Hints and Tricks for Roleplays: Hosting and Writing
This guide was originally written by raey
Creating a roleplay is not hard, but creating a roleplay that runs well and is not going to die after a few weeks can be a challenge. There are a lot of factors determining if a roleplay is running well or not. Sometimes even a roleplay with a great plot can die. And as much as we all want to have it, there is no magic way to make sure that your roleplay won’t die.
However, there are tips that can help you to start in best possible way and a few tricks to keep your roleplay running.
This guide explains the most important basics on how to create a roleplay and provides some tips and tricks for roleplaying. You are always free to vary the elements in the way you want and prefer.
Furthermore you will find some general tips and tricks to make your roleplay appealing to others – and some tips for roleplaying in general.
- 1 General Elements
- 2 The Plot
- 3 The Intro
- 4 The World
- 5 Organization
- 6 Title and Additional Elements
- 7 Tips and Tricks
If you take a look at the different roleplays on CS you might see that nearly every roleplay shares a common structure.
There is the Intro, telling you about the plot. You find the rules of the roleplay and an overview about the existing roles and open character slots. Some might provide additional information or even pre-made forms. And while there might be differences from roleplay to roleplay—in the end there is always the common thread of cooperative story telling.
This is basically a step-by-step guide on how a roleplay is built.
I recommend from my own experience that it is a) handy and b) appealing to the eye if you create a new post at the start of the topic for each of the “parts” of a roleplay.
If you choose to cram it all into one big post at the beginning, it can quickly get very long and very hard for people to find the information they're looking for.
Therefore I highly recommend creating one post for the Intro, one for the Details and so on. Your first post with the Intro can include navigation links then, allowing users to quickly jump to whatever section they need.
The Intro should provide a short overview of the roleplay and plot.
You can provide more details about the plot and ideas you have for the roleplay here.
3. Rules and Expectations, News, Updates
Rules are very important and you are able to clarify more details about what a user can expect from your roleplay (i.e. literacy).
Updates are not necessary but they can be quite handy.
4. Characters, Users, Forms
This part should serve to keep track of all participating writers. You can link their forms and everyone can see how man open places you still have.
Furthermore you can set expectations for the forms the users should provide, or you can even create a pre-made form you want them to use.
5. Everything additional (world/surrounding; ceremonies; prophecies; etc.)
Additional information is not always necessary, yet a roleplay with more depth may help keep the story entertaining.
This can include basics such as details about the world and surrounding your roleplay is set in. Or it can display coming prophecies in certain roleplay worlds.
6. Reserved Spot
It is always a good idea to keep at least one post reserved. Just in case something has to be added afterwards.
Before you post your intro you have to think of a plot. The plot is the most important thing and in most cases the plot decides if a roleplay will endure longer or if users will quickly lose interest, sometimes even without anyone joining at all.
It is incorrect to speak of “good” and “bad” plots, but there are plots which work better than others.
There are different categories of plots:
3. Fandom (based upon a book, movie, TV series, comic, etc.)
Sometimes realistic and fantasy plots are summed up as “original plots” as they are not based on a pre-existing storyline. However, a lot of fandom based roleplays have started to include original parts to their own roleplay to provide a different experience from other roleplays in the same fandom, so it is not an accurate term.
Our roleplay forum is separated in different sections for humans/humanoids and animals. Therefore I am going to list some common plots in each section.
Human and Humanoid Roleplays
1. Human (Realistic)
- Teen & Young Adult Romance or Romantic Drama
- High School / College
- Summer Vacation / Spring Break adventures
- Arranged Marriage
2. Human/Humanoid (Fantasy)
- Fantasy Creature Academy / School
- Werewolves, Shifters, Vampires, Zombies, etc.
- Magicians / Wizards
- Historical / Medieval Fantasy setting
- “Anime” worlds
3. Human/Humanoid (Fandom-based)
- Oldies: Camp Half Blood, Superheroes (Marvel, DC, etc.), Harry Potter, Hunger Games
- New rising plots: Undertale, Homestuck, Gravity Falls, Star Wars
Animal and Fantasy Creature Roleplays
1. Animal (Realistic)
- Stray Dogs/Cats
- Horses (Ranch or Wilderness)
- New rising: Mixed Roleplays (Parks, Zoos, etc.)
