Topic: A Hidden GM Category

I would like to make the following suggestion in the public forum (this is an extension of this thread).

Proposal Background

In the old country we had a private space for GM's to store information on the stories and characters that they created and shaped. The information was put in a space where other GM's could view it. It allowed for NPC's to be shared, for our version of a particular Universe to retain a consistency throughout as summaries of events, characters that went off-screen, and all of these things were easily accessed by different GM's other than the ones responsible for the inception of those ideas.

Imagine for a moment that you've created an NPC and they aren't simply a flat character, they have relationships with other characters, they have motives and resources, they have their own perspective and certain feelings. That character has details of their past left up to the imagination of the reader and their future is still uncertain until it is written and canonized on our site. You've been keeping information on this character made available to other GM's via this private GM-space and you get an e-mail/PM from another GM who is seeking your permission to expand on this NPC's life. They want to add details to their past or to fill in the blanks on some of their time spent off-screen, or to offer a direction the character can go.

Why? Because: good storytelling. Imagine instead that you are a player on a sim and you had left certain things in your character's past left unknown. Perhaps the fate of a loved one or your character's origins, or maybe the character had a part of their life where they may have been too promiscuous or heavily influenced by alcohol, drugs, or some other dark, memory-shredding literary tool, or perhaps they suffer from amnesia. Or perhaps it's some small point that was just never decided, e.g. who you roomed with in your first year at university, or who your trenchmates were in some war. Whatever the case, you've not explained something in your character's past. And oh, by the way, your sim will soon be linking up with another sim for a time.

How will your GM handle these voids in your character's past? Ignore them would be the easiest solution, but what if there's an NPC out there somewhere who also has voids in their past? How easy would it be to ignore the potential of some really juicy storytelling by tying together two characters?

Creating new NPC's can be hard work. A flat character is straightforward but a world that is all flat NPC's is dull and lacking. But when most of the work is already done on an NPC it's much easier to simply contribute a small part to that character than to make a 3-dimensional one from scratch. Especially when a character with an on-screen history is more interesting and more compelling than a new character that no player characters have previously encountered.

Likewise there are locations which become shared. And in so many ways locations are as much a literary tool as NPC's and can have just as many complexities. Sharing all manner of literary tools is an essential part of creating a compelling shared universe. Without this sort of sharing of information we're just a bunch of separate sims that occasionally work out deals with each other.

Organization

Currently we have things as follows: Category -> Forum -> Thread

Categories sort Forums very well, Forums sort Threads by most recent post. I strongly dislike the notion of information on sims being sorted by "most recent post" because it means it will be more difficult to keep track of sim information. So I'd sooner see one of these two things happen:

1. Each sim merits its own forum for the retention of information; or,
2. Each forum has a stickied "index" thread in which a list of all sims and each of their threads is kept organized so that it can be referred to easily

I will assume #1 for the remained of the proposal as I feel it's the cleanest and requires the least amount of maintenance (plus someone has to be willing to take the responsibility of maintaining the index for #2)

Alternate Suggestions

As a preface to the proposal, I would like to point out three ways of going about doing some of this. I'd like the reader to know that I am assuming Instance 1 below for the proposal for the time being but will later discuss the benefits of each.

Instance 1: the Category is private but individuals may be assigned permissions to view that Category and all forums within it.
Instance 2: the Category is public but each individual forum beneath it has its own individual privacy options. (a forum in the Category that is public no matter what might be useful, especially for those who do not have any permission to anything else in the Category)
Instance 3: no Category, put in a GM area in each existing Category that holds sims and have their permissions be individually managed.

The Proposal

What I'm suggesting is simple. We should create a category for the sharing of plot information, NPC's, and other literary tools of the person/place/thing variety. In the creation of the category we shall attribute to it the following:

  • it shall be hidden to all except to GM's, the TC, and the GC (and to whomever the GC delegates appropriate responsibilities regarding said category)

  • its sole purpose shall be to facilitate collaboration between GM's

  • GM's will be invited to create a space for their individual sims where their information can be stored and made available to other GM's

  • GM's will be invited to utilize a common space in which GM's can engage in open conversation with all other GM's where they may collaborate with one-another (this may lead to GM's taking things off-site and that's fine though they might not do so until certain measures of collaboration happen in this common space first)

  • the category shall also provide GM's the medium by which they may offer support, guidance, or critique regarding the work of other GM's (establishing some etiquette would be good and I welcome suggestions here, though I think I'd generally leave it up to GM's on how openly they wish to receive these things or if they'd like GM's to not comment unless requested, etc.)

  • the category will NOT be mandatory, GM's may choose to put in as much or as little information as they like though as a suggestion to the GM's, when they might potentially have to take a LOA or leave the sim altogether, any information provided here could be used to keep the sim going while they are gone/after they leave

  • old sim information (from sims that have closed, for instance) may also be provided here though the individual supplying the information will have to be a GM to be able to post it themselves or will have to seek the GM Support Officer to have the information posted

So let's look at the pro's and con's of Instances 1, 2, and 3 now.

