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Questions come to me from users in both the Hooded Crow and White Stag Inn. Ergo, I respond. Below is a comprehensive guide to how to do it in paragraph form. It was written by Meep for the World's End Tavern, but all the same rules are applicable here.
This thread is an expression of my opinion. I am not stating fact, but I am hoping that I am vague and general enough for it to be true, even if skewed a little. I am writing this guide, so that people can understand what the different forum tags mean, how you can get into different types of RP, how you are expected to act in them, and how they work in general.
First of all and most important: You are not expected to read this whole thing, it is considerably long and detailed and I probably should have condensed it. But, if you read anything, please read the second post, with Expectations and the Rules of RP, this is probably the most important part of this thread!
Feel free to post criticism. Even if I disagree, I will post any valid arguments up on my first posts, for anyone else to read, so they can understand the mixed opinions that are present. This guide will also shape and form from structured opinion, I will edit as seems fit. At the start this might seem a little... not good... but with help from our community, it will grow better.
I will be focusing on two main types of RP. Open, and Closed. However I will also delve into the variants of each, such as the Tavern RP, and the structured Closed RP. I will try and keep a vague sense, as it is not black and white, especially when getting into the structured aspect of things.
Quick Term Summary
There are other, better places you can find these, but I will just go through the ones you will need to know here.
OOC: Out of Character. Refers to any comment made from you as an Earthling, not from your character, as I am talking now, as opposed to...
IC: In Character. Any comment made from your characters perspective. E.g.: Thurman took the blue silken wizards hat from his bed and placed it on top of his head.
TM: Thread Master. The Person who creates a thread, this is the poster with the most control; role will vary depending on the RP type.
OP: Opening Post. This refers to the first post in a thread by someone. The TM’s first post will start a thread, while the posters first post will introduce their character. Generally, the OP will be longer than the other posts, because you have far more to write about, and generally want to put more effort into it. Note
Feel free to post criticism. Know that I want your opinion, and if you have your own guide, or bits of guide, feel free to give them to me, and I will add them. We are a community. The credit should go to all of us.
I want to post this just at the start, because I deem this quite important. These two things are the expectation of spelling/grammar and structure, and also the “rules” of RP.
General Expectation: Spelling/Grammar/Structure.
You are always expected to put effort into your spelling and grammar. On World’s End, there is an unspoken (and sometimes spoken) expectation of one paragraph per post. Depending on the thread you chose to join, this might be higher, sometimes a lot higher. You are expected to spell-check your work. It is one thing if a word like there/their slips through, but it is another if you misspell half the worlds in your post.
You are also expected to structure your post with punctuation, comas, and periods. Etc.
All in all, it comes down to one thing. Effort.
The “Rules” of RP:
Okay, so there are a few things I consider rules, and these are quite important. These terms, often have different meanings to different people, however I think my meanings are general enough to work. Feel free to tell me my definitions are wrong, they might be!
Powergaming: Powergaming is when your character is obscenely powerful, does ridiculous things such as parrying a whole volley of arrows with one sword blow, or summoning a meteor the size of the moon. Powergaming is not accepted, because it ruins the RP for other people who come into contact with your ridiculous character.
Example One:Thurman teleported into the group of soldiers, and swung his blade, killing them all. He then teleported out before reinforcements could come.
In this example, Thurman is making his character ridiculously powerful. It is ok to kill a group of soldiers, depending on the RP, and how you describe it. However, your character should at least be weakened, or weary, or take his time with a long effort-full post to back it up.
Fixed:Thurman called upon his arcane abilities to teleport into the group of soldiers, his blade was already swinging when he got there. Due to the element of surprise, he managed to kill most of them while they were still confused. The final one got a hit down before falling to Thurman too. Weakened, Thurman regrettably teleported out of the battle, clutching his shoulder where he had been wounded.
This example gives the character a wound, so he isn't perfect and able to kill so many guards without a scratch, and it also shows reason in how he killed them.
God-Moding: The big one. You do not control other people’s characters. Often it is said that you cannot “land” a blow. You can swing your fist, shoot a bullet, or throw a bolt of flame, but you cannot say that it hit the person you are throwing it at. This has extremes, such as killing another person’s character, or even controlling their emotions. Nobody likes their characters being controlled by other people, so don’t do it.
Example One:Thurman ran over to Wilson and lashed out with his silver blade; Wilson fell to the ground and clutched the wound, then died.
In this example, Thurman is controlling somebody else’s character directly, and this case, killing off the character.
Fixed:Thurman ran over to Wilson and lashed out with his silver blade, hoping to finish him in one final strike.
