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Arceus

The Curious Case of Original Epics

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So many of us love world-building, and many of us love seeing it, too, as it's a solid indicator that a site was nurtured and loved into being, rather than made on a whim. The ideas others come up with and set into motion in their worlds can also be really fascinating to see, and sometimes you can sense the adoration and passion a staff team have about a site just by reading about it, and that in itself can be inspiring in its way.

 

However, there are so many that would rather side-step such well-thought-out original settings, and join something with fewer documentations, or something more familiar, potentially fandom based. This leads to a lot of really unique and interesting sites that just fall by the wayside and collect dust, because no one wants to give it a shot. It's a sad cycle. If there's not enough work put into it, it feels rushed and unfinished, but we also restrict site creators by punishing them for imagining too much and creating a living world.

 

This leads to my questions. Are you someone that likes well-built sites and strong original lore? Do you shy away from reading about it at all? What are some ways admins can make it easier on you to read and digest stuff? Are there things you can think of that'd make you more willing to give it a try? I'd really love to encourage more sites with strong original settings, not even just swords and sorcery ones, but original settings of all kinds can be really fascinating and I miss seeing them. I love that shit and I know I'm not the only one, so to see so few of them out there is really sad. Let's dispel some of the uncertainty of creating new worlds, and plot a road map for those brave souls that might want to do it. c:

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Seidhr, original high fantasy

 

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I'm a big fan of world-building. Even when I'm doing a fandom site, I prefer to make it AU solely so I can play around with a few elements to have fun and give us a twist to make us stand out from the other boards out there. I'd personally disagree that site creators are being punished for the sites they create. There are very lore-heavy sites out there that have plenty of members. But it's still true that many people aren't looking to learn an entirely new world when they don't have to, which is, well pretty reasonable. It just comes down to different people liking different things. 

 

I like well-built sites. However, sometimes there's just too much lore. If I have to read a hundred thousand words of information before I can start an app, I'm just going to pass and keep on moving. It's going to take me hours to read through all of that just so I can keep up with peoples' references in conversations and posts. And I'm not going to remember all of it, which means that for days or weeks, I'll be constantly asking questions or double-checking things just so I can understand what's going on. It's intimidating and time-consuming and frankly there's equally interesting sites out there that are a lot easier to get started on. 

 

So the key, like with many other things, is moderation. You don't need to put down every detail of how things work in your setting when you're making your lore. You probably shouldn't. For one thing, like I said above, that's way too damn much reading and a lot of folks are reasonably not going to want to do it. And second, if you don't have wiggle room, you're going to lose a lot of people who want to have some space to play with details and contribute lore (or who just don't want to feel like they have to double-check their post in eight different threads before they can write it). Plus you're going to have to chase down people making mistakes all the time, and not only will that be tiring for you, your members are quite possibly going to feel like they're being hovered over and hounded by a staff team that wants to micromanage things. 

 

I think the best way to make things accessible to incoming members is to streamline your information. Put it in short paragraphs and bullet points, and drop the little details in order to focus on the important things. Of course, things should be fleshed out and finished. But if your small town setting has a town hall, for example, you don't need to detail what type of flooring it has and how many rooms it has and what the paint colors are and when it opens and that the front door sticks when it rains. Just that it's at the north end of town and hosts most major events such as weddings, funerals, and town meetings. 

 

I join original sites just as often as fandom ones, so I can't really say that anything would make me more likely to try them. But I do think it would be helpful if sites had a FAQ or "quick start" thread that outlined the plot and major points about the setting, species, and other key points. Keep it short and simple and give prospective members a snapshot of the world you've made so they can decide whether or not it sounds interesting before they have to read the rest of your lore. Also, for staff, put it in your rules or somewhere that you're always available to answer questions, and be friendly and patient with the people who have those questions. 

 

I think we're running in different circles, tbh, because I see a lot of original sites. All you have to do is look in a directory. RPG-D, for example, separates its submissions by original and fandom. It's very nearly 50/50 between them, which doesn't account for fandom sites that have pieces of original lore as well as canon. I think the reason some people prefer fandom sites is that they have limited time to roleplay and prefer to do so where they're already familiar with the ground rules, permissible characters, and important canons. Others have had bad experiences joining sites where staff got pissy because they were asking "too many questions" or simply don't have the time or energy to go through all the information required. 

