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The Relative Progression of Time


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How do you handle time differentials between characters whose players have different schedules?


Take, for example, a supergroup where some people appear 2-3 times a week, some only 2-3 times a month.   

I tend to take the "timey wimey wibbly-wobbly" approach of "don't think too hard about it, just nudge or keep vague any perceived difference in the progression of time to let everyones' user story flow" but I've also encountered some that tie the progression of time and seasons with the real-world, such that if you've been offline for a few weeks, you should be thinking about the experiences of that character had "while you were offline."   I can see that need when an SG is going through a common story that may have advanced in your absence, but I've encountered it among other players through more general encounters with my characters after a nearly-year absence.

Was curious what the general preference might be.

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I speak to the other player(s) involved in the roleplay, and we hash it out together.

Sometimes we have characters who have "holding patterns" which we agreed to either before or after, which may recontextualize certain narrative elements, but largely keeps the story cohesive.  Other times we play it so that the characters' stories only progress when we're both/all online together, or sometimes when a couple of us are online together if not all of us (if 3 out of 4 players are on together, so sorry to that 1 who isn't, but we're moving on).  And other times still, the characters just have whatever encounters they do, and overarching narratives get thrown on their heads or out the window as necessitated by the other encounters. 

I generally aim for them in the order I listed here when I get to choose to prioritize.

 

In the absence of being able to communicate with the other players, for example with Meana on my @ImpousVileTerror account, where one of the two key players for that character's personal story stopped playing during the height of the pandemic, I held out for a long while, but ultimately made the call to consider that half of the story broken, and moved on with the other player.

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Thanks, 
In this context, I'd met a few other players who were RP'ing freshmen at the university.   They were chance encounters, but we remembered one another.    In my absence, they'd both  moved on to their next year, and there was interest (not pressure) to "catch up" my character story to meet them.   Since I'd had absolutely no chance to play out that character since our last meet,  I'd have preferred kinda retconning my character to an underclassman of theirs, but went along with it with some fast improvisation.   If this is a common practice, I'd prep with a bit more forethought for the alts I've RP'd.

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Time is the Roleplayers Bane.

 

No matter what setting I Roleplay in I try to ignore it as a thing and remain intentionally vague. Time itself doesn't really serve Roleplay it's generally a detriment. However it's important to not mix up IC and OOC perceptions of time, my character might say "We'll meet sometime soon?" and I'll organize OOC "((This Friday 8pm?))".

 

My character(s) are supposed to be all active all the time with realistic lives and things happening offscreen, I can't be that dedicated as a player, thus time needs to be given leeway.

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  • 3 weeks later

Well, most of my characters have day jobs, or involvement with community projects within the city. A few remain within the Vanguard headquarters, either working and training new members, or just general assistance with paperwork and so forth. I've a few that are deep in their books, studying to better their knowledge and expanding on their personal practices, but time wise, I try to keep in mind that some players aren't as readily available to play as I am and respect the line between real life and in character availability. I've a few friends that had computer issues recently that had to wait for new parts, equipment, and other such things to come in and were offline for a bit, but we worked out a background story for the time offline to help smooth over transitions into new ideas and such that came up amongst ourselves, so it generally works out with a bit of talking in ooc global to figure out who and what fits for whom.

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I think just mentoring those that have not rp'ed much really helps with this. If people have a general idea in your group on how to handle being away then good rp'ers will pick up on it and actually assist. 

Away for personal reasons (family, solo mission etc), sick.....just let the person away come up with reasonings that fit their character. Something that the group does not have to participate in for life to have gone by . As was said above it is actually best not to dwell too much on time itself, there is usually no need for it. 
"I was in the hospital"
"Yeah, did you get the card?"
"Yeah, but why did you send me a stuffed animal?"
"Oh, well, that was my wife's idea, sorry..."

Then move on with rp. It doesn't need to be complicated to be effective. 

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On 8/11/2021 at 2:17 PM, chase said:

Thanks, 
In this context, I'd met a few other players who were RP'ing freshmen at the university.   They were chance encounters, but we remembered one another.    In my absence, they'd both  moved on to their next year, and there was interest (not pressure) to "catch up" my character story to meet them.   Since I'd had absolutely no chance to play out that character since our last meet,  I'd have preferred kinda retconning my character to an underclassman of theirs, but went along with it with some fast improvisation.   If this is a common practice, I'd prep with a bit more forethought for the alts I've RP'd.