In this example, he does not kill Wilson, it states what he is trying to do, and what his intention is, but it leaves the outcome to Wilson.
Example Two:Thurman walked into the room with his chin held high, Wilson noticed him and frowned, he was jealous of Thurman’s good looks.
In this example, Thurman is controlling the actions of somebody else’s character. This is the same basic principle, but this shows that it’s not just combat where you have to be careful. Controlling another characters emotions or actions at all is bad.
Fixed:Thurman walked into the room with his chin held high, thinking that everyone in the room would have to be jealous of his good looks.
In the second example, it states what Thurman wants the reaction to be, without godmoding, and keeps the feel he wanted to get from his character.
Metagaming: Metagaming is taking information you know OOC and using it IC. “In role-playing games, a player is metagaming when they use knowledge that is not available to their character in order to change the way they play their character” For example, if you take part of a characters history you read in a Sign Up, and make it so your character knows that somehow.
Or how your farmer from Westfall suddenly knows Bolvar is the Jailor of the Damned now. You cannot use information your character couldn’t know, in-character. For example, knowing that Bob was born in Westfall to a man who wasn’t his father, who then died a few months later, when Bob never told anyone that.
There are two main types of RPs on the forums. Closed and Open. Closed RPs begin with a Sign Up/OOC thread generally, this requires you to Sign Up for the thread, where your character will be reviewed and then either accepted or declined. The Sign Ups will be left open until the Thread Master is happy with the amount of posters in the thread. He/she will then post the IC thread, which will generally be strictly IC, all OOC posts should be in the OOC thread.
Open RPs begin as soon as they are posted, they do not require a sign up, you may simply join with a character and start RPing straight away. Open RPs are generally comprised of only 1 thread, which will be tagged (open). Any OOC comments will be made in that thread, respectfully marked with double brackets ((like this)), some people do square brackets [like this], and it doesn’t matter, as long as everyone knows what you mean.
Tavern RPs and Structured RPs will be explained later.
An Open RP is a self-driven thread. An Open RP will generally be a location, and the TM’s character. It is also common to give a basic sense of plot to the RP. For example, you start the RP in Feralas; your character is helping defend Camp Mojache from a Gnoll Attack. This gives anyone who wants to join an idea of where the RP is, what is happening and who they can interact with.
An Open RP will generally roll in the direction that it was given at the start, the above example will likely continue with the battle at Camp Mojache. However, after that, or even during, the plot could begin to change. Perhaps someone got injured and fell off the bluff, into the lake below Mojache, a number of characters followed after to rescue him, and came to the shore at a Gnoll camp, they decided to try and stop the Gnoll Reinforcements by attacking.
The TM has the right to set the plot right, but generally the RP will go where it wants. <A self-driven, easy going, simple RP that follows a basic plot and setting. This RP is meant to be easy to join, easy to RP in, and simple casual fun.>
How to get into an Open RP
Getting into an Open Rp is simple, you post. You think of a character that will suit the situation, it doesn’t have to be perfect, but Open Rps are made to be simple and focus on their basic rolling plot. For example, playing as a Tauren Shaman, in the above example, is a good character; you would have reason to be in Mojache. Even as an Orc warrior, perhaps you travelled down or live there, you can think of reasons. Playing as a Dalaran Scholar is doable, you can make a creative excuse, but you are not the centre of attention, do not try and make yourself special.
Open Rps are for enjoying a brief plot with a bunch of randoms. If you truly want to show off a character you are proud of, or your beautiful history or personality, join a closed RP. That isn’t to say you can’t do a special character, maybe the Open RP is all about being unique and creative. It is perfectly fine to join with a unique character, just make sure you don’t make the focus all about you.
<Decide upon a suiting character, put effort into an opening post that should introduce your character, and put yourself with or interact with the TM or another character already in the thread>.
In an Open RP, like any RP, you are expected to put effort into your spelling, your grammar, and your post in general. Going into a thread without putting effort into your writing, is pure disrespect to the thread master and the other people in the thread. This is a general expectation anywhere you go, most places in life. You are also expected to differ between OOC and IC with brackets in an open RP thread.
Relevance. You are generally expected to put yourself where the RP is, and be interacting with the people in the thread. If there’s an RP in Feralas, and you introduce your character in Howling Fjord, dancing to jungle music with Vrykul... you shouldn’t do that. You’re expected to be where the RP is, in your first if not second post. This is different in Closed RPs, I will explain later. Also, you are expected to stay relevant to the thread. It is not respectful to go off forcefully changing the direction of the thread, nor is it to forcefully plant your feet and not move if the others are following the rolling plot.
