Life of the Party: Text Role Play in Aurelia – Pt 1

Over the next few days, I’ll be look at what I learned about collaborative storytelling from text-based role play. But for starters, a little background on this recent Aurelian exploit.

This past weekend, Aurelia hosted its largest-yet text role play, bringing nobility and peasantry alike together in the muralled glamour of the Basilica of Knowledge. This large gathering space in the Philosopher’s Strata played host to a grand party, presided upon by Lord Samuel Gershwin and his fiancée Lady Elise Brimmington.

Hijinks ensued, as characters in conflict deepened their ongoing rivalries, formed new alliances, and even committed a few gossip-worthy crimes like kidnapping and theft. The night culminated when several drugged desserts were served. Immediately thereafter, hapless attendees began to collapse all over the marble floor As if that weren’t enough, the deed was traced to dangerous Freedom Fighters lurking in the crowd, igniting a battle that sent Aurelia’s finer families scattering in terror. (Read a more detailed synopsis and check out the role play documents here.)

So how did this epic episode of Aurelian-ness actually happen? Well, for starters, several of our actors (Elizabeth and Rhiannon) stepped up to organize the basic details of the party.

Once they had polled the backstage Facebook group for a “head count” of actor attendees, Elizabeth and Rhiannon open three separate Google docs, one for each of the Basilica’s three chambers. They typed a description of mood, atmosphere, and general action into each “chamber,” and invited other actors to view the Google docs.

At their own convenience, actors stopped by the Google doc to add their character’s latest move in the ongoing story of the party. Some synced schedules so their characters could interact back-and-forth in real time. Others orchestrated their movements to allow for a periodic appearance.

Did I mention this all took three days to unfold, from start to finish?

In my next installment of this mini-series I’ll look at some of the unique storytelling characteristics I encountered in this epic text role play. And in the mean time . . . great job, everyone!

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