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Forums » RP Discussion » Dialogue Trees? Dialogue Trees! In MY RP??

Likelier than you think!

I want dialogue + action trees, like how the vidja game roleplay games do. I mean I want to be able to select from them AND write them / offer them, in the RP.

Because.

Never a post goes by that I am not plagued with the infinite possibilities of choice; I feel like it'd be easier at this point to simply offer up dialogue response options 1-5 and write short blurbs below them to hint or answer how my character would respond?

This ties in with the forever search on how to write dialogue and physical exchanges in RP more organically; as the part I love about tabletops and systems that run on tabletop rules is the element of CHANCE, there is a CHANCE that the thing your character says or does next is going to elicit A Response good/bad/neutral/dire and I would just like my writing partners to be able to see some of that ahead of time so they can better choose dialogue / action to craft a more mutual result.

But I don't want to involve dice because the chance at play here relies entirely on the characters' established personalities (and whether or not they've had lunch).

Also I dabbled in RenPy and RPG Maker and every time I was building a game I wanted to focus most on the NPC conversations and companion dialogue trees, and I feel like forum RP would be a good stage for microdosing that.
Example Post wrote:
Major Major turned to pick up his canteen, and shook it to find it empty. "Hey (y/c), can you fill this up for me?" Major Major prompted, underhanding the canteen at (y/c) to catch.

1. Catch it, but throw it back.
Major Major loses his canteen out of the cabin window, having assumed on (YC)'s goodwill.
2. Catch it, but keep it for yourself.
Major Major loses his canteen. The canteen is now (YC)'s. This will come up later.
3. Fumble the canteen. Do not pick it up.
Major Major stares at the fumbled canteen, then at (YC), then back at the canteen. He makes no move to pick it up, silently begging that someone at least pretend to respect his authority.
4. Catch OR fumble the canteen, pick it up. Refill at the sink.
The conversation continues on, Major Major resolute to pretend like favors are done for him all the time, that this is no big deal, but his posture radiates gratitude.
5. (YC) lets the canteen bounce off their arm, complains that their hands are full.
(YC)'s hands are not full. Major Major approaches to pick his canteen up, casting a glare that quickly dissolves into an apologetic wince.

And the 6th option would always be WILD CARD / other player's choice, like regular standard freestyle text RP, in case those other options suck or don't match Y/C's personality.

I would want to keep the options simple, and try to leave YC's motivations up to their writer to expand on, only really detailing how my character would react SO THAT the follow-up post can take MC's actions into account while YC has freedom of movement and speech in the scene.

So the reply could more ably 'move' MC w/o threat of godmodding or bunnying, having more confidence where Major Major would go / what his response would be (if any) to the exchange of actions.

Option 6 could be anything from 'dodges the canteen and screams like it was a grenade' to 'bats the canteen back like it's a volleyball' and then YC's post would have to end after that expressed action to give Major Major the reaction time / scene space to respond to SOMETHING LIKE THAT (screams, buying the bit; flinches, gets mad, insists on asking again but this time with a 'please').

Certain exchanges between people would naturally be short, and so in writing would require short posts, simply to give characters the elbow room to make their decisions, within the infinite possible reserve of decision-making available!

I love long posts but I hate robbing a character of the chance to REACT, and I think with the dialogue / action tree system that would sort of force me to slow down, to recognize when and where the decision-making events are, and just help the 'gamification' of the storytelling in between those super meaty emotions / atmosphere posts that I love so dang much.

The dialogue and action tree system could help with scene confusion or stagnation, too, letting your RP partner know that, while the post is short, you have a backlog of ideas attached to it that are just waiting for character input to advance. :D

"Why not just write your damn RenPy game and LEAVE US OUT OF IT??"

Listen sometimes people are allergic to math the way they're allergic to shellfish, in that they didn't know they were allergic to it until they ate way too much shellfish and landed in hospital about it. I still love shellfish, but it is Bad For Me; and I still love RenPy and homebrew things but the wizardry involved in programming is like drugs for my wizard brain, if drugs was also extremely tasty shellfish.

Shrimps on cocaine. Cocaine shrimps.
There is a part of the choose your own adventure in earlier gaming and books that this appeals to me. This also horrifies me as a free form rper who world builds. I think this would work much better for a home brew more D&D like setting.

