Originally posted on the realm forums, this isn't a guide in the usual sense, but more of an essay. Still, I thought it was helpful and relevant enough to stick here. It's quite long though, so be warned!
This thread has came about after much thought over whether or not it would be seen as arrogant and prescriptivist, or helpful and intelligent. I'm not sure yet which it is, but it's my hope that I can explain the decisions and thoughts I go through when making an event, to give people an idea about how a regular does it. It is also my hope that people will be encouraged to make their own events as I seek to abolish misconceptions about the creation of events, and give advise on how to create a popular and successful event. I'll try not to make it preachy, because that really isn't the point.
I'd like to start by saying that a year ago I didn't know half the things I know now about events, and I hope, in the coming year, I'll become better, and stamp out the niggles I still have. With that being said...
Events are only as difficult as you make them
There is a whole world of difference between holding a tavern night and organzing an entire war. Social events, such as the Fish and Bake, the Dwarven Feast, or the Shatterspear parties, are generally quite easy to do (not to be disparaging against them at all, of course. They're highly enjoyable, light-hearted, and are a great way to meet new RPers), with most of the work being advertising and making sure that summons are available. The objective of these events is to get a lot of people into place and have a party, and that can be achieved without any presiding other than announcing the event's existence.
Of course, if one wants to add more to them, such as a fishing competition, a steam tonk battle, or a sit around a campfire, then it gets a bit trickier on the organization. These aren't crucial to the events, as everyone will be having a good time chatting and RPing anyway (and it's you who has provided that chance to them, and that's commendable), but they can definitely make them more interesting. To make sure everyone is listening, it's always best to either use the /rw system, if you are all in a group, or just yell.
And if there is a fishing competition, or something relating to class, professions, or items, then it's probably best you always have something for the ones who that doesn't apply to do as well, so as to not exclude them. But generally, social events are easy-going, and can be done with little pre-planning, and still give a lot of people a great night of RP. So they're to be encouraged. Go on! Try running one!
Battle events, such as the March Down the Dead Scar, are a little more complex, but still don't induce headaches. Co-ordination is more important here, as is making sure everyone knows what is going on. Getting people into straight lines and battle formations isn't as essential as you might think, as in the chaos of battle, if people are RPing and battling at the same time, the chances are they're gonna have fun, and indeed that was what I found in the Tainted Scar event. There was little organization to be had there, with only a few lines of speech to start the battle. What's important is that you don't make it too constricting, and let people make the event theirs. Once again, it was more of a case of waiting upon everyone, and then nipping over to Horde side to see how ready for battle they were. After about fifteen minutes of non-stop RP, I called a halt to it. Fifteen minutes isn't a long time, yet people remember that event.
The real hard events are the ones where you need to think on your feet all the time. It's a challenge to hand out an array of different quests to four different sets of people, one after another, for example, just as it is to respond to everyone's emotes in a Heroes' Society boss fight. But, I think, the effort you put in here tends to pay off quite a bit, because people see their emotes being responded to, and they see that their effect on the event is visible. They're being rewarded for their imagination, basically, and it's also a case of how much you put in determining how much you get out.
Similarly, RPed towns tend to be difficult as well, as there's always a lot going on, and a lot to preside over. People tend to want to carve out their own stories, and heroics, and this leads to incoherence, as some people man the same job, kill the same legion of demons, or refuse to acknowledge each other's actions. But I spoke a lot about things like this in the BW analysis thread, so won't take it further.
In summary, successful and fun events are not hard to run. An event doesn't need months of planning, or even being skilled at organizing. All you have to do is announce the premise, the place, the time and finally the date on the forums, and advertise a few times in your chat channels. That's organization finished with. You've made an event. Good on you!
But the advertising and forums stuff leads me onto my next point, which is...
Presenting Your Event And Yourself
It's very important to be clear and concise when you promote your event, and to describe your events like you're writing an essay. Full words, sentences, and with the usage of grammar, and with double spaces to separate paragraphs. An IC section is always nice, but not necessarily essential. The fact is, you need to make sure that your event sounds awesome, and that it'll be a good time for all who come. You don't need buckets and buckets of description, but to give people a solid idea of what you're aiming for is always a good idea.
Additionally, many people don't read the forums, so there is little chance, other than by word of mouth, that they will hear of it. So to branch out to them, advertise on your chat channels. General chat and yelling in cities would be useful, but you're always at danger of attracting griefers to your event, and whilst /ignoring them is an option, they upset the mood by their presence, too. But Alliance LFRP, and Horde HordeRP are great channels to use. Another tactic would be to get in contact with the leaders of known RP guilds, and see if they're interested in advertising to their own members. By getting your name out to these, you're gonna solidify your presence on the server.
But then, there is problem of organizing -too- much. Myself, I don't take down names of potential attendees, or go on a spending spree for RP items to use. I just turn up on the night, see the crowd, and act upon it. This way, your plan ain't gonna go drown the drain, and you're going to have a more organic experience.
Another thing to consider is that the way you come across is equally important. If you're welcoming to people wondering about your event, and give the time to write responses to them, and be as helpful as possible, people will notice, and be impressed with your conduct. No one wants to go to an event wherein if they do anything wrong, they'll be shouted at. They want the organizer to be sociable, pleasant, and take advise and criticism as the attempts at being helpful that they are. You don't need to accept suggestions, but take them with mirth and appreciation.
Don't be mean if someone doesn't get your event. Be nice about it, and help them along. I know it's frustrating when someone does something that could potentially ruin the event, but if you go off in a huff, and start swearing and throwing insults, people aren't going to like that. If they continue being a pain, just boot them, or ask that people ignore them, with your reasoning. But the important thing to remember at all times, is that running an event doesn't give you the right to lord it over other people. Yep, appreciation is deserved (and WILL come your way), but don't ever let the angst that can sometimes come from running an event get in the way of being civil to other human beings.
