Your Walkthrough to Role Playing
By: Lost in the Void
I created this guide in hopes that it will help those, veterans and rookies alike, who have difficulty making characters and posting longer pieces to improve this and answer any questions that anyone might have about preparing a character and posting on the RP.
Creating Your Character
Now building a character is always a difficult thing. You want to be able to actually Role Play the character and not tear him away from his personality you have created. Now I realise every person Is different on how they create their characters, but the best way to make sure you stay in character, in my history of writing, is to base something loosely off a more extreme part of your personality, then refine it into a character that isn't just one dimensional. I will provide an example of this with a character design, based off someone who is a bitter person by nature:
Example Sheet 1
Name: Joshua Richardson
Always make a Name you like, this is something that is pure you, though make it easier for you to remember
something newer posters should do is stick close to their age, as it is easier to copy your own language habits. After a few RPs, you can play older people.
Now As with age, I would advise sticking with your own gender until you have played a few RPs, in order to better understand the acting and language of the opposite sex
Description: A taller man, with a frail build. His hair is brown, with green eyes, which always look slightly glazed over. His weak build is covered, normally in more elegant clothing, usually opting for a dressier looking shirt, with black dress pants. His hair is perfectly parted and groomed with no sign of stubble on his cheeks.
The more descriptive, the better; the more you say, the easier it is for the other characters to interact with your character and little details help make your character become more realistic adding to the experience.
Weapons, if needed: He carries a small 9mm with him. It's handle is very decorative, as it was a present from his father. He spent many days practicing with it, with his father.
Add a background to your weapons, if you wish to make it a personal weapon. It adds history to your character, as explains why he is good with that weapon.
Personality: Joshua is a very cynical and bitter person, stemming from the death of his father. He dislikes people, if needing to interact with them; he prefers small groups of people. He is slow to trust and even less likely to like you. If you manage to gain his trust, then you have a very loyal person on your side.
Personality is always the hardest to keep to. There isn't any reason you can't change the personality of your character later in the game, but develop the change, make an event that will make him commit to it. The last step is to make it a gradual change. People aren't perfect and they will lapse from their reforms once and a while and this adds to your character's realism
Bio: Joshua wasn't always as cynical as he is in the present day. As a child he was extremely optimistic about the world, and was always one to help someone in need. This changed as he hit middle school as he was always picked on by the bullies in his large school. Due to his pale and frail stature, he was the easiest target and the bullies made his life hell. His father took sympathy with him, and began to teach him defence. The two were often seen at the gun range to let off steam, of in the middle of a little play fight which was Joshua's favourite way to unwind after a day at school.
Life was great for the longest time and Joshua was almost happy for the first time since starting middle school. This all changed when his father was diagnosed with terminal cancer. Joshua was forced to watch as his father began to waste away from the disease, though never giving up his smile and happy spirit. After a year of watching, Joshua saw his father die; this made him into the cynic he is now, seeing good people die as easily as bad has done nothing to cure it.
When making a bio, make it purely about your character's history. Ask yourself the questions of why is he here? Why does he act like he does? What are his motivations for joining the story presented? Things like these create an excellent background that will make your character have some depth and explain to the other characters why he became what he did. Making a bio is like writing a real life, there needs to be logic and reason.
The Introductory Post
Alright now that you've created the sheet, it's time to make your introductory post. There doesn't need to be a set limit for this, but it should be at least one paragraph. Introduce your character, explain why he where you put him/her. You should also put some thought into what your character is doing and thinking. This works well when the GM has made it so that you've been recruited. I'm now going to make an example of an introductory post. The background is that of recruitment. Joshua has just gotten out of highschool and dropped out of college. He's currently upset with the shift work he is forced to do. All of a sudden he's about to get a note that may very well change his life. When making an intro post, feeling free to borrow off of what the GM has put for background, it makes it seem like you are in their world
Intro Post Example
It was just another day on the job. Another idiot customer and another bitch out by his boss; Josh was used to this of course, having worked in retail for most of his highschool life. That was supposed to change after graduation though; he was going to go to college and become a doctor to help those less fortunate than him. His father's medical bills had stopped that. Joshua knew that his father hated the fact that they were taking funds out of his college fund to pay for the treatments, but his mother would not let go of his father. Soon the money ran out, and the treatments stopped. Joshua's father had wasted away and then joined the void. What a waste, Joshua thought; though he loved his father, he knew that common sense said that they should have left the money alone, since it did very little good in the long run anyways.