2. Animal/Fantasy Creature (Fantasy)
- Animals with powers / wings
3. Animal/Fantasy Creature (Fandom-based)
- Warrior Cats
- New rising: Wings of Fire
Advanced and Private Roleplays
1. Advanced/Literate Forums
- here you will generally find all the plots which are running well in the other sections too
- exception: in the Human/Humanoid forum you will usually find more historical storylines
2. 1x1/ Invite-Only
- none (this forum includes private roleplays only and there is every kind of different plot to be found there)
The first step to create your plot is to settle on a rough topic.
What kind of roleplay do you want to do? Romance? Fantasy? Fandom?
Once you know that you can go on and go into detail.
Ask yourself the following questions:
- What happened before the story begins? What is in the past?
- What do you want to happen? What is the main conflict of the story?
- Are there any side-conflicts? (Smaller problems)
Do's and Don'ts
- Include the other characters from the beginning.
- Provide space for ideas from the other roleplayers.
- Have the plot keep characters together so they can continue interacting.
- Have a plan for how to keep the plot going once the initial conflicts are resolved. (New challenges/goals?)
- Don't take all important roles in the plot for your own character(s). While it can be helpful to have one character who is in a powerful role to keep the roleplay on track, make sure other players have a chance to be in the center of the action.
- Don't create one-dimensional plots (only war or only romance can easily be boring).
- Don't separate the characters completely, they should have a chance to interact.
A good plot always provides enough freedom for the users to get personally involved. As soon as everything is detailed out into the last edge it can become a little bit confining for writers. If you leave space for members to bring in ideas the plot can evolve and become more and more entertaining for all writers.
Once your plot is set you can go and post your intro.
The goal is to make your intro as appealing as possible to other users. In the end it is the intro which makes an interested writer decide if they want to scroll down and learn more about the roleplay or not.
To make the intro appealing to others you do not need to be able to code (but if you are interested in coding you can find some links and tips for coding here).
What to include
- Header: This can be the title or an extended title of your roleplay; it can include song lyrics or quotes—whatever you can think of. The header is useful to give the writers a first spotlight at what is about to come.
- Plot: You should not write down your whole plot here. Especially with original roleplays this would end in a very long post which often appears unappealing as many do not want to read a long text right at the beginning.
Instead try to write a short summary, or write a little scene introducing the world or the happenings which lead to the situation now. Many try to include in independent character leading the reader into the world.
- Navigation: This is not a must-have, but it is really handy. Navigation only means that you link the posts to come (Rules, Characters, World, etc.). That way a user can easily jump to the post they are interested to read without the need to scroll.
Tips for your intro
- Length: Keep it short, users are lazy and don’t like to read a whole short story in the intro.
- Information: Do not tell everything right away. Make it exciting. Secrets always make it more interesting and lead to users being more willing to read more about your plot and what you have planned.
- Coding: Coding is a rising trend on CS. And while some prefer to stick with the basics, others prefer fancy coding. But keep in mind not to overload your intro with coding, this can be distracting. Besides it is not the coding but your idea and the plot, which should be in the center of your roleplay.
The world is, after the plot, the most important section of your roleplay.
Depending on the topic of your roleplay your world could be a small city, a high school, a forest, a desert, or a whole planet. Describing the setting is useful to help roleplayers visualize the world their characters will fit in. The surrounding may not only influence the plot but also the characters themselves, especially how they see what happens around them.
By now you already have decided on a plot, so you have a basic idea about where your roleplay is set. A high school romance roleplay is obviously based in a high school so you might want to describe what the school looks like. A wolf pack is most likely set in a forest so it is useful to describe the forest: what kind of trees are growing there, how does the camp look?
Fantasy roleplays are often a bit more complicated and tend to take more time to create, as you have a whole world to make up. This does not necessarily require thousands of words, describing every detail. Instead it is more important that the users who want to join can imagine a basic picture of the world. If it is a desert planet you could describe that the cities are made out of red sand and stone, or maybe describe an oasis.
There are a few questions you can use to create your world (you do not have to use them all, even though the more you use, the better the users can imagine how the world/setting should be).
- What is the general set-up?
As already mentioned before this includes a basic overview of the world/setting your roleplay is placed in.
- Which regions do you have?
This can be classrooms, whole cities or wide areas. Sometimes it can be useful to draw a map if you plan on having a wide territory with different places of action for the characters.
- Which species are living there?
This includes fantasy creatures, different races of humans, mammals and plants (yes, the flora is very important too).
- Technological Advancement?
Are there any specialties in technology? In a medieval world you do not have smartphones. Or maybe your world shares a steampunk theme and is very mechanic?
- What culture do you find?
