Author Topic: Thoughts, Ideas and Opinions on Playing with and Interacting with AMPC's.  (Read 1115 times)

Nemesis 24

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First off, before we start – it should be noted that nothing written here is a concrete guide of 'how to play' with OR against an AMPC.  This isn't an official ruling and it shouldn't be treated as such, but more along the lines of suggestions and ideas for players to consider.

It is especially not a 'how I think you should play' guide.  If it reads as that, I apologise – this is emphatically a suggestion and ideas conversation, with room for further observation.  I hope in fact there is further discussion about this in the comments!

It should also be noted most of this comes from a number of players who have played and enjoyed AMPC's.  As such a lot of the mistakes listed are ones that have already been made!  Hopefully making these mistakes brings about a better experience for others next time.

So, with that out of the way, let's get started.


1.  Why play an AMPC?

-Potentially rewarding experience for yourself and other players.
-No waiting to level and build up – straight into the story.
-A completely different perspective on how the setting functions.


Monsters, horror, and tragedy are key components of the Ravenloft narrative as a whole, and for this reason the AMPC and MPC exists on the server.  Rather than waiting for the story to occur, you instead create the story, your way, in a completely organic way on the server with your fellow players.  This is the most power afforded to the player base in creating an impact on fellow players and leave an impact and mark after your story is done.

You have a limited time frame to do this – 6 months (unless approved for an extension!) – but you have a very large advantage in this matter.  As a character you start immediately at level 13 – minus any ECL changes that take place – so there is no waiting.  You do not have to build up and establish your characters potency.  If you are thus yearning to get straight on with creating plot on your own agency, an AMPC is a very effective way of exploring that.

One thing that's core about being granted this extra power and ability without going through the grind of earning it however, is a heightened level of responsibility and awareness of your actions.  Most of this is covered in the actual application process but it does not hurt to remain aware of it during the time you play.  You can affect change, and you 'are' a monster – but that does not mean you need to affect such change in a less than positive way to everyone involved.  The point of the AMPC, first and foremost, is to add to the server atmosphere and player enjoyment.  The first thing to consider then, and what should colour all your thoughts afterwards, isn't asking yourself what story you can create for yourself – what can you create for everyone else?  Your characters own story is best designed to be one that facilitates reactions in other people – you are the antagonist to their story.  How will you expand on that?  When setting a goal, keep in mind it might need to be flexible, and change to suit.  You are as much an aggressor as you are a responder, and while you may come into the game with a clear, preset goal, you are part of a shared narrative and as such it pays to be aware of the challenges that are going to before you to achieve them – by keeping things fairly nebulous you'll be able to switch easier as need be.


2.  Getting started on an AMPC.

-Get access to the forums!  Make use of the Discord chat!
-Be aware of limitations and vulnerabilities.
-Practice, and be aware of what you can and cannot do.


I admit I missed the first one in my playthrough!  The AMPC's and MPC's have access to a subforum that allows them to read up on guidelines and other information that can be very handy to use.  But it isn't 'wholly' necessary for success.  A personal suggestion would be to make use of the Discord tool – this chat allows for real time access to individuals who will be happy to answer questions or to establish lines of communication.  Communication is incredibly important with AMPC's, as we'll go over later.

One thing that cannot be stressed enough is that as powerful as the AMPC template is, each of them have significant weaknesses that can and will be exploited heavily.  This is entirely in keeping with the lore of each creature and you, as the AMPC player should not ignore them.  A were creature should not ignore the touch of silver, or the presence of its bane herb (wolfsbane, belladonna, etc).  A vampire should not ignore the fact they have no reflection or enter certain temples and holy ground.  Be aware of these weaknesses and play towards them – your opponents will, and you should react accordingly.  An example of this is being shot by a silver arrow as a werewolf.  This mechanically most likely won't kill your werewolf, but it should in fact hurt them, and maybe even drive them off.  It may in fact be to your benefit.   That said, you should also be aware of mechanical limitations.  Without going too far into them, each AMPC template does have some mechanical vulnerabilities to go with their bonuses.  It pays to be aware of them and to prepare against them.  As you won't have time to gradually learn the ins and outs of your character as you level them up, it can be a shock to be caught off guard.

