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The RP Creation Guide

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The RP Creation Guide
Last Edited 4/01/09

An intro to this guide...
The purpose of this guide is to help people understand how an RP works and to increase their chances of creating a successful RP. This guide will not guarantee success; however, if used properly it will start you off on the best possible path. Everyone should read this guide every now and again to stay fresh with the general layout of a successful RP. After all, you're never too experienced to ignore the basics.
The Basics

What is an RP?
Before you begin making your RP take a few minutes to contemplate just what an RP is. This is something that everyone, no matter how experienced, should go over every now and again so that they do not lose touch. An RP is not a job or a popularity contest or anything like that, an RP is (Whether you like it or not) a game, and games are meant to be fun. A successful RP is one that is fun, it's that simple. When an RP is not fun, or when an RP becomes more like work, the quality of the story and morale of the players will suffer. While it is often exhilarating to try to out-write another player, you must remember that your ultimate goal in an RP is to write a compelling story and not to annihilate the other writers. It can't be stressed how important it is to keep the proper definition of an RP fresh in your mind. Without an understanding of just what an RP is, you can rest assured that none of your projects will live up to their full potential.

Why RP?
Have you ever thought about why you want to RP in the first place? If you haven't, don't worry, not many people do. It's another simple question but the answer is an important one. Understanding why you want to RP and knowing what you wish to take away from it is another key to success. Nobody can tell you the right reason to RP, that is something unique to every individual who takes the plunge into our world; however, if you don't know why you want to RP, you will more than likely be robbed of the full experience that a good RP offers to the players.

Which RP do I choose?
Knowing which RP is worth your while is much like going to the casino. You really don't know what the outcome will be but there are ways to ensure that your odds are better. The first thing you want to do is to make sure that the RP has a good solid group of people who are excited to participate and who will continue to participate after the new car smell has vanished. Grouping with people who will be in it for the long haul is the most important thing to take into consideration when choosing an RP, second only to your level of interest in the subject matter. Even if the story is mediocre, a dedicated group of players can turn the lowliest vintage into top shelf material.

The Three Pillars

An explanation of the Three Pillars
You may be looking at the title of this section and wondering just what the heck these "Three Pillars" are. The Three Pillars are your keys to the castle. As long as each of the Three Pillars is recognized during the creation of your RP, you can know that your RP is built on solid ground. They are called pillars because without any one of them the entire RP becomes very unstable and the slightest misstep can bring the whole thing down. Don't be mistaken though, the Three Pillars only make up for half of the equation, but it is such an important half; after all, you'd never get anywhere in a car with only two wheels.

An RP's structure keeps it from collapsing in on itself, it also keeps it from becoming bloated and unwieldy. Structure works on two distinct levels: story and etiquette. The story of an RP is that tough, yet flexible foundation that enables the players to tell their tales. It is one of the hardest parts of the RP to create because it has to be very clear in establishing the circumstances of the world, while at the same time being vague enough to allow the players near-infinite room for creation and character development. The other half of structure revolves around etiquette. Player etiquette is something that should be stressed in any RP. There is a time and place for everything, but don't you dare post your Out of Character musings in the RP topic, that's why the Out of Character topic was made! That is but one example though; respect, regular posting habits, knowing how to say no, these are all things that fall under etiquette. It may seem like nickel and dime stuff, but over time those little things add up and can become quite a blight on even the most lively RP.

