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The Mod Journal ([personal profile] spaceshipit) wrote in [community profile] driftfleet_ooc2017-05-29 03:01 pm
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Calibrations Information and Pre-Plotting

Hello, everyone! Starting in two weeks, the Fleet will be going through an ordeal that will be familiar to some: Calibrations!! That’s right - characters are once again going to be dragged into their own psyches, and will get the opportunity to visit each other in the meanwhile!

This plot will begin on June 9th, after roughly a week and a half drift period (May 31st - June 9th). We wanted to give people plenty of time to brainstorm ideas for this heavily interactive plot!

For those of you new to us, or who would like a refresher, we have a handy guide / primer in this post! Just follow the cut below.

The setting will be a bit different from what passengers have seen so far, and part of that involves a little something we are cryptically calling "Calibrations." So, if you are interested in writing up a room to represent the minds/personalities of your characters, this post details some of the rules and specifics that you'll need to know in order to start planning early.

The basics (without spoiling the event itself)
Every passenger in the Fleet will be going through something Atroma calls "Calibration", during which the inner workings of the character will be on display for others to see. Some passengers will clearly recall the whole experience, some may not remember it at all, and some may think they only walked through the Calibration rooms of other people. We will set up two master posts where players can put up their Calibration starters as top comments. If you don't feel like running (or visiting) any Calibrations, that's totally fine--participation is optional, and the set posts will keep the rooms pretty avoidable.

In theory (but never quite proven), each Calibration is some kind of projection, a non-real "room" where the mind and personality of a passenger is shown through some kind of unique manifestation. Players get a lot of freedom to build this however they want. They can pick what it looks like and decide what other characters can do there, as long as they stay within the guidelines outlined below. Characters who are being calibrated have no choice over who can visit their rooms, and visitors likewise have no say over whose rooms they show up in. All of those decisions will be made OOC by players, so all kinds of mischief can be arranged without your characters' permissions.

The month's event will have other things for characters to do as well, which everyone will be able to participate in. So, whether you don't want to get involved with the Calibration rooms at all, or just want to make sure that your characters have something to do outside of all the room shenanigans, there will be a separate setting at large to interact with.

The nature of the rooms
For the most part, you are free to design a space that somehow represents the inside of your character's head. There are a lot of ways to do this--the Calibration room could take place in a setting that is meaningful to them, a snapshot of something that might be found on their homeworld, or a made-up space that's that's based more in metaphor than reality. It could represent their entire personality, or only a part of it. The room could be how they view themselves, could show off their traits, could describe how their brains work, and so on. Those big structural decisions are all up to you.

However you decide to describe the setup, it must actually fit into one closed "space", even if it appears to be much larger or changes depending on what is going on inside of it. For example, your room can look like an endless desert, but wandering for hours won't actually get you anywhere. If your room appears as a tangled hedge maze, the paths won't really make sense and may keep looping back to the starting space. If your room looks like a grand, sprawling mansion, most of the doors will locked and it will be impossible to get very far down any particular hallway. This can be very useful when wrangling your visitors, or when keeping them from being able to reach certain things that they may see.

It's important to note that while certain elements of the room may change based on who is visiting or what is happening, and you may have some (or many!) things in the room based on the character's memories, the rooms are not memories themselves. A visiting character needs a starting "space" to show up and return to, and memories will be handled very specifically from there (see related section below).

Characters in their own Calibrations
When a character's Calibration room is active, their physical body is unconscious. Their mental selves, however, will manifest in the room--and it's mostly up to you to decide how. It's totally possible for the Calibrated character to show up as a fully-aware, normal, freaked-out version of themselves, but this might not be the best option if you want people to actually interact with the room itself. Alternatively, a character might manifest as a version of themselves that sees nothing wrong with the Calibration room, and understands that this is where they live and belong. Other possible options are have the Calibrated character show as a muted version of themselves, or show their "true" personalities, or perhaps the manifestation is many things--but only represents one certain part of their mindset at a time.

