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Old July 20th, 2009, 08:34 AM
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Mika
もえじゃないも
 
Join Date: Nov 2005
Gender: Female
Nature: Timid
How to Make a Good Plot
[without losing your soul in the process]
a guide by Mika

Don't you DARE tl;dr me; the Table of Contents


I know that some of you are very much in the mindset of ‘omg, it’s too long, I’m not going to read it’ and that’s totally cool. If there’s just a certain portion you want to read, just lookit the lil adorable links here. <3 they’ll take you right to the section you want. ;D

Leave! Before PRP Eats your SOUUUL~ D: – this is the top of the guide

The Rules. Read ‘em and Weep – detailed eval on the rules

Ratings. No one admitted with ID. Unless you have cake. – detailed eval on rp ratings and what that means for you when making your rp. o3o

The Birth, Life, and Death of a Cookie Cutter Plot – example of a plot that won’t pass inspection ever ever ever ever ever.

I swear I didn’t see that plothole! [Basic Plot Issues] – basic ways to fix your plot

Plot Breakdown, Get Out Your Red Pens – indepth eval of a plot and how to fix it

Settings and Timelines and Bad Guys, oh my! – important features of plots people just love to leave out and how to make sure they stay in.

The ABCs of Dastardly Deeds, Borderline Torture and Naughty Behaviors – the bad guys and how not to kill them or their cannon predecessors

Leave! Before PRP Eats Your Soul!


The holidays are here! For some of us it’s hot, for some of us it’s cold but all around, PCers are trotting inside for a bit of a requiem on the roleplaying forums. For some of us, the summer is the time of year when we have time to make an rp of our very own. We don’t have school, we don’t have as many constraints on our time and neither do most of the people around us. Holidays get boring quickly without something to do and that’s where roleplaying comes in handy. :3 For some people, joining a roleplay is all they need to cure their boredom. They’re fine with being dragged around and what not and just going with the flow. For others, they need to be the one in charge. They want to call the shots, they want to handle the plot twists and they want to be able to kick those people who never post out the door. These people are Roleplay Masters. :3 –dramatic music-

However! There is a catch! Like everything on the PC forums, there are some rules as to what you can and cannot do as an RP Master. As you know, RP threads have to be okay’d by a moderator before they’re up for the world to see. It’s a form of quality control, something put in place to upkeep the standards the PC rp forums are known for. It’s not because the staff team thinks you’re a bad person; threads are not approved or declined based on that sort of thing. Whether or not your roleplay is accepted is based on what you, as the roleplay master, put forth before them.

The basic guidelines have been given to you by Alter Ego and Loki.

The Rules. Read ‘em and Weep


What’s below is what is needed in every single roleplay before they can be accepted.

Quote:
Originally Posted by PRP Rules
Like any fan fiction, you have to have an idea before you can make the story, and this is exactly what a plot is. A plot is a sort of idea given to the members so as they can build on it. Without a plot you cannot produce an RP. For example, at the start of a game or some stories, you normally have a Prologue or summary of what the game or book is about, this is a plot.
Short and sweet, you need a basis to your roleplay; a story that will unfold like the pages of a book as the players you accept progress through it. This basis is a plot and without it, your roleplay will flounder because it won’t be able to get anywhere. I’ll explain a little later in detail why this happens, but for now, we’re gunna leave it at this. :3

Quote:
Originally Posted by PRP Rules
Originality: Which will draw members to the RP, the last thing you want to do is a have a plot about a bunch of trainers going on a journey as you would see in the Pokemon Anime, no, you want a good story with a few plot twists. We are not stopping you from starting a Trainer RP, but it would be an idea to add a few plot twists and some adventure, this is what draws members to your RP.
By far, one of the most important factors in a good roleplay is the Originality. For those of you who have seen my plots, for example, I personally tend to fire a ball so far out of the park it hits Chuck Norris. Alter Ego, on the other hand, tends to go for a more twisted approach to simplistic things; taking things like a tournament and gradually unveiling it into a plan to destroy the world that no one saw coming in a million years is more his cup of tea. Both styles are, in a sense, polar opposites of each other, but are unique enough to stick out like Waldo in a crowd. If it’s something potential players have never seen before, they’re more likely to put effort into writing an application if they choose to apply.

Quote:
Originally Posted by PRP Rules
Detail: Description, History and emotions all come into the detail of a Plot; with out detail the plot will have no feel and therefore not attract members. We’re not saying it has to be a 14 page essay, but make it more than 4 lines and add some description into it to allow members to have the idea of what the plot is about.