As a result of this, it pays to practice your abilities.  And to be careful about showing them.  A single werewolf in the midst of the outskirts that tries to fight everyone on a crowded full moon evening will not only get in serious difficulty, but it does nothing to add to the fear.  Make use of marks, atmospheric voice text (@voice [Insert text here]) and leave signs of your actions.  But don't try to take on everyone at once!  Villains need to play smart at all levels to succeed.  You both need to play smarter and have it easier in some regards than most.


3.  Interacting with PC's as an AMPC.

-Always be considerate, within reason.
-Always be mindful of your fellow player – always.
-Mind where you are, and what you are up against.
-Play smart, not aggressive.  But play villainously. 
-Don't play to win.  Play for experience.
-Prioritise RP over PvP as much as possible.


Whether you are playing as an AMPC or as a player, the number one thing you must always, ALWAYS be aware of, is to be considerate of your fellow players.  Honestly this cannot be prioritised enough, and should be something considered in all interactions – within reason.

Legitimate conflict is an important part of being an AMPC.  You are going to create enemies, and foes, and those characters are, if you are good at what you do, legitimately going to absolutely hate you for what you've done to them and to their lives.  But that is the character.  Not the player.  The player you are playing against is not their character, and neither are you.  You are both playing a game you love and likely enjoy the same things – after all it is what brought you here!  If ever you feel like this isn't true, talk to the CC.  It is what they are here for, but after playing an AMPC I can tell you that this is almost always not the case.  Your characters are enemies, but you the players, are not.  You are working together to create a story, not against each other, because as stated before this is a shared narrative.  As such, always consider the story first, and building on it.  Kill each other, yes, but make it an action as a result of roleplay as much as possible, and to further more roleplay as much as you can!  And never forget that outside of DM intervention, you cannot permanently kill a player.  If you are playing in a less competitive mindset, this will not be a problem, but as a player and as an AMPC you must follow the rules of Player vs Player combat at all times, including the aftermath.

Remember, as an AMPC, where you are.  While it is tempting to charge into the outskirts and attack people, you are going to find this will get you killed rather quickly.  Players have many means to put you down quickly if you encourage an aggressive mindset, unless you play in an oblique manner.  Be smart, and be cautious.  Play with care as much as possible and be ready to sink your teeth in when the time is right.  Knowing when to strike is as important as knowing how to do so.  A shared narrative experience can make this somewhat chaotic but from personal experience I find that a patient approach is more potent than a rushed one.  This can still go wrong for you, and it just might.  It is frankly astonishing how easily a player can stumble across you in the game world as you are causing a ruckus in some isolated spot but it absolutely does happen.  Try to mitigate it as much as possible by playing smart.  If you are a were creature, wander around in your human form and keep an eye on player groups, watching to see if you can get one of them on their own.  If you can stealth, use it to track your targets.  If you cannot do those things, play the patient game.  Use the locate tool to track down players.  Or have them come to you – using the @mark tool to leave a trail to you, which the player may not realise until it is too late that it is in fact a trap.

Remember also you are a villain.  Run away.  Play dirty.  Go after friends and family of your opponent.  If you can't hit them head on, hit them where it hurts.  Find the vulnerable spot and abuse it, but always keep the lines of communication open.  Story!  Not actual vindictive behaviour!  It’s a big difference.  You can and should make the life of your foes as difficult as possible, but it may take patience and cleverness to figure out how to do that.