Soon his own money had run out and he was forced to drop out of college; he couldn't afford the tuition anymore, and now here he was, back in retail hating his life. His boss was horrible, his co-workers annoying, and he didn't even want to think about the customers he was forced to work for everyday in this hell hole. Today was a slow day, and this is what caused Joshua to be thinking so much. Later he would go home and sit on his couch and watch TV and waste away the rest of the day, much like he did everyday; what a pathetic way to live. "Richardson," his boss's booming voice broke his concentration, "What the hell do you think you're doing daydreaming again; there are customer's to serve and I'll be damned if I'm keeping you here, when you're losing me money!"
As the boss ranted off, Joshua saw a note on his table, and ignoring the gruff man, opened and read the letter, Mr. Richardson, I give you the opportunity to change your life, to change your economic situation; if you are interested walk out of that store right now and move towards a better future for you.
Joshua smiled; there was nothing in this world that was keeping him here anyway. He was so frustrated with his life, he was willing to do anything to get out of this situation and if that meant dropping everything right now, dammit, he was going to go for it. His boss was still ranting and raving when Joshua put his finger to his lips to shush him. The boss stopped, startled and confused; nobody had interrupted him before, "Go fuck yourself," Joshua said, walking out of the store, middle finger in the air, and the smile still plastered on his face...
Now this Intro Post introduces the character Joshua, while placing some motivations for what he is doing, as well as adding to his already explained behaviour. This post allows for some closure early in, while building intrigue for what will happen next. The character isn't stealing the show from the GM, nor throwing in something that the GM may find questionable, such as a random gunfight in a robbery or something. This does stretch out a little, however does not appear to drag on. In my opinion, this should be the average length of your Intro post, if you want to go longer, go wild, but don't make it to the point where a person will now want to read through it. This can happen if you work too many details in, or just try to write a novel for the sake of trying to be the longest OP.
Now you've found your character accepted, you have written your introductory post and your Game Master is moving along the story. Now what do you do? You post. Now this does sound simple, but it is far from such. It can be difficult, but it doesn't have to be. When posting the basic questions should be answered: How do I react to the situation? Will it affect the other players in a negative way? Is the response plausible? Am I making myself clear on what I am about to do?
These questions are the most essential ones to make a good post. When writing these should be incorporated; if you skip these you can wind up with an inferior post. Now inferior doesn't mean short. There are times where one line of post is sufficient, such as answering a question that the GM poses to the players. This example is what a one line post should be like, if you are so inclined to put one. Note that one word answers should never be used. The situation is after a GM asks his players if they want to go into the cave:
Post Example 1
Gm: Alright, I can see a cave from here. It looks a little bit dangerous, but I've heard some rumours that there is an awesome treasure in there, worthy of any King. If we can get that, we're going to be rich forever. What do you guys think, is it worth going in there?
Player: A chance to gain a kingdom of riches, any person against it would be a fool. I say we go for it.
These kinds of posts are great for answering small questions but should not become the norm of your posting habits. Instead focus on some minor details and dialogue, at least thought dialogue when posting a standard post. The next example is the player's reactions to the interior of the cave they are about in enter. This should be about the amount of thought to be put into the post:
Post Example 2
As Joshua walked into the cave, he was blown away at the beauty of it. Even a cold heart, such as his was warmed at the sight of the water reflecting off the shimmering rock of the cave. The cave was cool, a subtle breeze rolling throughout it, and raising goose bumps on his skin, "So this is beauty," Joshua said aloud, though not intending to. While the others gave him a puzzled look, he returned to his thoughts from before, continuing to marvel at the beauty presented before him.
The post isn't a novel in itself, but allows the other players to see from the character's point of view. There is some vivid details, an insight into Joshua's thought process and the awkwardness of being different from the others. While there was some very minor character control, when he made the other people look at him strangely, it didn't affect the others in a major way, and avoided singling out one person out of the group. This is one of the best ways to make an all-around general post, while avoiding the single sentences that add nothing to the story or setting that the RP is taking place in. Posts like the above keep the RP fresh and help motivate the GM to write more.
