Making TSN RP more engaging [Fork]

Terran Stellar Navy Forums (OOC) Division Development Making TSN RP more engaging [Fork]

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    Forked from here.

    As much as getting more roleplay in shift, we also need better/more engaging roleplay. Much as I don’t like this as a hard and fast definition, player archetypes are definitely a helpful tool in terms of discussion. For those who aren’t familiar with the term, it’s a way of breaking down types of players by what they enjoy and what they get out of a game. This often changes between video games and RPGs, but it’s still not a bad place to start the conversation.

    But let’s talk about how we make TSN RP more engaging for different types of people, using the lens of archetypes to try and give clarity and context to the discussion.

    By way of example, in tabletop RPGs I tend to be a “Method Actor” and a “Storyteller”. I write out a decent amount of character backstory, one or two inciting events, and hint at their mental psychology, then I try to personify that. I also strive for universe continuity and much prefer for scenarios to play themselves out – even to my character’s detriment – rather than simply rely on dice or mechanical gimmicks to determine outcomes. I also have aspects of the “Tactician”, particularly when the game is more mechanically or combat focused. In video games, I’m much less a method actor but usually still enjoy storytelling. I’m far more of a tactician and I also have power gamer tendencies.

    There’s clearly an overlap between many of these archetypes and these are not the only ones. Another frequently discussed archetype is the Explorer, someone who wants to go and see new environments, scenarios, or on a smaller scale to find details. The smaller or more personal, or the less likely someone else has noticed it before – the better.

    So lets talk about how we make TSN RP more engaging and rewarding, not just simply more prevalent. Tagging @admin, @matsiyan, @mattssheep4 and @parpar88 since they posted in the other thread.

    Matthew Vaj

    This is an interesting thing to discuss, especially with the other post in mind. However, given the size of the TSN, it may be impossible for just the GMs make RP more engaging for everyone. With that in mind, I think it might be best for senior officers in particular to keep these things in mind, since to a certain extent they are the GMs for their ship in their smaller groups.

    The largest problem with this, in my mind, is the inconsistency of crews. It is uncommon that a ship have a dedicated officer for each station who is extremely consistent. Usually at least one station is manned by someone without a permanent assignment. Having a fairly consistent crew would both encourage RP and maximize enjoyment (at least that was my experience during my tenure on Phoenix).

    However, the TSN welcomes casual players who might only be able to make one or two shifts a month, and it would be detrimental to everyone if that were to change. I don’t see a good way around this particular problem, but if anyone has ideas, i’m sure the SOs would appreciate the input.

    Assuming, for the moment, that no changes are made to the current method of crew assignments, what else can we do to maximize engagement? I mentioned the command officers’ role in this earlier, but perhaps that should be fleshed out a bit more. First of all, aside from following orders and attack patterns and stuff like that, there’s not a whole lot of RP on most bridges, from what I’ve seen, at least. And especially in the heat of battle, I find myself focused on what I’m doing, and not so much on enjoying the experience. That is to say, I’m not intentionally enjoying executing orders. Outside of battle, on the other hand, it almost seems like a waiting game. When’s the next enemy going to appear? When will we get back to the station? How much longer is this mission/sim going to take? These are the thoughts that sometimes go through my head. Can anyone else relate? Anyway, especially outside of combat, I think it would be great if captains were to give orders and ask questions that are purely RP and have nothing to do with the game:

    Engineering, how are we doing on spare beam capacitors? Ensign, while we’re en route, re-calibrate the targeting scanners. Lieutenant, run down to the galley and get everyone a Hjocoa. What are the DamCon teams up to right now? Tactical, have the torpedo crews prepare for a drill at 0800 tomorrow.

    Personally, it took awhile to get comfortable enough with the RP to start saying things like “Hull breaches on decks 2 and 3!” instead of just listing damage. And that’s fine, I still enjoyed being on shift and doing my job, but each person’s level of comfort with RP varies.

    The nice thing about a consistent-ish crew is that a captain (and XO) can tailor such RP to those who are more comfortable with it. In the absence of a more in-depth relationship with a crew member, it may be advisable to have a quick OOC discussion about RP preferences and such, just to get to know someone a bit better, especially for cadets and ensigns who may not be fully into the swing of things. Also, it might help if DOs explained some of the basics of the RP to newcomers. Once you understand the RP a bit, it’s easier to enjoy.