Expanding on that, Player vs Player is expected as an AMPC.  But it should not be the focus of being an AMPC if you can avoid it.  Remember that this is a roleplay based server and that such actions should either be the result of or to further enhance roleplay.  As such you should avoid as much as you possibly can a mentality around 'winning'.  This is difficult to embrace, and can surprise you even if you are sure that it isn't a problem, leaving you with a bitter taste in your mouth if you encounter a serious (and often fatal) defeat.  It should be noted, that this is something BOTH sides of the equation suffer from.  Player vs Player is going to end with someone losing, and it is human nature to hate losing.  But the purpose of the AMPC is, in fact, to 'lose'.  You've got a limited time frame to create a story for the rest of the playerbase.  As such, like a DM plot villain in any Pen and Paper game, you are going to lose.  As such, you really should look at this exercise as being something akin to a storyteller, like a DM.  And like a DM, you must understand that players can and often will throw a spanner in the works of your beautifully thought out story and put an end to it (and you).  But again, this cannot be overemphasised – you are here to create and enrich the horror experience for the players, your own story should reflect that, and should refrain as much as possible from being about achieving your goals – if you make your goals more about the players involved, rather than your own achievements, you may find yourself enjoying the entire thing more!  It takes a bit of adjusting in your thinking, but frankly, you should embrace the limited time frame aspect.  Acknowledging that the story 'must' end makes it easier to accept when it inevitably does.


4.  Interacting with AMPC's as a PC.

-Beware the 'go for the kill' approach
-Be mindful of your fellow player
-Red does NOT have to automatically equal dead!
-But always play your character in character.


With all that was said in the previous section, players should never, ever be afraid of seeing what comes next with the AMPC.  Remember all those times you were bored in game and hoping for something to happen?  Remember all those times you didn't want to grind or were craving a real horror experience?  That's what the AMPC is for.  If, however, you approach the AMPC as merely a trophy to get the kill of, and get yourself a notch on your belt as quickly as possible, two things will happen – you are going to be bored again before long, and the person who was finished off in a hurried fashion will inevitably be upset by the result.  It's happened many times over and the end result is often the same.  Keep in mind emotions can run very high in these situations.  So, as a player, try and remember – the AMPC is there for your enjoyment, but it is also for the server as a whole.  If they are dead the story is over, and everyone involved misses out on their story.  This does not mean you should ignore roleplay or not play in character, and you should not refrain from actually trying to put an end to them.  They 'are' monsters after all and your enemy.  But it 'is' worthwhile to keep in mind that maybe discretion can have a better result.  Try to find a balance, and keep the lines of communication open if you can – again, within reason.

It should be noted briefly.  During an NCE event, the rapid kill-off of AMPC's is quite common.  Playstyle against them – and by them – is highly aggressive.  Outside of NCE however, you've got an enormous amount of time.  Take advantage of it!  Let things play out.  Turn off that kill on sight approach and see what comes.  It can be immensely satisfying.  Don't bring the rapid play approach of NCE to outside of it, it’s a very different time and should be approached differently as well.

If you find yourself caught out by an AMPC, even if it is just getting corpsed in the outskirts, remember two things – it is all part of building a narrative and a story, and it is not personal.  It should not be taken as the end of the story – it is in fact the beginning of a new one.  If they kill you, come after them – you've got reason to!  In fact that is almost certainly what they are hoping for.  If things have gone right – and admittedly, they don't always do so – that death will be the culmination of activity.  Embrace it, and the aftermath!  Getting angry about the entire thing only means that you'll miss out on opportunities, right away and in the future too.

If you attack an MPC with little to no roleplay, or when they are in the middle of roleplay with others, you should expect a quick mechanical response.  Whether they are trying to get back to their scene, or worrying about survival in order to continue telling the story in general, most MPC's are going to either quickly escape or quickly return fire.

The same goes for being downed and then hopping up to return to fighting. If it becomes disruptive to the scene, the AMPC is probably just going to put you down and corpse you to prevent it continuing.  Even if they the AMPC are made to flee, that usually does not contribute much overall to people involved, including yourself.


5.  For PC's and AMPC's – Escalation of Force.

-Death is the last alternative
-There are many different methods and levels of conflict.
-Knowing when to fight.


This part is pretty self explanatory.  Because you can use force does not mean you have to use force.  A different way to look at things is by using the method of 'force escalation.'

