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Hyperspace Beacon: The roleplayer's guide to SWTOR event planning


Amidst the critiques and patch reviews, the reasons I stick with Star Wars: The Old Republic sometimes get lost in the shuffle. Despite being irritated by the way BioWare handled specific parts of this Star Wars MMORPG, I still find the setting and the storytelling to be superb. These interwoven tales of adventure and chaos provide an incredible platform for my favorite thing to do in an MMO: roleplay.

I've covered several topics about roleplay in this column. From breaking into the community to an RP wishlist to resolving RP-related conflicts, I've might have covered everything except for one of the most basic of roleplay elements: How do you host a roleplay event in SWTOR? Although Star Wars: The Old Republic varies in its presentation and tools, the types of events you can throw are pretty similar to the ones you can throw in any other MMOs. The tiny details vary, but the three basic type of events can be narrowed down to social, PvE, and PvP.

Hyperspace Beacon Roleplayer's guide to event planning in SWTOR
I don't want to suggest that hosting social events is easy by any stretch of the imagination, but these character-driven events can be less complex than the action-oriented events. Don't think that just because most of the event involves characters standing around talking to each other means that you don't have to spend time planning or that it can't easily fail because of inadequate planning. Remember: Proper preparation prevents poor performance.

One of my guild's most successful social events took more preparation than my latest complex roleplay adventure. The event encouraged and rewarded character interaction. We also offered many miniature venues for players to gravitate toward. Be warned: There are spoilers in the next paragraph.

Hyperspace Beacon Roleplayer's guide to event planning in SWTOR
Those who have completed the Sith Inquisitor storyline know that the character is a dark sider, she becomes a member of the Dark Council taking the name Darth Nox. Of course, no self-respecting roleplayer actually takes that as canon for her character. At the time, our guild placed itself under the direct oversight of Nox because we knew that BioWare wouldn't kill off that member of the Council as it had so many others. We thought it would be interesting if we celebrated Darth Nox's rise to power by throwing her a party. (I say "her" because that's the way I played the storyline, but canonically the character's gender is ambiguous.)

Of course, I did ask a friend of mine at BioWare if he would play Darth Nox for the party, but as I expected, he had to turn it down. But that didn't stop someone from our guild naming a character Nox (or in our case, Nôx) and portraying that member of the Dark Council just for this event. With Nox there, our other Sith Lords had a point of contact to interact with. On top of that, she also kickstarted a social scavenger hunt. She would request of each person she spoke to that he find other Darths of various Sith Houses and "win" a token from them by earning their favor. By the end of the event, conversations cropped up all over the place, and as an added incentive we gave away special prizes to those who gained all five of the tokens.

That is just an example, of course. I've seen many other types of successful social events that involve costume contents or character auctions or -- my favorite -- livestreaming DJs.

Hyperspace Beacon Roleplayer's guide to event planning in SWTOR
Borrowing a term from PnP roleplaying games, I tend to call my PvE events campaigns or scenarios. These bits of storytelling usually involve mechanics and devices you'd normally see in a classic PnP game, specifically random number generation to determine the success or failure of an action, a dice roll. Star Wars: The Old Republic does not support every action a character can take, but there is always /roll. And a really nice feature of SWTOR's roll command is that you can set the maximum number to whatever you'd like by augmenting the command with an argument. By default, if you just type "/roll", you will display a random number between 1 and 100 to the members of your group who are nearby. If you add an argument to the command (i.e., /roll 20), you will display a random number to the rest of your group between 1 and 20. This allows you to introduce mechanics that you might find in a Wizards of the Coast game.

In my last event, I combined a bit of in-game mechanics with some classic PnP dice-rolling. The objective was to slice (Star Wars version of hacking) transportation terminals in Republic bases on Alderaan so that Imperial transports could assist another Alderaanian House and our characters could eventually win the favor of that House. As you can see in the screenshots I provided, some Republic areas make great staging grounds for events because the mobs are high-level elite or champions. We used Republic Wardpost Landa for this particular scenario. We were able to invade the primary entrance to the base to provide a distraction for the slicing team to sneak to the transportation terminal. For the slicing part, we used a PnP-style mechanic so that there was an element of chance and skill.

Hyperspace Beacon Roleplayer's guide to event planning in SWTOR
You don't have to limit yourself to RNG for game mechanics. I've been known to use word or math puzzles to simulate different types of mechanics or tests for the characters. But one thing I always try keep in mind is variety. Although I try to use similar mechanics so that I don't completely throw the participants for a loop, I do try to mix things up from scenario to scenario so that players don't get bored.

Hyperspace Beacon Roleplayer's guide to event planning in SWTOR
PvP events in a themepark MMO are probably the hardest to arrange, but I have participated in a couple of successful ones in SWTOR. For the most part, these types of events follow the same guidelines as the PvE events with the added bonus of direct conflict with the other faction.

Cross-faction communication in SWTOR is unfortunately difficult, but not impossible. My suggestion is to have a member or two of each faction to act as GMs and in some kind of voice chat together. This will allow for fast communication when the event kicks off. I would also suggest a venue that is off the beaten path so that there is little interference from random other players. For instance, my server recently hosted a battle at the Alderaanian starport.

A final note for any one of these examples: Allow time for character development either before, after, or during the event. Roleplayers like to create and portray these characters, and as GMs, we should always give them the opportunity to explore.

In the comments, let me know about an event you've attended. What did you like or not like? What was your favorite thing about it? What are some creative use of venues or mechanics that you've seen in SWTOR?

The Hyperspace Beacon by Larry Everett is your weekly guide to the vast galaxy of Star Wars: The Old Republic, currently in production by BioWare. If you have comments or suggestions for the column, send a transmission to Now strap yourself in, kid -- we gotta make the jump to hyperspace!

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