This is general introduction to directing, for a command reference list see Director Commands.
- 1 Introduction
- 2 Getting the Job
- 3 Basic Setting Commands
- 4 Player Commands
- 5 NPC and Monster Creation
- 6 Combat
- 7 Storytelling Advice
- 8 Other Assorted Advice
- 9 Source
Welcome to the world of running directed RP sessions in the world of Flexible Survival MUCK. My goal in this thread, through the collective help of other directors, is to be able to put an introduction to help new judges learn the mechanical commands they have access too, as well as tips on how to properly run an active event. In the end, directing, or judging as it's often referred to is very similar to DMing a D&D game, and is a mixture of storytelling, as well as guiding players along a path you created. It can be challenging, and require a lot of work if you want to be successful, but it can also be rewarding and entertaining for you as well if you approach it the right way.
Getting the Job
At this current time Nuku is still recruiting players who are at the very least interested in trying it out, and there are no actual requirements to become a first level judge beyond asking. This may change in time, but currently it's quite easy to get started. Later on, he may require an actual application or tryout period if things get cluttered. So, once you're all set and you're promoted to Judge, you'll notice you gain access to a few new powers, although at this stage you are only a first level judge, so you're actions will be restricted. You gain levels in judge and access to new commands as you gain player judge votes from running good sessions.
Basic Setting Commands
First of all, you'll want to gojdg whenever you're going to be leading a session, as it will signify you are not actually RPing with your character. If you plan to actually use your character than you'll need to swap over to goinc, but in general I recommend going judge on duty.
Your primary mode of communication will be the @emit command, it will allow you to post text into a room, without your character necessarily attached to it. This is a very flexible command, allowing for you to write scenes, NPC dialogue, events, and even help with explaining combat to players. @emit <text> will display what you write, ignoring line breaks. If you need to add indendations, %t will do the job, while %r in text will add a line break. When you write emits it's best to find a comfortable size for players to read, and indentation will make life significantly easier. You lastly can add colors to text, by using the ^color^ command, replacing color with your desired output color to all text after it.
For example: @emit %t Judy paces the room back and forth before uttering under her breath, "^red^Motherfucker!^white^", as she fumes. %r %r %t Nobody could do this to her and get away with it!
Try copying this for yourself into the MUCK and seeing how it displays the text.
Next, you have the +room command to be able to create a private room in any non-combat area. You type +room <text> with the text being the title of the room you are creating. It will contain a small tag displaying the old room you were in, and it keeps the old room description until you edit it. You use +desc <text> to create a large block of texts for players to see when they use the look command. It however will -not- prompt players when you update the room desc, so you'll have to clue players in to look if you do actively use this.
These you will use to create a largely text based relationship with your players, but they will have no overall effect on the players themselves.
@emit A large elephantine sized crocodile bites Taggart's head off.
Will not actually damage Taggart as a player, so you will have to find other tools to make this more believable. What is referred to as "diceless combat" can be accomplished this way, but it will require major suspension of disbelief, and can actually be quite difficult to proctor properly, as you will have to create your own rules system for people to adhere to.
I'm not sure what judge level you gain access to it, but you also have the +zap command at your disposal, although it will flag the wizards every time you use it, you can quickly add infections to players using it for storyline purposes. It can also be used on your own NPCs.
Players are encouraged to use skills, perks, and hero points to overcome obstacles, do unique and often times unplanned for things, and there's already a system in place that you can use to control and encourage this as part of your storytelling. A player may use the +prove command to be able to display to the room that they indeed have the level of skill/stat that they are saying they have to be able to do something difficult. The level of difficulty is subjective and up to the judge to create their own restrictions and conditions, but remember, players much prefer when you let them do something awesome, so try to be flexible.
