Hyperspace Beacon: How to run a roleplay event in spite of SWTOR’s mechanics
Many people have wondered what roleplay is like in a game like SWTOR. I suspect a lot of gamers have the impression that it’s about flirting with the cantina dancers, and although it might include that some of the time (wink, wink), much of my time as an officer of my RP guild is planning and executing larger roleplay plots for the guild. I don’t expect that everyone’s roleplay works this way, but I would like to give you an example of how an event evening will work for me. Hopefully, I can inspire you to join in some of the fun, or at very least, gain a great appreciation for what RPers do.
Setting up goals
On my RP guild forums, we have a section specifically designed to discuss events and storylines for the guild. It’s not where we discuss the vision and direction of the guild, but many of the conversations there build off those topics. We call this the backstage area, and only players who are designated GMs (or as we call them, “Favored”) and officers can see this section.
I’m not going to give away the details because it’s still playing out right now, but the overarching premise of one of the plots is that an independent Zakuulan noble has an issue with our guild. The noble partnered with an Imperial Moff, who has an agenda of his own. Together they have been attempting to displace our guild by attacking the stronghold on Dromund Kaas not once but twice. We have also retaliated against them by breaking into IT facilities to extract information and also freeing some political prisoners. These less impactful events then led us into a major event that (in our case) portends the destruction of our stronghold.
Of course, this setup is a bit complicated and ongoing. That doesn’t mean that the one you do for your guild has to be. We have events every week that are one-off events or just small and character-driven. It could be as simple as tomb-diving to find a valuable artifact or invading an Republic base to steal a datacore. Regardless of the scale of the event, there should always be some sort of setup and both in-character and out-of-character goals.
In character, the goal of my event was to escape the stronghold, and obviously, the goal of the NPCs was to take over the stronghold. Out of character, the goal was to give us a reason to change facilities. Of course, your reasons don’t need that large of a scope. Your characters could simply wish to get rich off your relic or find out more information about an enemy by stealing the datacore. As for the out-of-character goal, maybe you just want to hang out with your friends, or maybe you’re trying to establish your group’s storyline. Whatever the reasons, it should be clear to you, and when creating and holding the event that goal should always be in the forefront of your mind. Every action that you do in preparation and in execution should hold to those goals.
Every other week, our guild has an event where the goal is for all the general populace of the guild to speak to the leaders of the guild in-character. It is also an opportunity for the guild leaders to inform the guild what their plans are and what each of their departments have been doing. We call this regular event Court.
I decided to use this regular event to kick off my event. Since I’m a guild leader, I can do that, but it also serves the purpose of the original event, too: It gives the guild an opportunity to discover the future of the guild. It’s just that this time the event was a bit more interactive than normal.
So now that you got everyone in one place, how do you hook them into the event? Well, since our enemy in this scenario likes to gloat, I did two things. I placed an article on the front of my guild’s website, making a public in-character statement about what was happening. And then in game, I had the bad guy say this over the comlink during Court.
Lord Shaddoe, I think you know who I am. For those gathered — I’m sure that more are gathered around you right now — I am Count Vastane of the glorious Empire of the Eternal Throne. It is good to meet me. As you might have seen on the holonet, my Empire has now procured your tower for use as a… what was it that I said we needed? Oh yes, a…” The hologram picks up a datapad and clears his throat. “… a skytrooper manufacturing facility.”
He drops the datapad out of frame. “I want you to know that your personnel on the other levels have five minutes to clear the building.” A grin creeps over the man’s face. “However, everyone in this room will have to die. Your security systems have already been disabled and my skytroopers are in the lifts right now.” He points a finger at Shaddoe just as he starts to leave. “Oh yes, my ships are patrolling this tower as well. So escaping via the platform will be impossible as well. Good-bye.” The image blinks out, leaving nothing but emptiness in its wake.
Next week, I’ll give my review of the next SWTOR chapter. But after that, I want to come back to the actual event itself and explain how combat and character skills are easily incorporated into the event and the story. Until then, let me know what you think. Would you like more in-spite-of-mechanics type guides? I’d like to hear your thoughts in the comments below.