Force escalation refers to increasing the level of force – or violence – as methods of communication fail.  This is commonly used in regards to military or police matters, but it remains true here with conflict based interaction between AMPC and PC (and for that matter in any and all conflict roleplay).  As an example of this, a conversation between two individuals is the first stage.  The second would involve verbal threats, which closes the first stage of conversation.  The third stage would be the drawing of weapons without using them.  The fourth would be using those weapons to wound, and the final stage is using those weapons to kill.

Whatever those weapons might be is irrelevant, but this is a fairly standard escalation of force.  Where this is useful to roleplay however is understanding that you should attempt to explore these options as much as possible during your conflict, as by doing so you maximise the potential for experience overall.  Going straight to the fifth and final stage means you miss out on everything below that.

We can further expand this by explaining that conflict does not necessarily mean player vs player combat at all.  In fact the potential for a rewarding experience can often involve using other means to explore conflict and as a villain, you should endeavour to do so.  Does your enemy have a family?  Something precious to them?  A goal that they seek?  Can you offer them something they want, or something they desperately need?  Remember as an AMPC it is also your role to tempt and to corrupt the heroes as well – to seek to drag them down the path your character has already walked down.  It will be a testament to that characters will that they refuse such a path, or a sign of their coming downfall should they accept.  Either way, you can facilitate that character development, and should relish the chance to do so.

If it does come down to combat, remember that knowing when to fight is incredibly important.  It is extremely risky to go into combat with an unknown force, so if you are not entirely sure, err on the side of caution if you can and run if you must.  If you cannot avoid combat, play it smart and play it fair.  If you are beaten, you should probably accept the fact you've been badly wounded and should sit out the rest of the fight and see what comes next.  It might be possible to run off to a safe resting spot and get all your abilities back and wounds fixed but it is not exactly immersive or realistic to come straight back into the fight afterwards.   The best way to get more story out of the event is to be above all a good sport in the matter.


6.  Groups over Solo play.

-Don't go solo if you can avoid it.  Group concepts!

Recent events have shown that a lone AMPC will get seriously overwhelmed if they go at things alone.  Far more potent instead is the group concept of AMPC's – a group of players creating an entire faction of AMPC's pursuing a joint goal.  Why is this good?  Two reasons.

AMPC on AMPC roleplay – co-operation and antagonistic, is incredibly rewarding.  Just because they share a common goal does not make them friends, and the group may well dissolve under the weight of its own malice, as evil's greatest enemy is often itself.  But from a purely mechanical point of view, while a single werewolf might not be that intimidating, a pair of combat werewolves supported by two werewolf cleric spellcasters is actually terrifying and extremely powerful.  By combining efforts and abilities, AMPC's take an exponential jump in threat and overall danger, and this absolutely cannot be understated enough.  If you are going into a high risk location with a chance of a lot of players in close proximity, don't go alone.  It's somewhat more complex to create a group concept but the recent success of a certain monster group shows that this has absolutely enormous potential.  Find a concept, find some like minded people who might be interested, and see what you can come up with!  Of course, this is not to say it will happen.  You 'do' need to make an application and the oversight group may very well and understandably reject it, but that does not under any circumstances mean you should not try.


7.  How to get the most out of your story.

-Set a clear goal, but keep it flexible
-Manage reaction.  Plan for setbacks.
-Be ready to change goals.
-Don't be too afraid of going bold, but accept what comes.
-Open Communication – Within reason.


Playing an AMPC is a unique challenge.  With the possible exception of a single template, you can be fairly sure that the entire player base ultimately wants you dead.  Some more or less than others, but one way or another the likelihood of allies is very low – and yet viable.  Always consider looking for a way to offer characters something that they might in fact actually want.  Not everyone is honest and reputable in Ravenloft – the majority are far from it.  That can in fact be all the opening you need.

