How to Create a Roleplay
NOTE: Made by emgeal and edited as appropriate.
Disclaimer: There is no "right" way to roleplay. The rules given may be helpful for new roleplayers, but are by no means the only way. There are exceptions to every rule just like with grammar rules.
What will be discussed in this guide: Plot: How to create a good plot idea and what to watch out for. Rules: What rules are necessary? How many is too many? Character Sheets: A necessary evil or a blessing in disguise? Your Character: What to watch out for. Your Introduction: How to set the stage of your roleplay.
Plot and World
In this section I will go over: The three types of plot How to choose a good plot The basic types of worlds How to choose the world How to describe the world
There are three basic types of RP plots: 1. Book or Movie based 2. Original 3. Nonexistent.
Book or Movie
This is a plot based either in the same world as a book/movie, having the same characters as the book/movie, or having the same plot, a common example on the forums are "Warrior cat" roleplays. All roleplays based on books/movies should go into one of two boards: "Human/Humanoid Role Plays (Fandom-based)" or "Animal Role Plays (Fandom-based)."
1. The world is already set; people know the restrictions of that world without asking. It leaves you less work to do on setting a scene and often minimises confusion between participants. For example there is not "magic' in Pokemon except for the pokemon themselves. There are set Pokemon that exist.
2. People might join because they are interested in the series. It's a good way to catch people's eye.
3. It can be a lot of fun taking something you love and writing about it. It's like interactive fan fiction without the criticism.
1. You automatically limit who can join. If someone hasn't read the book then they aren't likely to join.
Quick Fix: Try to start with a series that is well known. You can also summarize the series or post a link to an episode that summarizes it in the beginning.
2. If people play the actual characters from the series then you run into the problem of someone playing them poorly. If someone sees their favourite character doing something they don't think they'd do they might become upset. It's a fight waiting to happen.
Quick Fix: Make it against the rules to play a cannon (in the series) character. State in the rules that nobody can play a cannon character perfectly and if they can't say anything nice, they shouldn't say anything at all. Only approve character sheets that fit the character extremely well. Look for people to play them that will be dedicated to the role.
For this type of plot you invent everything: the setting, the types of characters, and the plot.
1. Anybody can join. Everyone has the same amount of information about the world.
2. People can play any character they feel like. They can explore the boundaries of the world you presented.
1. If the plot is too complicated, or contains too many new concepts, people may become confused and not join.
Quick Fix: Keep it simple. This may mean forsaking a few of the finer details that you may have fallen in love with. Pick and choose what is important about the world. Extra details can always be integrated with the plot once people have the grasp of it. Put extra effort into describing things in simple terms. Remember that although it may make sense to you, other's haven't got the ability to peer into your head and see what you're thinking. The clearer you can present your ideas, the more likely people will join. Example: The mages (any person who uses magic) are at war with the zulta (anyone with demonic blood) over the mana fields (places where magic is especially easy to use). If you use a lot of terms have a summary or list at the bottom of your first post or in the second post. That way people can look back if they forget what a term means.
2. There is almost never a time when the person starting explains everything about a world. That is because few people would sit and read the entire thing. There will always be things that get misinterpreted and that can lead to confusion.
Quick Fix: Make sure you get all of the important information down and if someone does something that is not specifically mentioned, but goes against what you were thinking just let it be. If you didn't say not to then they can do it. People can get upset by things changing after they've started RPing. Have two plots. Have a plot summary at the top and then the actual (longer) plot at the bottom. Just like with a novel, snag their interest and then make them sit through the background. You still have to keep it short, but it gives you a bit more leeway.
Now it might seem like this is bad, and in some cases it is. On the other hand there are some times when a plot is not necessary. If you are starting the roleplay to have fun with character interactions then it is possible that only a location is needed. A good example of this is a high school or romance RP. There doesn't need to be a plot because the roleplayers invent their own.
Strengths: 1. You don't have to type very much for the first post. At all. Seriously, just put the rules and the basic idea and people will take it and run with it.