You will also encourage them to spend their hero points (which are limited to 4, per person, per day, unless they have the hot blooded perk, which ups it to 5). You may request for players to spend -any- number of hero points to be able to accomplish a task they ask for, a player asking to spend 1 hero point to kill your final end boss in one shot should be laughed at, but at the same make sure they're spending them on something appropriately heroic.
NPC and Monster Creation
At judge level 1, you gain access to the +beast command, which will let you pick from an assorted mix of very generic pre-generated NPCs. They have a very limited power set, but will function for most basic purposes if you're looking for an NPC to interact with and help the party, or fill one of a few different power roles for combat. +beast Normal Soldier for example will spawn the most generic NPC you've ever seen with only armored and strike, this is actually a very good base NPC to build off of though for any creatures you make once you gain access to judge level 2.
You can see your creature by using the +sheet command, it will display the full rubrick for any creature you control. The syntax is simply +sheet <name>.
You can set NPC names by using the @name command, the syntax is @name <current name>=<new name> to add flesh to your NPCs and mobs. Next you can use the @desc command to write a block of text to describe what the NPC looks like that will post below the generic species text when someone looks at the NPC. You may use the zap command to edit the species text.
You have control over how they fight much in the same way that a player does, using the @set command. @set <name>=Power Name/<original name>:<new name> to change power names, and @set <name>=AI:<power name>:<value> to change powers from -1 to 10 in value of use, -1 is off.
You can get rid of an NPC using the @rec <name> or +atb/clean. The latter will do one at a time, while clean will get rid of all summoned creatures including PC pets.
You can also directly copy an NPC using the +copy command.
You also have access to the +stash/+enc commands which can be very helpful in building groups of baddies for players to fight. You just manually create your horde, stash them away and enc to pull them back out again.
At judge level 2 you gain access to some new commands. +mm +rp/+rps and +rank Most of your monster editing in general will be done with.
+rp is probably one of the most verbose commands in the game, and something you'll need to spend a lot of time with when learning how to make balanced, challenging and fun enemies and NPCs for players. +rp allows for you to effect nearly -anything- on an NPCs character sheet, from basics like +rp <name>=level=# to setting powers, adjusting the actual strength of each power, and combat skills/professions and even the current HPs of a mob (if you need to adjust mid combat for some reason).
Example: +rp Copycat=special/strike=3 This will set copycat's strike to level 3 on the sheet, it of course won't do anything at all to the power itself besides change it's name to "mastered" on the combat log, but it can be very helpful as a guideline, so try to be consistent on the strength of powers versus their actual level.
+rp Copycat=special/strike/aoe=1 This will make copycat's strike hit in an aoe burst, rank 1. This can be trained by a player to this level, and would be consistent with a rank 3 strike. I advise you to watch carefully and try to upgrade your powers manually around what players can do. If I were to change AoE to 2, it would be far more powerful than a player could reach, but might be useful in certain circumstances, so keep this in mind. This will only -add- to a power, if I were to do the following:
+rp Copycat=special/strike/damage=8 This wouldn't set the total damage of the power to 8, it would -add- 8 damage to the base on the power, making it awfully strong.
You'll want to use list powers, you can use -any- of the powers inside. I would +rpinfo the power you want to use, and use it's upgrade options as a guideline when setting the power up.
For example for a mutant feral wolf with a powerful howl, I decided to make a very strong pack of wolves using an epic strength howl: +rp Beta Wolf=special/howl=4 +rp Beta Wolf=special/howl/aoe=2 +rp Beta Wolf=special/howl/damagebuffmag=8 This was surprisingly effective when my group of two dozen wolves were mass buffing eachother with very strong damage buffs, making their otherwise pretty mediocre bleeding bites and strikes a serious threat to some of our most powerful max minned players in the game. Be very careful when you power select, and try to use players of appropriate level, maxed powers, epics, etc when you're making your creature.
Next you can use +rp to add combat skills to a creature - for making actually difficult mobs without having to add really weird modifiers into your powers, this is the best place to adjust creatures. You can list combat skill to bring up a list of the current ones, and +rp info any of them for what each rank does.
