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Tutorial #1: The Plotline
Part of Introductory Quest Creation, by Emperor Krosis

Introduction
Some people may find the task of creating an event daunting. I know that my first event was definitely a challenge; however, the one most important piece of advice I can give is "Don't give up!" Every event that you put on teaches you more and more about what works and what doesn't. I still have events today that flop. Sometimes the plot is not exciting enough, sometimes a task is too difficult, and sometimes eventualities occur that you simply weren't prepared for! Handling these unforseen difficulties can be very stressful and at times the quest participants may even yell or insult you; even so, I have never had someone leave a quest of mine wishing that they had not participated. I am sure that you will have the same success!
NOTE: I will often use the terms quest and event interchangably.

Picking a Plot
You first task is to come up with a plot for your event. The plotline can vary in complexity from a multi-week indepth soap opera, to a short single night experience. In fact, the plot might not take a story form. For example, if I want to run an archery contest, the plotline could simply be "I am running an archery contest to find the Best Archer on the shard!" This is a simple plotline. It has a goal it has an implied progression -- people enter, they compete, perhaps there is a final round, the winner is crowned. Basically once you have come up with the basic idea of the event, that leads to the plotline. As such, it is fair to say that to develop your plotline includes coming up with the event idea itself.

Coming up with an event idea is very easy for some, but for many can also be extremely difficult. At first do not even consider how you will actually implement the event. While this may seem counter-intuitive, it will allow you to create the best plotlines possible because you will not be constricting your creativity. There is an old saying that, "Ideas are a-dime-a-dozen." This basically means that there are many many ideas out there waiting to be implemented. If you are really stuck then you can always borrow someone elses idea. While this may be good for the quest making beginner I imagine some of you would like to mold everything from your own mind. This is what I prefer as well.

Thinking up your own quest ideas is a very rewarding experience. The difficulty comes in trying to provide tips to help with this process. Perhaps the best way is to provide some leading questions to help you focus your own ideas. First, what type of event do you even want? Basically do you want a complex story (i.e. the knight's mother gave birth to the archmage who is now enemies with the king that the knight fights for) or do you want something simple (i.e. "Come defeat the evil beast!"). The complex stories can have more depth and in many ways be more rewarding, but the simple stories can be very fun and involve many participants. Second, decide if you want the story to be linear, have many branches, or be free-flowing. Linear quests are the easiest and have a beginning, middle, and end. Branching quests can simply have two endings or can have many branches that players can go down. Finally there are free-flowing quests, where the quest maker doesn't have a predetermined course of action. This last type of quest is very difficult and is best saved for a more advanced tutorial. Third, consider the four parts of any plotline, introduction -- rising action -- climax -- resolution. Now these should all be present in you storyline. People like excitement and it is your task to create that excitement. Fourth, is there some motivation for your event. Why will people want to participate? Perhaps the story is entralling, perhaps there is a reward? This is very important. Finally, what type of creature or theme will this quest be focused on? Will it be a battle with the undead. Will it be a search for Relvinian's necklace? What is the theme?

Once you answer all these questions you should have an idea of what you want to do and how you want to structure it. It could be said that you now have the skeleton for your quest!

Adding the Flesh
Once you have the structure, it is time to add the details. There are two sets of details you need to iron out. The first is implementation details, these shall be discussed in the next tutorial (Managing Resources). The second set of details are storyline details. The most important thing to do is to make sure that your storyline doesn't have loopholes and that it is a cohesive story. If you have trouble, then write down you plotline as if it were a story. Read what you have written and find out what questions you still have. Anything you leave unanswered should either be unimportant or should become something for a later quest (and it should be apparent that you meant to leave the question unanswered).

How do you actually make the plotline smoothe? You want each part of the quest to flow unconsciously to the next. In other words you want your introduction to flow to the rising action, to the climax and, then to the resolution. Once you have the structure you can begin to do this. You know how things are going to progress so you simply need to find the steps that take you from point A to point B in your storyline. Determine what could logically happen that would require you to move from A to B.

For example, the evil mage is terrorizing the townfolk and the knight will kill the evil mage. It makes sense that the knight would first talk to the townfolk. They would tell him about the three rings of great power located at the far ends of the land. The knight would then travel to find these rings passing through swamps, deserts, and mountains to find them. Upon his return he has the rings and it able to defeat the mage.
In the example, points A and B were marginally related, but by fleshing out the storyline you create a natural progression in the storyline. This is extremely important.

Finishing Touches
You now have a cohesive story and now it is time to mold it to the game. The next section will go into this in much more details as it examines how to manage available resources to actually implement your storyline. Before you read on though, read/review your plotline one more time (perhaps the day after you write it) to make sure that everything still makes sense. If everything checks out it is likely that you have a very enjoyable story that people will have fun participating in.


Back to Tutorial Page -- Tutorial #2: Managing Resources