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    What is on-grid?

    On-grid, in the context of a multi-user dungeon (MUD) setting, refers to events, actions, or interactions that occur in-character (IC) on the game map in areas accessible to other players.

    This term emphasizes the aspect of the game that is directly playable and interactive, where characters can meet, events can be witnessed, and actions can directly influence the course of the game.

    On-grid activities are contrasted with off-grid occurrences, which happen offscreen, in the background, or off the main map, thus not directly affecting the immediate gameplay or interaction between players.

    The term highlights the spatial and participatory aspects of MU* games, focusing on the importance of location within the game’s world for character interaction and narrative development.

    On-grid FAQs

    How does on-grid gameplay differ from off-grid?

    On-grid gameplay is marked by direct interaction and engagement within the game’s designated play areas, where players can encounter each other and engage in live roleplaying. Off-grid, in contrast, involves narrative elements or character actions that occur outside these interactive spaces, often used for background development or storylines not immediately accessible or interactive for all players.

    Can off-grid events influence on-grid actions?

    Yes, off-grid events can significantly influence on-grid actions and gameplay. While off-grid events occur outside the direct interaction space, they can set the stage for on-grid activities, drive plotlines, and affect character motivations and world dynamics that play out in the interactive areas of the game.

    How do players transition events from off-grid to on-grid?

    Transitioning events from off-grid to on-grid usually involves integrating the outcomes or consequences of off-grid actions into the live, interactive gameplay. This can be done through character dialogue, discovered items, in-game events that reveal what happened off-grid, or direct narrative intervention by the game’s storytellers.

    What is the significance of being on-grid for character development?

    Being on-grid allows for dynamic character development through direct interaction with other players and the game environment. It provides opportunities for characters to evolve based on live roleplaying experiences, decisions made in real-time, and the unpredictable nature of player interactions, which can lead to more nuanced and complex character arcs.

    See: Investment, stakes, and conflict in RPIs.

    How do game masters manage on-grid activities?

    Game masters manage on-grid activities by facilitating interactions, ensuring the game’s rules and narrative coherence are maintained, and sometimes orchestrating events that bring characters together. They might also monitor the game space for consistency, help resolve disputes, and guide overarching storylines to ensure a cohesive and engaging gameplay experience for all players.

    Myths about on-grid

    A common myth is that on-grid interactions are the only meaningful or important part of MU* games. While on-grid activities are crucial for direct interaction and engagement, off-grid elements also play a vital role in enriching the game’s world and backstory, adding depth and complexity to the overall narrative.

    Another common misconception is that only futuristic/sci-fi games have a “grid.” In fact, the grid refers to the game map in any style of MU*, regardless of the game’s setting.

    On-grid examples

    • Random encounters between characters in a city’s streets, leading to impromptu roleplaying sessions, alliances between clans, or conflicts.
    • A scheduled in-game event at a specific location on the map where players gather to participate in a festival, tournament, or battle.
    • A quest given by a non-player character (NPC) that leads players on an adventure across various on-grid locations, interacting with the environment and each other to achieve their objectives.

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    About the author

    Andruid is a writer, roleplayer, storyteller, and nerd who tries to live by Bill and Ted wisdom, i.e. "Be excellent to each other."