Thursday, April 27, 2017

Ask the Editors

Ask the Editors
by the Editors
Episode 2

Hello and welcome to Episode 2. We appreciate you coming back for our second attempt to show you how awesome asking us questions can be. If you don't think it's awesome, please send all complaints about this episode to George Lucas.

We only have one question remaining in our question vault, which means two things. 1 – That we are going to answer it. 2 - That people need to ask us more questions!

This weeks question from the notorious “Question Box” sparked a couple of great responses from some people very knowledgeable on the topic of guarding the Western Flank, which is apparently located in the kitchen.

Why don't people NPC as much? (We keep seeing the same folks burn out...)”

Lets get some answers shall we?

First up, we'll get some input from legendary kitchen staffers and veterans of more Western Flanks than we can count, Jeremy and Lani Greyson:

Without monsters to fight, the heroes of the Realms would have little else to do besides eat, drink, and be merry, and, let’s be honest, we do the last three pretty well already. However, finding people who are willing to NPC can be a challenge, as most event holders can attest to. We’ve both spent some time on the Western Flank, and although we can tell you why we feel it’s important to be there, the question of why there aren’t more people out there is a challenging one to answer. After some discussion, we have a few ideas about why more people don’t NPC (and a few reasons you should consider doing it more often).

Some people might not NPC because no one has asked them to. When we throw our quest event series, we make it a point to reach out to people individually and ask them to NPC for us, and many people are willing to help out if you ask them. Most of the time people don’t think to volunteer to NPC for an event without being solicited. This can be cured in two ways: players should consider asking event holders if they need help NPCing and event holders should not be shy about asking people individually to NPC for their events. Group messages to the Realms Facebook Page tend to have less effect than asking someone in person or in an individual message. This works well if you are someone who knows a lot of people in the Realms and are not shy about asking for help. However, if the event holder is shy or newer to the community, other members of the community should reach out and ask if the EH could use a few more hands. This allows for more fun for players and NPCs alike.

There are people in the Realms who may shy away from NPCing because they believe they will have to be a constantly respawning crunchy all day, and they may dislike fighting or not be confident in their combat skills. It is a misconception that NPCing always means crunchying. Most quests need people who are non-combat helpers as well. If you are unsure if you can be helpful as a non-com helper, again, reach out and ask the event holder. I can’t imagine a situation in which you will be turned down simply because you are a non-com. EH’s need runners, costumers, and role-players in addition to big-bads to make their event successful.

And lastly, and perhaps the hardest to combat, is that many people come to Realms to have fun and relax and those goals can feel undermined if it means spending the weekend as an NPC. Most of us have a very busy life outside of Realms and we cannot devote every weekend to being in the game. When we do have free time, it makes sense to want to play, rather than help out. However, helping out really can be fun, especially if you are helping out with your friends. NPCing allows you to meet and interact with people outside of your normal social circle and it can be a ton of fun watching those silly PCs struggle with something when you know how everything will come together in the end. If you want to spend time with your friends, convince them to NPC as well. Getting a big group together to NPC is great for both you and the event holder. It is also more economical to help out, as NPCing is often free (or at least greatly reduced from the event price). This allows you to have fun and see your friends without spending a lot of money on the weekend.

Ultimately, the Realms needs more people to commit some time to the Western Flank to make sure that everyone gets to play a little. We are a community that is run entirely on volunteers, and members of the Realms who only play and rarely NPC can be doing more to support the community. Please make it a point to ask how you can help an Event Holder--you won’t be sorry that you did.”

Excellent answer! Next we'll go to another awesome helper both in the kitchen and out (but mostly in), Jennifer DeNardis-Rosa:

I can't speak to any specific reasons why people don't NPC as much, but I can offer a few general reasons that I think contribute.

1) Intimidation.
You don't know how many people are going to be at any given event or what type/ caliber of fighters are going to show up. Sometimes large numbers of varied PCs show up that seem to vastly outnumber the staff at the event, or smaller groups of players known or perceived to be "elite" fighters come out to attend the event. Sometimes a combination of the two. If you play as your character normally using mostly shorter weapons or  spells, or if your character is a fighter but you only consider yourself to be an average one, it can seem a little daunting  to NPC in the face of these types of situations, especially as a "grunt" or "crunchy" (general combat NPC). You may worry that you "won't be able to do a good job," get nervous about fighting or calling your shots, or ask yourself what the point is as you may "just get steam-rolled anyway." The advice here is not to let these concerns stop you. Contact the event-holder to see if there are other roles available besides straight fighting. Offer to help with general staffing needs. Or use the opportunity to learn from and get better. NPCs in general usually re-spawn in some manner and wear proxy armor, so you don't have to be worried about consuming party resources or be hesitant to engage so you don't blow your armor. If you aren't quite comfortable with armor, talk to the EH or head NPC about only calling one point or no armor. Event staff are usually happy just to have NPCs, and should be willing to work with you based on what your comfort level is. Just do your best and have fun.  As an NPC you are not there to "win" the event, just to challenge the PCs and help ensure that everyone has fun.  You don't always have to kill someone each time you fight, sometimes just slowing the PC group down is enough.  And remember the general rule - "when in doubt, call dead."

2) Group Dynamics
People may be less inclined to NPC at an event thrown by an event-holding team that they do not associate with as much, or are not as close to, either in or out of character. Likewise, if a group or nation has plans to play at an event as said group or nation, whether in force or just a few people, then those people are less likely to NPC at that event instead.  As this is one of the main reasons for playing the game - to play with your friends - this is not unexpected, and is not a bad thing at all. At the next event though, consider NPC'ing as a group instead of playing. The event staff will be happy to have you, and you'll get to do something different but just as fun and important to the game. NPC'ing as a group can bring your people together and provide a team-building experience just as much as PC'ing as a group can, and in a different way. This will also allow your group/ nation to start establishing and building NPC'ing relationships with others, and help provide you with a network of people that you can then call on for help when your group is the one throwing the event. If you are not in a  group or nation, or only a few people from your group or nation are attending the event, consider stepping out of your comfort zone and offering to NPC for an event staff that you wouldn't normally think to do so for.  This can lead to new/ better relationships with people in the game you might not be as familiar with, expose to you to different event-holding styles, and help to make you a more well-rounded player, as well as also building your NPC network.”

Another excellent answer! It seems that they are all in agreement that you should not be afraid to both ask for help, and ask if you can help, and there are all kinds of ways that you can help out the community, from fighting, to cooking, to organizing, and beyond.

Speaking of contributing to the community, we need more questions! Information on how to ask can be found at the bottom of the episode. We are currently out of questions, which means we really need your help. This is a very easy way to help out, you don't even need to get up from your computer.

Join us next episode when we hopefully have a new question to answer!

Questions can be sent to Sara “Zarine” Jessop via email (, facebook messenger, or in person. The question box will also be making the rounds at various events. Please note if you'd like your question to remain anonymous and/or if you would like to address specific editors.

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