In an RP, the villain is the glue that holds everything together. A villain is the root cause of the major problem in the world of an RP; but, a villain is much more than some vagrant with a questionable past and a doomsday device. The villain is in charge of the story and the pacing in an RP. Without the villain the hero has no purpose; therefore, it is imperative that the player who is in charge of the villain have at least a basic plan outlined. The villain is usually the player in the RP who has to do the most work, as they will have to plan out events and make sure that everything stays on track. An RP should always have a villain chosen before it starts. If a villain is not chosen and the issue is left up in the air you can expect to see everyone and their mother try to make their character the big baddie. In that scenario all you will end up with is a bunch of people trying to prove that their character is the most evil; nothing will get done, there will be no real story, and the RP will die. The person who is in charge of the villain needs to understand the importance of their role; they cannot sit back and let things go. A villain must always be at the ready with something that will propel the story forward toward its ultimate conclusion. And for those of you that enjoy something slightly more-abstract, remember that your villain doesn't need to be a living thing. A sinking ship is just as threatening to a hero as a man with a gun.

The term hero is used very broadly in the world of an RP. For the sake of an argument, a hero is anyone who is not a villain. A "hero" might not be a good guy, but there is a profound difference between a bad guy and the RP's villain. The hero's role is to fill out the story that is outlined by the villain. While it is true that the RP's major events will be planned and executed by the villain, it is the heroes who will add detail, dialog, and a touch of soul to those events. The hero is what makes the story interesting and the hero's trials and tribulations are what readers want to know about. Another key job of the hero is to keep the players' characters in some semblance of a group. There may be an instance of a lone wolf but by and large the player who chooses the role of lone wolf leaves the RP because their character has no interaction and becomes shallow. It is not the role of the villain to keep the heroes grouped together. If anything, the villain wants to keep the heroes separate! Keeping the group together is an important part of maintaining a healthy RP.

The Players

Yeah that's right, the players!
You know who the players are. Chances are that you're one of them or are going to be. The people who are playing in an RP account for a huge part of the overall experience. You can follow the Three Pillars perfectly and still have your RP blown asunder by a bad group of players. Something that every Role Player worth their salt should be able to do is say no. If you know that a person is not going to pull their weight, is unpredictable, or is just plain bad at Role Playing then you are well within the confines of decency to deny that person. This is something that the group needs to decide though. An RP is a game and it is supposed to be fun; however, you will not be the only one playing and you should always be mindful of who else will be playing. Another thing is that RPs are not something that just happen overnight and they do not require less contribution over time. If anything you need to become more involved as the game progresses. This need not be a bad thing, but anyone who is planning on being in an RP should understand that it is a commitment of time that could span weeks, months, or even years.

Here is a collection of tips from experienced RPers that should help make your time here easier.

