Dramatis Personae (The Actors)
The first and most important consideration is, "How many people do I need for my event?" This will be the limiting factor in many cases. There are two considerations when actually coming up with the number of people you need. First of all, you must determine how many individual characters must be played. Then you must determine how many actual, physical people you will need. For example, if I have 4 open character slots I could theoretically play 4 people; however, if two of those people must interact or be on the screen at once, you must have two people playing those characters. Take a moment to examine how many people you actually need for your quest.
Once you have a solid number then look at how many people you can actually get. Consider how many character slots these people have available...do you have enough free character slots? These are very valid concerns. Now if you have more than enough help you won't have a problem, but it is entirely possible that you have too many characters and too few actors. Now things become tricky.
You have to examine your plotline again...consider each of your characters and determine how necessary they are. Ask if the character is needed, and see if there is a way to replace the character. Sometimes a well-placed book can completely eliminate the need for an entire character. Remember that no one will know what changes you make to your original plotline...as long as it remains cohesive you will have an enjoyable event.
If you are running an event like an archery contest/horse race, consider how many people are needed to help. Do you need referees? Do you need people to help you organize it? What is the minimum number of people you need? Figure this out and then look at your resources, like before adjust your event if possible to your resources. Can you do the job of two volunteers or is it way too much work?
Hopefully by now you have a manageable event with plenty of help, but maybe not. The resource of people is the most difficult to handle. People are not always reliable and often times are unable to assist. In fact, getting a large group together at once can be a serious undertaking. If I can offer only one piece of advice it is, "be prepared to be short-handed." This is a reality, but I can offer a few solutions:
1) Schedule you event for a time when more people can help.
2) Cut out a portion of your quest to reduce the size and thus the volunteers. 3) Rework the storyline so that there is less interaction of quest characters, thus you can play more parts. If worst comes to worse, you may simply have to put the project on the back-burner and shoot for a smaller, more managable project. This is a worse case scenario and most of the time you WILL be able to find a way to perform your quest/event.
Ultima provides such a wode variety of settings it is almost unimaginable. A little ingenuity and a lot of creativity can lead to a perfect event setting. Britannia has graveyard, dungeons, shrines, caves, temples, towns, houses, a vineyard, tropical islands, tents, docks, swamps, forests, mines, ruins, orc forts, brigand camps, farms, castles, beaches, waterfalls etc. etc. etc.
You could perform countless quests without ever having to design your own setting. When you are low on resources, use these natural settings. They are often never visited and can be the perfect place to host your event. A beack is the perfect place to have a shipwrecked sailor wash up. A tent could be the home of travelling band of brigands! You simply need to use your creativity. There are bonuses as well to these premade settings. For example, dungeons already come with monsters...a challenge for questors to overcome. The orc fort has orcs! The Daemon Temple has daemons! These settings provide natural challenges for you and actually provide some of the quest for you. If you event occurs near a shrine, your participants will have easy access to ressurection. These natural settings can really take a lot of the pain out of planning.
When chosing a setting consider what it provides and what it needs to provide. Look for the best match. If you find one great, but maybe you don't find anything that is a perfect match. If this happens, consider if you can change you event so that the setting suits it. If you need dragons in Shame, consider substituting elementals instead, or use Destard instead. If you cannot change your plans, consider how you can change the setting itself. Is there a way that you can add the missing elements?? Try to massage your events to *fit* the settings you have.
There may be times when you cannot use public settings. Perhaps you need very specific decorations...a house is needed. The first trick is finding a house. Once you have a house you can use (even temporarily), gather the appropriate decorations and design the house to your specifications. This will allow you to make some rather amazing settings. But it might be very difficult to come up with a house..you are in luck! Look around and you will see countless public houses. Many public houses have been designed by their owners and some actually have certain themes. A house might be a guild meeting house, but their is no reason it cannot be the meeting place of your secret evil organization. Some people dress their house with bones and skulls, the perfect home of a liche. Others build fancy gardens within their walls, the perfect home for a noble. You only need you own house when something MUST be locked down or MUST be of a certain design.
If everything fails and you have no idea how to proceed you may have to return to the planning stages and rework your plotline, but don't throw anything away...in the future you may have the proper resources.
This step always begin with examining what items you actually have available to use. Basically you have the exact same stuff as everyone else ingame, so how do you use it successfully? The first step is to think up what items you would want for your event if you had access to every item in the game. Now exclude any that are rare items and/or expensive. Of those items you excluded, is there an easy way to get them and/or is there a way to use something that will be similar?
Most of the time you will be limited in the props that you can actually use, but that doesn't mean you cannot make fancy events. You can often arrange multiple items within a container to make it look like a facier item. For example, I have made special machines by arranging tinker gears and springs in a backpack. Also, certain items like boxes and hay form good barriers. The biggest concern with props is that if they aren't locked down in a house, they can be taken. Always plan on your props being taken.
Special effects are by far the most impressive things that you can add to a quest. Many special effects are done by utilizing trapped chests, explosion potions, magic wands, and magical spells. These are great because they make "sparklies" and other neat effects. However, this is only one limited avenue of special effects. There are also many items ingame which lend themselves to special effects. For example communications crystals hidden behind a statue can make the statue appear to be talking! You simply have to find ways to use the ingame mechanics to produce an effect that looks "neat."
This is your most abundant, cheap, and important resources. I have seen people turn straw into gold with just a little creativity. How do you tutor someone in being creative, I ask? To some people it comes naturally, to others it takes a lot of work. Personally, I have found that simply copying others will do. If you hear a cretive way to do something, use it! If your friend accidently stumbled across a neat special effect, use it! If someone runs an awesome quest find the good elements and use them! I know the phrase is over-used, but "You are only limited by your own creativity." Maybe you can't really do something ingame, but can you trick others into thinking that you did?