Politics, ceremonies, or magical meetings might be important to your roleplay. All of this belongs in the culture section. Make yourself aware how the world works. A roleplay based on the Warriors books have very clear ceremonies and roles. A Hunger Games roleplay is determined by the existence of the different districts.
Always introduce the culture as it influences the users in the way they create their character (i.e. the districts in the Hunger Games determine how a character grew up, which job they have and therefore play a big part in the personality and history).
Try to find a good balance. Too many descriptions and details might not be read by everyone. If you want you can always use images to make it easier to imagine the world/setting (and save some time) – but make sure that you are allowed to use these images.
For more information about which images you are allowed please check out our Image Guides here and here.
Rules are important.
I am aware that some might not be a big fan of rules, but they are necessary to determine the basic outlines. Therefore it is vital that they are worded polite and friendly; no one likes harsh and bossy rules.
Furthermore as the owner of a roleplay you can always set expectations and limits there (literacy, number of characters, if you want romance or not, etc.).
There are a few basics which always should be included:
- Stick to the forum rules
This might sound unnecessary, but it is important that everyone is reminded of our rules. Breaking these can cause a lot of trouble and pain for all participants. It’s generally not necessary to include any rules the forum already covers in the post; it just makes it longer to read.
- Your writing expectations
This includes the writing level.
Do you have a beginner roleplay where it is totally fine to write one sentence?
Do you have a semi-lit or advanced roleplay, where you expect the members to write one-two paragraphs with proper spelling, grammar and punctuation?
Or do you have a literate roleplay where you expect at least 500+ words?
This includes how many characters every user is allowed to have and where the forms should be posted. Many roleplays have a discussion thread in the respective 'general' roleplay forum where forms are kept.
If you want forms sent first via PM, please state this here too.
Furthermore it is sometimes possible to reserve a character spot. If you allow reservations, you should state how many days a reservation lasts for.
Last but not least you should state if your roleplay is an auto-accepted roleplay, where the users can start to roleplay once they posted their forms, or if they need to be accepted by you first.
OOC means "Out of Character"; when you write a post from yourself instead of from your character's perspective. OOC includes every form of discussion and is used as a method of communication between the members of a roleplay.
OOC is a good way to encourage the participants to put in effort in the roleplay and help with forming and moving the plot, as they can discuss their plans/ideas together.
You can decide if you want to allow OOC in your roleplay thread, or if you prefer that everything discussion related is posted in a separate discussion thread.
It is important to remind the users to be polite towards the other members, and to not power-play and god-mod. Rude and controlling roleplayers might ruin the fun for everyone else.
Of course you can add a lot more to your rules if you consider it necessary.
I highly recommend making an extra post solely for the characters involved in your roleplay.
The first step is to set the roles available. Roles vary depending on the type of roleplay.
A wolf pack roleplay usually has the typical Alpha, Beta, Omega, Healer structure while a Warriors roleplay goes with Leader, Medicine Cat, Warriors and so on.
In human/humanoid roleplays roles could be “The Nerd, The Popular, etc.” for a high school roleplay; or “King, Queen, Knight, Blacksmith, etc.” for a roleplay set in the middle ages.
The next step would be to determine if there are limited or unlimited spots.
If you go with limited spots it is important that you state the exact number of open spots.
From my own experience I can say that limited spots work best for semi-lit, advanced, and literate roleplays. Unlimited spots can be quite confusing in literate roleplays but work quite well for beginner roleplays where the writers are often new to roleplaying and trying out a lot of different characters.
Additionally you can decide (if you are doing a roleplay based on a movie, book or series) if the characters should be OC (original characters) or canon (characters directly from the fandom).
Another important note for this part is the character forms.
If you want the users to make up their own forms please state this in the rules. Otherwise you can always provide a pre-made form.
These are the basics which should be included in a form:
- Role (this point depends on what kind of roleplay you have)
- Additional (i.e. magical abilities)
To read more about creating characters please read the How to Create a Roleplay Character guide.
News & Updates
The News & Updates post can be used for the following things:
- Important announcements
- Changes in the plot
- Updates on the current members
Title and Additional Elements
Of course every roleplay needs a title, but choosing one is not always easy.
You should decide on a title after you've finished defining your plot and the world. You might think of a title the moment you start, but once you've gone through the process of world/plot development your title might not suit the story anymore, so be ready to change it.
Your title should be a hint of what lies ahead, without giving too much information away. Yet you should try to include the most important information.