So my approach is perhaps atypical. I already have the entirety of a characters life mapped out at creation. And most of them only exist within the years the game was on live. Only a couple treat it as ever becoming as recent as the 2020s. When i am on a character I can be at any point in their lifespan. My costumes often depict my characters at different ages for this reason. When I flashback I tend to make my characters into their younger selves and treat it as jumping back into my younger body kind of like quantum leap but your own body only, I tend to feel that jives well enough with the whole O zone time travel thing. In other words I do not RP on some linear line of progression. I do not even RP characters until they are 50s because I do not RP young up and coming heroes, all my characters are around my own RL age or older with a few rare exceptions. Even when I am flashbacked it is my characters "Present" mind in his past body.

 

I have to ask did you like actually plan to spend months or more in game playing your toon and slowly progressing their personal timeline? And why? Who would care if you kept it that linear unless you had a static group? I have a pair of friends who are in game married, and have a 3rd player RPing their baby now grown into a teen. All of that time happened in the last year or so RL. My characters did not age that many years but I still RP with them. I just dont bother to be more then a passing casual supporting actor in their RP, and they could log off and never come back and it would not impact my rp in any way. I try to never in any way shape or form bind my characters RP to anothers and certainly dont adapt my ideas to please or create something for others. I tend to DM in table top games and when I RP in an MMO I am also the DM of that session. Others are free to interact or not as they choose but my story is just that my story.

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On 9/9/2021 at 4:44 PM, Llewellyn Blackwell said:

I have to ask did you like actually plan to spend months or more in game playing your toon and slowly progressing their personal timeline? And why? Who would care if you kept it that linear unless you had a static group? I have a pair of friends who are in game married, and have a 3rd player RPing their baby now grown into a teen. All of that time happened in the last year or so RL. My characters did not age that many years but I still RP with them. I just dont bother to be more then a passing casual supporting actor in their RP, and they could log off and never come back and it would not impact my rp in any way. I try to never in any way shape or form bind my characters RP to anothers and certainly dont adapt my ideas to please or create something for others. I tend to DM in table top games and when I RP in an MMO I am also the DM of that session. Others are free to interact or not as they choose but my story is just that my story.


No, actually, my approach and expectation was somewhat similar to yours.    I joke that it's the "comic book method" -- so many of those characters had a role and identity from a very specific point in their life, and that part of their young-adulthood (usually) lasted for decades in the comics.   There may be tales of them when they're older or younger, but there's often a stage of life that really *defines* them and their role, and that's where my heroes tend to stay.   There's room for growth, but not much transformational change.    Part of that is my alt-itis and lack of gameplay time, but I can't say I would have progressed them at a life pace that matched reality.   I do like to track my encounters with other characters and subtly introduce some character growth attributed to my interactions with them.

 

I've never specifically brought up time, but I've been effectively called out and corrected- either by sideways RP statements or directly in OOC who did not seem condescending, but just intent to get me using "proper" RP etiquette here  ( "the timeline of the "official releases" established that time progressed in line with reality" has been mentioned to me more than once before I effectively relegated my favorite (and most lore-tied) characters to a Non-RP server ) .   I think that if I'd not tried so hard to tie my characters into game lore events and just left with themes, they'd seem less "stuck in time" than they currently do in these encounters

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1 hour ago, chase said:


No, actually, my approach and expectation was somewhat similar to yours.    I joke that it's the "comic book method" -- so many of those characters had a role and identity from a very specific point in their life, and that part of their young-adulthood (usually) lasted for decades in the comics.   There may be tales of them when they're older or younger, but there's often a stage of life that really *defines* them and their role, and that's where my heroes tend to stay.   There's room for growth, but not much transformational change.    Part of that is my alt-itis and lack of gameplay time, but I can't say I would have progressed them at a life pace that matched reality.   I do like to track my encounters with other characters and subtly introduce some character growth attributed to my interactions with them.

 

I've never specifically brought up time, but I've been effectively called out and corrected- either by sideways RP statements or directly in OOC who did not seem condescending, but just intent to get me using "proper" RP etiquette here  ( "the timeline of the "official releases" established that time progressed in line with reality" has been mentioned to me more than once before I effectively relegated my favorite (and most lore-tied) characters to a Non-RP server ) .   I think that if I'd not tried so hard to tie my characters into game lore events and just left with themes, they'd seem less "stuck in time" than they currently do in these encounters

Ok gotcha. That makes sense to me then. Back on live towards the end I did actually have a single toon that one day it struck me we had costume slots roughly equal to years the game had been active, and so took one of my 1st year toons and tried to assign a costume slot to represent each of the years by doing my best to recall what the main costume I had worn for that character around then had been. Kind of a costume slide show of year one year two etc. Obviously he did not look much different in face or body size as he was an adult already, but I could see someone doing a penny yin type growing up through the years approach to costume and character concept.

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