanging around like, "Az, what the hell just happened?"
I am not sure how most players are, but I know most GMs and all good players have this thing where they put thoughts and feelings and the most important thing, time, into things they create, be it a character, a world, whatever.
Sure, you can put those thoughts elsewhere and make new characters, but some people like me feel empty after that happens. And. You can't get time back. That's the real bitch of it. So when I started GMing, I figured I may not have ALL the power to keep an RP going and keep it from folding, but I have more power than being a player in someone else's RP.
Lillian How would you define a "Successful RP"
Azseth that's somewhat tricky, but in its more simple form, I say an SL (storyline, an old AOL term, sorry) that meets the GMs' and player's goals. Some RPs are made with a certain end in mind. Reaching it is "a success" in my eyes.
But deeper than that, it's when an RP captivates people, gets them really looking forward to more and challenging them. I know sometimes, I sit up at 3 in the morning and my mind is RACING with ideas and thoughts and all that. I think THAT is successful, in my eyes anyway. I HOPE my RP's do that to others. I hope it inspires them and excites them. So I guess to ME a successful RP is what has people feeling as excited to participate in an SL that I GM as I am to host it.
Lillian Do you have a RP that you feel is/was particularly successful?
Azseth Surviving: The End. I'm particularly proud of the name in and of itself, because I normally have big issues with coming up with something that isn't just cut and dry, or cliche in terms of a name for an RP. I know something small like that isn't probably a big deal but to me, it's huge. It was all good from then on. It's in its second season and it's a zombie survival RP.
Lillian Can you pinpoint what made it successful?
Azseth Me. Haha. Just joking. Then again, a lot of truth is said in jest, right? But, part of it is my drive. I say it pretty frequently that "this SL is more important than your character, or your feelings. Regardless of anything, this storyline will move." Because of that, it doesn't become stagnant, and thus, people don't lose focus or interest. Those that DO, well, to me it helps me weed people out. It's a damn zombie RP. Go inactive, your character gets eaten.
I think the other thing is that, this IS a zombie survival RP, but it's more than that. From day one, I wanted this SL to be something different from the dime-a-dozen zombie RPs out there.
Lillian So what makes it different?
Azseth This SL isn't about killing zombies, or zombies much at all. It's unique because it is about the characters. What they have been through. What they've seen. Then how it affected them, how they've changed. How different they are, or the things they've done to stay the same. I want to focus on that. The people the changes, and then the last part is, how all of the characters affect EACH OTHER. This is the key, this is what I want people to keep in the forefront of their minds.
Backtracking a bit, another thing that makes this SL what it is, obviously, is the players. The core group I have are great, some of the new guys are really good to have around. The others, well, they make great zombie chow when they bow out.
Another thing is that I try to shake things up. I'm prone to killing my own characters suddenly and with little thought, to the point that I almost regret it and other players are miffed at me. In fact, they made a term, they call it being "Azseth'd" and it's when a player kills his/her own character too soon and with little warning and possibly regret it moments after.
Lillian How clearly do you plot your RP, do you plan for an end or make things up as you go along?
Azseth Well, it all depends on the RP. I've had several smaller, close ended RPs that have had a clearly identified end. For S:TE though, I keep it more vague. For season 1 for example, I just said something akin to "I want season 1 to end when the survivors escape the building." What happened between point A and B, we made up as we go along. But then, some SLs require more direct movements, it just depends on the group and the SL and the end result that is desired.
Lillian How much control of the story do you allow your players?
Azseth Tricky again. It depends on the players, and it depends on the SL. One RP I am really, REALLY itching to try out is a survival horror where I myself have no character and just run everything else, while the players have little to no idea what is going on and have to investigate and make up conclusions for themselves. But in Surviving, they have what I'd consider a moderate amount of control and freedom. I LOVE a player that does not need to be led, or placed like a piece or food sped plot. It is very nice. So long as the players do not do anything that goes against the integrity of the story, or that completely derails the SL as a whole, I am ok with it. And to be honest, it's nice to be thrown a curve ball every once in a while and have to adapt my own thought process.
Lillian What was your biggest mistake as a GM and what did you learn from it?
Azseth I think my biggest mistake has been not scrutinizing people and challenging their long term interests. While I do not think this is fool-proof, I found that doing things to test people's resolve or willingness to work with players and the GM upfront work best. Also, intimidate people upfront vice once an RP is live. Maybe 'intimidate' doesn't sound like then nicest way to say it, but, it is what it is.