2. Everyone feels useful because everyone is contributing to the plot of the RP. The characters are the plot so everyone is important.
Weaknesses: 1. "What do we do next?" syndrome. People finish their conversation, the characters get separated, school ends, and everyone is lost as to what to do next. Usually the RP is saved by someone who has an idea, but it can be deadly to a RP.
Quick Fix: Always be on the lookout for a way to keep the character's together. Maybe your character heard about a party at someone's house, or invites their new friends over to their house. Anything to keep them from getting separated. Have a list of thing that could happen. Maybe they see a lost dog and could decide to try and catch it. Lots of room for fun RPing there. Try to keep it interesting. Time skip. If the characters have gone home to bed then as the RP starter you can time skip them to the morning. You should always ask everyone if it's okay though. Someone might have been planning to have something happen during the night.
What makes a good plot?
This is a very hard question to answer because it depends on the type of people that you will RP with.
In general a plot should allow for every person to be equally important. Don't create a plot specifically around your character unless it's something that easily fits others. So your character might have found a treasure map, but they don't want to search for it alone.
Bad Plot: My character is Celia. She is the last dragon on earth and everyone is going to try and kill her. Do you want to help her? Or kill her.
That makes your character the most important thing in the RP and while it's a plot, it's one that revolves around you. People want their character to be important and with that set-up the only way to make their character as important is to have them also be the last of something.
Similar, but better plot: Celia, a dragon, had been raised to think that she is the last dragon. Isolated in a small valley she never saw any reason to doubt this. However, traders from a nearby country were talking about other dragons. Faced with the knowledge that she might not be the last she sets out to find a rumoured Dragon City.
People are not limited and with the "quest" aspect no matter what happens the RP can be brought back to the overall theme of "searching for the Dragon City." Others are free to play a dragon or another species. Their characters may have various reasons for looking for the city and there's a lot of freedom.
Bad Plot: There are two wolf packs who live on separate sides of a great river. They hate each other. Both sides want more land and there is a war going on.
In general, there are a lot of things that can go wrong: everyone might want to be in the same pack (for good reason) because they want to make sure they'll be included. If only one person ends up in the other pack they might have trouble interacting. Other then the war there is no plot. This means people will come up with their own side plots and they will generally think of something revolving around their character. A war is a good idea for a setting, but can be very awkward as a plot because nobody is willing to let their character be hurt/killed.
Similar but better plot: Two packs that have hated each other as long as they can remember have been on the verge of war for years. The summer has been hot and dry and the river that separated the packs is beginning to become dangerously low. Tempers run high as the Alpha's start to wonder if both packs can survive. Fights break out near the best places to drink and blood has already been spilled. Just when it seems that a war is inevitable the ghosts of the previous Alpha's speak to a few wolves they think can find a powerful weather witch to convince her to reverse the terrible drought. Can the two sides work together though?
Since the river is so low both sides of the fight will interact when they go to drink. Also by giving characters a quest everyone can have fun playing characters that hate each other, but have to work together. Conflict is one of the most entertaining things about a roleplay.
Just like for plots you can either use somebody else's world or you can create your own. And each have similar pros and cons. Remember that you mustn't copy another user's world, plots or themes: it's okay to use themes from movies/books because these are available to the general public but it can be very upsetting if someone steals your private idea for a roleplay.
Pros: 1. Less work for you. 2. Everyone starts out with the same knowledge (ideally) 3. People like the idea of RPing in their favorite imaginary worlds.
Cons: 1. People may not remember everything about the world the same way you do. 2. People will have the urge to play the characters in the book/movie or have a connection to them. 3. People who want to join, but have not seen the movie or book will require an explanation and may still get things wrong.
New: Pros: 1. Every roleplayer besides yourself has the same information. 2. There is a lot more freedom and it allows you to control the types of characters.
Cons: 1. Lots of work for you. You must explain everything very carefully so that everybody understands. 2. People may not see the world you created the same way, and it may upset you if someone joins with something that, while not against the rules does not fit into your view.
Choosing a World
You should always choose a world that you know very well, but are not personally attached to. If you are going to get upset if someone does something "wrong" then do not start a RP in that world.