Example: +rp Copycat=speed=2 This will give my copycat an innate 20% haste at all times, and make any of it's flurry powers hit for 20% faster. Proper selection of combat skills to support a creature is critical for a balanced encounter.
Now, if you're making an NPC that you will occasionally use, you can add professions, and skills to it manually.
Example: +rp Copycat=profession/Thug=1 This will add thug onto the list of professions, but unlike players it will -not- add the associated skills. I use them as a guideline for player behavior, incase anyone else were ever to use my NPCs.
+rp Copycat=academics=2 You have to manually add skills the same way you do combat skills, and this will add onto the creature any combat related power associated with the skill as well (although they're generally few and far between), such as the powers you gain for ranks in intimidate.
Yet another awesome power is the atb side, so you can make an NPC fight -with- the party.
Example: +rp Copycat=atb side=0 0 is the PC side, it will adjust the standard value from 5 to 0, and make the NPC actually fight with the party against enemies.
+rps is still a command I haven't discovered it's full depth yet. It modifies the character sheet in the same way as +rp, but does so for text entries instead of numbers. Right now when making an NPC before adding it into the monster manual, you must set +rps <name>=basic desc=<text and +rps <name>=short name=<text> before it can become a valid entry. Other than that, you can apparently add equipment and items to the NPC, of which I'm not sure what the potential is, but will update this thread when I figure it out.
+rank you can use to adjust the overall power and use of a mob in games. It's less balanced to use a level 14 mob against a party of 10, when you're making a boss, than it is to adjust the boss from 10 to hard boss or final boss using the rank system. Essentially it adds overall power to a creature in some other ways. I generally use minions, bosses, hard bosses and final bosses in my design rubrick, but I can see uses for the other ranks too.
Example: +rank Copycat=minion This would devalue the mobs damage, max hp, and overall strength significantly, meaning the balance of mob to player would approach a level of 4-6 per player. By contrast, a Final Boss rank almost ranks 3-5 players to one boss.
Lastly the +mm at rank 2 judge, you can summon from the manual, and at rank 3, you can finally -add- creatures to the manual. For the last month I've been filling up the +mm with my own creations for my events, and I plan to re-use creatures so I put a lot of time into editing them before putting them up. Please be courteous to other judges, and don't put broken creatures into the manual, and fully fill out any NPCs a player might summon. Also be careful about using other judges NPCs in your sessions, if you plan for your event to be cannon with the game world, obtain permission first from the creator.
Example: +mm #summon Copycat This will summon a copy of Copycat that is saved in the manual, it will automatically be set to auto combat, as well as atb side 5, no matter what it was saved as. Your creature will have the name, and all the sheet perfectly the same as what was saved, including the @desc and other things attached to it.
+mm #add #12345 This command will add the monster, you must use the exact number you see next to the object (NPC) name. This will add it into the manual, as long as it meets the minimum conditions and you are of a high enough judge rank. It will display the basic desc in the manual itself, and if there is already a copy of a creature with the same name, it will ask you to type I Know What I am Doing. - you have to type this exactly including the period and caps and it will overwrite the creature.
During combat, you actually control all the NPCs you have summoned. You are technically using their commands, although by default they will be on automated combat to make your life easier. Setting them to manual is not advised and causes bugs. Setting up a believable combat involves estimating party sizes. If you plan out a session to have a variable amount of players with varying levels of power it can be nearly impossible.
Set an appropriate mentor level, and set limits on participants in your sessions, or design ways to scale your encounters for flexibility. I personally build encounters by -approximate- player value, a technique I learned from D&D. Each creature you create has a balance level with the players based on it's rank, level, and power. If I use weaker enemies, I will use the +enc/copy command and set up "packs" that I can drop and balance them around number of party members.