Next we move onto combat posts. These posts are very difficult to write, because if not done right, can make your character seem over powered or end up destroying the enemy faster than the GM intended while spoiling the fun for the other characters. When writing a combat post; ask yourself the following questions: Is my character acting more powerful than he should? Am I destroying any chance for other players to post? Is this enemy going to respond to my attack and if so how will it respond? Combat posts should usually go as follows, unless you have the GM's approval to kill the beast, or everyone has had a chance to contribute to the destruction of the enemy. The following example takes place as the players are exploring the cave and some bandits attack them. The GM has specified that there are 8 bandits and four players, thus you must assume there is two bandits per person. The post reflects as such:
Post Example 3
The bandits charged the group, and seeing they outnumbered the group, set on trying to overpower them. Joshua found himself facing two of the bandits. One of them, a hairy bastard, swung his sword at Joshua, who barely parried it with the hilt of the pistol, sparks flying from it. Joshua then lined up the shot, while the bandit was reeling from the block, and fired a couple shots into the bandit's chest, Why are they using swords? he thought to himself, interrupted by the second goon tackling him to the ground, his pistol flying across the cave floor. The goon was bigger than Josh and set to pummelling his face in, using his heavy fists like hammers, and pounding into his face.
Joshua was lost, he didn't know what to do, and this coupled with the goon beating his face in, didn't give him much thinking. Luckily, that is when the adrenaline kicked him, and caused a bit more clear thinking for Josh. He saw a knife on the dead goon's body and stretched for it, feeling his muscles scream in protest. He just got his fingers on it, and clenched his fist around the blade, and swung it wildly. It sank into the bandit's eye, causing him to roar in pain. Joshua kicked the goon off of his body, and sprang up slashing the man open. After the man sank to the floor, Joshua felt the adrenaline leave his body. He saw the blood oozing from the dead bandit; "Oh god," Joshua retched, and collapsed to the floor of the cave, afraid he may be sick.
Now with post I eliminated the enemies facing me, but without going into a "God Mode" and maintaining the flaws of my character. Since he was a weaker build of a man, it made it easier for a large bandit to overpower him. There must be flaws in a character's combat. He can take injuries and you have to make him improvise. This creates a fresher combat experience and makes it more fun for you and the rest of the players.
The PvP Section
Player vs Player Roleplaying combat is a little different than your average combat. With PvP there has to be an unspoken agreement between all the players to avoid any trenchcoating or Mary Sueing. These can be avoided by following some basic posting guidelines. When playing a PvP RP you want to ask yourself the questions: Am I making it impossible for the other player to retaliate? Is this too much for one person to do legitimately? Is this something that the GM or player I'm fighting resent me for? Now it is granted in a PvP that someone is going to be defeated. This raises a lot of issues for players in this branch of RPing because nobody wants to die and lose their characters. The good news is that your players don't always die in combat, rather they could be defeated after an epic battle and left, or one of the players may retreat. When it comes time for your character to die, you must learn to accept it in good grace, and make a new one if the GM allows it. Of course, we must also ask ourselves how we would post in something that could guarantee our defeat, or the defeat of the other character. The key is realism and tactfulness. A post in a PvP RP could go as such. The situation is as follows. After fighting their way through bandits and thieves, the explorers find themselves facing the leader of the bandits, who happens to be the next player. Instead of Joshua Richardson, I'll be playing another character more suited for a sword, whose name is Jennifer. Jennifer is a compassionate character only killing when it is necessary. She has one katana and is very agile, whereas the bandit leader is a large built man with dual greatswords. The situation occurs as follows: The bandit leader has scattered the team and is going after Jennifer; this is how she responds...
Post Example 4
Jennifer ducked as one of the greatswords rushed through the air that had her body had just occupied. Back flipping away from the danger she raised her katana ready to fight. The large man charged her and knocked her to the ground before he could gain her ground. She redirected one of his mighty swings with her katana and rolled to dodge the other, which caught her slightly on her right leg, drawing blood. She shakily stood up only to be knocked down again. She slashed quickly, cutting her opponent's arm slightly causing him to rear back a little, giving her some time for recovery.
This post is a general example of what a PvP post should look like. You can injure your opponents, but expect retaliation to the point where you can't keep dodging out of the way. The balance between the two fighters is what keeps the post fresh and at the same time, leaves some of the combat to the other player. In an ideal situation, he will respond with a similar type of fight and this can continue until the GM decides who loses
Game Master Guide
So you've Rped a few times, gotten to learn the basics and generally have been enjoying yourself. Your problem is that you haven't found a world that you've loved; you want to create your own or create your own twist on a world you've seen before. This is when the questions start to arise. Where do I start? What kind of world do I create? How do I create a world? These and more questions will be answered in this Section of the RP Guide.