You want to give the idea that you know what you're doing, and you aren't resentful of it, really. And never, under any circumstances, be mean about other people's events whilst advertising your own. Insulting other people's work isn't nice.
Let Your Attendees Influence
Roleplaying is all about playing a role. "Well spotted, Chingo!" you say, sighing heavily as Captain Obvious flies back the way he came. And asides from looking a tad guilty and bemused, I'm also pointing out that it's very easy for events not to acknowledge this. To this end, I'm gonna quote myself from a month or two back. Because I'm a git.
[quote]I do believe that these "epic plotlines" with static villains and heroes are what many people are actually against when they complain about elitist RP. It's the fact that, y'know, these characters are apparently very important and only a few other players can do anything about them. A character not involved with the storyline, say, can't just barge in and put an end to the threat, especially if the baddy has no plans to kill his character off. It's when it stops being an interactive medium and starts being watching a textual play.
Yes, you may turn up to the events and help, but you're just filling in the numbers. You're not influencing with your own personal styles and actions. You're essentially helping the main characters achieve their goals like everyone else involved. [/quote]
Basically, people are gonna feel like your event is a giant cop-out if your event boils down to having a speech and expecting people to listen. Or, they're gonna feel like it's a cop-out when an entire army can't take down one foe, but when the pre-arranged roleplayer comes in, he can put an end to that enemy straight away. People don't like to see "important" figures do stuff they can't, and that's what's off-putting to a lot.
Yeah, something like the Dead Scar hasn't got room for much influence either. But at least no one else is running around as one more powerful and crucial than anyone else. Everyone is there on equal terms.
No matter who they are, each player deserves the right to shape the event in some way. Roleplaying is too broad a medium to give specific examples, but class, professions and race can all be used and RPed to forward a character's role. But please, never use your members as an audience. Get them involved. This especially applies when they aren't the sort to get themselves involved. It's sort of going above and beyond the call of duty, but, really, if you see a roleplayer who hasn't said much, or you're not sure whether they're having a good time, then focus on them. Ask them a question, or command them to do something, or give them an item of which to use/eat/drink/throw. If you want everyone to have a good time (and, as said before, to improve face) this is pretty crucial.
And to avoid running out of things to do, lump people together into groups. ESPECIALLY if they don't regularly RP with each other. Through this, you can form friendships, encourage RP outside of cliques, and also cut down on the exhaustion that might come from making sure eveyone has something to do in your event. Again, like I said near the beginning, depending on the event, this isn't crucial. You don't have to keep coming up with new incidents for people if you don't want to. It's enough they have something to do in general.
Weekly events are very healthy for the RP community as they give people a routine, so they always know something is on on one particular day. If you think you have time to devote yourself to a given event, then this is a great idea. It doesn't even have to be weekly. You can do it every two weeks, or every month. If interest seems to be waning, then instead of putting a stop to it, it's always better to advertise a bit more on the forums, or on the RP channels you frequent.
As these weekly RP events tend to be more reliable, and less violent in nature (and therefore, without the dreaded "drama"), there's a fair chance you'll pick up a lot of roleplayers. Taverns and storytelling nights are particularly popular. It's always best too, to pick a night that's good for people being in the house. Friday night is pub night, for many, and so is Saturday. But then, Sunday night clashes with Heroes' Society, and so does Monday! Heh. Clashing with events shouldn't be a main concern. WoW roleplaying is big enough to substain two a night.
Gaps In the Market, And Doing It For Yourself
Whilst I mentioned taverns, you need to be careful that there isn't enough already (On this server, for example, we already have the Fishmonger's Wife, and the Thunderbrew Distillery). And this applies to most types of events. If there has been an influx of PVP events, then chances are, people are not starving for them, so a social gathering, or a battle against the Quilboar, say, would be more appropriate.
We started up Heroes' Society because the founders saw a genuine hunger for that adventure kind of RP. Blasted War was similar, as many had been noting that they wanted an "epic" event on the realm (although, BW was admittedly differently epic to how they had imagined, and possibly better for it, if I can be a judge). It's good and healthy for a server to have variety in its events, and keep having new, fresh things.
At the same time, events are always going to be less entertaining if the organizer isn't interested in what s/he is doing. If you're anything less than enthusiastic about an idea, don't run it. Don't feel you have a duty to run an event because there's a need for one. If people are complaining of a need for one, then there is little stopping them from creating it.
So, only cover events that you like. That's what I've always done.
Don't Ever Be Disheartened or Intimidated
If you're upset that an event didn't go so well, or fretting over the outcome of an upcoming one, don't be. Take pride in the fact that you're running an event, and learn from your mistakes to create a better one next time. This guide, whilst being quite long, isn't exhaustive, and there's points I've missed. People appreciate it when you make events, and if they're spending their time coming to yours, then they have a vested interest for them to go well, so ask for help, get feedback. The "oh, it sucked" feedback you can discard as being unhelpful, trite, and unemphatic. But the constructive criticism and feedback... you should read over that, and take note of it. The attendee is always right, because that's who the event is made for.
At the same time, if you have only a couple of people who don't like one part of an event, and everyone else does, then go with the flow. Go with what is popular, and what is working. Like I said about complaining about gaps in the market, they're perfectly capable of making their own (this guide proves that), and whilst it's a noble cause to try and accomodate them to, you shouldn't go out of your way, to the detriment of other parts of the event.
No. You're not getting a summary. I've already wrote too much. Hope it was helpful. :)