Loyalty. In an Open Thread, you are expected to post enough as to not drag down the plot. You are likely expected to be active at certain times of the day. You are expected to stay in the thread, but it is not a devastating thing if you must leave. You are still expected to apologize, and maybe even give a reason if you want to be even more respectful.
<You are expected to put effort into your writing, and stay relevant to the location of the RP. You are expected to go with the flow, and not try and make your own path. You are also expected to be active enough to support how interactive you are in the RP>.
How to make an Open RP
Making an Open RP is relatively simple. When writing anything, a news article, an RP, a story, you need to think of where-what-why-who-when, etc. You need a location, e.g. Feralas, you then need something that is happening, e.g. Gnoll Attack. After that, it is a simple matter of adding your own character to the story so that people can join it.
You also need to remember your responsibilities and restrictions as TM. As TM it is mildly your right to tell people who are not meeting the basic skill requirement that is deserved, to please try harder or leave. It is your responsibility to invite and welcome those into your thread; it is also your right to tell people that you don’t want them to join. If you have a simple battle thread, and someone comes in as a dragon, if you’re fine with that, let them in, but if you don’t want them to join as a Dragon, tell them to please use a different character.
<Think of a basic Setting, with Location, and an Event. Do not be selective, people who want to join Open RPs want to, because they don’t have to go through a sign-up process. Nudge your RP in your intended direction without forcefully pushing it.>
The Tavern Element
Tavern RPs are a variant of Open RPs, this is arguable, but it is what I think. A Tavern RP is an Open RP set in a tavern. It is expected that nothing out of the ordinary will happen; it is pretty much like going into a tavern in-game. It is simply a tavern environment, an ultra-simple RP where people can very simply interact with each other.
Lately, this has been an excuse for lazy RP. I disagree completely with this concept. The expectation of skill in a Tavern RP should be the same as an Open RP. One liners are not okay, even in a tavern RP. If you want to RP like that, you should RP in-game. World’s End Forum has an expectation of skill; this does not disappear inside a Tavern RP.
In a Tavern RP, loyalty is not very important. You are expected to be active constantly, until you remove yourself from a situation. It is not considered respectful to begin a conversation or interaction with another poster, and then leave your computer for the night while he’s waiting on you to respond. You should take your character out of the situation before you have to go. And likewise, you can simply walk back into the tavern when you get back.
Making a tavern RP requires minimum effort, but the minimum should still involve good grammar, and at least a paragraph or two of description. It is your job to describe to the others what your tavern looks like, and what its inhabitants are. As TM, generally you want to let people control the staff of the tavern themselves when they need them, unless you plan to be active in the RP 100% of the time when anyone else is.
<Tavern RP is where Forum RP meets in-game RP. Tavern RP is an RP you can join and leave at your leisure, as long as you show the respect to remove yourself from IC situations before you leave OOC. Tavern RP involves one location, stays at that location and is a very easy going, very accepting, excuse to interact with others without plot.>
A Closed RP is driven by the Thread Master. This thread will go in a specific direction, and the thread master will likely enforce this direction if it starts to stray. It will have a set starting location, time; it will answer all the why-when-who questions. However this could all change throughout the duration of the thread.
A Closed RP will always require a Sign Up, this is what defines them as closed. A Sign Up is a small bio with information that the Thread Master wants from each Poster signing up. This will generally involve Name, Race, Class and a description, often times a brief History as well. The Thread Master will accept or decline sign ups, until he gets enough posters.
<A directed, focused RP with a plot, driven by the Thread Master as a director.> How to get into a Closed RP
Getting into a Closed RP requires a Sign Up. Closed RPs will generally begin with an OOC thread probably phrased something like this...
Example Thread ((Sign Ups and OOC)) or Example(Sign Ups).
This Thread will generally contain a short IC introduction, an OOC introduction, and a template for Sign Ups, you are expected to follow this template unless the TM says otherwise. Put effort into your sign up, as this is what the TM is going to use, to consider accepting you into his/her thread, they’re not expected to decide upon your previous work.
Once/If you are accepted, you wait until the TM makes the second thread which will be tagged ((Closed RP)), it will usually have the same name as the OOC thread, if it doesn’t, the TM will likely say what it’s called in the OOC thread. You are presumed at this point, to be free to post your OP. If the TM has told you to start somewhere specific, it is his RP so it is his rules, and you should follow them. If the TM has not stated anything, then you can start how you wish, it would be best to follow the Open Thread suggestion upon OPs.
