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  #1  
Old 03-10-2019, 10:34 AM
Somersett Somersett is offline
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Feedback Wanted: Hellenic Game Setting

Hello RPG Crossing Community!

I’ve only recently joined the community and have been lurking on a number of games (Mysoth - Winds of Change by Bhelogan is my current morning read) while waiting for a game to start recruiting that fits with what I’m looking for. In the meantime though, that creative hamster wheel in my head keeps turning and I’ve been spending a good chunk of time planning out a game I would consider running on my own closer to the summer months. I know that I can technically jump straight to DMing here (which is so incredibly refreshing compared to other sites I’ve been on), but I’ll probably wait to join a game first before putting forward a game proposal of my own.

That being said…

I still can’t help myself in planning for a game I’d eventually like to run here. I’m a bit of a slow cooker when it comes to figuring it all out, but rather than work on it all in isolation, I want to take advantage of this warm community and get any thoughts I can on my current ideas.

But first! A boring question:
1. As a new member, are there any strategies to get players to look past my name, low post count, and low RPGX?
I noticed that on the recruitment board, the games being run with DMs with a large number of posts + RPGXP seem to generate more interest. I get the psychology behind this -- more posts means the person has been around for a while and less likely to just get up and vanish. I’m not opposed to this (I actually think it’s quite awesome!) but I would like to get some advice on countering this. Obviously, the recruitment post needs to be sleek and awesome, but I guess I’m looking more for quick hacks that anyone knows about or has seen before. Do I talk about my experience on other sites DMing? Or is that just noise? Do I post a link to a “game theme soundtrack” or is that obnoxious and worth an eye roll? Does the opening image really seem to make a difference? If I ball out on the fonts, add in imaged headings, tables, and what not, do people generally see that as intriguing or a sign of desperation?
Alright, now as for the game itself… my ideas are still scattered and drifting about, so it’d be great to get some other voices to help focus it a bit. My main goal is to get a sense for “what intrigues and keeps the interest” of the RPG Crossing community. I know it’s difficult to talk on behalf of 40,000+ members, but any feedback you could give me on patterns you’ve noticed in the past would be great!

In an effort to not overwhelm anyone with questions, I’ll limit this opening post to just my overall setting and game style, then I’ll get into more of the nitty-gritty later if there is a conversation generated.
2. Classical Period Setting + Fantasy Reworked of the Hellenic World?
The game I would like to run would be set at the height of the classical period (500 BCE to 300 BCE), rather than the medieval era in terms of technology. But perhaps more importantly, I’d like it to be set in a world very similar to ancient Greece/Persia/Egypt, somewhere before, during, or after the Greco-Persian Wars or even further ahead to the time of Alexander the Great. Now, while I would personally nerd out over an accurate portrayal of the ancient Mediterranean, I’ve tried this in the past with a Rome campaign, and most players felt like they had to be masters of historical nuances and it quickly turned into a game of, “Who knows more about ancient and classical European history.”

So instead, I would create a custom map that is similar but not identical to the Mediterranean with custom empires, city-states, etc. However, many of the pop-culture references we know in the West would be maintained. The pantheon of Gods (though I can’t decide if I should rename them or not), the classical architecture with marble columns and massive ivory and gold statues, and the technology like bronze armor, triremes, etc. That way, I feel most people have a general sense of classical Greece that they’d be able to imagine it without having to be experts in history.

The fantasy infusion bit would first show up as the distribution of races. The Ionians, such as the Athenians, would be high elves, while the Dorians (most famously, Spartans) would be humans. Technically, there were two additional “Greek ethnic groups” in the ancient era, but I don’t feel like that’s mainstream info. I’m debating who should represent Persians (drow elves with some mechanical reworking so that they can survive on the surface?), while the Thracian “barbarians” to the north could be half-orcs or dwarves, while the Macedonian equivalent could be wood elves. They would get renamed, of course, but with enough historical references for players to go, “Ahh, right, these haughty elves and their superior navy are supposed to be like the Athenians.”

So knowing all of that, would a setup like that appeal to the greater RPG Crossing community? Or is it too… academic? Would it feel like the “fun” is being overshadowed? I would want the setting to inspire, not to bog players down.
I’ll pause here in my rambling. I’ve got a ton more stuff to unload and open up to feedback, but I don’t want this opening post to get too daunting too quickly.