Instance 1 (permissions to a hidden category)

Pros:

  • Permissions are easily and quickly managed

  • All GM's have full view of all sims allowing for general GM'ing support with direct access to info and not strictly genre-specific support with direct access to info

Cons:

  • Might not even be possible to have a full Category that is hidden (would need someone on the Tech side to confirm this)

  • Genre-specific support can get lost amidst general support (I wouldn't say this is likely but it's possible)

Instance 2 (permissions to hidden sims within a public category)

Pros:

  • Genre-specific support is easy to find, no wading through posts from other genres you aren't concerned with

  • No temptation to look at information from sims outside your genre

  • Low maintenance

Cons:

  • The Category would be visible to newcomers which some might say contributes to clutter or is otherwise unappealing

  • Moderate maintenance (see below)

  • Privacy/Permissions becomes a bit more complicated to manage as more forums open to accommodate more sims

Instance 3 (no category, 1 GM area per existing sim-holding category)

Pros:

  • Genre-specific support is easy to find, no wading through posts from other genres you aren't concerned with

  • No temptation to look at information from sims outside your genre

Cons:

  • High maintenance (see below)

  • Sims would have to be managed using organizational method #2 adding to the workload of managing the GM areas

  • Privacy/Permissions becomes a bit more complicated to manage as more forums open to accommodate more sims

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I'm expecting a bit of discussion on how people want this done, there are a lot of options to weigh here. What do people think?

Revival of this topic spun off of the suggestion of having a Firefly Space Station in sim proposals become canonized in our 'Verse without becoming its own sim such that other sims can visit it. This would be something that would land itself in one of these areas for compilation of information.

~Robert

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Re: A Hidden GM Category

Can I just note, I've moved my opposition to this idea to neutrality. I see arguments against it still, but you handed me my ass in the debate in the other thread and I've moved from very wary to kind of indifferent as I see the arguments in favour (how could I not, you've been setting them out all articulate-like), so although I am still generally quite wary of this and I'm not fully convinced it's practicable, I'm certainly not leader of the opposition any more.

Ash

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Re: A Hidden GM Category

Ash Leighton Plom wrote:

although I am still generally quite wary of this and I'm not fully convinced it's practicable

Actually this isn't a suggestion for the thing you were opposed to. It's a suggestion that we just get a private GM area(s) established. What you were wary of was what information specifically will be posted. This motion is totally neutral on that topic, it's just a proposal that we get an area open and leave it up to GM's what they post.

The articulations were on the different ways we can do it, the pros and cons, etc. I'm not advocating anything more than opening extra work space for GM's that non-GM's definitely can't see.

~Robert

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Re: A Hidden GM Category

I am not against this, but I would probably wait with posting anything about NPC's until I have seen some examples. But I do see the advantages of a setup like you propose (in general; I need to think about your specific different setups).

I also have a question: I have on several occasions created playable characters for myself from NPC's. That is to say, a characters starts out as an NPC in the background story of another character that I already play and then at some point I decide that this NPC has become interesting enough that I want to play it in another sim. An example of this is Brint Dao-Tsun, whom I play in the Umbra sim; he started out as a background character in Ryan Bow's (a character on the Atlantis) history.

And now for my question: what if I have posted information about an NPC in these GM forums but at one point decide that I want to make this character one that I want to play in another sim? Would I be allowed to withdraw this NPC from these forums and use it as a playable character?



-Mischa

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Re: A Hidden GM Category

Mischa Brendel wrote:

And now for my question: what if I have posted information about an NPC in these GM forums but at one point decide that I want to make this character one that I want to play in another sim? Would I be allowed to withdraw this NPC from these forums and use it as a playable character?

If I may I'd like to extract from this the larger question I think you're asking which is "who retains the rights of what is posted to this space?" The simple answer is "the poster". So it's your information to post and share and withdraw or move elsewhere as you please.

Most of the details I would hope would be shared in this way is a history, establishing a record of events pertaining to characters, sims, etc., so that another GM can go over, look and see "oh, and this happened back in ____ and one of my player's characters was in the area at that time so I could make a reference to this thing" or "this NPC seems like the sort that's living a double-life and could easily be the person I need doing _____ in the plot on my sim, I'd like to see if the creator agrees with that notion". That sort of thing.

So on a more complex level the poster isn't necessarily sharing anything privileged, one could easily learn that character X was responsible for event Y way back when from looking at very old posts in the sim the NPC was created in but as the GM of that sim (hopefully) recalls the details of those events without needing to go back (or at least remembers when that all happened and knows where to look for it), it makes it easier for other GM's to get to that information to do some collaborative work.

The idea is not to require information be posted or to take information from anyone, the only intent is to facilitate communication and collaboration between GM's. If a GM wishes to remain isolationist, keep their plans, their characters, their work to themselves, far be it from me or anyone else to make them share that information with others. But as mentioned, if a GM needs to take a LOA and would like someone to take over in their absence to keep things going then they needn't compile information at the last minute for that GM, or if a GM leaves a sim then the information is there ready for whatever new GM might come in to start running things, and then lastly if GM's are going to work together on anything or if a GM is looking for an already-made NPC that's out there in our site's canon for a particular genre then it's a place where they can locate NPC's that could be interesting to bring back for something and to talk to the NPC's creator to see about potentially using that NPC.

We had this same service in the old country which made for awesome roleplay because some crazy Pirate Captain NPC from 4 years ago is still "somewhere out there" in the Firefly 'Verse and a GM goes through old notes and sees that nobody knows what has happened to this character, then it's an awesome opportunity to bring back an old and interesting NPC for some excellent writing. Or like I said, when GM's leave temporarily or permanently, makes things easier.

~Robert

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Re: A Hidden GM Category

Actually yeah. The Corsair King was one of mine. I set that service up in the Old Country. If that's where we're going with this, I could vote in favour.

Ash

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Re: A Hidden GM Category

We already have a GM and SLs only forum.

Re: A Hidden GM Category

Might want to fix my access then.. Because It no longer shows up for me and the link you posted to it says it's invalid.

Raven

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Re: A Hidden GM Category

Try now. Rather stupidly, when I set the forum up, I didn't set access to the Officers...

Sorry about that.

Re: A Hidden GM Category

Not a problem boss, Just thought I'd give a heads up.

Raven

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