All right, boys and girls. It's time for Mike's take on roleplaying. If you believe you know how to do it already, read this anyway. If you've never played before, well this is your lucky day. If you're one of the top roleplaying personages in the world, well I guess you don't need this then. ;P
Plot: This is very probably the most important element in an RPG. Even more so than the characters. Well, maybe not more so, I'd say they're about even. Without good characters, a plot is no good any which way, but with awesome characters and zip plot, well that game ain't goin anywhere. Now plot is generally developed while on the go throughout the game, with each person adding their own zing. But before you start any game, you need to know where you're headed, have a vague idea of how you're going to get there, and be able to actually get there.
Example of a bad plot. "Aha! The princess has been kidnapped by the evil wizard! We five knights in shining armor shall go on a jolly jaunt to rescue the fair damsel in distress and kill the evil wizard!"
Okay, so there you have the basics. Damsel in distress, bad guy to kill, knights in shining armor. What more do you need? Well, basically, a new plot. Or at least some added features. Because, while really awesome roleplayers who love the medieval times and have freakin great characters could pull it off and have a lot of fun, your average roleplayer, such as you and I, is not gonna be able to roll with just that. Let's say you get the five knights, Lancelot, Arthur, George, John, and James, the damsel in distress, Alice, and the evil wizard, Bob, you have all these players, someone shouts, "All right! Let's do this!" and the game begins. So far so good. Lance ol' boy, Arthur, George, John, and James are riding down the road on their horses in their shining armor while Bob is cackling evilly in his tower plotting dastardly deeds and Alice is weeping in the dungeon. The good knights run into some bandits just for fun. Alice makes an escape attempt (which fails, obviously). Bob does some evil magic stuff. All well and good. Then, the knights draw close to the tower. No one is really sure what to do. It is at that inopportune moment that George takes a week long vacation, John forgets about the game, and Alice jumps ship because she's bored with being stuck in the dungeon. And just like that all is not well and good, the entire game is kapoots.
And that is the sad, sad story of how a bad plot kills the game. At least, that's what I hope it represents. If it didn't let me explain. It is very simple. Because the plot was so general, no one really knew what to do after they had played around with their parts for a while. Then it grew boring and therefore the game died. It's a fairly common happening, sadly. But don't despair, for now I shall impart to you what is the makings of a good plot!
Example of a good plot: "Setting: Alternate reality, set a bit in the past. The government is corrupt, crime runs rampart. Characters: No shiningly moral heroes among the darkness. You play as one of the corrupt, if one of less corrupt. Story: Things are coming down. Something big is happening. Your characters, part of the underworld as they are, accidentally stumble across the big scheme. Suddenly they're in the middle of everything. They have to stop it, but now they're targets for the government and the big mob bosses. Everything is ticking down."
Now here we got a good plot (I hope so anyway, cause I'm about to start it XD). You can start with a bit of fun fooling around, which then develops into the accident which gets the characters involved. Once they are, there's no turning back and the characters are constantly on the run. Constantly maintaining the action keeps a game rolling and keeps it from getting boring. So being on the run there's lots of fighting and cool stuff like that. Everyone is involved, doing their bit to unravel the big mystery in the race against time. Races against time are always a good way to up the tension, and therefore the fun. And then, at the end, comes the big showdown that everyone has been looking forward to.
There you have it, good plot. You have a general plot line that is detailed enough to keep the story rolling at a good pace with plenty of room for the improvisation that will necessarily come when you through a bunch of people's characters together. That's the plan anyhow.
So there it is. Mike's thoughts on what makes a good plot. Hm, I think I'm gonna change the name of this post...