Depth: Unfortunately, we are not accepting Plots that are less then 5 or 6 lines, and that is absolute bare minimum, and only if you managed to fit every little detail into those 5-6 lines. You should have enough so that the roleplayers in your RP are not wandering around trying to find something to do. Some RPer’s like long novel-like plots that describe a story that took place before the actual roleplay- That counts as a plot. But other RPer’s like plots that are straight to the point, and simply describe what will happen in the plot.
This is, in my opinion, the tricky little devil that can cause the most problems for people when they’re trying to get a roleplay approved. The one thing that can mess people up the most is leaving too much for the imagination and not giving the potential players enough of an insight into the roleplay to want to join. In truth, in my own personal observations, it’s one of the main reasons people see a “GARYSTU’S roleplay declined for severe lackings in plot” in the ‘has your roleplay been accepted yet?’ thread. Again, we’ll go more into this later but for the moment, I want to turn your attention to the other side of the coin:

Quote:
Originally Posted by PRP Rules
…not saying it has to be a 14 page essay….
Having too much needless information is just as bad as having too little information in some cases, the most obvious being that a huge mountain of text is very likely to make people go ‘tl;dr’ and either miss vital points in your plot or sign up or just give up on it all together. It’s a balancing act and tipping the scale either way is a big fat no-no. If you’re not sure how to balance, never fear, Mika is here! But again we’re getting to that later and I don’t want to sound like a broken record…yet.


Quote:
Originally Posted by PRP Rules
Interest: Originality and Detail all come into the interest of the plot. You want to draw members to the RP so make it interesting by adding a few plot twists and furthermore, just making up your own story.

This is the hardest part about running a roleplay, keeping the interest alive and well. Everyone has days when their muse is horrid and refuses to obey even with stern prodding but if the muse completely dies, the roleplay often follows suit. It’s not really possible to prevent writer’s block; it happens to everyone. However, it’s possible to reduce the duration of such muse loss by equipping your roleplay with a sub plot twist here and there, to keep your members busy while you sort things out. I’m no master, I’ve had two roleplays fall into the prp graveyard because of this very problem but I’ve started to learn that giving the players a little freedom to mingle is a good way to keep my own sanity. :3 Again, we’ll go more into this a little later on.

Ratings. No one admitted with ID. Unless you have cake.



So, now that we’ve gone over the basics of plot, before we go into much more detail, we’re going to talk about ratings because it’s A) part of the rules and B) important to keep in mind when you begin to develop your plot. PC has guidelines on what qualifies under what section and, like all other rules, we must obey with happy smiles and cheerful laughter. :3

Quote:
Originally Posted by PRP Rules
G- RPs with a G rating are meant for all audiences. There are no mentions of drugs, swearing, or strong violence.
Believe it or not, my favorite roleplays have been G Rated. I know there’s a portion of roleplayers that believe that without violence and gore and romance, a plot won’t survive or be anywhere near popular. These people obviously haven’t looked at Disney/Pixar movies [Monsters Inc etc] and compared the basic plotlines that are child friendly and for the most part violence free to the popularity that follows it. I don’t remember really any movies with a rating higher than PG – 13. You really don’t need to have the more adult themes to have something that sticks with people for a long time afterwards.


Quote:
Originally Posted by PRP Rules
PG-13- The PG-13 rating is required when an RP may contain mention of drugs, and has some violence and minor swearing.

PG-14 through PG-17- These ratings contain content ranging from weak to mild blood and gore, swearing, and violence. Minor sexual themes are permitted in RPs with a rating of PG-16 or higher.
All talk of the grey area between G and PG-13 aside, if you’re dealing with drugs, serious romance, mild gore, violence and or swearing, your roleplay falls somewhere into this category. First and formost, if you have any sort of concern about where your roleplay fits, pm your section mod posthaste and ask for their professional opinion on the matter. At this point in time, that would be either Loki[PRP/ORP] or Alter Ego.[PRP] There is absolutely no shame in running your stuff by a mod before it’s submitted officially but it’s always best to ask first. :3 I’m 98% sure they wouldn’t mind but a warning before a giant wall of text hits their inbox would probably be appreciated. As they’re the people with the shiney bold names, they’re the ones who can tell you exactly where your roleplay fits so you don’t need to worry about messing it up. While it may not seem like it, I’m sure none of the staff enjoys infracting or warning people so much that they’re not wiling to help members out who ask nicely. :3

Quote:
Originally Posted by PRP Rules
Restricted- The restricted rating is the most frowned upon rating, usually containing unnecessary amounts of sexual themes, swearing, and gore. You may not make an RP that is R rated!
To quote Signomi, this particular style of roleplaying is just not my cup of tea. If you need this much sex, violence and bloodshed to keep a plot alive then you honestly don’t have a plot to begin with.

