GMing 201:
Randomization, World Narratives, & LLA


Those that have Rped with me over the last year have run across my use of Randomization, World Narratives, and LLA. I have received so much positive feed back because of it. That combined with a slew of pm's over how to actually use it has pushed me to write up this latest tutorial. I hope you enjoy! Oh and to all of you that end up tagged in this because I am copying and pasting stuff from Darker Than Black - Yeah, I was too damn lazy to remove the tags. :P



Randomization: the practice of using chance methods (random number tables, flipping a coin, etc.) to assign subjects to treatments. In this way, the potential effects of lurking variables are distributed at chance levels (hopefully roughly evenly) across treatment conditions.

Now, randomization in and of itself is not a new tactic. Gm's for decades have used it in one form or fashion to drive their Rp's forward. Many Table-Top Rps have Random Encounter Charts that a Dungeon Master is familiar with. For myself, I have taken this a small step forward and utilize my own technique here on the forum to help drive my Rp's forward. I love this technique, it allows me even as a Gm to enjoy the Rp on the same level as my Rpers. I get to be surprised with what comes up while still being able to keep control over the speed of how the story flows and the over all end game.

World Narrative: A post made IC by a Gm/Co-Gm that is not in character but as if the world itself is speaking to the individual characters. It can contain things such as weather, time, location information, clues that are being dropped, passing NPC information, time jumps, and more.

These little updates that I like to call World Narratives(WN) are everything to me and my most prized tool as a GM. (You know, beyond my ridiculously detailed CS templates) They allow me to take a step back out of my characters and just look at things from the POV of the RP World. For me, these are the easiest things to type up and dish out to my Rpers since I don't have to center myself and find my characters mind set. It is flat out information and I can put it in there no matter how I feel; If I am in a sarcastic mood, the world is sarcastic - Happy, so is the world. Because my attitude in the WN doesn't effect the outcome of the WN. It is just information for my Rpers to have access to.

LLA: Better known as Lady Luck, she is the bane and the savior of Rp characters in an RP. She is the dice itself, the numbers that come up to either character alive or send them to the character grave yard. She is ever unpredictable and will toss a monkey wrench into your RP at any given moment.

Okay, Lady Luck or better known to my Rpers as LLA is... ~inserts a slew of curse words~ Yeah, she is a pain but she is also a pleasure. She is that last bit of "extra" in my Rp's that keeps things fresh and well rather over the top. When a Randomization comes up that there is the possibility of death, LLA is the one that decides this. Why do I love this? Because then... IT AIN'T MY FAULT! SO DON'T YELL AT ME! - It is really as simple as that. It takes the blame off me and also keeps everything a fair and level playing field for all. Keeps me from lashing out at problem Rpers in an un-Gm like manner. I leave it to LLA, she will give you the decision. (Oh and why LLA instead of LL for Lady Luck? Simple typo in a chat room with my rpers that auto corrected Lady Luck to Lady Lick Ass - I really typoed that one apparently. But because of the slew of deaths, the nickname stuck.)



So, want to know how to do this? Okay, before we begin a little word of warning - This is a time consuming practice if you want to fully utilize it into your Rp's and can be frustrating at times. It take a lot of effort as a Gm to put all of this into play. You will want to keep notes, pm's to yourself, and more to ensure it keeps working for you. Having said that, once you get used to the practice it can make your job as a Gm so much easier and more enjoyable. Seriously, once I found my groove with it I was able to up the number of Rp's I Gm from 2/3 to 7 and I don't take up any more time than I did before. Why? Cause I am not sitting an racking my brain constantly. I let the techniques do the work for me.

Shall we begin? Let's.



Randomization




Now, let's begin with how you are going to set up your randomization. The over all way to carry this out is simple enough. You come up with a list of outcomes for a Rpers post, assign a number for each possibility, and roll for which one happens. It isn't complication but it can become as such rather quickly depending on how many characters are in an RP and what all is happening in your RP. The good thing about this is that you can make it really as complicated or simple as you wish, and can customize it for every Rp - for every character - and for every post, if you would like. We will start off with a simple example.

Rper Jane has just made a post for character Doe. The post is as follows: Doe slowly opened the door to the small hut. Peeking her head inside to see what is around and wondering to herself if she really should go inside or if she turn and run.

