OK. I have some thoughts. I have done a lot of plot stuff both from player side and staff side. Plots are of big concern to me, because to point out the obvious, my job title around here is "Storyteller," not "Junior Administrative Clerk." If there aren't plots, if all I do all day long is fulfill "Join a Clan Forum" requests...then I am a sad camper, not a happy camper. In the player-driven environment, I need you guys to start stuff, so that I have stuff to help with. Right? Right!
I want to talk about what a story is and what a story is not, for a moment. A story is circumstances outside of your character which come to some sort of crisis point, which requires resolution and thus character action/response. Within the story, your character develops. A story is not your character deciding to do something and then totally succeeding with no obstacles or negative consequences. We talk a lot around here about "conflict" and how it's good for the game; but more than that, conflict/struggle/obstacles/difficulty/negative consequences are the engine of the story which is playing around your character.
Players often get flustered or angry when bad things happen to their PCs, from other PCs or the environment or the NPC superior layer. I too have had my difficulties when this happened to my PCs; however, I now look back on those adversities as some of the most fun things I ever experienced in the game. They led to character richness and depth. For the most part, my characters didn't "win" much, but, they lived very interesting lives--great stories.
So, keep that in mind as you work on plots. You will not always win; you may not even often win. But winning isn't the point, rather, constructing a great story is.
Next point...coming up with an interesting plot that can reasonably involve a number of different PCs, and which staff will be interested/willing to support, is actually a pretty difficult task. Don't underestimate the creativity required to do this. (Having been the creator/initiator of plots on the player side, and now the supporter/helper of plots on the staff side, I certainly don't underestimate what it takes to simply think of plots.)
Unfortunately, I see players tending to stick to some well-worn grooves with plot ideas and not getting much out of their comfort zones. For example:
-- Building plots, i.e., "I want to build an edifice or organization." There is nothing wrong or bad with this kind of plot, it's just been done a lot and it's an easy idea. The downfall of most building plots is that they don't attract a lot of opposition from other players, so they don't create conflict, so they aren't very exciting plots. They do take a long time to get done, but it's not because of player opposition or staff reluctance; there are just a lot of details to work out between players and players, and players and staff, (agreements, supplies, etc.), so they just...take a long time.
-- A subset of building plots: building plots that would result in new boltholes for a clan or small group of players. This is the private fortress in the sand, or new trade outpost, or private tavern only for X group, or whatever kind of thing. Staff aren't very interested in supporting plots and projects that will further separate the playerbase.
-- > kill man. This is a time-honored tradition of Armageddon plots, but for the most part it's not very long-term interesting. Sometimes it does spawn other plot stuff, but sometimes it kills plots dead. It's sort of a toss-up.
-- Stuff related to the "end of the world" plots. It's been openly stated by staff that we're not pursuing the end of the world plots anymore. But, players seem to want to keep pursuing stuff that they perceive as related to the end of the world. Pro-tip: If staff has publicly OOCly stated "we are not doing this," then attempting to make it happen is going to be fruitless and frustrating.
-- Other stuff that is ultra-high-magick or non-mundane. This goes hand in hand with the end of the world stuff. I think it's a recognized problem that high-magick plots tend to leave out a significant portion of the playerbase (everyone not playing a magicker or templar or psionicist)--well, except as target practice
When players attempt to pursue plots that are high-magick, we as staff need to weigh that against the probability that many other players will be deliberately left out of such pursuits. I get that many players are really attracted to high-magick stuff, and I get that's why players often want to pursue it, but, from the perspective of staff it may not be worth helping out with.
-- Interpersonal plots. Amos loves Malik loves Talia loves Amos. Again, there is nothing wrong or bad with this type of plot. But, when it is all that is happening, Armageddon feels less epic than it could. This is a comfortable and familiar type of plot; it's awesome when players shake this kind of thing up with "now that I have their loyalty and love, I am going to totally use them and screw them over in the following ways."
-- "Let's have a war!" There's nothing wrong with this idea, but, it's a really easy idea. And most players don't have the patience or skill to see it from beginning to end.
I think that hits the major types of plots that players consistently pursue.
Stuff I don't often see players doing:
-- Anything truly political. There's so much room in both city-states for politics to happen, but players just don't seem to take it up.
-- Plots related to the real function or business of their clan. Develop a new line of X for sale; undercut a competitor's business in a long-term and strategic manner; destroy a business/political enemy without killing them or their minions; hosting business/political functions; and so much more.
-- Simply throwing RPTs, when they can't think of other things to do. RPTs aren't really that hard to throw together, and clan staff are happy to help make these happen--assuming you coordinate with us. (It's harder to support what you're doing when you don't plan it for a time we can attend, and/or don't tell us what it is you want.) Sometimes RPTs help move plots along, or become the seeds of plots.
Another thing that players often misunderestimate is the quantity of patience and perseverance that are required to see any plot through. You know that plot thing that you think should take you about one real-life month to accomplish? Go ahead and multiply that by six, or even twelve...and you may be coming close. Again, a lot of this has to do with just the fact of needing to coordinate stuff from player to player, and between players and staff. It doesn't mean anything is "broken" or that anyone is trying to screw with you. Take it as an opportunity to remember that the plot is in the journey, not in the arrival.
Final thought, I think...if you can't think of any interesting plots to pursue, you're welcome to ask your clan staff for input. Now, a caveat: They are just people too. They may or may not have any more interesting ideas than the ones you've already mustered up. Thinking up interesting and engaging plots is hard
. I know that I am always willing to throw some ideas out to my clannies for what they can be doing. That being said, if you ask me for ideas and then I give you my best ideas and then you still don't do anything...well, that's disappointing. I'm working really hard to help you and support you, but, you've gotta do some of the work, too!
OK, actual final thought...the recent popularity of Skyrim amongst our playerbase has made me look at how much fun it seems to be for players when quests get handed to them, and they can choose to accept or not. Yes, getting quests can be really fun. In Armageddon we don't have quest-givers; you guys are the quest-givers. It's a lot of work to do, but someone's got to be doing it, or nothing happens. If every player was actively initiating and pursuing and involving other players in one bigger quest/plot, what would that look like, I wonder?