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[Guide] How to GM and How to be a Player

Originally posted on RolePlayGateway.com as “[Guide] How to GM and How to be a Player”, by Ephemeral Rhapsody:


Now, I am not one to be social on forums or take part of discussions. Sometimes, I just need to say my piece because everyone above my post is wrong. However, at times, something in my stirs and demands that I try to make the world a better place. I believe it’s the remnant soul imprint of my conscience.

I have come to RPG in hopes of joining quality RPs. Quality by my own definition, not yours. I have found a few and it was good.

However! I am noticing some RPs that are being created that are inadequate completely. I know, everyone RPs differently and whatnot but the ones I have in mind are something you free-thinkers would have trouble defending. I bet you all know what what I mean. I, for one, am tired of seeing these as they hurt me. A lot. And I would like people to improve and grow as RPers and GMs so better RPs are born each day!

That was all in case you thought I was doing this out of the goodness of my heart. No way, this is purely selfish.

So, without further ado…

~ How to Create an RP ~
The Right Way


What’s an RP?

This is crucial to define, as if I do not, everything I say might as well be gibber-jabber if you think an RP is something else than what I write below.

An RP is a game between multiple parties. There are two types of parties: the GM and the Player. The GM is responsible for the creation of the RP, it’s continuity, and it’s immersion value. Players are responsible for progression, enjoyment, and the immersion.

The GM is the one who sets the story, the mood, and gives something the Players to work with. Without him, all you have is a blank piece of paper and wild ideas coming back and forth between the players and nothing gets done without one, or more, of them ultimately transforming into a GM.


What should a GM do?

Glad I asked, as this is an important question.

The GM has to create a story. Unless you are going for the "sandbox" type of RP which is usually how generic vampires/werewolves/high school romance RPs start, which I beg of you to stop as I am afraid of your mental states, you may want to think more than 5 seconds on it.

The story is what catches the players in the first place. Think of it as the hook. People will have different preferences for their own reasons but one thing all good players expect of a GM is a story that makes sense, a story that is clearly told to them, and good grammar. I know many players who simply cross-read and lose complete interest when even at that speed they spot multiple, and obvious, mistakes. It shows that the GM did not care and would generally mean the RP is not going to have someone working behind the scenes to insure it’s success.

A very common trait for RPs is to have fights and super powers. Why? Because we all love kicking butt and taking names. However, we all our own version of what an elf is or how spells work or whether trolls live under bridges or in your grandmas’ cookie jar. Solution? LORE! Sweet decadent lore.

Lore is the flesh of the world you create. You told the players the story and got their interest. Now, they want to partake in the game but don’t know what to imagine. Can their character have cat ears? Can they be amnesiacs with latent supernatural abilities? Can they wield a 10 foot buster blade and jump higher than a skyscraper as they slash Neo Behamut in two? They need to know these things or characters will greatly, greatly clash and the world will be without integrity and your RP will suffer. Unless you’re going sandbox mode than thumbs up to you.


How does a GM do what a GM does?

As a GM, you must remember that the players who apply to your RP are not your friends and sometimes you have to be the bad guy. Why? Because it’s not a sandbox.

A GM’s main purpose is to have the game succeed and to do that he has to select the applying players that best understood the lore and story and who made the best work of their characters. If the GMs can see genuine love, interest, and understanding through the application, than odds are the player is going to give a good portion of his fun into the RP unlike the applicant who scarcely remembered the rule that said "NO MARY SUES!".

Give their fun? Yes, exactly. The RP isn’t fun because it IS fun. The RP is fun because people make it fun together.

Sometimes, you have to tell people that their character needs editing and tell them what makes you think so. This helps the player improve their character and shows that the player is interested. The GM is responsible for who gets in and who goes out. It’s his duty to make the best RP he can.


Should a GM reveal the plot?

Of Course! Give everyone a good idea on where the story is going. Let them know where it begins, what occurred to incite the game, and what the desired end result is.

IE: Local heroes meet up at the temples entrance to eradicate the sudden appearance of evil jelly men pouring out and attacking the villagers. Can they find the end of this mystery?

This gives everyone a clear goal and idea what will happen and gives them time to think of how they want to deal with the situation.

However, the GM should never tell more than necessary because the players want twists and turns to happen at a moments notice. Sometimes, they find a treasure or a locked door and the GM should keep the contents hidden and reveal them when they arrive there.

The GM creates the story and knows what happens next. The players don’t and will do what they believe their characters should in the given situations. Sometimes, it changes the story and the GM should be prepared for that. Half the fun is seeing how the players twist the story around by adding their own uniqueness to it.


What should a GM expect of his players?