Any feedback anyone could provide would be greatly appreciated!

-Somersett

Last edited by Somersett; 03-10-2019 at 11:02 AM.
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Old 03-10-2019, 01:39 PM
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Welcome to the site!

1) I agree that there is some (mostly understandable) bias in favor of old hands with big numbers hovering next to their name. But I think you'll find that it's not an enormous obstacle. What people want to see is creativity, skill, and dedication. Experience on the site is one say of advertising that. As a new member aspiring to the GM, your advertisement will be your signal of those things. Many GMs have a policy of accepting at least one or two new members when they pick their players.

I think it's mostly cheap talk (ie not very informative) to hype your experience elsewhere. The way you demonstrate that you're creative and dedicated and kind is to show us in the ad. Spend a week or two (in a text file or Google sheet or whatever) really taking care to craft it. Show us you've thought about rules, you've got good ideas for flavor, you're a compelling writer, that sort of thing. An old veteran with a shoddy game ad can often get enough applications to start them up. A noob with 10 posts but a killer advertisement (or a pathfinder or D&D game) will get 10 or 15 applications without trouble. That ad will itself be your first impression on the site, so I recommend to craft it carefully before posting it.

For all those particular items: music, images, funny text formatting; none of them are required by any means. Everyone likes different combinations of those things. Me personally: the funny text formatting mildly irritates me, I'm indifferent to the music (it signals your music tastes way more than game flavor IMHO), and I LOVE a few well-chosen flavor images. Other people have very different opinions. Again, the key is that when you add those things, you're showing your craft in developing a compelling ad, and so hopefully a compelling game.

2) I don't have a lot of feedback about your particular idea. It sounds like it could be great! Here's my first set of thoughts: one one hand, the narrower you make the genre, and the more background knowledge you assume/require, the narrower your potential pool of applicants will be. That said, Greek and Roman history is pretty popular in my estimation, and not super obscure. There's a game with a similar approach, but with Vikings lore, that has had many many interested players whenever it's come up for recruitment. I'd simply say that you should be aware that there is some tradeoff between inclusiveness and required-depth-of-knowledge or -interest in that millieu.
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Last edited by Wynamoinen; 03-10-2019 at 03:49 PM.
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Old 03-10-2019, 02:29 PM
Somersett Somersett is offline
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Thanks for such a quick and thoughtful response Wynamoinen! I very much appreciate your honesty and it's certainly encouraging to read that RPG Crossing experience is important, but less so compared to the ad itself. I certainly have a ton of time to think, design, and format the ad, so I'll keep your words of advice in mind as I go along.

As for your thoughts on the setting, thanks for the link to that Vikings game! I'm certainly going to dig deeper into it and see what I can learn from it (organization, setup, players, lore, etc.) It looks fairly well established, so I think it'll give me some great insight. But the tradeoff you mention is precisely what I'm nervous about. I definitely don't want to turn potential players off by introducing a quasi-historical background. I'll keep giving that aspect some thought as I continue through this process.

The other part of the campaign I'm interested in getting feedback on is the general playstyle. I'm going back and forth between two different directions:
1) A Kingmaker style game, minus the heavy mechanics. The main idea (if I kept with the quasi-Greek history) would be that the players would be part of a colonial party sent to establish a new city-state elsewhere in the equivalent of the Mediterranean. They would all be leaders, though the "adventures" of the game would be more in line with hunting down danger and eliminating it, dealing with political rivals, or responding to sudden crises. I would avoid the type of play that deals with the grind of running a city or kingdom.

2) An exploration style game. So with this playstyle, the PCs would still be part of a colonial effort, except they would be the "vanguards" of a bigger colonization push to a new area. Sent ahead, they would be responsible for scouting, exploring, and locating a suitable site for a new city. Along the way, they'd have to deal with eliminating local threats, dealing with neutral and sometimes hostile neighbors, etc. But the focus wouldn't be on city management at all, but rather, protecting the newly established borders.
I know I'm not providing a tremendous amount of detail to really paint a clear picture, but I am curious to know about how those two styles of games have done historically here at RPG Crossing. I have found in the past that Kingmaker style games only appeal to a small niche of players, even if it is my personal preference to DM. I'm wondering if that holds up here as well.