<Use the template given to Sign Up to the thread, politely change anything that the TM asks you to, or elect not to join. Once the IC thread is up, feel free to post unless the TM has told you otherwise.>
Expectations in a Closed RP
In a Closed RP, you are expected to put effort into your writing. The TM of a Closed RP, has put a lot of effort into creating their RP, and deserves to see that effort repaid by you, in signing up, and in posting. They have presumably created the RP with the intention to see it through, or at least have it survive a while with good posts in it. If the TM puts a page together, spends his time creating a post that is good, and you reply with a single paragraph of badly written nonsense, that is purely disrespectful.
The Rules of Relevance also apply to closed threads. However, as a part of the TM’s story, it could be accepted that you are out of the way in Howling Fjord when you are required in Feralas; perhaps you are to meet up later. As long as you communicate OOCly and everyone, (especially the TM) knows what you are doing, it should be fine.
Loyalty. This is especially important in a Closed RP. If you signed up to a thread, and the TM accepted you, they are expecting you to be a part of the RP. If you can only post once a day, or once every two or three days, you should definitely mention that on your Sign Up. If you are going to go missing for a week, you should tell your TM. It is considered rude to leave a Closed Thread halfway through, if you really must, as long as you apologize and politely tell the TM, you should be forgiven. If not, you did the right thing anyway, do not dwell on it.
In a Closed RP, the Thread Master is the Director. It is their story, and you are pieces in it. While you have freedom in how you roleplay, who you roleplay, what you do and say, you should respect the bounds of the TM’s story. If he wishes you to go to Grizzly Hills to fight a basilisk, then you should, if he wants the party to flee from a group of monsters, you should. A Closed RP won’t generally be so forcefully jolted around, but still show respect to your TM, it is his/her story.
The other way around, respect should be shown in reverse. Someone who has signed up, has put effort into signing up, and is looking forward to RPing in this story they obviously found good enough to sign up to. The TM and the other posters, should show respect to them too, and discuss any problems maturely in OOC.
<You are expected to put effort into your work. You should try to at least return the effort shown to you. Above all you should respect the TM, help him tell his story in whatever way you can. You are also expected to be loyal in a closed thread. Every loss in a closed thread damages it, and there’s only so much each thread can take.>
Making a Closed RP should require effort. You should plan out what theme you feel you want your RP to be, you should plan out what role it is going to fill. Is it going to be simple or complex? Creative or straight-forward, long or short, large or small. It’s not an open RP that will guide itself, you need to take control and guide this thread, and to do that you need to know where you’re going.
Perhaps you want a short Closed RP, set in the Swamp of Sorrows, about a group of Horde Soldiers ambushing an Alliance army. You only want people to be simple, to use in-game races, and perhaps even in-game base classes. You want a decent number of people so it’s large scale, but you know it’s only going to be short.
Or perhaps you want a long RP, you want a story about an investigation of stolen runes by the Twilight Cult, you plan to have a small group of adventurers hunt after them. You know it’s going to be long, but small(in the amount of posters), and you are going to allow creative classes because it’s going to be long and there’ll be plenty of time to explain and develop characters, as you only have a few.
Whatever you chose, you’re going to need to make four things. An IC introduction, an OOC OP, a Sign Up Template, and an IC OP.
The IC introduction should try and convey as much about the story as possible, while keeping it short enough for people to read. Of course, these skills are things often gained after years of practice, so if your introduction is long or short, it doesn’t matter, as long as it tells people a little about your RP.
Next, the OOC OP should tell everyone everything they need to know about the RP. You should tell people how long it is, where it will take place (you don’t have to spoil anything), who you are accepting, any restrictions etc.
After that, make up a Sign Up Template. It is best in my opinion to use Name, Race, Gender, Appearance and History. You can add and remove depending on the RP. If yours is a short battle RP set in the Swamp of Sorrows, perhaps you can remove History and even replace it with “How did you get to Swamp of Sorrows”. If it’s a tomb-investigating RP, perhaps you should include an “Equipment” section.
Finally, after the Template, you need to have an OP to start up the IC thread. Sometimes and maybe even often, it can just be your Introduction to the RP, maybe with a little added to it, to put you somewhere where people can interact with you.
Make sure you keep people informed of things in your OOC thread, it’s there for more than sign ups. It is here you can communicate, ask people to change things, or compliment them if they put an exceptional amount of effort into a post. You can resolve conflicts and misunderstandings simply by stating what you think in OOC.
<You should consider what RP you are going to make carefully, think about what type of RP it is going to be, and then put equal effort into making one. Making a Closed RP requires an IC Introduction, an OOC introduction, a Sign Up Template and a IC OP.>