So, you’ve got a great idea for an RP and you want to start a thread. That’s awesome! As the one running the RP, you’re ultimately responsible for where the RP heads for its most important plot points, what can/can’t happen, etc…
However, there’s some things that you should keep in mind when running an RP. This is mostly from my experience, so opinions may vary – I tried to keep these as generic as possible.
How do they meet?
This is a very crucial part of the RP. Now there’s different ways for this to happen based on the RP, but for one that’s, say, an adventure RP, you need something that brings the party together. You could start everyone out together or have everyone gather together on their own, but remember that they’re not just going to all meet by themselves. You’re the one running the show: get them to meet!
How do they stay together?
In RPG (Role-Playing Games), it’s not uncommon for characters to leave and either never return or come back. In RP’s, this is slightly mitigated by being able to use multiple characters, but in Tabletop Games this generally doesn’t happen unless a character dies or the player is unable to continue playing.
However, in RP’s as well as Tabletop Games, it’s the one running the show that has the responsibility of keeping everyone together. If tensions start flaring and it doesn’t make sense for a character (or characters) to stay, then why would they stay? As the one running it, you need to make sure that each player character has a reason to stay invested unless the player can’t play anymore or they’re being unruly and you need to take action to stop it.
What’s going to happen?
Tying in with the previous two – how is your RP going to progress? Do you know how the player characters are going to be involved? Settings, themes, character arcs…all of these are crucial to an RP, and here’s why:
Winging an RP is bad 8 out of 10 times
Why? because there’s no structure, which leads to no direction, which leads to disinterest or pages and pages of a subplot that amounts to nothing.
Now, sometimes winging an RP is okay, especially for one that’s more light-hearted and not serious. But if you want to go on some epic adventure, you’d better be damn sure you’re putting in some work beforehand. Create an outline of the main plot, find a way to involve the player characters directly, get some lore for your world.
What I like to do is create an outline and then ask those that join to give me an outline of how their character should progress within the context of the story. I then create key points for the main plot and for the player characters, sometimes coinciding the two If I create my own world this serves the double purpose of letting the plot flow nicely and build some lore for the world. Then, as the RP progresses I make sure they hit key points, and if things start to derail I can bring in an NPC to set the player characters back on track.
Now, this can be a tricky process, especially because…
You don’t want to railroad
Obviously there’s some key points that can’t be missed, but you cannot control how the characters interact and play as they progress. If they go off in another direction, you need to be prepared to handle that, and that’s why an outline instead of a strict plan is better – you give yourself some flexibility in how the player characters can reach each key point. You just make sure that the key points are hit.
If your player characters go off the deep end, then you as the owner of the RP have to make a choice. In this instance, I generally just stop them because I’m not a fan of going off the deep end, but that’s just me.
These are probably the 4 most common things I see happen to RP owners that can effectively kill their RP. Plenty of my own RP’s have been left to rot in this way.
I hope this has helped any of you who enjoy RP’ing and want to start your own!