Lillian How would you implement that?
Azseth The main weapon in my arsenal is being upfront and clear with what I expect in players IC and OOC. I mean, painfully so. I state all my expectations bluntly, almost to the point where it may make people hesitate to join.
Good. I'd rather have people who are inconsistent or easily put off NOW as opposed to later, when the RP is going. This also makes it easier to remove those that are negatively affecting the SL. I think that is a crucial part of keeping an SL going.
My other weapon of choice is brutal honesty and not fearing hurting someone's feelings. If someone isn't active, I call them out on it. I generally do not just *BOOM* kick someone out, but I'll ask them point blank why they are not active and advise them that if they are not interested, leave. If a player isn't posting in a way that keeps the RP running smoothly, I'll tell them, offer them advice and ask them if something I did was not clear. Just as I am honest, I expect them to be so with me.
I try to go by the motto that 3 good, solid players who care about the story and each other is better than 10 players I have to babysit or lead or drag along. And I don't really care if I ruffle someone's feathers. I look at it like this. I PM JoePlayer and ask why he's not RPing in my SL, ask if he's lost interest. If he's upset at me for having the audacity to question him, then I am ok with it. Either change my impression, or accept WHY someone would get that impression and live with it. I'm not focused on players feelings, I'm focused on the SL. If I focus on my SL continuing, I'll have 2, 3 or 5 people who's feelings are NOT hurt, because the SL is running. Or I could focus on NOT hurting ONE players feelings and not worry about the other half a dozen waiting on JoePlayer to get with the program.
Still with me? One LAST thing I do specifically is make it mandatory to do certain things. I have dealt with plenty of people who, if you ask them for a sample post for example, they flake out. I say, good I'd rather have them NOT be able to work with me now and NOT be a part of the SL than to be brought on board and then leave because I turned the plot in a way that they did not want. Another thing I do is just make things mandatory, and yes, sometimes I do so just because I know some people will have a problem with it. I'd rather deal with NOT accepting people up front than the head aches of refilling rosters, adjusting plots and NPCing characters to keep things smooth.
Lillian Despite all these screens do you still encounter problem players and if so how do you deal with them?
Azseth Yes, it's something that I try to limit, but I know I will never remove it completely. Again, I always err on the side of being blunt and direct. Let me back track for a second also. Almost ever SL I start I make a pretty details list of my expectations. I make all players read it and PM me back acknowledging it. Now this again does not work absolutely, but what it DOES allow me to do is not feel that people don't understand my expectations, or leave me wondering if I was clear. So... If I have an issue, I address it with people. I make them aware of how I feel, why and then leave it open to them at that point. I have zero qualms with removing anyone from my SL, and I make that clear before and during this phrase of weeding people out.
Lillian What would be the best bit of advice you would give a new GM about how to run a successful RP?
Azseth A few things. Make sure players respect you. Period. I'm not saying make sure they worship you. But make them respect the time and effort you are essentially giving them, for free and with the sole hope that they'll not disappear on you or negatively affect an RP.
Next, you can never fail with being honest. Give expectations, concepts, anything a player can read and say "wow, yeah, I like that" or be like, "man, that guy wants a post a week, mandatory? F' that."
Put the effort to keep people who are not conductive or beneficial out BEFORE! Keep them out by any means necessary NOW.
I think the biggest thing is to put your RP or SL FIRST. It should go before your feelings on a players, before your character or how you want them to end up. If you do everything for the sake of keeping an RP alive, (even before your own feelings or wants) then you're doing right. Boot someone to keep it going? Yessir. Or. Occasionally GIVE IN to what the players may be wanting, even if it isn't what you wanted initially. Let them challenge YOU into thinking outside the box, do it to keep the SL going. Keep the players interested and knowing you're willing to listen. [/B]
Lillian Anything else you want to add?
Azseth Yeah. I think that being an assertive GM is the way to go. Players that haven't GMed do not realize all of the time, and effort that go into running an RP. Hold players accountable for their actions. Communicate with them. Demand that a player respect you and you time.
There is nothing wrong with being assertive and doing what you need to do to ensure that your RPs succeed. I started a group that focuses on this because I know firsthand what it takes to put yourself out there in form of starting RPs and how empty you can be left feeling after one dissolves because of the nature of players. The group is meant to be a positive environment for players and GMs alike to come in and get together with people who are not only put back by the lack of consistency, but are just looking to avoid focusing on that negative aspect of RP and instead find some like minded people. PM me if interested!