If you want, the appearance and behavior of a Calibrated character's manifestation can change depending on who talks to them, what things in the room get looked at, or even how they're feeling... As long as it remains true to some part of the character.

Characters will only ever manifest as a single entity, and that manifestation will always be in the room. They may not be reachable when a visitor first arrives, in case there is some simple barrier you'd like to have them open/solve first, but the character's representation must at least be visible. And while not mandatory, having a manifestation that visitors can actually interact with may help towards giving them something to do, and give them a reason to look around the rest of the room.

Afterward, it is up to players to decide whether their Calibrated characters retain any memories of their Calibration room or what happens inside of it. These recollections can also be as clear or as abstract/unconscious as you want.

Visitors to your Calibration room
A typical visit will have a visitor appearing in a Calibration room with no obvious exit, faced with some manifestation of the room's owner, and elements of the room to interact with. There may be some sort of key or sequence of events that will free them from the room, and they may feel compelled to seek them out... but they will also be released if they spend upwards of eight hours in the room.

Visiting characters cannot be killed while in the room, though they may experience some amount of pain or distress, as well as other sensations, depending on activities and events that take place there.

Afterward, it is up to the player of the visiting character to decide whether their characters remember anything about the rooms they visit. Again, these memories can be clear, or only vague inklings.

Don't worry--the event will be set up in such a way that any character, even the ones who have their own Calibration room, will have plenty of time to get stuck in other people's rooms as well.

Memories (and other objects)
While the rooms themselves are not memories, it is possible to "play" memories for visitors under certain circumstances. Memories will always be triggered by an object (or assortment of objects) found within the room somewhere. Since not everyone running a Calibration room will want to write up or show off a bunch of their characters' memories, or may only want to show certain memories to certain people, players will have a lot of control over how and when the memories play.

Firstly, you can decide whether or not the manifestation of your character is aware of the memory objects or not, and whether or not they are willing to let people play with them. Secondly, you can fully control how many objects there are, where they are, and how accessible they are. For instance, if you don't want to bother with memories, your character could be completely aware that the objects exist, and could hide them somewhere other characters aren't likely to find them. If you only want close CR to be able to view memories, perhaps they could be in a locked box that only a few people discover they can open. Maybe visitors must answer a riddle or make some deal with the character's manifestation before certain memory objects can be found. It is entirely up to you how you want to engineer your room when it comes to the access of memory objects.

And when a memory object is activated (touched, opened, shaken, whatever), the visitor will find themselves viewing or appearing in the middle of a memory. These memories can either be viewed from beyond a barrier (window, mirror, snow globe, etc.), or can unfold around the character without them able to interrupt or alter the events occurring there. So, visitors can view a memory, or even be vaguely acknowledged by elements of it, but nothing they do will change it. When the memory is over, they will find themselves in the room again (though there may be changes in the room triggered by the memory having been played, if players want get fancy with it.)

You can describe memories with as much or as little detail as you'd like. Maybe old memories are a little harder to see or understand, and important memories come through in crisp visions. Played memories can be as specific as a well-defined couple of seconds, or as dull as a feeling of warmth from some treasured object. If it represents your character and is fun to play with, go for it.

Other NPCs?
Depending on your setting, it's fine to include faceless, useless NPCs in the room as long as they don't play a big role in anything (ie. citizens shopping at a market in the distance, people quietly watching a movie in a theater, a milling crowd, etc.) They can touch or bump into a visitor, maybe mutter lines of default dialogue, but they should only be there as props.

If you'd like more specific NPCs to show up in the Calibrated character's room, either to fill in a trope (ex: a waitress in a diner, a shopkeeper for a storefront, a guard in front of a gate), or because they're a prominent figure in the character's mind (ex: a character from their past, an imaginary friend, a ghost sharing their body), those characters still aren't going to be true manifestations of a whole personality. Interaction with them should be somewhat flat--they may seem more like cardboard cutouts than people, and should be limited in the ways they can talk and interact. They aren't fully-aware characters, they're just pieces of thought in the Calibrated character's mind. So, a Calibrated character's mother, enemy, or past lover could potentially appear in the room somewhere, but it will be a mere phantom of their true selves.

