Plot Submission Guidelines
The following is a document created by the mods to assist new players with the tricky task of plot submissions.
Plot Submission 101
Why do we have to submit plots to the mods?
So, what is the point of a plot submission? Our job is, according to the policy, as follows: “(we) do not review plots based on personal preference, but for logical flaws, plot holes, overuse of particular themes, unanticipated consequences, continuity issues, and any other potential problems.”
In simple terms, that means we are making sure:
- that plots don’t break the game (for example, someone runs a plot that outs the X-Men to all and sundry and as a result the FOH blow up the mansion and the school closes down);
- that they’re scheduled appropriately (i.e., the climaxes of plots don’t overlap and people don’t find themselves either in two places at once, or reacting to five dramas a week!);
- that we fill any gaping holes in the logic or continuity (such as Mr. Sinister creating an army of mutated purple monkeys to wreck havoc on New York – Essex is not yet identified as a villain and his plans tend to be more sneaky than that);
- that we make sure we don’t have too many similar plots back to back (ask some of the older players about the Summer of Kidnappings, or When Everyone Went Evil); and
- that there aren’t any consequences the player hasn’t thought about (such as Charles being outed as a telepath and the impact that would have on his public standing and the status of the Institute, as well as raising suspicions about his relationship with the previous President in light of McKenna’s dramatic reversal of opinion at the end of X2).
Obviously, that’s a lot to remember, which is why the mods are here in the first place – we keep this sort of thing in mind when we go through a plot and when we send back an email pointing out issues, it’s not because we don’t like your plot, we’re just doing the job that we were elected to do and making sure things run smoothly. We will never refuse a plot outright: we will always work with the player to knock it into something that works, rather than flatly denying a submission. Unless, of course, you give us something we can’t even read, in which case we’ll send it back with a “Bwa?” ;)
What it all boils down to is that plots are submitted so that the mods can make sure everything’s covered from a non-game-breaking POV. We’ll do continuity checks, we’ll make sure there’s no unforeseen consequences, and we’ll make suggestions when a scenario just doesn’t make sense in the reality-based world of the movieverse.
We also will not make decisions about plot submissions based on personal opinions of the player, whether we think the plot is a good one or not, personal preferences as to types of plots, or “what X-Project should be”. If you have an idea you want to run that doesn’t break the game, we’ll look at it objectively.
When do I have to submit something?
You must submit a plot to the mods when what you’re planning covers any of the following:
- Creating any major detail of the gameworld (government actions, organizations, past events, etc.).
- Any significant change (their physical or mental state, what they can do with their powers, etc.) for a character. This includes things like pregnancy.
- Any significant consequences on the gameworld as a whole, especially those that may elicit reactions from the majority of characters.
- Any involvement of the various teams.
- Any involvement of Gods, demons, or other Things Beyond Mortal Ken.
- Any involvement of NPCs not specific to your character (not parents, relatives, etc) or mod-controlled NPCs.
- Any new science or technology.
- Any use of 'unrealistic' concepts (cloning, alternate dimensions, time travel, etc).
These are all points which can result in a change in playability for the game as a whole, which is why the mods need to know about them in advance. For example, if you have an idea in which God is in fact a super-intelligent alien who seeded the earth and created mutants specifically as weapons in an upcoming war against his ancient alien foes, it’s going to change things for everyone in the game and it’s something the mods will have to take a good look at. Likewise if you decide you want to have a character pregnancy – having a baby has long-term repercussions which will impact not only on what you’re able to do in-game, but will also impact on how other people interact with your character and we’ll need to be satisfied that you’ve considered these consequences fully.
If you have an idea and you aren’t sure if it’s something you should submit, toss it to one of the individual mods and we’ll let you know.
How much detail do you want? What sort of format should we use?
Surprisingly, we don’t need to know every single tiny detail. What we need to know are the things that apply to the list above – what world building is being done, what significant changes to a character’s physical/mental/powers states is going to happen and why, what consequences you anticipate for the characters and the gameworld; if there’s team involvement and how much (since there’s basic logic in the use of teams that needs to be covered, such as who is going and why); if you’re going to use magic and the assorted baggage that comes with it (gods, demons, warlocks, etc.); which NPCs you plan to use; any new tech that hasn’t been used before and why you need it and if you’re going to be using a highly unrealistic concept – this last because XP is a movieverse game and one of the draws of it is to try and adapt unrealistic comics concepts to a more realistic universe. Which is one of the reasons why the Shiar aren’t aliens, they’re the ruling political family of India. ;)
What we don’t need: which PBs you’re going to use for NPCs; sockers for every last henchman, etc (we’re looking more at NPCs which have/will appear more than once); a blow-by-blow description of any battles you’re planning ("the X-Men fight the Brotherhood" is good enough plus if anyone’s going to be seriously hurt/killed as a result of the fight and how long it’s anticipated an injury will take to recover), what highway the cast use to get to their destination and the Main NPC’s favourite colour. ;) We also don’t require a log list – a basic description of what happens is enough.
In terms of format, we do admit to leaning more and more towards using the Wiki format, with an added section on consequences at the bottom, although we don’t have a set format (yet – if players would like one available, we can provide a template). What we do require is the following:
- A cast list. For secondary roles, this can be tentative (such as “X-Men volunteers to be determined”), but all core participants should be established. You will also be expected to have spoken to the players of your core characters. Yes, even if the player is a mod – it’s courtesy to not spring surprise plots on us. ;)
- Bios for any new NPCs/villains. Players are encouraged to submit these in Wiki format if the characters will warrant their own page after the plot has run. Bios for minor NPCs can be short blurbs.
- Duration and preferred dates. Even if you have no specific date preferences, please select dates that would work for you. This saves an additional exchange of emails with the mods. If you aren’t sure of how long it will take you to get a plot logged, we can work with you on ways to manage scheduling.
- A summary - not log-by-log, but a reasonably comprehensive snapshot of events. The level to which a plot is publicized to the game at large prior to its running is up to the plotrunner (although players whose PCs will be affected by the plot should always be consulted in advance), but the mods should never be surprised by major plot points.
- Impact and consequences. In most cases these will be tentative, and the mods do not expect comprehensive consequences (given that many emerge in the process of logging). The mods do however expect some indication that the plotrunner has given thought as to how the events of the plot will be resolved. Plotrunners are encouraged to consult players participating in their plot for major consequences they may have in mind for their characters, and include them as well.
Essentially, as long as the details above are covered, we’re good. If we need something more, we’ll ask (emphasis on that asking thing again – mod responses aren’t meant as demands or “do this or we won’t approve another plot ever again, dumbass!”, they’re requests for information and for explanation if there’s something we don’t have) but as long as you cover the game-impacting stuff, we’re generally happy.
Plain English is preferred. We don’t mind the odd joke, but an entire plot submission in lolcat, for example, is a bit hard on our poor, overtaxed brains.
Where can I find more information on plots? Who can I ask to help?
For more info, check out the following. If there’s something missing, feel free to link to it in the comments:
Sample Plot - for formatting
The XPP plot discussion tag, for previous plot discussions so you get an idea how they go.
Plot Themes - want to avoid something that’s been overdone? Check out the recurring plot themes for what’s been done when and how often.
Plot Ideas - a collection of previous potential plot ideas on XPP.
Song Title Plot Ideas Chart - now updated to include the latest ideas from Dex.
If you need help with putting a plot together, there’s any number of folks available to help. All of the mods are approachable individually, or you can ping one of the ‘older’ players. Or you can post to XPP and ask for help that way.