When a player applies for an RP, the GM should assume the player is a good roleplayer. Meaning, that he or she understands by joining that they have given the GM notice they are willing to dedicate a bit of their day now and then to write a post and commit to the RP. Think of it like when you are hired at a job, the last thing your employer expects is for you to shrug your shoulders and leave the day after.

If a Player doesn’t post or his posts are inadequate in length, relevancy, or have serious lore/typo issues, than he should send them a PM to let them know they need to look over this and that. Why? Because the story and lore is there for a reason (To create immersion) as well as control the world. Typos can usually be ignored unless it’s blatant they did not even pay attention. It’s horrible to read and will bother more RPers because it draws them out of the story and sometimes they have to figure out what’s written and writing was created to avoid the figuring out.

Should GM post first?

Yes, the GM should post first to describe the current events, what’s happening, who’s who, and where’s why. This will give everyone something to work with in their own introductory posts and keeps everything mostly localized. You don’t want people to be too far away most of the time or starting off in a way that would inhibit the story or not go anywhere.


What else?

A GM should think about keeping track of everyone and working with the NPCs, monsters, and hidden things to create a sense of dynamic for the players and him/herself. Players should normally only play their characters and use certain NPCs as necessary but it’s a lot funner when they can’t control everything and their own desires clash with the story’s desire (GM’s Will) so to speak.

Make sure you are willing to PM other players or answer all their questions. Sometimes a player needs clarification on something and at times you have to ask them to edit a post because it simply doesn’t work. It’s up to you to play janitor as well.

GM should not be afraid to record events, write and describe new happenings/places, and surprise his players.

Should I GM?

No. You probably shouldn’t.

But if you do want to, there’s a few things to think about.

    Do I have a story?
    Is it fleshed out and could I tell it aloud from event A to event Z?
    Does the world have lore?
    Is it a kissy vampire romance with high schoolers? If yes, please pull the computer power cord.
    Is the story linear or can players change it depending on what they come up with?
    Is there a satisfactory ending for whatever outcome?
    Do I have time to check on my RP and insure things are running smoothly?
    Do I have the integrity to control my world and not be bullied into ripping the lore up for someone who can’t get enough of his kamehameha powers?

If you answered correctly to these questions, you would know which answer is correct if you can be a GM, than you’re golden!

This does not guarantee your RP will be good, liked, or even succeed. It guarantees that you will appear to know what you are doing and improve your GMing skills.

How do I find players and succeed in my RP?

Simply put, the "Interest Check" forum is there for all your ideas to be presented. Most members of RPG will look there to see if there’s anything brewing that might catch their interest. This let’s you find some players who are interested in the RP and save you the trouble of making it without knowing if it will generate any interest.

Secondly, there’s the "Players Wanted" forum where, if your RP needs more, even after interest check or if someone drops out, you can find additional players who are seeking to join an existing RP that is either new or has already begun.

Finally, make sure you have the time, patience, and desire to keep an eye on the RP and to keep pushing it along until the very end. Some parts it’ll be tedious, sometimes you won’t want to deal with it, but as the GM you are needed and you should not abandon your projects. However, sometimes you may need a day or so off from it just to get away and relax. Don’t ever think you need to check every single day what’s going on but feel free to find your own comfortable pace. Note, however, that taking a week off without notice is not acceptable for the most part if the RP is active. People will wonder what happened to you.


What if a player doesn’t post?

Hit him with the biggest stick you can and run!

Or, just PM him to let them know they are missed and needed. If they don’t respond, hope you can find a replacement or they were expendable as you feed them to the goblin hordes to save the rest of the party. Do it only once when their allotted wait time (A fair wait time is two days when it’s specifically their turn or the rules state otherwise).


I have mixed feelings about the usage of pictures.

Good, you should.

To each their own but the GM should set the example to allow pictures in the RP, applications, and whatnot. Some prefer descriptions because most pictures tend to never really fit into the world/lore and some don’t care too much. It’s up to you but I suggest no pictures for more "literate" RPs as it encourages descriptive writing and works the imagination. Besides, the pictures are never exactly what you want anyways…


As a player, what are my responsibilities?

Glad I asked, this is quite a serious topic.

When you apply to an RP, remember that, odds are, the GM is trying to succeed in creating a fun and memorable RP. This should make you ask the following question if you are not a troll and a horrible, horrible person.

    Do I have time to post every 2-3 days to keep the story going?
    Do I understand the story and lore?
    Can I ask questions about the lore/story before joining to make sure I want to join?
    Am I brave enough to ask questions when I require clarification?
    Am I willing to play even if the story becomes a bit stale for me in the end?
    Is my character the dreaded Mary Sue and within the character skeleton regulations?
    Does my Character fit into the world and could they be of use in the story?
    Am I here for romance?
    Am I willing to comply to the posting regulations?