It is a good idea if you are using a pre-existing world to pick something really popular. The more popular it is the more likely you are to find a good number or people to RP with. If you are unsure how many people are interested in that series ask or advertise your idea in the "Advertise your Group Roleplay" thread.
Describing Your World
For pre-existing worlds you should provide the name of the series and the author near the top of the post. If there is a particularly helpful site that explains the world you should link to it, a Wikipedia article, or possibly the official site. Make sure that you give people the information they need to join even if they haven't read the series.
For your own world you should make sure you cover the following: Technological Advancement: Is the world full of advanced technology or is it stuck back in the stone age? What technology exists. Motor bikes? This is one of the first things that you should tell about because it puts the readers in the proper set of mind. If they're thinking medieval and then in your character sheet you mention that your character has a motor bike, they will be confused.
Set Up: If you drew a picture of your world what would it look like? Is it set up similarly to Earth or is it different. Is it one huge continent or hundreds of islands of various sizes? Are the people/creatures that live on the different sections of land different? How much contact do they have with each other. How does the climate differ in the different regions? It's always a good idea to make a map of your world -you could use the oekaki to do so.
Region: You should describe the area/country/region where the RP starts in detail. Who/what lives in the area? What season is it? What is the weather like? What are the condition of the roads/paths? What languages are spoken? If different languages are spoken how should people make it clear which one they are using?
Politics: How is the world/country/region run? Is there a president? A king? A baron? In general are people happy with the government? Is there more than one governing body?
Species: If you want to dictate what kinds of people/animals exist and how they work then you need to do so. Otherwise you cannot yell at someone for playing a talking dog. If you didn't say that animals couldn't talk (in a magic based world) then they had no way of knowing it would upset you.
Now this may seem like it only applies to human based RP's, but it also applies to animals. It does make a difference whether the wolf pack hunts near humans and what technology those humans might have. Of course if you're doing a magical wolf RP who’s to say that they couldn't have invented something technology related.
Not every RP may need rules. The only rules that you must have are the site rules and while you may put a note in your first post saying something along the lines of "Make sure you have reviewed the sites rules" you do not need to make a rule saying to follow the rules.
Now there may be rules you want to have in your own RP. These may relate to the amount of text you expect someone to post, the types of characters they can create, etc. It is really up to you what rules you create, but try to keep their number under 15 especially if they are wordy.
Some rules I always use: 1. Write in complete sentences with proper grammar, spelling, and punctuation. Do not use chat-speak in the post (In OOC it's fine). 2. Try to write at least two good paragraphs each post. 3. When speaking Out of Character (OOC) please use ((OOC)) or [OOC]. 4. You will be polite at all times even if other people are not being polite. If I ask you to change something about your post please do not argue.
You may also want to approve people's characters before allowing them to join the RP just to make sure they fit in the world you are using.
One thing you see a lot is a rule that says "If you read these rules put 'Newfoundland' in your post." Now the people that actually read your rules and such don't remember these tricks by the time they get to the end of your introduction. Especially if you put later "Joke put 'dog.'" It gets confusing and the people who don't read the rules will just skim for the key word they missed.
These are a quick reference to see who is playing what character. The ideal character sheet should allow the reader at a glance to get a general feel for the character. However these should be used as a reference only. In the introduction you should still describe your character.
So what should you have on a good character sheet? The answer is...it depends. Here is a basic example for a human, animal, and fantasy RP.
For a human RP: Name: (Your character's name, please include any nicknames they go by) Age: Gender: Basic Description: (Hair color and style, eye color, clothing at beginning of RP) Anything Else: (Use this section if you think that there is something important about your character that did not fit elsewhere.)
Basic Animal Character Sheet: Name: (Your character's name) Age: (Just put young, teen, adult, or elder) Gender: Species: Basic Description: (Base color, Markings, Eye Color, Accessories) Anything Else: (Use this section if you think that there is something important about your character that did not fit elsewhere.)
