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Post ***PLEASE READ***A Beginner's Guide to RPG's: good for oldtimers, too
on: August 28, 2005 09:06
How to develop a good RPG:

We thought it might be helpful to beginners to offer our suggestions on how to start and run a good role playing game. Not all people who play in RPG's are the same. Some write long posts with a ton of background. Some either don't have the time to do this or simply prefer shorter posts with less detail. Either works if you follow the same basic guidelines, the first and most important of which is Why Are You Beginning an RPG in the first place???? Many of us at one time or another have thought to ourselves, "Boy, have I got a great idea for a RPG." And it's that IDEA that is the most important part of establishing a good game. You have to have a plotline...a storyline...in mind and be able to communicate that story to others. Otherwise, you and your fellow players end up wandering around aimlessly, pointlessly and with no purpose. An example of this type of pointlessness is as follows:

Name of thread: Mirkwood Dies (free, anyone can join)

Opening paragraph: Hi, I'm starting my first RPG. Can a lot of you join? It's gonna be in Mirkwood and we're gonna have fun.

Opening IC lines: Cassie was wandering through the woods. It was chilly and he had his cloak wrapped around him. He heard a twig snap. His eyes opened wide and he reached for his dagger. "Who's there?"

Don't laugh! This is how many of the RPG's begin. But what's wrong with this beginning?

#1 NAME OF THREAD While many don't want to find themselves alone with no one joining their RPG, putting in the words 'free, anyone can join' opens up a can of worms. What might have been a good idea to you originally will be open to whatever anyone wants to add and wherever anyone wants to take it. You will be constantly trying to drag your beloved thread back to the original idea and eventually may even lose control completely, in which case your thread may end up not even resembling what your first great idea was. This is a common cause for death of a thread.

It might help at this early stage to open an OOC thread (highly recommended) and invite people that want to join you to meet there and discuss what your idea is before you even begin the actual thread. You can approve or even disapprove certain types of characters or deviations in the plotline. And...you may even pick up some great ideas for carrying the plot further than you had ever considered.

Another alternative is to have prospective players PM you with the description of their character and their thoughts so, once again, you have the opportunity to vet them first.

#2 OPENING PARAGRAPH First of all, few players are really interested in whether this is your first or your 101st RPG. What they want to know is "can I add this to my list of RPG's, will one of my chars fit here, am I even interested?" Generally speaking, almost anyone will join anyway, with or without your request, if they're interested for any reason. But what have you told them to spark their interest? "It's in Mirkwood and it's going to be fun" UH...OKAY...DUH.

Perhaps, if you don't want to open an OOC, but would rather use your first post as the means of describing what your plotline is and what is happening as you open the thread, that's fine but do it. Take this opportunity to give prospective players some idea of who you are, why you're where you are and where you plan to be going with this story.

#3 OPENING LINES If you began your thread without starting an OOC thread first or PM'ing with prospective players, let's look at the opening lines above. Does this opening tell us anything about your "great idea"...the storyline/plotline you had in mind? Does it give anyone any information about where you are (other than some woods somewhere)? Does it describe who you are? Are you an elf? A mortal? For all anyone can tell, you might be an orc, a dwarf or a troll. Does it give any background to buck up your storyline, e.g. why is this person wandering around in the woods in the first place with nothing but a cloak and dagger. And how likely is it that there are others that just happen to be wandering around in the same woods?

Okay, let's look at a better beginning.................................

Name of thread: Mirkwood dies (players welcome but check ooc first -or- pm me if you wish to join)

Opening Paragraph: (Assuming there is no OOC thread existing though we highly recommend one) This is a story about Mirkwood Forest, which has been hit by a leaf disease that is killing off the forest. The elves are finding it harder and harder to find cover and the orcs are finding it easier to see the elves and catch them for a good barbecue. Needless to say, the elves are a little disturbed being eaten by orcs and want to find the source of this leaf disease, which they think is coming from Saruman, or perhaps even Mordor itself. Thranduil has appointed one of his best herbologist elves and several of his best archers to accompany the herbologist in tracking down the source and finding a way to stop the damage to their beloved woods....and save their relatives from being on the orcs' menus. I will be playing the herbologist but I need some elven archers, a loremaster and perhaps even a fair maiden who I can save from the teeth of an orc. Please PM me with your characters (or refer to the OOC if you have one).

Opening Lines: Cassie was making preparations for leaving his home. Thranduil had appointed him to search down the reason for the deterioration of the forest because he was the best herbologist in Mirkwood. As he packed his herbs and clothing into his bag, there was a knock on the door. He looked up expectantly, figuring it must be one of the archers who Thranduil had assigned to his travels. "Come in," he said, and watched as the door opened.

(OOC: this is the place for the first player to enter)

As you can see, in the NAME OF THREAD, you now have some control over your original storyline and the characters who join by referring prospective players to either your OOC thread or PM'ing you. Further, in the OPENING PARAGRAPH (which could be in either the actual thread or in your OOC thread) you have given your prospective players an idea of what your plotline is, what kind of characters you are looking for and what your goals are. They now know whether this thread is interesting enough to them to want to join. The OPENING LINES give a little more background as to who your character is, what he's doing and why. It also offers the first entry for a new player.

None of the above 'good' example requires extensive writing (for those of you who can't or don't wish to write a novel with every post ) but it is far superior to the first 'bad' example with the amount of information that is provided and the interest it draws. So give it a go, folks. Let's see if we can do away with wandering elves bumbling around in unnamed woods bumping into other wandering elves who were also bumbling around in the same unnamed woods and neither of them having anything to say to each other but, "My name is Dopey, what's yours and where are you going?" :disco:

[Edited on 30/8/2005 by berethedhellen]
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