For example I currently have a "pack" of beta wolves that I was using, a set of 4, which I equate to a PV of 1, so a group of 6, powerful players, would dictate 24 for equivalent combat (however if you have very synergistic players, a standard single role mob will not be able to compete), however you can pair down the number if you feel your players are weaker than that, or not cohesive, and step it up by mixing up your encounter designs if they are. Consider the roles in a standard game, tank, healer, support and dps when you're designing - the more synnergy the enemies have, the stronger they will be in terms of difficulty.
Now beyond that, there's a lot of other things to consider in combat. You absolutely can't restrict player -entirely- to the game engine. You'll want to be able to take a great player idea and translate it into an actual action on combat. If someone wants to spend a hero point or two to tear a mob's jaw off to prevent them from using a specific power, you certainly have that option. It can get messy and subjective at this point, but you can edit creatures using the +rp command - in the middle of combat - to great effect.
You could either at that point simply remove the power from the creature using +rp, or you could @set it's AI to stop using the power (-1). If a creature suddenly takes a great blow from a heroic action, manually adjust it's current hp by the way of RP, the options are truly limitless as a DM. That being said, if you abuse the power to make under designed creatures too strong, players won't be happy and you'll get a reputation for cheating as a DM, which makes no one happy.
Consider the environment you have combats in. Give players -plenty- of details when describing the area for them to use. Delay combats if you want to, or have people drop/split groups and go ooc if some players aren't participating in a combat for specific reasons. The more detail you give players, the more chance they'll have a brilliant idea, and the more chance -everyone- including you will be happy with the outcome of the event.
Now, here's where a lot of people flub when they write a storyline for an RP for the first time. You cannot rigidly plot a session, -but- at the same time you cannot -not- be detailed. Generic and vague plots lead to generic and vague situations and really boring RP sessions. Rigid plotting means the players feel like they're on rails and you're going to end up fighting with players at times to get them to do what you want so it works like you wrote it.
My own technique for writing after a decade of DMing, is to first start with a concept. If I'm brain storming I write down a whole bunch of ideas and themes, hooks and such to be able to interest players and inspire myself. I take a large scrap of paper and just write things down, and I circle the ideas that have promise, and connect ideas that work together. Once I have an inspirational concept, I figure out how to work it into whatever setting I'm working with.
Setting & Characters
Next, I build the setting details, by this, I mean all the areas the game -might- cover, and then the NPCs that inhabit those areas, whether I think the players will encounter them or not, with life details, personalities, what they know that's relevant to the event, and sample dialogue written that can be handy. I write environment details, very specific, and if I'm going to re-use an area I map it in detail so I stay consistent. This is critical for being able to on the fly, improvise, which you will have to do - a lot - this is more important to realism than any complex plot, because it gives you a foundation to work on at all times, and the confidence you need to be able to suddenly switch up what you're doing for the event.
Now I take the theme ideas, and develop the specific details of the plot. I usually give players multiple splits throughout the session that allow them to have control over what they're doing and their decisions effect things. I build decision trees, and such at this point that will give a guideline for what would happen as players make choices along the way. I tend to throw in here events, what characters are involved, special stuff that might happen, on each branch in the tree.
Antagonists and Conflict
I work out and flesh out all the antagonist details, and challenges preventing the players from completing the plot, this usually goes hand in hand with plot development of course, but I usually leave the fine details until here. Special events, traumas, and other dramatic scenes I will design ahead of time.
Skill Challenges and Knowledge Checks
Then I build various options players have for being able to look information up. On the MUCK I find this section less critical than D&D itself, but it's still good to have blocks of text handy for specific knowledge situations to save time and not interrupt the flow of the session. Players will always surprise you here though, so planning for everything is not possible.
As a final thing, I will generate certain emits and monologues ahead of time in sections that I have complete control over the plot to speed things up. It's helpful, but if you have everything else built they aren't necessary.
Other Assorted Advice
Either edit the description of your room as you go along using +desc or use @emit to describe locations and travel.