Fantasy RP: Name: (Your characters name, please include any nicknames) Gender: Species Name: (What is the species called, please include any slang terms that might be used.) Species Description: (General Appearance compared to Earth creatures, Weaknesses, Strengths, Limitations. Anything you think will be important to the RP or if anyone else wants to create a character of this type.) Age: Basic Description: (Describe your character, hair color, eye color, clothing, anything that you think is important.) Magical Abilities: (If your character has any magical abilities please list and explain them here. What are the limitations to this magic? How experienced is your character with this magic?) Anything Else: (Use this section if you think that there is something important about your character that did not fit elsewhere.)
You may notice that in none of the sheets is there a personality. Personalities are often hard to put down if you've never roleplayed the character before and it may take a couple of posts to get a feel for it. It might be worth putting down a few words "loud, boisterous and rude" so other people have a general idea. Character sheets are mainly for when you are writing a post and suddenly realize you've forgotten someone's name, or the color of their hair. Then you can go back and check so that you don't get it wrong.
These are just examples and you may have other information you want easily on hand about the characters. If you're doing a DNA RP then you could add a "Injected Species:" category. Try not to have too many categories though. If you have fifteen different sections then it might be hard to find the information that you need in the list.
How to create a character for an RP. Now your first instinct in a RP with a leader of any sort will be "Oh, I should play them so that I can control the other characters." This is not correct. It is better to have a NPC (non-playable character) leader then to play it yourself. (Note: An exception to this rule is a character who will be imparting important plot information like a tavern owner. However these characters are there simply to impart knowledge, not to control others.) Also if you play an important character then everyone else will want their character to be just as important. Try to create a character who is unique by coming up with entertaining flaws or minor powers rather than trying to make my character important.
If you write a good character sheet with proper spelling and capitalization then others will do the same. If you explain everything in great detail then others will be likely to do so as well.
You set the example. If there are a ton of spelling/grammar mistakes people will assume that's the norm. If it's only two paragraphs people will only post two paragraphs. If it's fifteen people will assume they're expected to post that much.
Again you set the standard. If you write two sentences then everyone else will do the same. If you write fifteen paragraph then you'll weed out all the people who only want to post one or two.
You should describe where your character is in great detail. If there is something important about the world in general have your character comment on it. You should also describe your character in detail. Include your characters thoughts about their current situation.
Your post should always end with your character in a public, and if possible a busy area, so that they are easy to interact with. Hints at the plot are usually a good idea in your introduction as well.
The absolute last thing you should write is the title. That way even if your idea changes while you're writing it down the title will still be accurate.
Titles should hint at what the RP is about, but still be interesting. For instance instead of calling an RP "Shape-Shifter High" put "High School Bites" (Okay, I'm sure that's a title of a book or something, but you get the idea.) Now if you think that the title can be misinterpreted easily you might write it like this "High School Bites (Shifters)" That way you get their attention with the title, but also inform them what the RP is so they don't have to click (say if they were looking for a vampire RP).
You should never ever ever have your entire title in Caps. It looks like you're shouting and that makes you like the people in movies who are shouting "Fresh fish, get your fresh fish here." Over and over really loudly. It's just annoying. You should also not overuse the "pretty" symbols. "From the Bush (Warrior Cats)" Looks much better then ~...~From the Bushes ~...~ (Warrior Cats)". Pretty symbols have their place, and that place is not the titles of RPs.
Just some fun kinds of RP that do not follow the rules above.
I like to call this a Schrödinger's cat RP. Each person has a character, but the world is developed in each person's post. Until someone mentions and item it is both in a state of existence and not existence like that cat in physics. So if someone says they sit down in a couch then you know couches exist. Someone else might say they see a cat, which comes up to their thigh has long floppy ears, short hair, a long drooling tongue and a long nose. Now you know that what on earth is called a dog on this plane of existence is called a cat.
These are generally D&D like where the person who created the RP has to describe the environment around the characters. The characters usually have to figure out how to escape the room or area. All NPC's are played by the DM (Dungeon Master) and the fun is in trying to figure out what's going on with the clues that are given.