So with all of the formalities aside, we’re moving on now to the stuff you’re actually reading this guide for: how to make a plot people want to join that gets accepted that stays alive despite problems and hurdles along the way.

The Birth, Life, and Death of a Cookie Cutter Plot


To do this, I’m going to show you an example of a plot that starts in a place where neither Alter nor Loki could ever accept it and I’m going to edit it, showing you how I personally do it in the process and offering suggestions you can apply to your own plots. :3 If you’d like to use this as a tutorial, by all means, grab a plot in process and go through this procedure with me. I’d love to see any results that I’ve helped with as well. >///<

So, here’s the basic baby plot we’re going to be working with and, for kicks and giggles and sunshine, I threw it at Alter Ego to see if it would be accepted. Low and behold, we’ve got the official declined without any hint of a doubt stamp on this little baby. We’re going to be working on this throughout the rest of this guide. O3o

Spoiler:

Story
did u know that there is a contry called Alarayne?!?!?

it is out in the ocean and like in Kantp, there were like gyms!!!!! but their not gyms!!!! Their orb shrines!!!! their’s one for each element and their’s a Legendary their toooooo!!! (and u can catch it if you want) all the Legendaries live there but you can only catch them if I say just like the (493, that’s all of them) pokemon that are all here!!!!


plot!!!!!!!!!!
The island is open for traffic!!! Trainers come here to journey (its fun) They go get the orbs and fight the six guardians and become champion. TeamAquaGalaticMagma want to take over. they must be stopped. why? because there mean mean people and and so u must go to Halden Ville. Talk to Professor Pine. She will give you a pokedex and a starter (u can have any you want!!!! even mew! (but mew needs a better signup kk?))



First thing we’re going to do is strip this thing of all formatting. I know, we like to express our creativity with our favorite colors, but remember that on PC we could all potentially be using a different skin. The default font color changes for each skin so if you’re using a bright pink font that looks amazing on Midnight Misty, it could burn the eyes of everyone trying to view your thread on Sinnoh Springs. We’re a diverse group of people here and because there’s no consistent standard, this is just one of things that we need to be aware of and be sensitive towards when making our plots look unique. There’s no unspoken rule against font sizes [as long as they’re not ridiculously large or small] nor is there any unspoken rule against font style or alignment. Find the simple things you can tweak and do just that; tweak them slightly into a manner you like.

So, taking this concept into play, here’s what our plot looks like now:

Spoiler:

Story
did u know that there is a contry called Alarayne?!?!?

it is out in the ocean and like in Kantp, there were like gyms!!!!! but their not gyms!!!! Their orb shrines!!!! their’s one for each element and their’s a Legendary their toooooo!!! (and u can catch it if you want) all the Legendaries live there but you can only catch them if I say just like the (493, that’s all of them) pokemon that are all here!!!!

Plot
The island is open for traffic!!! Trainers come here to journey (its fun) They go get the orbs and fight the six guardians and become champion. TeamAquaGalaticMagma want to take over. they must be stopped. why? because there mean mean people and and so u must go to Halden Ville. Talk to Professor Pine. She will give you a pokedex and a starter (u can have any you want!!!! even mew! (but mew needs a better signup kk?))


Alright, so now that we’ve got the colors stripped, it’s a bit easier to look at. :3 Next, let’s tackle the basic grammatical problems in this little thing. Basic grammatical errors include punctuation errors, capitalization, sentence structure and spelling errors [including correct usage of words like ‘they’re’ ‘their’ ‘there’ ‘your’ ‘you’re’ etc]. It’s also important to remember that we don’t use the scripting style of roleplaying here on PC; we know how to string together sentences. This implies that while you may use chatspeak in your posts in the lounge and in other places on PC, roleplays really aren’t the best place for it. Chatspeak isn’t universal and PC is. :3 Contrary to popular belief, we do have creatures from other worlds. Just look at Alter Ego, a card gaming Deity, and X- 626, a known Robot, fruity lime-like people, that shiny person from OT who makes people lose the game, ADD Pichus, yogurt eating dogs, people who can’t keep their signatures for more than 2 hours without exploding and candy obsessed individuals [as well as various other members] who seem to lack the need to sleep to survive. You also want to keep your plot and “Out of Character” sections separate so people can follow the story line without having to pause to read your notes. You can still include these points in an "information section" of sorts or within the rules. For now, we'll put it in the information section. We also want to make sure we’re not using the same word over and over and that we’re using transitional words like ‘and’, ‘or’, ‘but’, ‘however’ ‘because’ etc. With these corrections, the following is what we’ve now got:

Spoiler:

Story
Did you know that there is a country called Alarayne?!?!?