Creating a Universe
When creating your own universe, there must be a certain degree of detail put into it. It doesn't have to be a novel, but there should enough detail in the description to allow the players of the RP to understand where the RP is taking place and create their characters around this. To demonstrate, I'll be using the first post from Maddawg IAJI and Sky14kemea's RP: Down Under:
As you can see there is only a few paragraphs that set the tone and setting for their RP, but it is enough for a player to establish where the RP is taking place, what the characters will basically be doing and allows them to make a Character Sheet. The GM also manages to keep the majority of the plot secret from the player, while revealing a basic skeleton of the events that will take place during the RP, in this case paranormal warriors in the 1930's replacing an old team set up by this "Herman" that has been forced into retirement by his superiors. This is a great example of a universe that works, while not becoming an intimidating wall of text that newer RPers and some more experienced ones will not be interested in reading the entirety of. While detail is important, too much can handicap the amount of applicants you receive in the RP recruitment process, so a tried and true method is to, instead develop the world as you go through the story itself and immerse the players in an exciting world and story, inspiring them to post as well. This does well to not only keep the RP moving at a steady pace, but for the player to take a proactive role in developing the world around them.
Your Opening Post
After creating the universe your RP is taking place in and gathered the amount of characters you are going to have in your RP, you have to begin the RP. The opening post is one of, if not the most important part of this. This kicks off the RP, but also establishes the GM's character, if there is one, as well as the immediate setting for the other characters to introduce their characters into the RP. Again as with most starting things in a RP, details are important as it gives the players an idea of where to go from when adding their own OPs into the RP. A good length is 500-1000 word. Though I usually do not like to set word limits for certain aspects of an RP, the word limit in this case has been from general observance of RP and what seems to be the best length for setting off an RP without boring the player from the start with a 2000-3000 word wall of text. Again we will be borrowing from the RP Down Under and the OP that Sky14kemea presents the players in the RP:
This OP was largely character introduction, bringing in the GM's primary character and its reason for being in the area that it starts in. There is also a bit of background of the setting for the other players to begin introducing their characters and starting the RP off. Though there seems to less than optimal amounts of setting in this OP, which is because of the duel GMing between maddawg IAJI and sky14kemea. This style of GMing will be covered in the Advanced Tactics section of this guide. Because of the dual GMing, there are two Ops, the second of which introduces the other GM's character and focuses more on setting in this case:
This OP focused on introducing the primary setting as well as introducing that GM's primary characters. It also built up a bit of back story allowing for the players to take a glimpse at what had happened in the past to understand why the events of the RP were playing out as they were.
Creating a Story
Your story is the most important part of your RP without story, your RP has nowhere to go and thus will fall between the cracks. Since it is pretty impossible to give an example of story without doubling the length of this guide, I sat down with two Escapist Members sky14kemea and NewClassic to talk about stories and RPs
Types of RPs and Creating them
Free Form Role-Playing
Free Form Role-Playing is the most common form of role-playing on this site and usually focuses on plot and character development. The GM borrows or creates his/her universe and sets up a basic plot premise that is used to generate interest for the RP. By universe we mean a setting for the RP to take place. This setting can be as simple as a couple words, such as using something well known to a demographic, such as Bioshock's Rapture, or if you are feeling extremely creative you can use your own universe. This kind of Roleplaying does not usually contain stats or dice rolls, but rather relies on fighting enemies in a manner of story writing, as indicated in the writing section above this one. This kind of RP for telling a story, getting the players active in joining in the story telling process and enjoying a creative story that emerges from the minds of many people at once. As a GM, you should lay a framework of where you want the story to go, than set your players on their way. Though you retain a little linearity to keep the players moving along the story, half the enjoyment of the RP can be had in character interaction and the process of moving through the story, thus a little openness in the story is only beneficiary to the RP.