Now, as the GM you set up your randomizations from this small post. Let us give her 5 possible outcomes shall we? (Why five? Cause I like five. You could do 3, you could do 30. Up to you.)

Possible Outcomes:
  • The hut is too dark inside to see anything, Doe will have to find a light source or open up the door more to see what is inside.
  • While she is peaking her head into the door a swarm of bats suddenly fly out.
  • The lights are on but no one is home; there is a stew boiling on the stove though.
  • A donkey that was just minding his own business kicks the door back shut in her face.
  • The owner is home and wants to know why you didn't knock.


Okay, we have our possible outcomes. Where did these come from? Right off the top of my head but they are all possible. Depending on how your story is moving and what you are wanting to accomplish in the RP will guide what comes to mind for you but you get the idea.

Now, roll. ~rolls a die in her chat room and comes up with a 3~ Outcome? The lights are on but no one is home; there is a stew boiling on the stove though.

You have your outcome now. What you do with it will be explained below in the World Narrative Section. In the Hider is an example of a more complicated Randomization; one that I used for Day 2 Opening in the Rp Darker Than Black. To give you an idea just how long these things can be lol


Now as you can see from those, I type up everything before I roll and make sure to have not only the characters name but the Rpers as well. This helps keeps things organized for me and make things run a lot smoother once I get the results. I can move quickly from rolls to outcomes to typing. Now, onto how to add these into your posts; more specifically on how to add them to your WN.



World Narrative




Ahh, the World Narrative, the Gm's Update, the everything! How I love this little bit of Gming practice. To start you will want to make sure that your WN is set apart from the rest of your posts. I normally have it have a special little title in the beginning of the post - Usually simply titling it World Narrative and below that tagging every player in the RP. It makes it simple for references purposes and draws your Rpers attention to crucial information packed posts.

You can break these down into different layouts and honestly it will depend on the RP on how you want to do this. Remember though, no WN has to look like another and you can flip between different layouts even within a single RP if it works better for the time. Make these work for you and not against you. Some examples are as follows....

Simple Layout: This design lets you put in just the basics in a very straight forward manner; no frills about it. Under Setting you would put in the rest of the information that you want to include beyond what is already there.

Personal Layout: This one is less about the straight up information but works better for me when using Randomizaion. It simply tags everyone and I add in below the tags what I need to....


Okay, now you have your layout, or you can create something new. Whichever works. Let's get back to Doe. You have her roll and you know her outcome. Now how do you put that in your WN so that your Rper has access to the information? There are several ways to do this... We will talk about 2 right now.

The first is simple tag and information dump...
  • [@Jane] - Doe peaks her head in and no one is home in the hut. The smell of a stew fills the air and if she looks over to the stove she can see it is cooking there. If Doe is hungry she might be tempted to grab a bowl but would it be safe? The owner of the hut must be close or at least planning to be back soon. Does she want to risk it?


See, you just took a small outcome and have given your Rper a few things to think about in the same quick post without having to worry about being in character... Is her character hungry? Will she try some? Will she shut the door and wait? Will she start looking around in the hut or look for the owner? It gives her several possible paths to take and depending on what she posts next will help you determine what the next set of randomization will be.

The second way to go about this is in a character post; either a Gm's main or a NPC. We will wing it since we don't have a huge set up for this example RP. Say Jane had received a roll of 5, the owner would have been there in the hut and be speaking to her directly. Now you could have just done the information dump and added in a little speech text to it for a slew of questions he asked and what he did or you can turn the roll into an NPC post such as follows....

The owner of the hut looked up from his rickety chair to see the door open and cocked a brow as he watched Doe peek her head inside. Furious that someone would dare just try to waltz right into his home he stood up, slamming his palms against his table. "Who are you! What are you doing here! Didn't your mother teach you any manners?" he bellowed as he came out from behind the table and picked up his wood axe, gripping it tightly in his hand as he stalked towards her.

Small but you get the gist. If a character is interacting with one of your own of course you could do more since you have that character more fully worked up than a generl NPC. But yeah, there you have it. Now below is a WN that I have posted in Darker Than Black - This is an Information Dump



As you can see with that one, I took the roll results, gave my Rpers a little bit of an opening, and then just dumped the information right in their laps to see what they would do. Now, what if you are playing a character in the RP and you need to place them in the WN? No problem, just add that to the Post - Example below....