It is out in the ocean. Like in Kanto, there are gyms but they are not the same. They are orb shrines. There is one for each element and there’s a Legendary there too!

Plot
The island is open for traffic! Trainers come here to journey. They go get the orbs and fight the six guardians and become champion. TeamAquaGalaticMagma want to take over. They must be stopped! Why? Well, because there mean, nasty people. You must go to Halden Ville. Talk to Professor Pine. She will give you a pokedex and a starter.

Information
All the Legendaries live there but you can only catch them if I say, just like the (493, that’s all of them) pokemon that are all here!
All the starters are available! You can have any you want, even mew but mew needs a better signup kk?))



I swear I didn’t see that plothole! [Basic Plot Issues]



Alright, so now, before we go into detail on how to develop this plot skeleton, I’m going to prod at a problem I’ve seen in several roleplays. It’s more of a pet peeve than an unspoken law but it’s on the separation of Story and Plot. There really is no difference between these two words and what I think most people are looking for here is History. Most of the time, it’s best to keep your plot all together in one little bunch. If you feel the need to separate your backstory from the current plot the players are involved in and a simple double enter won’t work, you can separate it into something along the lines of the following, I’ll show an example, the words given are just a guide to give you an idea of what the generic field is for so you should be creative and chose new words. n-n

Note, you don't need to use the title ish words if you don't want to. Some people use it but some people don't. However, both parts need to be valid for a roleplay to have the ability to live long and stuff. o3o

Spoiler:

Introduction/Prolouge/The Beginning [etc]
Your intro would go here, the flowery language, the legend, the land before the bad guys took over etc. It shouldn’t really do more than give background information on what’s gone on to lead up to the problem. You don’t want this bit to be longer than the plot, to be honest, and neither should be insanely long.

Plot/Current Times/Nowadays/Today [etc]

This is the meat of everything you’re doing, this should be the focus over every other section because this is what will make or break someone’s decision to join your roleplay. How has the world changed between the intro and the now? What has caused the players to be called to action? Do they have to respond? Is it free will or something more? Make sure you tie it all together into a conclusion of sorts so you leave your readers guessing, but you don't leave them so far hanging they lose interest or go off on too wild of a tangent. You want your potential members to think they’re thinking outside the box when really, you’ve got them trapped inside your plot-maze. o3o The purpose of this is to make sure you keep the control at the very top so that the plot doesn’t literally run away from you. The best of roleplaying with others is the diversity their styles can bring but at the same time, if they change the plot completely on you, you won’t be able to post a plot twist.

Information/Notes to the Read/READORDIE
Sometimes roleplays need this section to explain logistics of what’s going on. A classic example of this is paralleline's plot/information for his roleplay Y.Z. Act IV [PG-16]. While this is an Other Roleplay, it connects to the point I’m making to plot making in general. Sometimes you get a plotline that requires indepth detail like this ontop of the basic ‘Who, What, Where, When, Why, How” of your average storyline and that’s perfectly fine.


Plot Breakdown, Get Out Your Red Pens


So, utilizing the above, let’s look at this plot we’re working with and see what should go in which section, sentence by sentence. While we’re doing this, we’re going to talk about ways to improve on sentences and see if we should delete them, keep them or rewrite them. It seems really tedious, but it’s the first place to start if your roleplay gets rejected or if you’ve completed a draft and are checking it over for the first time. :3

Quote:
Did you know that there is a country called Alarayne?
So we’re starting our adventure on a new continent. You don’t necessarily have to do this; some of the perks of starting on a new area include people being surprised at every little turn but a downside can include the rp master having to make everything up. Extra work, for some people, is just tl;dw but for others. The extra work gives more flexibility, the canon settings give more time for super special creativity to occur. It depends on your particular style of roleplaying and how you want to go about it. This is a good start, but we need to give it a little more of a sense of special snowflake flair, something to draw the reader in just a little bit faster and give them a reason to read on. Just the title of your new region isn’t enough to keep everyone engaged and interested.

Quote:
It is out in the ocean.
We’re starting to get description here; we’re starting to find out where in the world this new continent is located in the grand scheme of things. However, this isn’t enough description by any means. One sentence does not describe the location of our new area nor does it describe how the weather is like. Same for any fic, even using a canon area, your potential players need to see in their mind where their characters are going to be. If they can’t close their eyes and see, ‘hear’, smell and feel your setting, you may need a bit more information. You don’t want to go overboard, either, leave a little bit of imagination for your players to fill in. :3