That title says what the roleplay is about – obviously a roleplay based on the Warriors novels, but it is not really interesting and would probably be passed without taking a closer look. If you instead write something like “A New Dawn (Warriors)” users will still know that this is a Warrior Cat roleplay, yet it sounds a lot more interesting and writers might be curious what lies behind that title.
2. “Highschool Romance”
Just like in the example above this title hold all information, but is not really appealing.
If you choose “Chase of Hearts (Highschool RP)” you again show all important information and still keep it interesting.
- Proper capitalization: Important words and names get capitalized while fillers like “and, of, or, the...” stay small.
- Pretty letters and symbols are allowed to be used, but please do not over-use them, this only gets confusing and hard to read. Also, they make it so users cannot search for your roleplay in the site’s search function, so you may get less interest.
- If your title doesn’t show the genre of the roleplay it’s a good idea to include a description in parentheses in the title to help users find a roleplay they like and gain a little advertisement when the roleplay shows up on the home page.
- It’s also a good idea to include whether your roleplay is open to new members or not in the title. Additionally some titles will state whether the roleplay has started or not.
Additional elements are not a must have; yet they are able to give the roleplay more depth, provide more information and push the plot forward.
Some ideas for additional elements:
- Prophecies & Omens
- Vocabulary (i.e. Warrior Cats have a lot of special vocabulary like two-legs for humans)
...and more (there are no limits for your imagination)
Tips and Tricks
The first post of every member, once the roleplay is starting, is very important. These often decide if the roleplay is going to run well or not.
It is very important not to take too much control for yourself, and make sure you let every roleplayer have a chance to slip into the plot. I have experienced that sometimes the founder starts their roleplay with a post which leaves only a small space for interacting and freedom from the other roleplayers.
Try to include the other characters without power-playing them. Therefore it is totally fine if your first post is a bit shorter but gives enough space for the other characters to join in.
I am saying this because the start of a roleplay is important. If it seems well managed from the start good the writers are more likely to stick to the roleplay. However a first post can easily drive away writers if they do not feel comfortable because they are limited in their own creative freedom. In this case they are more likely to drop and allow the roleplay to die.
Since coding has started to become a huge part of the roleplaying forums and a lot of users want forms which are coded well here are some links to help you coding for both you character forms and your roleplay.
- Colours & Symbols
- BBCode Guide
- Signature Tutorial
- Coding Shops
Important note: BBCode cannot be copyrighted!
BBCode is a rather simple markup language which provides only limited ways of coding/formatting a form. Therefore, all BBcode is easily reproduced. While we encourage everyone to think of a layout on their own, it can happen that another user has a form which looks really similar to yours by coincidence. Please do not get upset if that happens, as it's quite possible that they thought of the same design on their own.
How to keep your roleplay running
This is probably the most important part of the whole guide.
You have put a lot of effort in creating your roleplay and of course you want it to be successful and active. So how do you do that?
One thing I highly recommend for every roleplay: A discussion thread.
We have an extra part on the roleplay forums which allows you to post a discussion thread for your roleplay. You should definitely take this opportunity.
There are two reasons why I recommend this:
1. You are creating some breathing space between the roleplay itself, and everything else. You can even ask the members to post their forms there instead of in the roleplay thread.
2. OOC/Communication: A roleplay does not work without OOC (Out Of Character) discussion.
I do not mean your personal chats with the other roleplayers (this should be kept in PMs, not in the discussion thread).
With OOC I mean in this case general communication about things affecting the roleplay. A roleplay will never work without communication between the different members. This communication may be a note that you are going to be inactive for a while because you are sick or on vacation, or could be that you're sharing a new idea for the plot of the story.
In any case you need to talk about what could happen in the future. Which relationships could form? Are there any troubles or maybe holes in the plot, which need to be filled?
While the plot might be settled there is always the possibility to change it if you feel it is not working out the way you imagined it to. In that case too it is necessary to talk to you fellow writers and work out a plan or brainstorm together.
With a discussion thread everyone gets included, and chemistry between the writers is good because if they all feel involved the roleplay is more likely to endure.
This leads me to the last point:
Conflicts are important and necessary to keep the plot rolling. Whether it is a prophecy you are introducing, or maybe a natural catastrophe.
Conflicts keep up the interest as the characters are forced to adapt and evolve with the plot, which is a great challenge, and entertaining for everyone.
As already mentioned it is important that these conflicts are decided by the whole group. If all users are working on an idea together they are more likely to put their muse in it and will try everything to prevent the roleplay from dying.
Don’t be afraid to “time-skip” ahead to the action if the roleplay is losing steam after the characters are introduced.