Have yourself a goal.  An end goal is useful but always keep it flexible, ready to change focus or direction as need be.  Try to find a way to pull back to the main goal but remember that the goal should be something that players will want to actually stop.  If they need to band together to do that, all the better, but keep in mind major plots are the domain of DM's.  Thus, keep the goal realistic – replacing Strahd as a Dark Lord is not realistic, but taking control of the criminal underworld of Vallaki might be, or attempting to corrupt a certain power base that already exists in the game that is player made.  Just because your character has a short life span doesn't mean that the plans should be short term either – you might succeed in them, and you should give it your all, but again, winning should take a distant second to creating a player based story.  You don't have to give that plot away either – more than half of the fun for the player group should be uncovering just what it is you are actually up to.  Create feints, misinformation, lies, and other deceptions.  Cheat, trick and misdirect.  Have the player base double guessing everything you do and doubting everything while you work towards the main goal, but go about leaving hints and clues as well so they can try to and actually figure it all out.  The sense of triumph of a player group actually figuring out what you are up to is something you should absolutely be glad of them doing – if they do it really quickly, double well done!  It's no secret we've got some very intelligent players here and they'll likely outthink you, but this ties into the next part of the post.

Always be ready to react.  One of the biggest things that gets in the way of AMPC enjoyment aside from being killed off suddenly and without any real story building is encountering a stumbling block that is thrown up in front of you and makes proceeding on the plot difficult, or seemingly impossible.  Maybe your werecreature has been outed and can no longer socialise in polite society.  Maybe your vampire coffin was destroyed and left you vulnerable.  Expect set-backs, expect difficulty, because it is not a question of if but when it will happen, every time.   Try to have plans set up for when this happens so you can keep going regardless, and expect it to happen at any time.

One thing you should never do as a player is rely on other players for your own enjoyment and also furthering your story.  By this, I mean you should not expect them to behave in a specific fashion, or even at all, as none of them are under any obligation to do so.  Real life or loss of enjoyment, whatever the reason might be, don't take it personally for it never actually is meant as such.  Be grateful for what you did get and move on to the next target group.  React to what they do rather than wait for them to do something specific.  This means you are both the person creating story and reacting to story, whatever it might be.  If your plans fall through, you can either give up or find another angle.  It is strongly recommended, from personal experience, that you start looking for an alternative instead of giving up – and the best way to do that is to get into the game and play until something presents itself.  Remember that many of your players 'also' crave story.  If one doesn't work out for whatever reason, then look to others.  Spread your net wide and you will catch the most fish, as it were!  Remember also to speak with the CC and others, just don't give up.  There are plenty of different ways to pursue a plot and change tact as long as you keep an open mind and don't let yourself become too upset when the original plan falls through and you are left a bit stuck.  Take a step back and confer with your peers, then get back in there and see what you can make.  Do your best not to get despondent.

It also does not hurt to keep tentative lines of OOC communication with your opponents.  Keep it simple and above all keep it civil, and polite.  One should never use such a thing to start an OOC argument, but it is possible to start a dialogue.  You may feel less or more comfortable with this, but please, be careful about doing so.  If you don't think you can keep a clear level head, best not to take this route.  You should also respect the wishes of any other player, as some may in fact desire absolutely no OOC communication.  If they wish to decline an OOC dialogue please understand that they are completely within their right to do so, and let it go at that!

And if all else fails, if you're out of ideas – then, well, what do you have left to lose?  By that point you might as well think of the most wild idea you can, make sure it's all right if it’s a little 'too' crazy, and run with it!


8.  The Importance of Fear.

-Remember that both sides need to work together to create fear!

Something very important that has been touched on a few times in discussion is the notion of fear in roleplay.  After all, this is a Gothic Horror setting and server and fear, whatever form it comes in, is a vital, underpinning part of the experience and frankly, to be expected.  As an Atmospheric Monster Player Character, you have a responsibility in creating that fear as much as you can.

Admittedly, this can be difficult.  Because fear, and the playing of fear, is a two way street.  It involves actions and reactions not just on your part but also on the part of those you are interacting with.

The creation of fear is a delicate process.  In order to create fear, you will need to behave in a manner that is both different and more menacing than the standard NPC.  This can be achieved by use of @voice atmospherics, and @mark placements, that describe the sort of fear you are trying to create.
The other side of creating this fear of course is whether or not it actually intimidates the characters.  In some cases it will not do so, simply because the characters you are up against are veterans.  They've faced down the dark and survived – as such they are more difficult to frighten.  If you are going to intimidate them you will need to think about it – if you cannot frighten them, you need to find a way to threaten what it is they care about.