    This wasn’t directed at “GMs need to make opportunities for everyone”, particularly since GMs are busy running the actual mission. The way that roleplaying works once it grows beyond the standard 4-7 at a table in real life, everyone needs to help take ownership of their interests. This is easier when player characters are not arranged in a somewhat strict hierarchy as we are in the TSN, but it’s still by no means impossible to keep RP quality in mind as well as quantity.

    Following your example, none of those are roleplay opportunities that feed me as a player since to me (and this is all strictly from the way that I operate) those are all tasks that can be acknowledged and largely handled by saying “Yep, will do skipper.” It does increase the amount of RP going on, it may help contribute to the atmosphere, but it doesn’t challenge me creatively. I fully expect someone might enjoy that, and for those people who enjoy that introduction to the RP then that is how they should be engaged because that’s what engages them. Nor am I advocating that everyone necessarily complete an official form which states the kind of RP they enjoy and that everyone receive their proportional allotment of RP time per shift (though this does approach my ideal in many ways), because we don’t need to go from 0 to 60 immediately and that does take a lot of time and effort.

    If captains and crews did have a quick talk about what they enjoy, I think that would go a long way to helping. I’ve referenced this before, but one of my favorite in character moments was debating military jurisprudence with Matsiyan at the time when the Zolmari faction was in its infancy. It was a conversation, it was a dialog, and even if it didn’t change anything (because I couldn’t convince him) it felt like it had stakes. It felt like it mattered, and it challenged me. Not only that, but it challenged me in a way that had no bearing on my technical proficiency with the Artemis game engine.

    Even if I didn’t get that every session, I’d be happy if I had something like that even once every few shifts. And there – that’s RP that’s happening. And not only is it happening, it’s been referenced since then so it built a continuity thread which further reinforced in character RP, and it was memorable and directly related to the way that I enjoy RP.

    Not everything relates to what I want though, and I also understand that. I am aware that some people actually enjoy flying in formation and feel that reinforces their RP experience. And that’s great. It’s not a major inconvenience for me to feed their preferences, and that goes for formation flying, for calling strategies with combat order, for referencing rank and treating my direct superior differently than I do my general superiors which differs from how I interact with my peers and all that differs how I interact with my juniors.

    In summary: There is not one path to roleplay and I think we would have more willingness to participate if there were more varied opportunities in addition to simply more opportunities. And to that end, we need to be willing to cooperate, collaborate, and actively try to present roleplay opportunities for those around us even if they are not our preferences. And that we are all responsible for trying, regardless of in character rank or community status because out of character we all matter equally. Especially newbies and cadets.

    Matthew Vaj

    I completely agree Nhaima.

    we all matter equally. Especially newbies and cadets.


    Anyway, I definitely think that how much a particular person tries to RP correlates to that person’s enjoyment. You can’t exactly force someone to have fun 😛


    Nor force them into something that isn’t their style of fun, or if they aren’t in the mood for it at the moment. I know some days I just need FPS/Rocket League-style therapy.


    I like the level of RP we usually have aboard the Lancer. We pretty much have the combat RP down – repeating orders and sharing information between various officers.

    When we’re out of combat, we do engage in RP. I’ll be honest that there are times that we’re not as RP-focused as others, but we do try to bring things up and phrase them in the TSN vernacular, even then.

    Given the types of people who generally participate in Artemis, it isn’t difficult to believe that there are a lot of references that share common interest between us. I genuinely enjoy spending time with the people on Lancer. I’d like to think that if I ever met any of my crew in person, they’d be people I’d want to hang out with socially. That, as much as the RP aspect, keeps me coming back.

    Matthew Vaj

    ^ I got to meet Verok, Quinn, Adam Parra, Greybeard, and K at Armada. I’ve actually met up with Adam a couple times since then, too.

    It was awesome to meet them in person, and I probably enjoyed talking with them and just hanging out more than Armada itself! So I definitely agree with Donovan.


