Monitoring Spotlight and You: How to roleplay inclusively

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Monitoring Spotlight and You: How to roleplay inclusively

Post by Dagonlives » Thu Nov 08, 2018 9:01 pm

Spotlight is a concept that is commonly used in Pen and Paper games, whereby the Dungeon Master facilitates roleplayers allowing each of them an opportunity to influence the 'story' or contribute to the 'roleplay.' On Arelith since it's more of a mass player-world setting, it is necessary to allow the players to handle this themselves.

What is Spotlight:

Spotlight is a term that simply refers to which character currently has the 'spotlight' or attention of the other players at this time.

Why is Spotlight monitoring important?

Spotlight monitoring is important because it is necessary to be inclusive. Everyone is here to be a part of the game and enjoy themselves. Those who are not included are often left disenfranchised or no longer interested in the activity. Everyone rolls a character to receive attention in some manner.

An example of Spotlight being shared:

Our party has entered an argument over treasure! Some has gone mysteriously missing. Enter characters:

Freddy the Fighter raises his sword and demands single combat with Robby the Rogue. Penny the Paladin and Wally Wizard watch nearby. The spotlight is currently on Freddy, and with his challenge, he passes the spotlight to Robby the Rogue, who must respond accordingly. Robby seems worried by his chances, and raises his hands wondeirng at the accusation, appealing to Penny the Paladin. Penny the Paladin begins negotiating while Wally the Wizard wrings his hands in social awkwardness.

In that example, 3/4 of the characters have had a 'spotlight' moment. Freddy he Fighter, Robby the Rogue, and Penny Paladin have all had a role and been involved in this interaction. Wally the Wizard has done nothing at this time. While he may not want to do anything (After all, he may just enjoy watching) the other players should attempt to be conscious of Wally the Wizard's need for inclusion.

However, Freddy the Fighter notices Wally's handwringing and declares 'Wally, Enspell me so I might strike down this rogue!' Now Wally has been included, and the spotlight shifts to him...

This is a good example of party spotlight shifting. All players have been interacted with, they've all had an opportunity to 'do their part' even if their part was to do nothing. Some players may desire more spotlight, and some less spotlight, but it's important to be conscious of this OOC mechanic.

An example of spotlight not being shared:

Mandy the Multiclasser goes into a dungeon with Norman Newbie, Quentin the Quiet, and Fanny Fencesitter. She proceeds to kill all the monsters, unlocks all the chests when able, and buffs her self. The other players when attempting to interact are told to 'sit still, I will handle this!' As a result, no one is invested in the scene except Mandy.

At one point, Norman Newbie starts fighting a kobold and appears to be succeeding, but Mandy quickly intervenes, slaying it and claiming it's magical sword, saying 'Hah, look how I killed them all!'

Norman Newbie was completely invalidated by this action. Perhaps the player will be okay with this, but they probably won't be.

Letting a player have their 'moment:

There are important moments in a character's arc where they have accomplished something grand, or are having a 'moment' of success. It is important not to take spotlight too fast in this circumstance, or at least permit them to have that period of Cartharsis.

When that Catharsis is stolen, it creates bad feelings.


Two swordsmen engage in a duel, a build up of many moons and months. Upon successfully defeating the Victrus the Vile, Bertram the Bold is promptly incinerated by a hiding mage who kidnaps him for their evil plans!

While this is a stricly in character thing to do, it's very poor judgement in terms of OOC spotlighting. The evil wizard, who may desire Betram for their own ends should at least give him the 'acknowledgement' of victory and let him have 'his moment first.' Then they can show up and commit their dastardly act!

Example #2:

A paladin of Torm, Adam finally captures the vile Cyricist Matty. He parades the Cyricist through the streets towards the guillotine, proclaiming his victory for the light. Suddenly, a player, Lemmy Lame that was entirely uninvolved in the plot shows up and starts screeching obscenities at the Cyricist, and then tries to kill him by stabbing him to death! After all, A Cyricist killed his father!

Why this is lame: Nobody like it when their plot is suddenly stolen from them. Yes, Lemmy Lame had reasons to kill the Cyricist. But he could have simply watched, and proclaimed Adam a hero, letting Adam have his moment. Lemmy will find his own heroics to attend to eventually.

More examples in future, but spotlight is a fairly important part of roleplay that is often unexplained.
My Rp kinda like droppin' a betta in an otherwise serene fish-tank.

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Jhaamdath Wenchslayer, Drow weaponmaster and pirate captain

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Re: Monitoring Spotlight and You: How to roleplay inclusively

Post by Durvayas » Fri Nov 09, 2018 3:08 pm

On a more macro scale, this can be done by inviting entire factions and unattached individuals to participate in an event that they otherwise wouldn't know about or get to participate in. Depending on their involvement, the result of an event can vary wildly, and the spotlight can be shed on each individuals involvment based on participation.