In some cases however, there is a very justifiable need for fear.  In this case, it is simply a matter of playing your character.  But one thing that does not add to the atmosphere is simply ignoring the fear that the setting is supposed to be built upon.  Overcoming fear (or succumbing to it) is far more rewarding in the long run for both the development of the character and the overall setting as well.  But this requires acknowledging its existence and acting upon it in character.  Fear may be overcome or it may be something your character withers before, but it 'does' exist.  Even the strongest paladin can feel fear – it is the mark of the paladin to recognise that fear and overcome it.  The best part of this is that any character can overcome fear.  At the right moment, and played out, it is nothing short of triumphant to witness and something that should be striven for.


9.  It all must end.

-Think about how you want to go out
-Expect to be taken out abruptly, embrace it
-Always remember this is about the players around you first, yourself second.


All good things must come to an end, and AMPC's are no exception.  You should from the very start think about how you'd like to see your AMPC die off, in keeping with the traditions of horror, tragedy and other gothic themes that the server is built upon.  Plan on it, and work towards it.  Embrace the flaws of personality inherent in each monster that inevitably lead to its own destruction, and from them grow a whole new kind of tragedy.

That being said, there is the incredibly real – and very common, no matter what – danger of just being obliterated by starting a fight with someone you probably should not.  There is almost always a bigger fish, as it were!  They might even be dark lords themselves if you step on all the wrong kinds of toes.  But often enough the innocuous looking figure standing out in the outskirts might well be a fully geared level 20 who then proceeds to turn you inside out.  It cannot be stated enough that you need to be ready to accept this if it happens, and to understand if it does that it is simply something that can and 'does' happen.  Don't get upset!  Pick yourself up, congratulate your destroyer for a job well done, and consider the next option.  Don't resent them for doing what is completely well within their character to do, and in truth it does not 'have' to end there.  Our player base is a genuinely good, well meaning and above all good natured one, and you'll often be very pleasantly surprised by the things that can happen to you – death, sometimes, isn't actually as final as you think.

Above all, embrace your role as a story teller – a story for your fellow players.  Short of a DM, you have the most power to influence the story and personality of the characters around you.  Legends can be made and broken by your deeds.  If it does not work out that way, remind yourself why you got into this in the first place – not for your sake, but for the sake of the players around you.  Go into the situation with a clear understanding and realisation of the limitations and the danger of expectations, but do your best regardless.  Treat your fellow players with respect and keep communication open.  Remember not to be competitive but to let matters grow as best you can.  Being given an AMPC is a responsibility more than it is a privilege, and should be treated as such.  That doesn't mean you cannot have fun – I've learned a lot playing an AMPC myself and I hope to continue to learn more in the future.

Regardless, I hope this all helps.  Discuss away!  But keep it civil.  Let's not have any naming and shaming here, because we all know there have been some unfortunate ends.  This is instead an opportunity to help an aspect of the server grow considerably, so let us see if we can't encourage that.


NecropolisV

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Re: Thoughts, Ideas and Opinions on Playing with and Interacting with AMPC's.
« Reply #1 on: December 25, 2016, 02:19:50 AM »
*applauds* This post is so much yes
-Currently Playing: Velindilieth Asuranaeh
Second PC: Akin (Aka Morvis X'angondur)

Closured:
Markus Shadebane, Adrian Von Viklov, Vincent Zolokorov, Adam, Ambrose De'Korban

Jordan Kasterian

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Casual bump

SardineTheAncestor

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Never did read this thread before as 2016 was long before my time here, and it was brought to my attention by Jordan's bump right before I had to leave. With 10 minutes I got to skim a very thoughtfully laid out treatise on how to play an evil monster in a way that would contribute to the experience of others and their enjoyment of the server. Definitely a thread to save, keep in mind, refer others to, and read over every now and again.
Esmeralda Selorn, rogue druidess from Deadwood
Shannon Linwood, heretic priestess of the Morninglord
Nikolaus Gavrilovic, farmer assassin from Novgorod