Quote:
Like in Kanto, there are gyms but they are not the same. They are orb shrines.
This is a good sort of idea, but it’s not necessarily required. We’re pointing out that this region is similar to the other regions but beyond that we’re not giving out much information. At the moment, all we know is it’s a new region, and it’s kinda like Kanto. That’s not very interesting, now is it? We’ll need to spruce things up. We’re hinting to the reader that the map is different and that the generic journey is different but how hasn’t really been specified. Sure, we’re talking about orb shrines, but what they are and how it compares and contrasts to the Kanto/Johto/Hoenn/Sinnoh conquest isn’t even discussed. This is a no-no. A big no-no. At the moment, all we’ve done is replace badge with orb. There’s no difference beyond that and this is a dangerous little plot hole many people can fall into. You don’t want to just do the same generic sort of thing like we do in the gameboy games. If you paint a dog in tiger stripes, is it a tiger or is still mr doggie? No matter how much you change its outward appearance, inwardly it’s still a dog. Journey roleplays are the same way for the most part. You can slap on a fancy pants title on the badges [a mystic orb] and you can slap on a new name for the region [Alarayne] but if you’re traveling from town to town just to collect some items so you can go beat some people and get a champion title of some sort, but it’s still, deep down, a gameboy game of some sort. You may not believe it at first, but it will become blatantly obvious in the later part of your roleplay when you steal from the gameboy plotlines just to keep your thread alive.

We’ll learn, a little later on, how to twist the journey into something more but for now, let’s move on.


Quote:
There is one for each element and there’s a Legendary there too!
The sole point I’m bringing up here is to watch your abuse of Legendaries. If you look at the games, the anime and PokeSpecial, you’ll notice that Legendaries do not pop up as frequently as Pidgies. This is because Legendary means ‘remarkable enough to be famous; very well known’ and not every single bloody pokemon is ‘Legendary’. You run into Weedles and Caterpies to the point you throw down a repel to prevent insanity. You do not do the same with the Legendary Birds. They’re also, in a sense, the de facto gods of the Pokemon World. If you put this power into the hands of every trainer in your roleplay, you’re going to have sheer chaos trying to roleplay battles and you’re going to pull your hair out trying to placate people if you don’t give everyone a legendary. I tend to take my reasoning for allowing or disallowing legendaries from PokeSpecial. If Lance, the most amazing 1337 trainer at the time, got owned in the face by a legendary, your GaryStu doesn't stand a ghost of a chance. Point here, if you’re going to use them, keep them to yourself or prepare for one hell of a headache.

Quote:
The island is open for traffic!
This could be either the ending of the intro or the beginnings of the ‘part for your part of the journey’ section; it’s a hint at transitions. They’re rather important in roleplays, believe it or not, because if your transitions are good, you will flow from point to point without too much of a problem and with as few plothole errors as possible. If you have a sharp stop and start, you can startle your readers and potentially frustrate them. As readers, for the most part, if we read something and feel like we’ve missed something, we’ll read back over and over again, looking for an answer. If the answer doesn’t exist, we’re likely to become frustrated. This isn’t to say you should reveal your entire plot, just keep your plotholes small and sneaky and your transitions clean.

Quote:
Trainers come here to journey.
So here is our first section really that focuses on the now. Trainers from all over the world can now come to this place to compete in their league but why now? Why can they come here to journey now? Was the island just opened to the public? This sentence, and its place in the plot, is completely meaningless and redundant. We’ve already talked about how we need to avoid simple statements and go into further detail; this is no exception. Just throwing down a simple statement like this isn’t going to suffice; you need the i-in-information~!

Quote:
They go get the orbs and fight the six guardians and become champion.
See point 3. The only difference here is the Champion Title that I’ll speak of briefly here. Don’t use it unless you’ve got a plan for it because most regions only have one “champion”. I remember a roleplay that I participated in once here that had a tournament sort of spiel. It started out with a general fight your way to the top but towards the end, it became known to the main cast that they were all the champions, a select equal group that were all winners and that now needed to go and save the world as a group, not as one. None of us were expecting it at all. This is a great example of how to do that sort of thing; it doesn’t place one character blatently over another. As the roleplay master, your character is obviously important but not the most important. I’ve made that mistake before and it’s killed roleplays for me. Make sure, yourself included, that you’re spreading the love around.

Quote:
TeamRocketAquaGalaticMagma want to take over.They must be stopped. Why? Well, because there mean, nasty people.
This has got to be my biggest pet peeve with the whole of cliché boring roleplaying on PC: the abuse of the bad guys. I’m not going much into it here as I’ve dedicated an entire section of this guide to the antagonist and his role in your plot but I will say this for now: According to the Canon, whatever brand you prefer, there is no way in hell these teams would ever fuse. Ever. Not in a million years. I know, you want to use bits and pieces from all of them, but sorry, you just can’t. >:C Their leadership teams, styles of evil baddary and over all goals in their individual quests on world domination do not coincide and cannot coincide. Sorry, it just isn’t supossed to happen. Ever. *points below* However, as every story needs something to keep it going, I’ll explain the dos and don't’s at a later point. Moving on.