Last edited by Somersett; 03-10-2019 at 02:30 PM.
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Old 03-10-2019, 03:01 PM
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I think you'd find plenty of takers with either of those approaches. I'm not familiar with Kingmaker (you're capitalizing it, which suggests it's A Thing that I haven't delved into), but I've definitely seen multiple of games advertising such an approach. Exploration is obviously D&D bread-and-butter.
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Old 03-10-2019, 03:32 PM
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Just going to chip in my two cents on your first question.
Quote:
Originally Posted by Somersett View Post
1. As a new member, are there any strategies to get players to look past my name, low post count, and low RPGX?
Yes! Make an awesome recruitment post. Name, post count, rpxp don't matter at all when you're serving awesome.
Quote:
... Obviously, the recruitment post needs to be sleek and awesome, but I guess Iím looking more for quick hacks ...
There is no substitute for awesomeness. There is no quick, easy way to fake awesomeness.

To be slightly more informative: different things appeal to different players, but I share Wyn's views on touting your experience elsewhere, music, crazy formatting, and images.

To be more informative, here is an example of (what I consider to be) a successful recruitment ad by someone with less than 100 posts (this ad was the DM's 15th post I believe). It generated a lot of interest from seasoned players. One other thing that really got me excited to apply was when I peeked at the game forum--there was a lot of well-written, clearly organized folders and information set up that made me think 'this is going to be a good game'.
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Old 03-10-2019, 03:50 PM
Somersett Somersett is offline
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Thanks for that Wynamoinen! Glad to hear you've seen recruitment threads for both of those playstyles before. Doesn't make my decision about which to do any easier... but I am encouraged to hear that I can continue to think about both as I go forward.

ekidnu, I appreciate your feedback! It truly is encouraging to read that it really all comes down to the advertisement. I'll definitely make sure to look at a whole variety of models before I throw mine up. And thanks for that link! Incredibly helpful. I do have a question though... as far as I understand the DM game request feature, I post the advertisement first and after some player interest is generated, I am given my individual forum. Is there a workaround where I am given a forum first and do not have to have an advertisement thread before I am ready?
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Old 03-10-2019, 04:40 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Somersett View Post
... as far as I understand the DM game request feature, I post the advertisement first and after some player interest is generated, I am given my individual forum. ...
You are correct. So the ad is key. However, the recruitment process may run for a few weeks, so if your game is approved after, say, one week, you have time to start organizing your game forum, as was the case for the example I linked. This doesn't do anything to attract the initial cohort of players, but it does help to attract latecomers like me (and may sustain the enthusiasm of early applicants).
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Old 03-10-2019, 08:29 PM
Somersett Somersett is offline
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Got it, thanks for the clarification and hint ekidnu! Need to make a brilliant ad... got it! Is it poor form to ask for feedback on an ad before it gets posted? For me, that wouldn't be for another month or so.

Also, in general, how long do most ads run for before closing? I'm seeing some that are open for two weeks, others that are about a month. Is there an ideal sweet spot?
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Old 03-10-2019, 08:43 PM
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It's not bad form to ask. But you might not get a lot of feedback. These discussion threads are kind of buried on the site (we're working on it!).

Two or three weeks is pretty standard. One month strikes me as too long, especially if you get a lot of interest with a brilliant ad. You can always go the route of saying "I anticipate leaving the ad open for three weeks, but if there's enough interest, I reserve the right to close it early after giving two days notice." The more applicants you have, the more you'll have to reject, and that can be hard.
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Old 03-11-2019, 02:25 PM
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I can give a few generalized suggestions that may help.

As Wyn said, keep an ad open for a month could cause you to lose the interest of the early appliers.

In your ad, be clear about the amount of knowledge the players would need. Be clear about what you want and what you expect. Keep in mind that these games are supposed to be fun for the players AND you. Be clear on your selection criteria...is if FIFO, best app, best background, etc.
Since you are new, I would suggest linking or including any writing examples you can .

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