MU* Admin: Tips for Area Leaders

April 27, 2009 at 12:42 am (Admin Posts) (, )

Tips for Area Leaders

Now that the game is up and running, it’s time to keep it that way. The people the wizards will rely upon more than anyone to do this, are, typically, the Area Leaders. The specific functions of an AL vary, and on some MU*s wizards double team by filling both the role of a wizard and Area Leader. Yet in general the main thrust of the job description remains the same: to foster RP in your subsection of the game.

Before the Application:

Good area leadership actually starts before you even fill out the application. First, examine why you want to be an AL. It is hard work, no matter what anyone may tell you. It probably is going to give you less power and prestige than you might think it will. The best reason to become an AL is a genuine love for the game and a real desire to get in there and help foster RP for everyone from the newbies up to the veterans. An AL cannot afford to be cliquish.

Second you need to examine your time commitment. I’m actually not of the opinion that an AL needs to be on every single night. Even 2-3 nights a week, at three or four hours or so, is enough to establish yourself and foster the area if you make the best use of those hours. Its not enough to come on for two nights a week and idle in your character’s private room, but a good solid 8-12 hours a week well used can make all the difference.

Getting Started:

If you’ve been hired to revitalize a dead area, I salute you, and offer good news: the task is not impossible.

Some ALs start this process by flooding the +bbs with “help wanted” or “characters wanted” announcements. Unfortunately you’re preaching to folks who already have characters. Some of those characters already live in your area, they just haven’t been played for awhile. Besides, nobody wants to go through the trouble of chargenning a totally new alt if they aren’t sure the area is going to succeed yet.

There is one type of +bbpost that is perfect to get you started though. It reads something like this:

On (Date) at (Time), I will be hosting a one-night RP event in (Area). The event will feature an attack by (terrorists, giant purple people eaters, pirates, smugglers, orcs, trollocs…) and I’m aiming to have it last for (number of hours). All are welcome, not just people native to (Area), but if you are having trouble figuring out how and why your character might be there please don’t hesitate to page me and we’ll get some ideas together. Who knows, the ideas might give us more reasons to RP!

If you’re lucky people will show up the first time you do this. If not simply write up another post, reading like this:

The RP event scheduled for (Date, Time) in (Area) has been rescheduled for (Date, Time). See you there!

Don’t offer reasons why it didn’t run (because nobody showed up). Just be matter-of-fact. Keep doing this until someone shows. If even one person shows up, run the event for them. Then put up a +bb about how that one brave individual saved the day. But don’t stop there.

The Monthly RP Event:

Whether your area is pretty well established or flagging, it’s a good idea to have some sort of RP event at regular intervals. I like the monthly interval because it gives people time to RP their reactions to the last event, gives folks plenty of time to plan ahead when you announce the thing, and allows you to actually come up with the event if nothing is striking you as an obvious continuation of the last (such as an awards banquet for the guy who saved the day in your first event).

Slowly but surely people will start trickling in and that trickle will become a flood. Why? Not only are you assuring them at least one night a month where things Will Happen in your area, but you are also sending them a very clear signal that you care about the area and their RP within it. Players, I’ve found, are willing to put up with a lot, but even the most even tempered seems to draw the line at boredom. And why shouldn’t they? They could be off reading, watching tv or heaven forbid having a date instead of showing up to fill your WHO list. You ought to make it worth their while.

TinyPlots

I’m going to offer you some advice here that may seem a little strange. At least at first, focus on one night events, not huge tinyplots. Why? Because tinyplots take a lot of time, a lot of effort, and players who are actually going to show up and care. If you do not have those things yet, then you are not ready to run a tinyplot.

When you do finally break out the tinyplot — and, eventually, you should — make sure its one that you like and not one you are running out of a sense of duty. Run the RP events out of a sense of duty. They’ll be over in a few hours. Run the TP because you think the idea is cool and you are genuinely excited about it, or it is quickly going to suck.

In addition, try not to run TPs that bring people out of your area. Those sorts of TPs, played in the Free RP rooms or hastily dug temporary rooms, can be fun. But they don’t necessarily help wake your area up. You want TPs that give people reason to hang out in those rooms already built and specified for the area you are trying to lead. Local crime sprees are good. Quests for the Great Object of Power are not so good, unless everybody already knows that Great Object of Power is already hidden somewhere within your area.

Full Contact Area Leadership — RP

Make it a practice to get out and RP with a different member of your area each time you log on. If you’re a King, Prime Minister, School Headmaster, or whatever, sending people a quick note and telling them you need to see them in your office is a great hook. Just about anyone can be seen in your office. Here are a list of different types of folks and all the reasons Someone In Charge can see them in her office.