A drow house intends to raid the cordor outskirts. They have the forces to pull off a quick raid in-house(pun intended), but they want to get more people involved and generate more RP.

So they hire a mercenary company(+1 faction)
Then they hire the Arcanum to make them 5 wands of fireball to torch the farms of those pesky cordorans(+1 faction)
They hire the Arcanum and two local smiths to build a couple of war golems(+2 PCs minimum)
They then hire a number, lets say three, of spies to gather intel on the site of the raid(+3 PCs)
They then call in their allies, the local kobold tribe, to attack Greyhammer at the same time as a distraction from the main attack.(+1 faction)

The kobolds begin their attack first, drawing attention. The spotlight is on them for a while. Maybe the leader crows about the defenders being fools drawn off from the main attack. The kobolds withdraw and the spotlight is shifted to the defenders who have an "Oh crap" moment and rush to the farmlands where...
The drow and their mercenaries are conducting their assault on the cordor farmlands. The spotlight is initially on the commanders and the champions of each involved faction in both the attacking forces and the scrambling defenders. It will vary wildly who actually captures the show based on the RP and the PvP. Lose gracefully, win gracefully.

If you are elf A, and human B kills drow C, and C consents to a raise from B, don't suddenly run up and bash C's corpse, depriving them both of roleplay they both want and spotlight. I know its IC, but its also really lame. If you simply MUST be the center of attention and mutilate the drow, roleplay cutting the ears off the corpse or cutting their face, or whatever, then send a tell to the player of the downed PC that such-and-such happened to the corpse while they were dead. Stopping RP between two players before it can happen is never a good thing. Its self aggrandizing, and dissapointing to both of the other players.

As someone who plays drow and other underdarkers nearly exclusively, I can't count how many times this has happened, and its disappointing every single time.

Moving on...

The drow inflict heavy damage, but took some casualties. The raid is announced as a success, and the drow commander who organized the attack in the first place applauds the efforts of their allies(spotlighting them briefly), endorses the smiths for the fine performance of their war golems(spotlighting them briefly), and the arcanum for their impeccable delivery of golem hearts and wands(spotlighting them briefly). Then the commander taunts the cordoran guard captain because they managed to capture and enslave a recruit, and a whole new plotline is born as the cordor guard tries to negotiate for their release, or attempts to free them outright.

Involve people. Reach out and get more people involved, and more people get the spotlight, more RP is created. I could go on for hours about how macro factional RP has a cascading effect on engagement in a settlement. One decision "Hey lets get the kobolds involved" could result in a dozen new plotlines, each with new scenes and new spotlights.
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Re: Monitoring Spotlight and You: How to roleplay inclusively

Post by MissEvelyn » Fri Nov 09, 2018 4:54 pm

Another one for myself is when involved in DM events, I ask myself if my character would truly be where they are. If I'm only there because "oh look, DM event!" then my reasons are not the right ones and I should step away to let someone else gain the spotlight. I would consider it bad sport and be very disappointed with myself if I changed my character's RP simply because I the player was aware of an outside DM source suddenly watching and/or participating.

That doesn't necessarily mean I would run away at first glance. I'd still roleplay, naturally.

A good example that actually happened a couple of months back:
My apathetic wizard found herself in need of the portal in the Arcane Tower. She enters quietly, only giving the increased amount of security a single glance. Upon attempted use of the portal, she finds that it's been shut down temporarily. With a small sigh, she asks the player character nearby (a Tower Master, I believe) what's up with this portal. She is informed it's out of order currently, and with a nod, she leaves the Tower.

Now, if I was someone who yearned for the spotlight, I'd let her remain in the Tower and participate in the event. But the fact of the matter is, my wizard has absolutely no interest nor care for what's going on. She just wants to use the portal. Would it be right to change the entire concept of her just because a DM event was going on? I personally could not do that.
Note that I still interacted with those present. I could have simply turned around and walked away without even acknowledging anyone else.
You don't have to compromise your character in order to participate. But likewise, my advice is that you shouldn't compromise your character to get the spotlight either when there's a DM event going on.

Some events are just not for your character. And that's okay! There's going to be events that fit your character perfectly. But for those where your character wouldn't have a reason to be there at all, it's okay to walk away. Let the other players shine and have their moment - their character is more fit for it, anyways.

That's all I have. Good advice on this thread so far =)

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Re: Monitoring Spotlight and You: How to roleplay inclusively

Post by Fionn » Sat Nov 10, 2018 3:44 am

MissEvelyn wrote:
Fri Nov 09, 2018 4:54 pm
Now, if I was someone who yearned for the spotlight, I'd let her remain in the Tower and participate in the event.
*chuckles* I believe you appropriately RP'd the bugged portal

RIP: Paddy

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