Impractical Applications (Ravyn Learns to Tag)

This week’s riffs on tagging (and a number of other things) were inspired by a game I recently joined, a wiki-based freeform play-by-post inspired by Jasper Fforde’s Thursday Next books, toying with the idea of the plot-maintaining organization JurisFiction acquiring RPG and fanfiction divisions and agents from the world therefrom. Which resulted in a game in which the PC cast is one fanfic character and three concepts that had once been PCs in various forms of development (amusingly, this also resulted in two characters from different timelines of the same game system—one was my favorite PC, plucked from a world that had been rewritten by word of GM and having to deal with the full emotional burden of knowing perfectly well that the timeline she’d done so well in technically didn’t exist anymore), and in which one of the most frequently dropped set of in-jokes is to my game’s timeline because everyone involved except for the generally silent GM has played in some version of it.

Or rather, they were inspired by what happened when we realized the group and the GM were at a bit of a mismatch. The GM’s a rather busy person, apparently fond of the concept of turn order—these factors make him something of an irregular poster. Three of the remaining four, on the other hand, are highly fond of interaction and interesting drama. When one of us created an outlet in the form of an out of character chat, in which we could do things like exchange backstories, hash out character dynamics, and world-hop our way through places the GM would have had to have been crazy to use in character, to say it took off was a bit of an understatement.

Which isn’t to say there weren’t problems in the beginning; in fact, almost everything I’ve written about what not to do in tagging I learned from that game (except for that stuff about dying play-by-posts, anyway). We’ve had bits where two people took over the conversation for a while, bits where nobody really left an opening, one case of a tag being dropped but the person tagged being skipped over (to be fair, the tagging player thought she saw the taggee’s color) , and some where one person was there but felt frozen out by the conversation (in at least one case, because it was one person having world-questions at another and a third, in the same world but not the same timeline as the first, having nothing really to contribute). It’s gotten us to many of the guidelines I used in my post on tagging rules, and to a few exceptions to those guidelines. For instance, we try to have at least two other people go between any one person’s posts, since we’re all on AIM, sometimes one of us will cede the turn to another who ordinarily would need to wait a post to go, and I jumped queue once for reasons that boiled down to “The person who should be going next had to do the trauma-recovery last time, I don’t want her to feel like she’s been stuck with this one.”

Our tags range from nonexistent (on occasion) to downright complex. I’ve had one post that was basically a three-way tagging spree—answering the question of an NPC (even if she was technically mine), dropping a compliment to one of the other PCs (indirect tag, go!), and dangling a bit of backstory for the group at large. I think most of us came in with a tendency to return our tags to whoever they came from, and we’re all at this point focusing on learning to do a return plus or a redirection-and-acknowledgement sort of tag cloud.

It’s been a learning experience, what can I say?

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