Arc Handling

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Arcs

As opposed to improv socialization, an arc is an organized story plot, with beats, revelations, and a climax paced out over time.

There are roughly three flavors of arcs, distinguished by scope:

  • Main Plots - only one of these is active at a time, and they are allowed to have significant impacts on the status quo for all players. As such, OOC consensus is needed before one is launched, and it's typically the case that the gist of the next main arc will be known before the existing one is over.
  • Side Plots - these involve a subset of players, who have typically signed up beforehand. They're allowed to impact the status quo for the affected players, but should strive to not worry those who are not involved. Any number can be active at once, so long as they are not physically contradictory; crossovers with each other and the main plot are not unusual.
  • Personal Plots - unlike the other two, these plots are generally not publicly announced or planned, and involve a player's own characters and possibly those of a player or two they've contacted privately. They are very commonly planned to parallel the current main plot, and should try to avoid disrupting other players's plans.

GMs

Every arc has one or more GMs responsible for shepherding it. The GM can be anybody; main plots are typically GM'd by staff merely because the community already trusts them to handle it, but side plots can and are GM'd by players of all experience levels. Personal arcs are GM'd by the involved players by default.

A GM's job is not to micromanage the events of the arc - that's impossible for main arcs, where you can have more than 30 active players and the turnover of players joining and losing interest, and still too time consuming for the average side arc. Their job instead is just to keep the players directed, ensuring everybody's aware of the next plot beat to target and not feeling lost, and coordinating (not necessarily GM-ing!) any fractal sub-arcs to ensure things dovetail nicely.

The GM generally will be heavily involved in the arc's finale scenes, of course.

Arc Primers

Arcs go much smoother when players know what to expect; when settling on a main arc, or recruiting for a side arc, it's typical for an arc primer to be provided. It doesn't have to be fancy; what it is expected to do is let people know what tone or status quo to expect during the arc, what sort of special rules might be in play, and what the goal the PCs are working towards to finish the arc is.

It doesn't need to spoil every twist and turn, but it (or else subsequent OOC communications) should let players get a sense of which act of the plot they're in, so they can pace personal events accordingly.

If a new faction is being introduced as part of the arc, the primer will often include an invitation for the community to propose their own NPCs for it, with any applicable design rules.

See Also