Now, are you can see, in that post I not only gave the Rpers a general information dump that came from the results of various rolls but I was also able to post for one of my characters in the RP. My character was interacting with another Rpers, so instead of posting an information dump I took the rolls my character received into a post as well as the other Rper's roll results. this let's it flow a bit more organically and allows me to enjoy time as an Rper on top of being a GM. Keep an eye on this post because that roll that made my character Risa is an example of an LLA moment and the results will be posted below as we delve into the world known as LLA...



LLA



Lady A is standing there with a slew of sacrifices befitting that of a god, singing as she lays out said blood rites on an alter. "Luck be a Lady Tonight, Luck if you've been a lady to begin with, Luck be a lady tonight!"

Oh, sorry about that. Just placing a little bit on the alter since I have rolls to make later today concerning some of my Rpers. It's always good practice to leave a little bit for LLA. Anyways, back to what we have been discussing. We have gone over Randomization and World Narratives. On to the last little bit of this tutorial... LLA, Lady Luck or Lady Lick Ass; depending on how you look at it.

Now, LLA is a fickle creature. She has slaughtered so many characters in my Rp's I now have to place a character death counter at the top of my original OOC's and keep it updated there through out the RP. I personally have lost more than any of my Rpers, so I know the pain she can cause. While LLA might be a harsh mistress, she is fair. All characters are equal in her eyes. It does not matter how loved or hated they are by the characters or the Rpers, she always dishes out her wrath equally and without bias.

Many would think that most of my Rpers hate her and in a way they do but they also adore her, even if they won't admit it. She keeps things interesting and adds that bit of character development that might not be there otherwise. On top of that, she ensures that people stay on the edge of their seat, biting their nails to see what happens. New faces come into an RP because old faces leave. Sure it means more Cs work over all for your Rpers but in the end something's can only be achieved by death and that is when LLA steps in.

How do you use her? Carefully. Before you even roll for her, please make sure that in your rules that you have posted that you will be using LLA and that character death can and will happen. Urge your Rpers to have at least 1 back up character ready to go if theirs should bite the bullet, make yourself at least 3. (LLA seems to like to really target Gm's. I know.)

When setting up for LLA remember, you will want a sliding scale. You won't want every randomization that comes into play to result in a death; well maybe you do you sick sick Gm. (I love you.) - So set up several scales for you. I use a 1 in 20 chance. This means when a randomization that is laid out pops up with an LLA roll that character will have a 5% chance of death. Now that might not seem like a lot but trust me, that little bit can cause a lot of deaths. A roll of 1... ~hangs her head and weeps for the fallen~

Adjust this as needed. I mean if your character is home and just eating a sandwich chances are they aren't going to die from it. So if LLA comes up, make it a 1 in 100 roll. If they are in the middle of battle, wounded, and surrounded by blood thirsty orcs who haven't tasted fresh meat in three months... Well make it 1 in 5.

If the 1 pops up.... STICK TO YOUR GUNS GM!!!! Otherwise the practice is pointless. If the death is rolled for, make sure it is used. It doesn't matter if it is your character or your best friends. That character is dead. End of story. Play it out and let the other Rpers react to it.

Please listen, LLA doesn't always deal out death though, sometimes she deals out life. She can be that 1 in 100 chance that your character will pull through! For example... In Darker than Black my character Risa was horribly injured with a glass shard to her spleen from a table when a bomb went off in the building she was standing in. There isn't much you can do about that, especially in an Rp that is Slice-of-Life and has no magic. 12 flights down a broken stair well and out of the building, EMT's were there but you can't remove it until you get her to the hospital. Each post that passed, Risa's chances were less and less for survival until they were 1 in 100 when she reached the OR doors. (Said characters boyfriend in RP was already preparing for the worst and the Rper controlling the boyfriend was bracing himself for one hell of a feels post.) Then this happened...



See, it isn't ALWAYS bad, just a lot of the time. So work her in carefully and with caution but if you do... Roll with it and enjoy it! You never know what could happen and that is what makes it so much fun!




Well that brings us to the end of another Lady A tutorial. I hope you found this as informational and helpful as I found it fun to put together for you. As with all my tutorials, please use this as you see fit and customize it for your own needs and wants. No Gm's way is the best way, all you can do it find what works best for you. Some people will and do hate these techniques, others embrace them fully and wouldn't have it any other way. What is right for you personally is never wrong. See you in the next tutorial!

Lady A~