    I have to say that it is those moral dilemma moments, or moments that show the impact of the mechanics on the characters’ lives. And yes they are far between. It would be lovely to create more. This discussion will definitely make me think more about how to do that. Moments that have rocked for me: that discussion about whther to cooperate with the Zolmari. I was going to do it because Mats is a peace and love kind of guy and the situation triggered a thing in his history (a fair trade) and because he was the one talking to Zolmar so he had an obligation to present their side of the argument, but it was fantastic that Nhaima made him realize it was not nearly so cut and dried for others. The fact that he had to work for that justification made it mean a hell of a lot more. The first time we had direct orders to destroy a surrendered vessel on a covert mission. The bridge discussed it and came near to mutiny. I still wish we had. The next time it happened I was not in command not on helm, or weapons or Engineering. I physically could not prevent it. Early on in Engineering, realizing that damcons were dying based on how I placed them and ordered them and that I had to write the letters and I had a discussion about it with the captain. Those are cool. I suggest you imagine what family and friends and colleagues your characters have and then imagine the impact to them of the stories playing out in our missions. What is the impact of the two shipyards we lost today to inhuman automata fueled by unknown powers and motives? Whose kids are being soothed to sleep? Which bored tech or engineer or trader is hoping for new work and opportunities? What does the rescue of today’s kralien defectors mean? To their former commander, to Zolmar, to the N’tani, to Mundy’s brother, to Nhaima?

    Try taliking to each other not directly about the events but tangentially about the side effects. The texture gets deeper and it generates stakes for future discussions and opinions.

    Crap. I hope neither Kaplan nor Polano were on rotation in yard maintenance!

    • This reply was modified 6 years, 1 month ago by Matsiyan.

    I think Nhaima has had a little bit of a chance to see a few instances of RP on the Horizon. What tends to happen for us is after an event occurs within the storyline (like the recent Caltron incursion), we begin this speculative brainstorming process on what just happened, where did they come from, why did this happen, etc. The last one is where we came up with this idea that the Caltrons were using their propulsion method to directly damage our infrastructure, which was a new tactic. This fit in amazingly well with some RP that was happening apparently simultaneously on the Sabre, where they connected a recent discovery of an artifact to the Caltron incursion. The two totally independent RP moments just happened so organically it was really pretty amazing.

    For us, though, there needs to be a catalyst to get this started. Sometimes it’s a mission event, sometimes it’s sparked from some of our “filler” RP (like the stuff that happens in transit that was mentioned earlier). The good ones seem to be triggered by in-game events though. Those are the ones we have the most fun with.

    I also think that within a crew, it’s good to know who’s into the RP and who isn’t, because if you don’t know that, then prompting someone to respond to an RP conversation is difficult, especially if it catches someone off guard.

    As far as player archetypes, I really don’t know where I fit in. I see some tactician characteristics, maybe a bit of the storyteller as well, and quite a bit of the Casual Gamer. I don’t see myself as an overly formal commanding officer, and have never really had a strong character background (I really never bothered to create a background, actually). I do follow the communications protocols, and use the combat orders/language, and play along with the RP dialogue as much as I can.

    Really, these sorts of things have to be worked out within a ship’s core crew, the regular players, and then try to bring the floaters into the groove when they join a crew. Some may bite, others may not.

    I found an interesting article, with some other archetypes that overlap a bit with the original list Nhaima posted. I think the key statement here is the art of finding the balance between what they call “crunch and fluff”. See the paragraphs under “System and Social Intelligence”. I think it’s pretty interesting.


    Thanks for the reference. In descending order I am probably Immersionist, Architect, Tactician.

    I will take issue with their characterization of Amber Diceless as very Striker-ish. The rulebook does talk a lot about PVP, because that mirrors some of the source novel content but I know a lot of the Amber community and I would describe them as immersionist tacticians.

    Crunch is rules and Fluff is background (reductio ad absurdam). Amber would be categorized as heavily Fluff and GURPS and Rolemaster are usually quoted as Crunch. Though I have often seen GURPS used purely for its architectural abilities to build characters and worlds and played in a very rules light way with few dice-rolls-and-modifiers.

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