This is something that any new roleplayer should look at. Credit goes to the person who actually wrote this on another forum :D
What is forum RP?
Forum RP is a natural extension of the â€œpen and paperâ€ gaming described above. Now, instead of sitting around a table, the players are scattered over the globe. Their â€œtableâ€ is a message board. Their actions are described in individual posts.
The challenges and extra baggage created by dice in an online medium mean that most forum RPs are solely text-based. This creates a whole set of interesting challenges that the tabletop gamers donâ€™t really face. For example, how do I know if I succeed or fail? As I am writing the posts, surely I can always succeed?
Perhaps you could, dear reader, but that would not be fun for anyone. Forum RP is about being faithful to your character, warts and all. Failure can be as entertaining as success, and from the mixture of both, great stories spring.
How do I play?
Youâ€™ve made it this far, now weâ€™re getting to the meat of things.
First, examine your setting. Someone will be running the forum RP; question them if you need to know more. Most certainly the Game Master will have described a world, and in that world players will be acting out their roles and making their stories.
Now, start thinking of a character. Who do you want to be? How does this person fit into the game world? Start building a picture, the clothes, the physical appearance, the emotions. A common tactic for beginners is to make a character whose personality is relatively similar to their own. This is by no means a bad thing, although as you participate in more RP you may want to branch out. The advantage, of course, is that it helps you understand how to react. If today Bob is playing Bobaldinho, the professional football star, and he is faced with an unusual situation, what does he do? Well, Bob might think, â€œwhat would I do here?â€ Bobaldinho is about to be mugged in the street by three knife-wielding thugs. Bob thinks, â€œI should probably try to get away!â€ While RP is all about being someone you arenâ€™t, it is also about escaping to another world yourself.
So you have your picture, your embryonic character. Brilliant, write it all down, go nuts.
How do I post?
Tell a story. Write about what you are doing, where you are going, your characterâ€™s plans, hopes, dreams. Then think how that might mingle with the other playersâ€™ stories. Understand where they are, meet them, talk to them. How should your character react? Go on adventures, fight, cry, generally have a good time, itâ€™s up to you.
Do not be afraid. Easier said than done, eh? If you donâ€™t think your writing skills are the greatest, donâ€™t worry, just have a go. A willing spirit is the most important thing. No one is expecting a novel. Donâ€™t be too afraid of violating the setting, either. Make things up, and in most cases, the players can co-operate and work around the situation. The Game Master is only likely to step in if you try something completely and totally barmy
Do be careful with other players. They might not love you if you put words in their mouths, mess about with the lesser characters they are running in the background, or hit them with something without giving a chance for them to respond.
Example: combat. Combat is a real headache in forum RPs, especially between players. Bob is now playing Bobacus, the Roman gladiator. His nefarious nemesis Romulus is facing him down in the arena. Bob has a cunning idea, and makes a post.
â€œBobacus raises his falchion and strikes! It is a horrific blow, shearing through Romulusâ€™ shoulder, cutting the arm clean off. Blood sprays everywhere, the crowd roars with approval, and Bobacus punches the air, celebrating his victory.â€
Bob is delighted with his post, full of juicy verbs. You can practically smell the adrenalin. Except he hasnâ€™t given Romulus a chance. Combat is about making your move and giving the other player leeway to respond how they want to. Perhaps Romulus is already weak from an earlier fight and thinks there is no way he could avoid losing his arm (a brave move). Perhaps he thinks he can dodge the worst of the attack but come out with a nasty wound.
This is just as applicable to speech. If you want to speak for another player, best ask them via PM first.
Having gone on about all those restrictions, here are a few other thoughts on how to make an effective post:
1.) Length - a good post doesnâ€™t have to be an essay, but one or two lines are not going to give the other players much to work with. Perhaps take a moment to consider what your character is thinking, or if you want to keep that a secret, what is happening around you at the time.
2.) Senses - so your post is looking a bit thin, and youâ€™re worried that you arenâ€™t getting players into the mood youâ€™re searching for. You want to be faithful to the setting and tell an interesting story. In this situation, any skills you might deploy in creative writing are just as applicable to RP posting. One of my favourites is to examine the senses beyond sight. Sound and smell are often overlooked in RP, and even touch and texture have a place.
3.) Plot Progression - if your actions arenâ€™t obviously going to be interrupted by other players, donâ€™t be afraid of doing several things over the course of your post, or pushing the time forward by however many minutes or hours are required before action kicks off again. This can really help move the story forward, and prevent the frustration of being bogged down in bitty little posts. Remember your characterâ€™s goals. Donâ€™t just react â€“ have a plan.
Thatâ€™s all folks. If you made it this far, have a cookie, itâ€™s on me. Now go out and RP!