In general, while they're a helpful tool, we'd like to keep conversations and interactions with NPCs short and dreamlike. Visitors are there for the Calibrated character, not for their dreamed-up mind people.

A way out
This part is actually entirely optional. Some players may find it helpful to build their Calibration rooms with an "end" in mind, some thing that the visitor can do to earn their way out. Perhaps they can only leave once they've uncovered a secret, solved a puzzle, or looked at a certain number of objects. Maybe it's entirely up to the Calibrated character's manifestation to decide when they can leave, or maybe it's a simple as finding the right door.

You may have multiple options and opportunities for visitors to leave, or you may choose not to bother with an "end". Maybe the character's mind is intentionally impossible to leave, and maybe visitors just have to sit it out until they're booted from the room. Maybe it changes depending on the visitor--any of these are perfectly valid options.

Aftermath and effects
What happens in the Calibration rooms will not directly alter the Calibrated characters. Players can choose how much their characters remember, which may affect how they think or behave afterward--but no real effects carry over from the Calibration rooms, aside from those memories. So, if visitors move, break, or mess with something in the room, nothing bad will happen to the Cailbrated character (though some characters may wonder otherwise, at first!).

Also, things that happen during one visit to the room do not carry over or affect other visits (ex: if a visitor smashes the contents of a room, that room will be set right back to the start for the next visitor).

Tips on running a Calibration room
Just like your characters, every Calibration room is going to be unique. There is no right or wrong way to do it (assuming you stay within the guidelines). It is entirely up to the player to decide what the room is like, what goes on in there, how much it changes, how much detail there is, or where they want it to go! It can be as simple or as convoluted as is fun for you to run... So, as you start thinking about what your character's room will be like, keep these two points in mind:

First, people often benefit from doing some writing ahead of time! Having a description of your character's basic, starting Calibration room already written up can be extremely helpful, since that's what you'll use as your toplevel. You are welcome to pre-write potential memories and other long descriptions to copy and paste into your threads when they come up. You're also welcome to prep short lists of "potential things to throw at people", parts of the room you'd like people to explore, a cheat-sheet for what triggers potential changes--or anything else you can think of! If you don't want to do any prepwork, that's also completely fine. Some writers do best when they're responding on the fly, and it's absolutely possible to make up an entire Calibration room just by responding to the ways and directions your visitors explore.

Second, simple is often better! If you find yourself getting overwhelmed in just the planning stages, consider scaling down the scope of your room. Or, if you have four characters, know that you'll be visiting other rooms, and have a week-long hiatus coming up, being able to focus on only running one or two Calibration rooms yourself might be more enjoyable than running all four. We are devoting a full month to this event (and backtagging is welcome, as always), but it never hurts to be mindful of how much you think you can keep up with and how much will be fun for you, especially if you have several visitors running through your Calibration room at a time.

And, finally, we cannot stress enough: any and all sensitive or potentially offensive content should come with appropriate warnings, as necessary. Calibrations give players the wonderful opportunity to explore many sides of characters, but not all of those sides are going to be sunshine and rainbows. As threads turn toward heavier topics, please consider the comfort of your fellow players and tack a warning onto your thread. If at any point you are made uncomfortable as a player during a thread, please don’t hesitate to contact the mods, and we will do what we can to mediate and come to a solution. We want Calibrations to be a fun experience for everyone!

Examples from Last Time
Want some concrete examples to get the creative juices flowing? We’ve got some links for you!


More information about the rest of the event will be released closer to the starting date. If you have questions or want anything clarified about the Calibration rooms, go ahead and respond to the Questions comment below! You can also use the comments section of this post for plotting and interest-gathering, if you'd like!