Quote:
You must go to Halden Ville.
As this coincides with several previous points, I’ll be brief. Originality is good, if it’s used correctly. Your town names shouldn’t be generic cookie cutter names; they should flow as nicely as can be expected. Don’t go stealing the names of big cities [Tokyo, New York, San Fran. Seattle, etc] unless your story is taking place in them. Paraville, New Port, Shiny Town, these are examples of these cookie cutter city names. Try and avoid this painfully obvious cliché. If you’re looking for a unique name with a unique twist, there’s nothing wrong with opening up a map in real life or on Google and looking in the area around where you live [If you live overseas, you’re luckier than state-side people because we’ve probably never heard of nor can we pronounce the names of the cities you can get away with using] for an interesting name or two and tweek it to fit your fancy. These names are frustrating and they can be hard to find one that honestly sticks but I promise it’s worth it.

Quote:
Talk to Professor Pine. She will give you a pokedex and a starter.
First and formost, a word on Professors: It’s great to use the canon professors [Oak, Elm, etc] but if you’re going to use them and they’re going to be remotely important in a general sort of way, make sure they’re staying in-character with their canon. Rowan is loud and obnoxious where as Elm is quiet and reserved and Bill is just plain batpoo insane. We don’t want a touchy feely Rowan, a loud and explosive Elm or a Bill at the poetry corner talking about his feelings with a cup of MooMoo Java. [Note: I know Bill isn’t ‘technically’ a prof but there are people who think he’s the bloody successor of Oak and proceed to destroy his character. Abuse I tell you, ABUSE.]

A note on starters: In the words of my family dog, professors are not candy pokemon dispensers. He’s going into much more detail than this in his own guide so I’ll be brief. In R/B/Y and G/S/C we’ve known Oak/Elm since we were small. In R/S/E, we save an incompetent fool from being eaten alive by a hungry pokemon. In D/P/Pt, we steal a pokemon. By no means do we just get a free pokemon from a professor just for being 10. It’s no sort of right all trainers receive and if you look at it that way, you can be much more creative and unique in how you establish your ‘starter’ standpoint. There’s nothing saying you have to use any of the 12 starters because not everybody starts with one of them. Have some fun with it. Have everyone receive a Pokemon from a parent, a group of friends going out to travel together, that is somehow related to the type of Pokemon the parents had.

Example: In my Pokemon Roleplay Footsteps of the Goddess, my character Mika received her starter, a Dratini, from her parents as a small child for a companion to play with. She didn’t start her journey til much after that. According to what we know of Pokemon laws, you have to be 10 to collect gym badges. You don’t have to be 10 to have a pet pokemon. It’s therefore logically sound that your character could’ve had their ‘starter’ for a long time before ever leaving their hometown. It’s just an example, you could of course do the opposite and have an older group of characters who had no interest in going on a pokemon journey and for whatever reason, they have to go on a journey now.

What I’m trying to explain here is that you don’t need to follow the game canon to have a journey sort of roleplay. If you go outside the box, further and further into the world of pokemon, you’re more likely to find something you’ve never seen before either. You can do a professor gives out a starter pokemon, by all means, but professors would only give out what they have in surplus they wouldn’t give out rare pokemon like Bulbasaurs. Maybe try a journey roleplay with a Rattatta, Sentret, Zigzagoon or a Bidoof. If you really want to make your players work, try a Caterpie, Weedle, Wurmple, Burmy sort of thing. Want to get out some cute pokemon? Try taking a random pokemon with at least one evolution from each gen. An example [using cute pokemon. *-*]: Vulpix, Phanpy, Skitty, and Cherubi. You can easily replace the cute pokemon with babies, have a group of young breeders with baby form pokemon venturing out.

So now that we’ve gone over why that plot fails, we’re going to talk about ways to strengthen in further and make it unique. This is where, while I’ll show examples, if you’re following along with your own plot, you should try and branch out. Use my guidelines, not my ideas. :3 You all have wonderful creativity inside of yourselves; I’ve seen it when I’ve wandered around the forums. You just need to focus your creativity and have just a little confidence in yourself to break the normal routine. If you’re at a loss as to how to do that, never fear, for I am Sailor Chibi MikMik. On behalf of the mansion I will right typos and punish cliché plots. Prepare yourself! *sparkle pose*

Settings and Timelines and Bad Guys, oh my!