* Don't be afraid to ask for help or to coordinate plot sequences! Conferring with your fellow players is the key to making a good RP, however don't give up your whole plot or become reliant on other player's ideas. Also remember that you're allowed to scheme with the person playing the villain too!
* Hey guys, use spell check and proper punctuation and please proofread!
* Know your limitations. RPs are taken seriously so don't bite off more than you can chew. RP posts are expected to be smart and well thought out. It may sound mean but if you can't write well you might want to pass on joining an RP.
* An RP usually follows a set point of view. Generally they're written in third person limited omniscient. It is not unheard of to have an RP written in first-person but it is generally seen as more rigid. Whichever point of view you choose, try to stick with it! There is nothing more jarring than having to wade through a ton of perspective changes.
* Don't be afraid to push the action or do something big. If the same few people lead the RP all the time the story will become tired and predictable.
* Your job is to post about your character, if other people have trouble keeping their characters in the limelight than it's their fault. Don't feel obligated to carry other people's characters because it will limit your creativity and could have a severe backlash down the road.
* Try to get into a regular posting schedule. An RP will run much smoother if you are posting regularly. The other players need to be able to depend on your post, they have to know that you are going to post. If this confidence is not there everyone begins to slow down and things will deteriorate rapidly.
* Let's just be blunt about this whole RP business, it takes dedication. You can't just sit down for five minutes, slap an idea together, and expect it to glimmer. There has to be planning, editing, checking, rechecking, and a whole lot of conferencing with the other players (This includes the villain, NEVER forget to talk to the person controlling the villain). This process of building your story can take hours or even days. Be a good neighbor and talk to the people who are in the RP with you. Make plans with them, it will enhance the story! Double cross them, it will enhance the story! Do whatever you can to enhance the story!
* Plot is your friend in an RP. Sometimes you are going to have to forgo the simple, or even logical, solution in exchange for something that will keep the story moving forward. It's just a fact of life; yeah, the Empire could have blown Yavin to smithereens and then they'd have had a clear shot at Yavin IV but that just isn't good storytelling. In a story-based RP your primary goal is to tell a compelling story and to do that sometimes you'll have to go against that little voice in your head that is telling you to take the shot.
* You didn't get chosen to be the villain, darn. Instead you are playing the role of the hero but that is nothing to be ashamed of, the hero is very admirable! Do not, however, decide that you are going to get smart and tell a story of your own. If you want to write a short story, write a short story! In an RP you are encouraged to enrich your character with a deep and engrossing side story but please, for the love of all things holy, don't tout your story as the second coming. The fact is that the villain is the one pushing the main plot points and let's face it, his plot points involve all of the characters. Your character's plight may be neat, but unless it involves everyone who is playing it runs the risk of becoming intrusive and can detract from the game.
* This one will be really short. Characters who are overtly crazy or insane tend to ruin RPs. They are shallow, have trouble interacting, and usually draw the ire (and the blades) of the heroes.
* Plots tend to work better when the villains' plans relate to the heroes personally. The two groups should know one another; this allows for more emotion during fight sequences as well as charging up the dialog scenes.
* Every post is different, but there is a certain structure that they all have in common. The first part should address what happened before it, the middle part should advance the general plot as well as your character's plot, and the last part should leave an opening for the next person to post. Your post will start out broad, then become more specific as you include character details, and finally become broad once more to allow someone else to jump in.
* Coincidence is cool, but it is not entertaining. Try to avoid coincidence if you can. At the very least, make sure its justified if you do use it.
Helpful Links
Here is a collection of links that will help you better navigate the Gaming Steve RP scene.
Forum Rules
The rules that you must abide by everywhere on the Gaming Steve forum.
Guidelines for Role Playing at Gaming Steve
A short guide that talks about the secrets to making a successful RP. Everyone should read this.
The RP Planning Thread
Do you have an idea for an RP? Post it here, you might as well do it anyway because we will just move your suggestions here if you don't.
The RP List
This list contains links to every RP we have ever had here at Gaming Steve, if we've played it you can find it here.
The Out of Character Lounge
A place where all of the Role Players and Meta-Gamers can chat about things that are happening in the Storytelling & Roleplaying section.
Spore RPs
Not in the right place? Do these RPs look a little off? Maybe you wanted to go to the Spore RP section instead!
Meta-Game List
Are you really lost? Don't even know what an RP is? You probably wanted the Meta-Game List.
Dungeons & Dragons on Gaming Steve
So you're looking for that kind of RP, eh? Head on over here and let the resident pros get you set up!

Odds and Ends
There you have it, a reasonably short guide to making an RP that will work. Hopefully you folks out there take the time to read through it, even if you are already a seasoned veteran. If you have any questions, comments, complaints, or whatever, please post them in this topic. This guide is a fluid document and will be changed if someone brings up something good. Thanks for your time!

If I were to rate it, I'd give this a 100%.


*Goes back to thinking of his next post*

I think the plots work better when the villains plans relate to the heroes personally - that is to say, the two groups know each other. Spiderman beating up the monster of the week is never as interesting as Spiderman taking on Doctor Octopus. There's the whole run of emotion in one of those fights, and just punches and webs in the other. It doesn't mean anything

Krakow Sam:
Good point lurk. We should really try to get more recurring villains into the Superpower Rps (at least). So far the only person thats consistantly done so is Neoadept bringing Stranger back again and again.

Krakow Sam:
A reminder Patty. Villains don't strictly have to be people, or even monsters.


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