Making the most out of your role playing
Friday Beyond Realms Issue #1
Well, if you’re looking for more weekly Role Play advice beyond what’s in the guides on the forum, you’ve come to the right place. Every week, I’ll be giving you a new topic that relates to role playing, and how you can use it to help improve your RPs before and after they’re created, and how to keep them running strong.
Understanding What Your Role Players Want
Issue #1 covers the delicate topic of engineering your RP to reflect the storyline and world you want to create, but to make it likable to the point where you can enjoy it and the people signing up can enjoy it as well. Too many times, I seen RPs that really only reflected what the creator wanted, and never kept in mind who their target audience was. Needless to say, I’ve seen these kinds of RPs get next to nothing for sign ups, and unfortunately, the creator doesn’t always learn from it. So what were some of the root causes?
Not enough storyline
– Very often, the lack of a conflict in the plot is essentially a recipe for disaster. Remember, your RP doesn’t always have to be about war or battles, but there needs to be some kind of a struggle that puts the characters your RPers create into a tight spot. The word that needs to be highlighted is “change,” because without it, things stay the same and in a real setting, there isn’t any real cause to take action. Also, the change needs to be pretty drastic. Think in terms of life-changing events, and build up from there.
Putting your RPers in an awkward position
– Role Players always like to try something new, but not to the point where it puts them in an awkward position that makes it difficult to get started or understand what is going on. This includes forcing them to play lesser-known characters or races, having the RP take place in a lesser-known fandom’s setting, or RP as some creature or being that makes the role players feel they don’t have much power or control over their characters. If you still really want to still go with this, be mindful of those who don’t know anything about what you’re presenting.
Don’t always assume your RPers know everything you’re talking about!
– The best role plays have a long storyline description and a long explanation because these creators know ambiguity and vagueness is a real killer when it comes to RPs. Answer questions before they’re asked. What’s going on, who is involved, where is it taking place, when it happening, why are these things happening, and how is it being done? Cover the motives and goals of all the sides. Don’t ever settle for “just enough,” go the extra mile and really bring up the depth and background of the storyline and the RP you’re trying to create. Assuming your RPers know everything you’re talking about will usually have you wind up with next to no one signing up, because the truth is, they don’t! Put what’s in your mind in rich detail and thorough explanation, leaving nothing to chance. The less guessing your RPers have to do, the better.
Provide options and variety
– The best RPs allow role players to be creative, open-minded, and inventive, not to mention these same RPers are able to create characters they’re more comfortable with and truly feel they will enjoy playing. This includes allowing people to create characters of different races, have different attributes, powers, skills, features, you name it. Open the playing field, give a broad selection, and allow options that can be bent and shaped toward just about any character personality or standing. If everyone’s forced to RP as the same thing, chances are good people will find it pretty bland and boring, and won’t sign up.
– Avoid overdone storylines like a plague. We’ve all fought Team Rocket and so on before, no one really cares to do it all over again regardless of how much you’ve changed their background situation or if you’ve made a new team that does the exact same kind of evil things simply replace them. RPs where a bunch of characters start a Pokémon journey won’t get too much attention either, as the whole thing will feel like a rerun of something they’ve done before. In truth, Nintendo has a lot of possible storyline ground they have yet to cover with Pokémon and chances are good they never will. And its not just Pokémon either, if you’re doing an RP based off of a popular series or anime, go well beyond the context of that and intertwine new ideas and a new conflict that totally make something that already existed into something fresh, new, and interesting.
Let RPers be heroes
– And heroes need to be capable of doing something heroic. If you’re not presenting the opportunity for the characters your RPers create to do something wild, chancy, risky, or death-defying, then what are they doing? Do you have an RP where the only thing people are doing is just taking classes in a school or academy? Let’s not forget the lesson that Harry Potter told us that you can have that same kind of setting with plenty of death-defying dangers, secrets, and rich storyline elements as well. When it comes to RPs, focus on the challenge and the adventure, not the mundane.
These are trends I’ve picked up on during my time with creating role plays and taking part in them.
– Believe it or not, I’ve seen the theme of transformation (or simply not RPing a human) as extremely popular. Let’s face it, it puts the RPer in a totally new mindset to be capable of new things and see things from a new perspective. But again, give people options. If everyone’s the same thing, a few people might like it, but not everyone will.
Skills and Power
– We’re in a fictional world now anyway, why not? Imagine what your favorite video game series or your favorite anime would be like if all the cool fictional elements were stripped out of them. Well, they’d be bland and boring. As long as they’re not too overboard, allowing your characters to do something special and be capable of something new and amazing… people can definitely appreciate that. If everyone’s RPing a human character that’s not capable of anything different than what ordinary humans can do in real life, where’s the thrill? Why would I need to RP when I can just do it myself?
– RPers like to create stuff, and let’s face it, why not give them that opportunity if the setting of your RP can allow for that? In truth, don’t be so limiting and tight on what your RPers are allowed to do and create. Give them the opportunity to implement something that goes beyond your context of a storyline, and reward them for it. These kinds of things will help keep your RP alive. Remember, it’s a role play. No one is supposed to follow a script or blueprint that you may have thought of. Be open and liberal when it comes to how RPers approach your RP. Don’t always expect the expected either.
Well, with these in mind, hopefully you’ve gotten a better idea of what RPers usually want to see and expect in the RPs they’ll be looking over to join. Never be afraid to try something wild, new, and inventive, but be aware and understand what you’re getting into and be prepared to be dynamic and responsive to these changes. Take a risk, don’t always stay locked in your comfort zone where things typically don’t change. You never know what you might discover if you try to go where no RP has gone before.
Until next week.