Now, to kick off the good stuff, let’s talk about setting. Setting is where your roleplay takes place. We’re not going to focus so much on how to write settings so much as how a setting can help you in creating a deeper plot. Especially when we’re dealing with an original location like Kanto, Johto, Hoenn and Sinnoh, the extra little twists [like a difference in the generic time range or changes in the environmental state of the region] can make it new, so it’s not the same thing they’ve played already on a gba.

Timelines
Starting with Pokemon Generation 2, we set a clock when we start our game. It’s normally set to the same time as your watch but does that mean it’s really the ‘same time’? No. The clock may tick to the same beat as your kitchen clock but the pokemon universe and the real universe are far from the same thing. Because of this, in most cases with some exceptions, it’s best to try and take a break from the real world and make up your own time line in a sense that your roleplay events take place in.

If you mix it up, you’ll either have to incorporate real life events that happened in this specific time frame or deal with people squabbling over how something can’t happen because of the time frame etc etc. You can still have technology [or not have it] and roughly be in the same time range ish without directly referencing a specific time and date which means you can be in the 2001~2009 time range without having to deal with the political issues surrounding the world at the time. They’re two separate realities. Unless your roleplay is set in the real world, don’t mix it, it just makes your life easier.

If you’re wanting to time jump, here are some things to remember:

KEEP YOUR TIMELINES REALISTIC AND RELATED

This is easy with things like Medieval Time ranges, when you know for a fact that there’s nothing for energy except a fireplace or maybe oil but when you get into grey areas around the industrial revolution or the turn of the centuries etc, remember to do your research. Same with skipping ahead on time. Remember, with your technology, that with new forms of power, old forms would become obsolete etc. If you watch, the technology in Poke Special and the Gundam Series evolve over the seasons, you might get a good idea of what I’m referring to. Just do your research and you’ll be fine. If done well, time frame jumps [leaving the ‘current’ time range behind] can appeal to people because of its uniqueness. However, note that if you go this path, you’ll need to include in your information section the basic dos and don’ts of your time range. It’s always better to be on the safe side, but like I’ve said before, don’t go over the top.

Setting, how to change the maps


It’s important, it’s where you’re wandering. It’s the place around your characters. The sky or ceiling over your heads, the ground or floor beneath your feet and it creates the mental picture both you and your roleplayers will use when they make their posts. Finding inspiration to write the description can be hard for some roleplayers. Don’t lose heart; you simply need to immerse yourself in the picture. The best settings and best descriptions come from the ability to close your eyes and see, hear, taste, feel and smell every intricate detail of the world their character is now immersed in. If you leave a sense out, the description can seem hollow and empty, as though there is something missing. If you can’t manage to squeeze out words to match one of those settings, there’s no need to mercilessly beat yourself with a bat. Muse at times likes to escape us. Everyone has their own ways to track it back down. For me, the best way to find my muse is to immerse myself in the type of place I’m trying to describe be it through the real world and music. For some people, watching a movie with a similar setting or looking at pictures taken by someone can rouse the muse from its hiding spot and for others, all they have to do is close their eyes. The point all these things share is that you have to immerse yourself in your setting. Find what works for you; it’s different for everyone. Don’t be surprised if you can’t find it immediately and don’t get upset if it doesn’t come easily. It won’t always and that’s by no means saying you have no idea what you’re doing.

While we’re on the subject of time and setting, it’s important to quickly point out that the two are part of the same great circle of rpg life. Certain time periods wouldn’t have certain setting materials that others would and so on and so on. You cannot have setting without timeline. Saying you’re in Johto won’t cut it. Saying you’re in Johto, post Gen 2 after Neo Team Rocket has fallen is a completely different story. You can have a setting, sure, but without putting a timeframe around it, you’re opening yourself up to paradoxes and other disturbing little buggers like that. If you want an example, you could say that the poketech and d/p/pt pokemon have appeared in generation 1, but Red hasn’t even left home yet. It’s a break in the timeframe dimensions. A more radical example would be nuclear warheads on an industrial revolution era battleship. Timeframe and setting are both equally important but separate parts that must work together efficiently and correctly for a good roleplaying backdrop. Sorry if it means more work for you guys but this isn’t something you can skip.


Last but not least, before I go into some basic tips and tricks that’ll help you beef up your roleplays, we’re going to talk about evil syndicate groups and how to make them nongeneric. Pay attention kidlets, there’ll be a quiz afterwards. v-v

Gone to take over the world buy milk, bbl

As the name suggests, this section is on the antagonist person or persons in the party. Anyone who roleplays in a Pokemon setting is familiar with Team Rocket, Team Aqua, Team Magma, Team Galaxy or one of their little spin off groups from the anime, game or manga series. You, the hero, have to have something besides the gyms standing in your way in the games. Team Rocket will never get Pikachu, Team Aqua and Magma dropped out of highshcool before taking a class on basic environmental science and Team Galaxy wants to obtain nukes. We know who they are, what they want and are about. If we're going to use them in our roleplays, we've got to make them different and unique. Most of the time, the methods people use for this tactic is simply a mirror image of how Team Rocket tries to steal Pikachu every week without fail. They put a brand new big red bow around its neck but it’s still the same old pitfall that leads into the same old repatched-for-the-hundreth-time Meowth Balloon. Point here being that it’s not unique at all and it can wear on the watcher/reader’s nerves.

