'Shadows' Plot


'Shadows' Plot

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This FAQ ('Frequently Asked Questions') was compiled after the OOC meeting on 11/20/09 where a dozen players and staffers got together to discuss the upcoming Shadows plot, as part of Volume VIII: Fallout. If you feel you have another question that should be featured here, please approach a staffer to get it added.


What is this 'Shadows' thing about?

'Shadows' is a plot featuring the Nightmare Man, an unknown Evolved dream manipulator who is causing mayhem in the sleeping minds and subconsciousnesses of the residents of New York City. Characters who have experienced major trauma and Evolved characters who have taken the drug Refrain (even once!) are especially susceptible. The Nightmare Man exploits repressed emotions, feelings, or ideas, essentially trying to 'free' the character of 'shackles.' Sometimes this can lead to helpful catharsis, but other times characters can end up suicidal, or sleep-walking into committing horrible crimes (Ie., Automatism and Homicidal somnambulism).

Only characters in the United States can participate in the Shadows plot.

How To Participate

Who should GM nightmare scenes?

Any player on String Theory is allowed — nay — encouraged to run (GM, ST, NPC) nightmare scenes for other people's characters. In the past year or so, the style of plots has inadvertently led players to think that running scenes is strictly a staff duty, but this isn't true at all.

Players are being asked to take the lead during the Shadows plot to discuss and GM scenarios that will generate meaningful twists and character development for each other. As the plot progresses, the staff may give player GMs information or clues to drop for other players that will lead to the resolution of the Shadows plot. So far, players who have stated some interest in trying to GM even one scene for others include:

  • Cardinal
  • Aaron
  • Helena
  • Mortimer/Magnes
  • Huruma/Delilah
  • Sparrow/Miranda

Golden rules tend to sound plastic and terrible, but here's one that tends to hold true: the best way to get attention is to give it. Players with characters in other plots can still, of course, GM at their own discretion and are encouraged to. Check out the forum thread for more sign-ups and discussions!

If I should click on any link…

It should be The String Theory MUX forum, Volume VIII: Shadows.


What else do I need to do?

  1. If your PC is going to be experiencing plot nightmares, +request an appropriately dark-themed character image to have a Shadows icon made for your logs. The icons will be named in the convention of s_CHARACTERNAME_icon.gif , for log purposes. You can check out the icons that have been made so far on the log icons page.
  2. Page or @mail other players to get the ball rolling.

So I can't go to staff on this one?

Feel free to ask staff for help if you run into trouble GMing or participating in a nightmare, but we would strongly appreciate it if players would take the initiative in terms of actual scene-running on this one. That being said, if a staffer previously arranged to set up a nightmare hook with you, of course, it would not be rude to ask them if that is still going on or in what new form.

Roleplaying Nightmares

What situations should happen in a nightmare?

Here are a few ideas you can draw from in running nightmare scenes.

  1. Revisiting of memories, both from character +history (see +help history) and from scenes your character has participated in. Bad memories, especially!
  2. However, sometimes good ones can be as creepy.
  3. Symbols or settings and situations can be pulled from the Rumors or News +bboards (+bbread News). Take for instance: the explosion of the Verazzano Narrows bridge, Humanis First!'s terrorist tactics like explosive vests, the rocket-propelled grenade attack on the high school, and atrocities committed in other countries like Argentina and Madagascar.
  4. Role-reversals of scenes that your character has previously been in. Were they the attacker once? What if they're the victim now?
  5. Wish fulfillment, Ie., romantic or of missing family members.
  6. If your character appears to have no present major conflicts, you may want to consider reopening old wounds, making them question past conflicts.

This is just the tip of the 'berg and starting point. Dreams can be as abstract and nonsensical as you please. Feel free to start discussions in the OOC lounge or on the forum thread, and check back often. We have all had trouble with writer's block before, and nothing helps like having other people as sounding boards.

So I plan a complex, successful 'psychotherapy' arc?

You can if you want, but you do not absolutely have to. Yes, the Nightmare Man views things in terms of freeing characters from their repressions. Sometimes, this can equate to fulfillment and happiness after an arduous and elaborate journey. However, psychological repression is not always a bad or unhealthy thing… and over-thinking or over-planning out a plot arc might actually hurt your RP more than a little spontaneity. Moreover, the Nightmare Man's perceptions and ideas of existential fulfillment and conflict are not necessarily the same as a sane person's or your character's, and your character may have a variety of blocks that are just too hard for him to get through. Their journey can be elliptical or linear.

Don't feel pressured to undertake a nightmare scene only if you're willing to ingeniously resolve deep and ancient inner crises in a heavily choreographed or structured way. Your character can walk away with completely new crises! It is, however, good to have a few specific ideas of what you want to explore.

What ideas/issues should we explore, then?

Character development is the byword for this plot. As such, the overall arc or individual scenes can be as elaborately planned or as spontaneous as you and your fellow RPers are willing to tackle. You have a lot of flexibility and creative freedom. Of course, the abstract dichotomies and principles you can explore are limitless.

  • Pragmatism vs. principles
  • Self-acceptance vs. growth or change
  • Sacrifice vs. accomplishment
  • New ideology/faction vs. old ideology/faction


What other types of scenes will be available?

Eventually, those suffering nightmares are going to begin merging into each others' dreams or into whole new fantasy realms or dreamscapes that are not necessarily anchored in their own psychic distresses. This means you can end up RPing with other characters in whole new creepy made-up fiction worlds! Encounter your enemies, friends, or total strangers, create fodder for deja-vus and double-takes in the real world. ALL THIS AND MORE.

In the real world, there will also be investigations into the Nightmare Man and the havoc he is creating. The man needs to be stopped. Chiefly, this is going to be Law Enforcement's area, but of course witness statements and civilians will be necessary to help push this along to the final confrontation.

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