Cook: Because you want to plan the menu for that big banquet you’re throwing as your monthly RP event.

Innkeeper: Because you want to commission his inn for some future engagement.

Lord/Lady: Because you want to get their opinion on some issue. It can be a made up issue, i.e., taxing wine so that you can increase the military or feed the hungry or any of those sorts of things leaders sometimes like to do.

Student: To inquire after their studies, offer an internship, or pay them a one time lump of money to help you with your overflowing files.

Solider: To inquire after his patrols, find out what cases he’s working on, to ask his or her opinion on conditions in the army or guard he’s a part of.

Criminal: To hire him for some covert job you need done, since the crime he/she committed clearly shows an aptitude.

Artist/Entertainer: To offer patronage, commission a statue/painting/song, to hire them for the RP event, to have them assess the worth of the painting you just bought at the junk store.

Merchant: To ask his opinion on increasing commerce, to see how business is going, to buy 100 cases of whatever he’s selling for whatever made up purpose you can decide on.

Farmer: To inquire after his crops, to buy up his land because you think there’s gold there, to offer a position as Minister of Agriculture.

Scholar: To ask about the rumor that the Great Object of Power is buried in your castle catacombs, to hire him to verify your family tree, to have him go through some old documents you found the other day, to ask his opinion on the state of education in the land.

I think I’ve given you hooks for just about any category of character you’re likely to come across (at least in a medieval setting, but really, if you substitute Lord/Lady for Senator, City Counselor, or Cabinet Member you’re probably going to do ok in a SF or Modern setting too), but clearly this will take imagination on your part. Then again so will every facet of inspiring RP.

By the time you’ve done this for awhile you will probably have had personal contact with at least 90% of your area (the other 10% may well just never be on when you are). You’ll not only gain a reputation, again, as an Area Leader who cares, but also you’ll find new RP and plot hooks and increase your own RP as well.

Now Get Out:

About once every two months ago you should plop yourself in a public place other than the RP event, however. This will give folks who you didn’t get to meet with a chance to come and interact with you casually. You may well get mobbed, especially if your AL role carries an FC with it (you’re AL because you’re playing Captain Picard on the Enterprise, for example). Still, you have to make yourself available sometime. Just grit your teeth and get through the scene as best you can, RP to the best of your ability, and try, to the best of your ability, to at least acknowledge everyone who shows up. This is only really truly necessary once every 2 months, however, so you ought to leave with your sanity intact.

Recruitment:

If you don’t get them at the Guest stage, you may not get them at all. However an Area Leader who pages a Guest, helps them creates their character, and offers to personally background share with that character or help them find someone in their area willing to personally background share is going to improve his numbers with ease. As Area Leader performance is often judged by the number of professing members in the area, and area RP, like the MU* as a whole, is not going to happen without players, recruitment has to be a concern.

A quick toss off to the Help Wanted bbs won’t hurt, as there are plenty of experienced players who log onto a new game and check those first of all. Just don’t expect that to drive the bulk of the traffic to your door. Much like any marketing venture, a commercial may be helpful to get people’s minds quietly moving, but it takes the personal contact of someone who knows what they are talking about to get them all the way through the process that your ad started.

Communication

Players are going to be coming to you to get their plots approved, to resolve disputes, to offer ideas, and in some cases to get their characters approved. If you aren’t going to answer till Tuesday that information should be posted somewhere they can find. An Area Leader should place “Office Hours” in their +finger, which can be as general as 6:00 EST to 9:00 EST on MWF or as specific as: On Tuesdays from 9:00 EST – 10:00 EST I am strictly answering @mails and dealing with admin functions, but I am available for RP on Mondays and Fridays from 9:00 EST – 11:00 EST most of the time.

That said, you should not make anyone wait more than one week to deal with their issues or problems. More than that will frustrate and annoy players, suck away their excitement for their proposal, and get rid of all that good will you built up doing all that RP. If you can remember waiting a month for your proposal to get approved on some MU*, you might have an inkling of why this is so important.

If you can, find an Area Second whose hours don’t totally overlap with yours so that your players will usually be able to talk to someone when they need to. Finding (or being) a good Area Second is the subject of an entirely different article.

Conclusion:

If you pay attention to these tips you’ll find that your Area Leadership may run smoothly than most. You will be directly responsible for a happy, healthy section of the player base, and you’ll have opportunities for your own, fun, RP. That is why you want the job, right?

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