A note. If you’re going to use canon teams, make sure you know the canon down cold and make sure that the timeframe fits the canon you’re using. Honestly, using Team Aqua and Magma past 3rd Gen is going to be difficult seeing as they saw the errors of their ways after the chaos of the orbs. In Gen 4, at Stark Mountain, Team Galactic is disbanded so it can’t just reappear. If you want to pull something out of your backside, at least follow the example of Gen 2 from Gen 1 and make the bad guys a group of half baked puppies who want to gain master’s attention. If you break canon by saying “TEAM MAGMA IS UP TO NO GOOD AGAIN >8C” when your story takes place after the events in generation 3, you’re not doing yourself any favors. In my experience, the only team you can possibly manipulate is Team Rocket because Giovanni just refuses to go away. It’s why I twist on them on occasion; I personally wouldn’t go after any of the other teams unless I was doing a pre-gen sort of thing but even that’s pushing it. Instead of stealing from a canon, create your own group of dastardly doom and set them loose on the region, be it old or new.

The ABCs of Dastardly Deeds, Borderline Torture and Naughty Behaviors



When you make your own evil team, the first thing you need to think about is whether or not they do most of their operations out in the open or if they’re more hidden behind the scenes. If we look at the antagonist in general, most fall into one of two categories with a good bit of grey matter inbetween. The first is the outwardly evil no-good ruffians. They’ve got the control, everyone knows who they are and they can act in the open without fear of persecution. The iron fist comes down on the hidden resistance and, for the most part, they’re not afraid to do something incredibly dastardly. Most of the time, plots involving these sorts of groups involve a resistance movement that is working under viel of darkness to combat the evil and do it without the bad guys finding out. [I’ve also seen one plot before where it was an evil resistance within an evil group that was trying to assassinate the big bad. Wrap your head around that one why don’t ya. XD]

The second generic option here is the secret evil group. They’re the ones you don’t expect to be evil. Nobody would really be able to tell they’re part of such an evil organization but, through some sort of plot twist, they turn out to be the very worst type of evil villain. Through some sort of underlying scheme or betrayal in the party, they reveal themselves, blowing the players out of water. Most of these groups aren’t very well known, if known at all in the beginning and their members don’t often, if ever, publically reveal themselves as members to the general public. A double life and a certainly shocking twist when that sweet man down the street turns out to be the head of a group that’s just about to cause a disaster of epic proportions. These can be harder to pull off, mostly because your players may figure out things and bring OOC information into an IC environment, but by far, they tend to induce a higher rate of squee-ing upon completion. :3

Most of the canon teams are a combination of the two. The members, for the most part, aren’t afraid to say who they’re aligned with [unless they’re working undercover] but they tend to keep things on the down-low until the big reveal. With Team Rocket, we can look at Gen 2 and see how the group seemed to be full of it until the Tower Scandal, which they’d been planning all along. Gen 3, look at how Team Magma and Aqua kept to themselves for the most part, working behind the scenes until the respective loons decided to cover the world in earth/water. They show their face and have some notion of power but keep to themselves until the generic plot twist.

Honestly, the above is not the way to go. :/ it’s generic, it’s what happens all the time and it’s nothing we haven’t see before. Seriously. Since 1998, we’ve seen this same generic evil team pattern, it’s nothing we want to see again. This is why, while it’s your roleplay and thus your call in the end, I strongly encourage you to go outside the box, create your own bad guy and swing them and their evil schemes way out of the park, just remember that there is a such thing as too much. :3 Bad guys seeking after nukes to destroy the part of society that they hate or wish to assume control over is perfectly fine. Bad guys suddenly getting nukes to blow up the Indigo Plateau so they can summon the mothership [Cuz the Indigo Plateau is so totally the spot where they first landed some fifty billion years ago] and return to the home planet is just a weeeee bit too much.

This is all I’ll say on the subject of bad guys for the moment because saying much more would just spin this thing out of control. xD I plan on finishing a mini guide on the antagonist as well as correct evil bad guy plot twists. It’ll have this topic in much much heavier detail so check it out if you’re still stumped or feel free to pm me; bad guys are my favorite part of roleplaying. :>
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