Proposing An Arc

What is an arc?

Loosely speaking, an "arc" is any plot thread that stretches from game to game.  However, for our purposes, we mean a capital-A Arc, like the Fallen Star Arc and the Visitors From the North Arc.

This kind of Arc means a pre-approved plot thread, run by Arc Authors (AAs), involving Arc-specific games, plus gameworld news.   An Arc may also include facts, clues, or other factors at games otherwise unrelated to the Arc.


Why propose an arc?

You don't have to propose your arc in order to run a multi-event story.  Nothing prevents you from simply proposing each game in the arc one at a time.  However, there are real advantages to formally proposing your Arc to the GWC:

Gameworld Pre-Approval

The scope of an Arc usually means it has some major effect on the gameworld.  (Our two past Arcs both involved large-scale wars and invasions of countries.)   The EC ordinarily balks at approving a game with a wide-ranging scope, and will make you go to the GWC to get approval.

Having your Arc already approved essentially acts as "pre-approval" for these gameworld parts, so the EC doesn't have to worry about them.  In essence, it becomes "Dear EC: Our game will involve Yamamoto invading Delona.   Don't worry, the GWC has already approved this invasion as part of our Arc." 

This will make the EC a lot happier; they don't like approving games conditionally (that is, "we'll pass your game except for this gameworld part, for which you'll have to go to the GWC.")

Initium Entries

Gameworld news entries in Initium need approval by the GWC.  If you're an approved GM, then the GWC generally has no problem with entries that are related to your game.   (As of August 2002 the GWC has never voted down a news entry from a GM.) 

News entries unrelated to a game, however, undergo different scrutiny.  Without a GM's authority behind them, seemingly random events are something the GWC will be less comfortable with.

Being an AA gives you more leeway to write such news entries between your events.  The GWC is much more likely to be fine with your gameworld news, since they know that your news is part of an approved storyline.  Your news may not be part of a specific game, but the GWC knows that it's related to your arc, and that's good enough.

Leverage With Other GMs

Arcs sometimes have elements show up at otherwise unrelated games.  For instance, at On the Edge of Darkness, a game otherwise having nothing to do with the Fallen Star Arc, the PCs encountered one of the villains from the FSA, who was chasing down an artifact related to the villains' plot. 

The FSA AAs were able to pull this off because the GM of that game knew that the villain stuff was part of an approved arc.   Imagine, though, asking a GM to include something when you're just the GM of another game...

Basically, being an official AA gives you "authority" (no pun intended), so that GMs can easily understand why you're making a request, and why that request matters.


What a proposal doesn't get you

...approval for your games.  You still have to approve your individual games with the EC.   An approved Arc means that the GWC is fine with your gameworld ideas.  The GWC, though, has no control over what games get passed.

 

How to propose an arc

Overshare

Whatever effect your arc will have on the gameworld, the GWC needs to know exactly what it's getting itself into. The GWC needs to know more than they would if it were just a game. AAs should let the GWC in on anything they're going to do. GMs also need to keep the GWC informed; this is more true, not less true, for an arc, which has a wider scope and as a result more ability to affect the game world. The Fallen Star Arc's AAs reported that they felt they should have disclosed more than they did, and failing to do so caused them problems with Council (the GWC's predecessor).

For example, the GWC needs to know about civil wars (but not necessarily their outcomes), international conflicts, new races, new groups in the world, changes to existing groups, etc. We don't need to know about uses of existing groups that don't change that group's character -- we'd want to see the group listed as part of the arc's scope (see below), but we don't need details about how the group will be used. With a game, you need to tell about that one game's locale, but with an arc, you need to tell not only about the plot's locale, but what type of effects that plot might have on other locales.

In general, if you think we might want to know, err on the safe side, and tell us.

Define Your Scope

Tell the GWC what regions, groups, and people in the gameworld will be affected by your arc. This is in part for your own protection; if the GWC knows that your Arc will be affecting Bilgosh, they will not approve other gameworld events in Bilgosh without making sure that your story won't get thrown off.

The FSA folks write that they had to

spell out which spheres of influence we were using (Cadfaigh, Delona, Ragnorack, one game in Tolbury, the Grail, the Cult of the New Gods, and the Collegium as pertains to the Cult.)  Save yourself... trouble, and do it all up front.

And be careful not to step on someone else's toes.  A gameworld event that's wide-reaching may impact someone else who has a vested interest in an affected area of the gameworld.  There are people who, for lack of a better term, have a sort of informal say in parts of the gameworld (often because they created that group/area), and if you're going to be causing changes to those areas, you'll want to consult with, and ideally get the approval of, those people.

How do you figure out who those people are? Well, you should already know. An arc with large effects on the gameworld should only be proposed by someone who understands the gameworld, or at least has done the research. Arcs are not like games, where we have ten a year. An arc is a very big deal indeed, and you need to do your homework up front.

If you know that a person has a vested interested in a part of the gameworld, you should talk to them. If you're not sure if an area of the gameworld has a person connected to it, you should check Initium entries, read through the CG web pages, see who ran games in a given locale, and/or ask the GWC for information. Either way, by the time you propose your arc, you should have settled this with the relevant people.

Why do we ask this? Because past Arc Authors recommended this highly. The FSA folks note that:

...not [consulting with people] is terribly stupid. The couple of times we took liberties (without thinking about it), we regretted it.  Consult the people who have an emotional stake in the areas you're working with, and save yourself a lot of hassle and anger.

The GWC will take all this into account when reviewing your proposal. If you're planning on causing changes to ______, and the people connected to _____ feel strongly against it, the GWC will certainly take notice...

Dealing with Secrets

Just as GMs sometimes have big secrets they don't want to reveal, but need approval for, so will you.  Follow the suggestions for dealing with this under the GM section of Quest's web site. And yes, you may have to reveal a few secrets to the GWC, and trust the GWC members not to blab or meta-game.

Nuts and Bolts

What should you have in your proposal?
  • Staff. Who the Arc Authors are, and who the Arc NPCs are.  These are people who are pretty much committed to writing material for nearly every Arc game, whether they're on staff or not.  Moreover, these are people who are committed to NPCing a lot more often than they'll PC, and they'd better be ready for that.

    And you should explicitly differentiate Arc Authors and Arc NPCs.   Their tasks are quite different, of course.  Arcs need both, and the people involved need to know what their roles are.

  • The time frame of the arc.   How long will it last.
  • How much of the arc will be in-game. That is, how much of the arc will take place in-game versus Initium reports, e-mails, etc?   And how much activity would you like to have take place at other people's games? 
  • How many games you expect or need to run.   Related to the above.  If you have a lot of in-game material, you should expect to try to run a number of games. Otherwise you'll have to do a lot of negotiating with GMs, which is never easy.
  • If you're going to try to place material at other GMs' games, what kind of material you expect it to be, and what kind of impact you expect it to have on the games of those GMs. If you're going to do negotiating with other GMs, include a plan for that negotiation.
  • General spheres of influence.   For instance, the location in the game world, especially if your arc is political. Mention also what groups you'll be working with (for instance, we used the Collegium more than once.) It is important to define what is your arc's "territory" and what isn't.
  • Changes to the gameworld that this arc will make.  This isn't just changes to countries, since arcs don't have to be geopolitical. If you're introducing a new group to the gameworld, for instance, you should say so.
  • How it affect the gameworld while running. For instance, games like For King or Country were affected by the Fallen Star Arc, by virtue of being about Cadfaigh while the Cadfainn civil war was running.  If your arc is not geopolitical, you'll likely have less effect on other games and this may be less important -- but you should still include it.