Patreon LogoYour support makes Blue Moon possible (Patreon)

Need Help Getting My Ideas Under Control


Nov 5, 2016
The 5th Dimension
Okay, so this may be kind of difficult to understand, but I hope that writing it out may help me wrap my head around the issue and work out a solution myself (if I post this, it means that the last part didn’t work!)

But first, some very long background info... I’m sorry

So, I’m a big fan of large-scale roleplays. I enjoy writing collaboratively, but I feel like maintaining one character each creates a weird dynamic in the story, where they need to perpetually remain together in the story, lest someone just starts writing their character off doing their own thing.

Now, logically, these moments are where you can implement side-characters, or have one partner take on a more GM-style role for a little bit. However, these seem to come with a few caveats of their own. Playing GM can feel a bit soulless and bland if the player doesn’t have anyone to bounce off of for long periods, and playing a side character seems to fall into two camps. “Character who is there to fill space/fulfill a specific purpose” and “character who we may as well consider a new main, given how much we’ve offered to them” and frankly, alot of people feel overwhelmed or intimidated by someone asking after “multi-chara” which is justified, given an annoyingly prevalent minority of people who ask for “multiple-characters” meaning “I want a harem.” This is not to disparage any sort of style in writing, I enjoy writing with single characters, and some of my best memories writing on here have come from those situations, however, I’ve found I really get a kick out of something that takes a different approach, and often different scope to the story.

I’m a big fan of fantasy and sci-fi, which probably influenced my love of sprawling stories, and large casts of characters. Naturally, I’ve found ways around the limitations of having multiple things going on at once. Primarily, presenting stories as vignettes. We check in on characters A and B, see what they’re doing. Switch over to C and D, leave them on a cliffhanger, move on to E and F, have some fun and drop back in on A and B again. I like this style of writing, and I think it can be a really elegant way of working with concepts. However, it comes with it’s own set of problems, which are mostly to do with genre, setting, and tone.

So a big problem with Scifi and Fantasy (which I don’t think is a problem, until I’m the one who has to deal with it) is the concept of connectivity, specifically connectivity in the face of disparate styles and tones of idea. You’re expected to make some sense. So, logically, having one place be the dark, gothic vampires and castles country on the map, and the tropical swashbuckling pirates country on the same continent, can feel a bit jarring, at least to me. This is doubly so when you have vastly different ideas for a thing that is very similar to another thing that already exists (example: they use stones as magic! But I had this idea that uses something else, so I guess they’re both applicable? Better example, this place is pretty much all humans and monsters, a la Conan... except for when I want to toss a tiefling in there.)

There are obviously ways around this. Magic: the Gathering and Warhammer: Age of Sigmar are prime examples of a rather elegant solution, which is to just create seperate “realms/planes of reality, that can be accessed via each other but are still distinct.” I like this idea. It frees me to come up with weird concepts that can spin off with other things, without throwing off a whole pre-existing setting. It also means that people who I partner with can have more room to bring their own ideas to the table, without having to feel like they’re slave to the “canon”

The Problem
So the real thing. I have a bunch of concepts, that is an important distinction, many of these are just vague musings that need to be discussed and considered before they actually classify as a real idea or a plot or character. They exist more as concepts in the current stage.

But these concepts, are fairly diverse, and I planned to add more to them as they go. If I find ideas I like, add a bit more meat to the bones and flesh out the idea more. This expanded into an idea I had, of playing a more “living world” type of thing. I love seeing people on here who have full worlds or characters they’ve used with many partners across a long time, amd have deceloped a sort of “canon” for these things. I think that’s really cool, and something I would love to do. I love the idea of a world (or set of) that have been affected and shaped by various people’s actions and interactions, even without them necessarily realizing it, however, I go back to a few key issues.

Issue 1: How do I manage setting?
So the most likely path to follow through with this concept, is just picking and choosing what I like and what might be interesting. If blowing up the moon in a setting seems cool, then sure. We can blow up the moon, but then the moon’s blown up for everyone. Sure, it can remain to a more personal space, like this one RP has the moon blown up, but what if that’s an idea I am really drawn towards, and want to make it a more permanent feature.

Issue 2: How do characters work?
Is a character tied to a specific setting? Do the characters grow with the setting, and can you ever really offer someone to “go back” to who the character was before. (If a character was a soldier, but now runs a bakery, but someone asks to play with them in the soldier era, what do you do?)

Issue 3: How do you make any of this sound appealing?
So this sounds like a lot of work, which I don’t mind. But many people would run for the hills, and with good reason. It’s difficult to sell people on an idea like this, especially without directly offering plots they can drop themselves into, or some sandbox element where they can find some plot hooks to start the story off.

The closest solution I considered was suggestions for plot ideas, like “this is what character A might do. Given who they are“ as a way to stimulate some ideas and get the brain moving. But even that seems a bit uncertain.

Closing thoughts
It’s very late, I’m not sure this makes much sense. I hope it does.

I feel like alot of this boils down to, you’re over-thinking this, you’re trying to please everyone at once, etc. But it’s something I feel can work. I just don’t necessarily know how to make it work.

I hope this finds you well, sorry you had to read all this if you got here, but I appreciate you!

Max the Neat

Apr 27, 2019
Not sure that I understood your problem, to be honest. But going to give a couple of partial answers. Do say if I'm in the right ballpark!

So regarding your questions 1, 2, and 3: I had a story, where I guess I was a GM with one recurring character. The game was loosely based on a Spy Game movie. The movie is told in a series of flash-backs, from the time of recruitment, to now. We didn't finish the story, we did play for a year and a half though, and as usually happens with RPs, we've gotten carried away. But the premise was simple:

- I would roleplay a recurring character, her handler. We've added another recurring character, her nemesis-spy later on.
- It was an episodic play, and we would fade to black, when we felt that nothing action-worthy going to happen, and just agree on some kind of summary, of what happened in the next 1-2-3 years, until her next big mission.
- And we did montage, and had some exposition bombs here and there. In hindsight – a lot of exposition could be edited out and was uneccesarry, but we are not writing a book, and not gonna edit it all :)

In any case. That game was more or less extreme, but since it, I started to introduce montage into my other roleplays. Feel that if characters are not doing something interesting, we could just describe weeks or months in a couple of posts, until something interesting is happening again.

Playing a few characters, but have recurring ones. And not being afraid of putting recurring characters on a bench, so that we could miss them.

And finally – I do offer flash-backs to my roleplay partner, if we want to do something in the past, or need to ret-con something.


On the internet no one knows you're a shonk
May 27, 2018
Rhode Island, USA
I think one thing that could help is good note-taking. Open a OneNote and just make a file for this world/universe. Whenever something happens you add it to the note. So then you can go back and reference it. And if you want you can let your partners have access to it as well. Either Read-only, or edit only in specific areas. Sounds like a lot but if you have good partners you might be able to figure out a good way to collaborate.

For the characters I would say you need to focus on new characters for each story. You can bring old characters back as NPCs but if you don't want to mess with canon too much you probably shouldn't give anyone else control of them.

I think that the basis of the idea, if laid out correctly, would bring the type of person you want to write with. Just be honest. "I have this world/universe I'm working on that I want to play in. Here are some story ideas and here's how it could fit in. Let's discuss and see what we can make."

Hope that helps
Top Bottom