TP Application Guide

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Overview

One of the more common complaints before this guide was written was that there were very few resources on how to write an acceptable TP application. Unlike Character Applications, sample TP applications were not provided, and never will be. This is because a TP application is a much more subjective document, and the amount of detail required varies both by complexity of plot and the trustworthiness and experience of the plot runner.

Even taking this into account, we do have certain tips to keep in mind when writing a TinyPlot application.

Basic Tips

Jargon

One of the most common problems with TP Applications is overuse of in-theme jargon. It's all right to establish a couple words that are important. For example, if giant robots in your theme are called 'Gneesh' but there aren't a lot of other words, using 'Gneesh' is fine. If your theme has a habit of coming up with a weird name for every single thing, though, just use the nearest equivalent and perhaps provide a glossary at the end of the writeup.

Similarly, if your plotline includes a lot of names which are nonstandard for English language users, for example a TP with a lot of Japanese myth, please keep things concise and clear when writing up who is doing what, and put reminders in plain English when referring to major events. Example: 'Next, Amaterasu(Sun goddess) will bounce a ball.'

It would be best if you ran your premise past someone who was unfamiliar with the setting to get an idea of how clear it was. Staff WILL go to a wiki for a theme, but you should not rely on us to do that.

For original themes, no wiki is available, so it is up to you to provide context for any unfamiliar terms.

Readability

Applications should be organized into small chunks and paragraphs, and should avoid going into /too much/ detail so as to not become novellas. If your application is larger than 40kb, you are probably writing too much and should consider either going into less detail, or breaking it into multiple TPs.

Try to avoid writing your paragraphs too long, as well. This makes it difficult to figure out where an event begins and ends. Paragraphs should cover a single event, not be organized by scenes. Scenes may cover many events, or one event may take several scenes. This varies by what you're trying to do, and we understand that.

Organization

This is one of the portions of an application that varies widely by person. The usual method is to give an overview of the events of the plot as a brief narrative. This is by nature a very broad overview, though the less flexible a plot is the more detailed these summaries tend to be.

A common and useful technique is to break the plot up into events that you want to happen, and possible results of player interference, and summarize those events in the order you plan them. This is a much easier to read format and doesn't tie you to a specific sequence of events.

If you find yourself with a lot of events, you can further organize these by first listing the events that MUST happen to advance the plot, thus giving a rough narrative, then make another section covering optional possibilities. This keeps the optional stuff from clogging up the narrative flow when staff is trying to process it and understand the storyline you're intending.

For very complex plots, it is sometimes easier to just put a general background of the plot and goal within a few paragraphs, then make a listing of possible routes and events, even if not all of them will be used. Note that plots of this complexity will usually require an experienced TP runner to be approved at all.

Multi-Part TPs

If your TP is extremely long and you wish to break it into multiple TPs, this is an option. However, each TP should include a very brief overview of future plans. These plans can be vague due to not knowing how things will turn out this part, especially in plots with high levels of player agency, but should include any questionable elements intended for future plots right here, up front.

In short, if your TP right now is a quest to defeat a dragon, but will later lead into a TP with Time Travel and character death, this is the point where you'll want to mention those future possibilities. A few sentences should do, and if we require more information we'll ask.

Plot Considerations

Tone

You should carefully consider the tone of the plot you are going for, as that determines class and success. If you want a desperate tone, you should be willing to run fairly frequent scenes. If you can't do that you should reconsider the plot. If you want a horror tone, you have to be willing to work with each player. Also, you should be aware of currently-running TPs, as trying to do a tone or twist similar to something in-play or a plotline recently finished, you may want to hold off as well, to avoid being seen as a follow the leader.

Please write up a general idea of what the tone of the TP should feel like, so staff can assess your planned scenes and general RP to offer advice if needed.

Cast

If you are writing up a TP based on an existing series that has important roles played by a cast other than yourself, you need to mention their roles in the TP. If they are unapped, you need to specify how much the unapped cast members are doing, and how much of their role is replaced by other characters.

At times, important characters may be unapped. In these cases you have two choices. The first is to convince another player to temporarily play the missing cast member for the duration of the TP. This person should be recruit before the TP is applied, and the player noted in the TP application.

The other option is to provide a stand-in, either as an appropriate NPC that makes sense or an existing PC on the mush to take that role. This should be defined in the TP application, but does not always need to be. Simply stating 'we will need a magician at some point' would be fine in many cases.

Agency

Agency refers to the amount of influence players have in your TP. A TP that has a completely set outcome of every step along the way, where every major event is handled by NPCs or the focus character of the TP, has very little agency. A TP that can have numerous endings and no set path on how to get there has a very high amount of agency.