Can i love hate the idea?
This is quite the idea and it actually sounds like a pretty fun mechanic to use in an RP. But honestly, I don't see too many players willing to adopt it or try it out.
oven Topic Starter

Some problems so far found:

-- The TENSE CHANGING in the option menu that feels like it should be 2nd person active present but that breaks tone with 3rd person present / past. i half edited to try and fix, it does not look pretty.

-- Alienating a writer from their own character development, narrowed choice lists that don't mesh with character theme.

-- Heavy lifting on every single possible choice-inducing reply post, exhausting the narrative flow where otherwise a backtracking 'recap' of events in the answering post would have done fine.

-- the choice lists become the 'spoilers' against which the writers feel the urge to rebel; maybe YC chucks an actual grenade at Major Major just to escape the existential despair of his own over-simplified narrative pathing, WHAT ABOUT THAT, HUH??

-- dangerously close to choose-your-own-adventure format

-- might inspire a writer to make their character do out of character things, for the laughs and/or drama, which in hindsight might not feel so fun

-- might spoil the suspense inherent to narrative freestyle RPs, idk I see the options lists as mostly good for conversations or cooperative actions, it'd still leave lots of room for introspec and character motive
oven Topic Starter

Masquerade wrote:
There is a part of the choose your own adventure in earlier gaming and books that this appeals to me. This also horrifies me as a free form rper who world builds. I think this would work much better for a home brew more D&D like setting.

Can i love hate the idea?

EHAHAHA EXACTLYYY

like... do i like improv theater? no... but i LOVE digital text roleplays ala Disco Elysium and can and will replay the heck out of the dragon age games just to explore EVURHY single possible character rxn to every single possible dialogue response (including the eeeevil ones).

wrong of me to bring that completionist energy to freestyle writtens, i know i know
oven wrote:
Masquerade wrote:
There is a part of the choose your own adventure in earlier gaming and books that this appeals to me. This also horrifies me as a free form rper who world builds. I think this would work much better for a home brew more D&D like setting.

Can i love hate the idea?

EHAHAHA EXACTLYYY

like... do i like improv theater? no... but i LOVE digital text roleplays ala Disco Elysium and can and will replay the heck out of the dragon age games just to explore EVURHY single possible character rxn to every single possible dialogue response (including the eeeevil ones).

wrong of me to bring that completionist energy to freestyle writtens, i know i know

I love the choice idea in a gaming sense From Zork text adventure of the 80's to the 90s Adveture Kings quest, sam and max, Grabille night, later games like Fable, good and evil, dragon age, Harvestmoon etc.

and to be fair there is a little bit of that going in my head when I am going large scale rps. I measure out a few different reactions in my head. BUT the idea of doing this in a free lance where you are actually writing these choices out seems Daunting...
oven wrote:
-- the choice lists become the 'spoilers' against which the writers feel the urge to rebel; maybe YC chucks an actual grenade at Major Major just to escape the existential despair of his own over-simplified narrative pathing, WHAT ABOUT THAT, HUH??
I have to be honest, I would fall into this trap sometimes LOOLL forgetting the 'coop' part of the game.

I think this would work well when someone is gm-ing.
Not necessarily like TTRPG style GMing, even just that specific portion of the story. Just for a little bit.
Part of a player's responsibility (I believe anyway) is to help drive story arcs, and sometimes that arc is being driven by someone else. Knowing how your RP partner wants you to pull some of those threads, but leaving room as to Y/C's motivation to choose any of those options work well.

Like, hey - M/C is about to share something that'll lead to another thing, but it'll only work if Y/C asks about it. And sometimes it works organically, but also, RP partners don't know me and can't read my mind, so it's not their fault if they picked up something else in the post and ran with that? Maybe it's not 'out of character' to not only respond with what immediately comes to mind for Y/C, maybe it's perfectly in character to explore what would motivate them to act in an option you hadn't considered, but your RP partner indicates for you would help move things a certain way.
oven Topic Starter

Knight:
I MEAN. YEAH. /SHRUG
the heart wants what the heart wants, brotherrr

Masquerade and Silent:

