(The following is an excerpt that was originally posted on DM’s Roundtable in the “Feeling Frustrated and/or Helpless?” thread. I’ve included it here because the information on Open and Closed storylines relates to how we at Evil Plotters Ink label our storylines. If a storyline is open, all are welcome to play into it. If a storyline is closed, everyone can still get involved in any of the public scenes but the progression of the sl will be controlled by the primary players who have created it. Thanks!)
…Let’s discuss “Open” and “Closed” Storylines. I feel a lot of players don’t recognize that there is a difference.
Open SL = All respectful play is welcome. Any actions given will be reacted to. It infers that characters, outside the starring roles, will nevertheless have an impact on the story and its direction. Everyone feels useful, involved, and included because their actions and interactions are given the appropriate attention. (Note, this does not mean that everything a character does will be successful, it simply means their attempts will be given appropriate attention.)
Closed SL = Only those directly involved have any real impact on the storyline. This infers that others participation can only be reactionary. Everyone outside the closed sl can rp off of the story but not necessarily have a direct impact on it.
Having a closed sl isn’t a bad thing. It informs all the players right up front what role they are facing. It gives everyone involved the choice to play, or not, off of the closed sl. Some of us don’t want to be put in a “reactionary” role; therefore knowing it’s a closed sl allows us to easily plot a way out of it.
Having an open sl doesn’t mean we have to play with everyone; we retain the right to ignore disrespectful play, or deny others the role of immediate hero. (Both of which can ruin a sl if allowed.) However, an open sl does infer that other players contributions will be noticed and acted on accordingly. Others characters’ actions will have impact and create their own reactions within the open sl, hence allowing them a modicum of control over the direction and outcome. In an open sl all the players are invited to collaborate towards the sl’s conclusion. In an open sl no one player or group has complete control over direction or outcome because what happens will unfold randomly.
When plotting a sl be honest about it. Is it an open sl or a closed sl? Will other players be able to direct it or is that control in a few hands solely? Will the sl have a negative impact on other characters not directly involved? If yes, how will that be resolved so that no one feels they are being put in a place they don’t want to be?
NOTE: We here at Evil Plotters Ink will tag all our storylines as to whether they are open or closed. Even with our closed sls there are opportunities’ for direct involvement, just talk to us! Let us know you’re interested. Having an idea of what you want out of the story will work awesomely in your favor too!