On MCM, we have moved away from the first style of TP creation for Agency, and encourage a higher level of agency. This can be difficult, however, so sometimes compromises must be made. In general, the bare minimum you should aim for is to make the players feel like they contributed in some way, even if the result is a foregone conclusion. For example, if you have a big boss fight it may be pretty much a given that the players will win, and that's generally okay.

A better way to encourage agency is to have each scene or event be an end goal, and then leave it up to the players how they reach that end goal. A particularly adventurous plot may include a few branches in case of players failing in some way, or set conditions for victory which may be partially completed.

The most open-ended of TPs only have a vague end goal and a number of set pieces(places, general events, and NPCs) in place, and leave how the players reach the start of the TP to the end up to the players entirely. These open-ended plots are high-stress and only encouraged for experienced TP Runners, however.

There is such a thing as too much agency. You should note in your application what you definitely do NOT want to see, and try to think of in-character reasons to avoid it. If your TP would be ruined by something as simple as someone bringing in their flying robot, you need to think of a way to adapt to that and place it in the TP. It is of course impossible to think of everything, but we'd like to at least see consideration of the obvious.

Railroading

As related to agency, railroading is more commonly seen in older TP design and is no longer encouraged. Railroading FORCES a certain sequence of events, with little to no player agency. Some level of railroading is allowed and even encouraged, in order to get the plot moving, but if your scene would play out just as easily as a bboard post you may want to reconsider it. Having a few of these in a TP is generally okay, but if the majority of your TP doesn't take into account player activity, you have a problem.

Planning Scenes

Most of the time, a TP will have a general overview without specifying exact scene descriptions. For shorter TPs, or TPs where the point is how the players react to certain stimuli, the TP application may include a brief list of scenes planned and descriptions. Keep in mind when writing this that it is very easy to end up with a Railroaded plot this way. This sort of style should only be used when the events themselves are not the important part of the scene, but player actions are. For example, if your TP involves traveling into a character's dreams and you have exactly three sessions planned, detailing what the dreams will be like is fine, as the 'result' of one scene may not affect the result of the next, or at least won't change the fact that it will be happening.

Time Requested

Older versions of the TP application requested time estimates. Given the imprecise nature of these, we don't request them any more. You should still have a rough idea of how long your plot will take, but this scale should be vague, such as 'a couple weeks' or 'a couple months' or 'over a year.' A good rule of thumb is to think about how the plot will go, estimate how many scenes it will take, estimate how often you will run scenes, and determine the time that would take. Then double it.

NPC Requests

If you are requesting NPCs for your TP, there are a few things to keep in mind.

First, keep your NPC requests minimal. If you have a dozen NPCs of importance, step back and ask yourself how many NEED their own TP character object. Usually, all that is needed is one character object for the final boss, and everything else will be spoofed from that. If your final boss is a secret, then you may request one or two others instead. Some prefer to just spoof the entirety of the NPCs from an alternate character, if they have a character of sufficient PL or the plot does not include coded combat.

Keep in mind that although TP-only entities such as mindless horrors do not entirely factor into the PL scale, TP characters who are theoretically appable do. Thus, you are still limited to a handful of PL 35+ characters in the entire theme. A PL32-34 villain can be perfectly fine as an end boss, done properly.

If you do have TP characters to request, you need to decide if you yourself are going to play them, or if someone else will. Please include in the TP character request who you plan on having to play them. You can ask your friends, or if need be request on boards for help running the TP. Staff will occasionally run a villain for a TP by request, but this is extremely rare and has not happened in over a year as of this writing.

Requesting an NPC Character

When you request an NPC character, you do need to supply us with the following information:

Name, Function, Faction, Rank, Series, Quote, Profile, Power Level, and Advantages listing

TP characters do not need to app personality or background(those are gleaned from the TP app itself), and are not required to have disadvantages, though if one is particularly relevant you should put it in the request.

TP characters will require the same limitations and expectations on advantages that players have, though staff may be a little lenient on scope in some cases. Staff will NOT allow powers which are traditionally Consent-based to pass without a Consent tag. If this happens it is a mistake on staff's part.

Handling Upgrades

Usually, any expected upgrades are attached at the end of the TP application. In some cases the exact content of upgrades are not known, or a plot may offer upgrades to participants via RP. In these cases, just mention the general idea of possible upgrades including any unusual powers, and upgrade applications can be filled out as-needed during or after the plot.

Sample TP Application

You may find a simple TP example below.

Sample TP Application