Disco Elysium has somewhat rewired my brain, like i want there to be designated DIALOGUE OPTION SCENES that amp up the stakes (or de-escalate the stakes for the lols) but only sometimes and usually in unexpected ways (you can fail an emotions check so hard you die, and if you've ever written a character with anxiety and drugs-induced vasculitis you know how goddamn REAL THAT IS lolololol)

i (Probably / definitely) don't want the mechanic to be an EVERY POST thing, but you know. slapstick. "roll for initiative", but built different. >D
oven wrote:
Knight:
I MEAN. YEAH. /SHRUG
the heart wants what the heart wants, brotherrr

Masquerade and Silent:

Disco Elysium has somewhat rewired my brain, like i want there to be designated DIALOGUE OPTION SCENES that amp up the stakes (or de-escalate the stakes for the lols) but only sometimes and usually in unexpected ways (you can fail an emotions check so hard you die, and if you've ever written a character with anxiety and drugs-induced vasculitis you know how goddamn REAL THAT IS lolololol)

i (Probably / definitely) don't want the mechanic to be an EVERY POST thing, but you know. slapstick. "roll for initiative", but built different. >D

yeah If I was a DM where I was working in a group rp I feel like yeah this would be fun. to sprinkle in. like you said roll int.
If anyone wants to experiment with this come join ussssssss
unironically i've actually done this before. not in like, a seventeen different choose your own adventure way, but just as a fun little way to incorporate little tidbits of dialogue without having to cut the post awkwardly short.

i guess an example is like...maybe Character A says something stupid as hell very matter-of-factly. i want to keep the post going, but what if Character B wants to ask for context on what they said? simple. i grab a collapse tag real quick.

"If Character B thought that Character A was a total dumbass and demanded context..."
then i would put Character A's response to it down here. if it's not something Character B would do, they can just keep reading and it's as though it never happened.
oven Topic Starter

Luscinioide wrote:
unironically i've actually done this before. not in like, a seventeen different choose your own adventure way, but just as a fun little way to incorporate little tidbits of dialogue without having to cut the post awkwardly short.

i guess an example is like...maybe Character A says something stupid as hell very matter-of-factly. i want to keep the post going, but what if Character B wants to ask for context on what they said? simple. i grab a collapse tag real quick.

"If Character B thought that Character A was a total dumbass and demanded context..."
then i would put Character A's response to it down here. if it's not something Character B would do, they can just keep reading and it's as though it never happened.

Like footnotes! 8D

yeah we're working some of the issues out rn.

the tricky part is in not limiting the reader to options for *their* character to do or say, so i've used it to personify the setting or inanimate objects -- so unlike the written example, one set of choices had to do with whether or not a piece of paper in the wind was caught by anyone

under one option which i spoilered what the receipt said, so further down the thread the reading character did eventually take up the paper and read it; the info was hanging out available in the thread but didn't have to interrupt the scene itself

like that, but with dialogue? 8D

this is such a thinker, gosh
I would love to be a lurker in this process, Oven.
I just had a neat idea to make this more interactive. If you want to make it more gamey maybe there can be a point system, and you can use points to perform more difficult actions, but you can also gain points by purposely failing task. A way to allow characters to do badass things while still keeping them flawed.

Could be fun to make a 10 candles kind of situation where it's a series of dominoes slowly falling over as the story progresses.
oven Topic Starter

Masquerade -- glad to have you on board, i've considered running the thread in the main cos it's rated gen anyway but ehhh >.> still too flawed / wobbly for broad public debut ahaha

RoundTableKing -- that sounds dangerously close to maths, to which i am disastrously allergic. you and anyone else can absolutely crib whatever off the idea and add twists, i don't own the dialogue/action tree mechanic lol (comrade)

else -- so far it does seem to work best for short action exchanges with repeating menus, but i wanna work out how it could apply to long character conversations too

:D
oven wrote:
Masquerade -- glad to have you on board, i've considered running the thread in the main cos it's rated gen anyway but ehhh >.> still too flawed / wobbly for broad public debut ahaha

Also no guarantees, our general chat turned NSFW, so like we're irresponsible adults is what we are
RoundTableKing wrote:
I just had a neat idea to make this more interactive. If you want to make it more gamey maybe there can be a point system, and you can use points to perform more difficult actions, but you can also gain points by purposely failing task. A way to allow characters to do badass things while still keeping them flawed
Failing forwards! Like blades in the dark. Some actions can't be successful unless criteria are met, but if you do them you don't necessarily FAIL, you just face consequences

I LOVE fail forward systems

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