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I don't rp in fandoms whatsoever, but I've also shied away from lore-heavy original sites due to the sheer amount of reading needed to get started. I think it helps to not only be succinct, but to divide lore up into need-to-know, read-later, and optional sorts of sections. I like it when the  need-to-know lore is as brief and simple as possible, an overview of the setting and premise, along with rules, expectations, and links to further reading. Things like the way the world's technology works or species-specific traits or an original religion might be touched on in the need to know, but I don't want to read the in-depth version just to get started on a character. by clearly marking what kind of lore is what, I'm less likely to be overwhelmed by details and more likely to be excited by rp if I like what I read in the need-to-know section. 

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I feel oddly called out here. 😉 I really only do original setting boards. Star Wars is the exception, but the way the board I write on is set up, it’s basically a new setting (~900 years after the movies). And I’ll always take time to read through lore and background, usually over a few hours over a day or two. 
 

Lore is what makes join a board when I don’t have any other connection to it. It tells me a lot about the tone of the setting, the way that stories function, and the type of things that the other writers enjoy, even if they don’t quite realize how much they were revealing. 
 

However, I do agree with it needing to be well organized and separated into separate categories of when they’re most essential to know. That’s also very helpful. 

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Aure entuluva! Day shall come again! - The Children of Hurin

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I LOVE LORE.   The main thing for me though, is that I start wishy-washy memory on the info if it's too large a dump and feel embarrassed that I'll look like an idiot if I miss-state something "basic".  So just like a good Novel Series, I feel like the best option is one with a "Hey you don't  need to know a lot to get started here's a quick crash course and a link to the juicier bits".


The hard part (especially with my own site) is trying to FIND that balance.

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On 11/7/2019 at 11:00 PM, Jaxx said:

I join original sites just as often as fandom ones, so I can't really say that anything would make me more likely to try them. But I do think it would be helpful if sites had a FAQ or "quick start" thread that outlined the plot and major points about the setting, species, and other key points. Keep it short and simple and give prospective members a snapshot of the world you've made so they can decide whether or not it sounds interesting before they have to read the rest of your lore. Also, for staff, put it in your rules or somewhere that you're always available to answer questions, and be friendly and patient with the people who have those questions. 

 

@Jaxx I also like the idea of doing a quick-start sort of section. I had actually started it and got bogged down with what should I put in, etc. It will be made clear somewhere that I'm always available to help and if it's a question on someone else's lore that I cannot answer, I will get the answer. Due to time zones, patience might be needed. Good stuff!

 

So many great points. Shameless plug warning!

 

Spoiler

This is an amazing topic and would be great in the World Building coterie, someplace to get feedback and share best practices as well as showcase our work!  I might even set up a Lore Review forum in the coterie.

 

Like @CovertSphinx said, I LOVE LORE! And the only thing that will put me off joining a site with lots of it is if it is not well thought out and organized.  

 

1 hour ago, CovertSphinx said:

The hard part (especially with my own site) is trying to FIND that balance.

 

I also agree that finding a good balance between too much, just enough, and showing how much you love your world is very hard to achieve. In fact, this is why I am stuck on the reboot of my sword and sorcery site. I have 99% of the lore from the old site and have written the new bits. Now, I am trying to organize it on an easy-to-navigate wiki and reduce the overhead. Since I am the lone admin, it is a monumental task. I am not the sort of woman that cries over something silly like RPing, but tackling the rewrite of our lore has sent me into tears more than once. LOL

 

Balance and having it all well-organized is the key! I am almost inspired to jump back in on our lore!


Someone somewhere went to sleep and dreamed us all alive.
Dreams get pushed around a lot, and I doubt if we'll survive.
We won't get to wake up, dreams were born to disappear.
And I'm pretty sure that none of us are here.
~ None of Us Here by Jim Stafford ~

 

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A quick start guide is what I'm trying to focus on first as well. The hard part is defining what counts as actual, crucial information that would help people get involved in as easy a manner as possible. 


Aure entuluva! Day shall come again! - The Children of Hurin

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For me, I love writing lore, but not so much reading it. I know, I know, it's a bit hypocritical, lol. I won't join sites that have a billion pages of lore, either about species or the setting or what have you, unless it's optional reading. I try to implement that on my site, where the longer reading is optional if you really wanna get into the lore, but then I have basic rundowns and summaries of what needs to be read. The "need-to's" are no more than a couple of paragraphs usually.

 

If I want to expand my lore, I usually just do so piece by piece after the site is established, and it's still all optional so that newcomers aren't overwhelmed. I also like what Jaxx said about leaving the lore a little open, too, so that people can contribute their characters and stories to the world.

 

There are some downfalls to simple lore-building, though, like sometimes you miss important factors where you tried to cut corners. For instance, I neglected to put in the details about werewolf transformations when my site first formed and, after many questions about it, I finally just put it in the lore. XD 


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