A story based Rp, while sounding like it would be like the Free Form RP, actually deviates quite a bit from its cousin. The story based RP is one written by 5-6 players, usually involving a large amount of character control and liberties taken by each writer. The reason for this is the length of which each player makes their posts. Each player writes a section of the RP, usually broken into parts of a single chapter. Each player creates one character that will be involved in the story, but will only control the character, as well as everyone else's during their writings in the RP. Though you have to forsake some freedoms of your character in this RP, due to the other player's writings, it also gives you a freedom to write as you please, though keeping it within the story at the same time. You are able to create a section of a beautiful story, that when read by any other people, will flow from section to section and chapter to chapter.
When deciding to GM and create this type of RP, you are asking for a large commitment from your player base and must be willing to take steps to ensure the flow of this type of RP. A few basic guidelines are as follows:
1. Make sure you have a loyal player base that won't forsake the RP because it is too slow or turns out to not be what they are looking for. This kind of RP might be an exclusive to those RPers with more experience, though if a newer RPer impresses you, don't hesitate to let them in.
2. An extensive backstory to the RP. The players could be writing something that you've created entirely, meaning that they won't have the reference to write that you do. Thus you must create a background that brings out much of the universe to allow the players to better write for the RP.
3. Lengths for the posts. In a Story based RP, there will not be near as much posting done as in a free form RP. Players will be doing the equivalent of near 50 or so posts in one go, thus there must be a length requirement, usually ranging in the area of 1000 words.
4. A time requirement. Since this RP relies on one poster at a time, there must be a limit set for players to get their pieces into the RP. Using NewClassic's That Bites RP as an example, each player has ten days to get their pieces into the RP after that the punishments begin.
Using these tips, one can begin to assemble a Story-Based RP, one of the RPs that is a joy for even a non-player to simply stop by and browse, as it is usually an excellent story with well fleshed out characters.
The True RPG
The True RPG is an RP where there is only one character and one story writer, the GM itself. Though the GM is the one doing all the writing regarding the story, the decisions are made by the player base, who votes in the various situations that the character finds him/herself in. Each time the character takes part in any action in the RP, there are decisions to make and he GM presents these to the players to vote on. Once a majority is reached, the GM writes out a piece, based off of the decisions the players have made and leaves them more choices to decide on.
When creating one of these RPs, the major concern you have is simply updating the RP regularly and building interest with it. Since players can just drop in or out of voting, you do not need to worry about a large player base to keep the story going, though it does make it more interesting.
The story can be made up as you go, but a basic framework always helps make the RP move smoother because of the ease it makes creating decisions for the players to view and vote.
By following these steps, one can ensure a fun, interesting experience that is almost completely player decided with the True RPG
Writers Block Section
This section was one of the hardest ones to write so far, as writer's block is something that can affect all writers for any period of time. However everyone's policy for dealing with Writer's block is different, but some people can share common ways of getting rid of writer's block. Thus this section is going to have to have some serious User contribution to it. Anyone who posts on this thread after reading it should leave how they get rid of their writer's block. There is no wrong answer of course and you will be helping your fellow RPers with each bit of guidance you have for them. In this section , until I receive some contributions, you will find some of the common ways I get rid of writer's block when it rears its ugly head.
The first thing one must ask themselves when they are stricken with writers block is what they want to do with that post. Is that post meant to move the plot? Is it character development? Is the post simply filler to let everyone know that your character is still in the RP? After you have asked yourself these questions, you can go about solving the problem of your writer's block. When beginning your post, keep the previous questions in mind, as you type, sometimes you need to skip on the smaller details to simply move along the plot or just get your character from point A to point B. Instead of creating a book on what colour the trees are in the forest are, just post that you're traveling through the forest, add some basic thoughts, maybe why you're in the forest, when you're going to be through it and such questions as that. With a little polish after you're done all that, your post should be healthy enough of size to post it and you'll have gotten past writer's block for the time being.
There are times; however when just asking questions isn't working and more extreme measures must be taken. I find that the best way is to clear ones head before writing. The ways I do this are listening to music, going for walks or drives, or even reading a book or playing a video game. Sometimes all you need is a distraction from what you're writing about at the time and this can be achieved through activities that consume most of your thought. The reason I advocate distraction is because sometimes brainstorming can be your worst enemy. While it is useful sometimes all it does is frustrate the writer, which can lengthen the amount of time spent trapped in writer's block. So take your dog for a walk, finish that novel or game that's been irritating you for the last week, it'll take your mind off of your frustration and writer's block and in extreme cases will actually inspire you to write, I know it's worked for me before.
Advanced Tactics Section