If you answered correctly, you would know, you’re a shoe in and a great person! You deserve the best of all RPs.


What to remember when making a character

Your characters should never ever be a Mary Sue, meaning a generic one-dimensional character. They’re boring and bring nothing to life. Because they’re a bit like stillborns. I know it’s horrific but it works.

Your characters have history and that is what shapes their personalities. People aren’t who they are just because that’s who they are. People are someone because of their experiences.

Not every character is good or evil. That is an archaic mindset. There’s more to a person than being the dark, mysterious emo or the ditzy rich blond. There’s loads of flavors in the world and don’t be afraid to write someone who seems more plain or boring because, odds are, those are the most real and interesting characters you could ever make.

Everyone has strengths and weaknesses. All of those make up your character and helps to flesh them out. It doesn’t have to be something related to a tragedy but maybe they have a mild form of OCD or they like pickles? When you create a character, try to make them real. Pretend them, imagine them, fantasize them. It creates new life for them and sparks your imagination.


Should I mention if I might not be able to post?

YES!

Nothing is worst than a player suddenly disappearing. It, often, halts the entire RP and everyone has to start throwing out all the ? marks above their heads as there’ll be far too much up there by the time they realize you disappeared and left for good.

Make sure to let the GM know you are going away or anything of the sort if planned when you apply. During the RP, leave an OOC post describing what’s up or shoot a PM to the GM.

This makes you a better person, a better RPer, and is appreciated by everyone who will then not hold anything against you because everyone knows that life happens.

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Introduction

The introduction is the first thing people will notice and this is what will hook them. If it’s baddy organized or has nothing to read but a single line, expect the player to move on.

What you, the GM, should do in the introductory post is numerous but I’ll break it down. Please write in an easily readable font and color. Many people love their retinas and have no interest in straining them.


Story

Write out the story. Not to complicated.

Make it with a slight oomph though. Don’t just blurt it out and vomit a million events into a single line. Ever read a book? Think of it as a summary that doesn’t give out the end.

You should write about everything related to the events that are occurring in the story and what is the obstacle that prevents peace from reigning supreme. Give the characters and places proper names, make it a good clean read that interest and hooks your player. It can’t be just "Bam, Bam" it has to be more like "Boom, boom, bop, bip, bop, BAM, bop, bop, BAM, BAM, boop?"

See what I did there? I pity the fool who did not follow that.

Lore

This is mostly optional for certain games but it’s quite important for the more controlled, less sandbox RPs.

What are the races like? The towns? The magic? The weaponry? The technology? Does everyone called each other Messere and end their sentences in Ha-Ha?

Lore creates an immense amount of immersion value because it works the players mind to create a very specific image every time the re-enter your world. I am not saying to describe every single detail, but like a good book you would give out the general feel of the world so people can morph their imaginations to something similar instead of being wild.

This is also a good place to explain how certain things work such as magic or super powers as many RPs have these. You want everyone to understand the limitations and how imaginative they can be about it or how powerful certain things are. If you want a bunch of Z fighters wailing on each other go ahead but if you want something safer for the environment make sure to let your players know.


Character Sheets/Skeletons

This is a very popular thing to do these days. Actually, even back in D&D we did this so never mind that last bit…

You have two choices. You can either create editable/fixed characters for your players to adopt or let them create one from scratch. Make sure to write out what you expect in application such as length, subjects, styles, or picture/no pictures. This will control what kind of applications you get and keeps everyone on the same page.

Rules

Very important.

Make sure to write out what you expect. People aren’t going to figure this part themselves. Trust me, they won’t.

Can you God-Mod? Do you have to post daily? Is there a word minimum/limit? Do you have to follow certain key aspects? And so on!

An RP without rules is a sandbox waiting to happen. Heck, without anything I said it becomes a sandbox. And we’re trying to stay away from that.


Places

RPG has a very neat tab system and Places is on of the better features for the most part. A GM should use it to describe key locations and give players an idea of where they can go and what’s it like. It creates more immersion value and controls the world a little bit better.

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Now, none of you have a reason to create introductions with 1 line, spammed with oversized pictures, or half-bummed tries. GMing is both fun and a job. If you’re not sure whether you’re up for it, than work on it by writing it out or taking time imagine everything before posting online. And if you’re still not ready or confident, try joining an RP. There’s many excellent players looking for buddies and groups needing new additions. Don’t be afraid. It’s all online. What’s the worst we could do to you?

If you have any comments or things that you think I should fix/mention please post below ^_^

Discussion

One comment for “[Guide] How to GM and How to be a Player”

  1. Thanks! I’ve decided to start RPing (I’m just waiting for registration to be back) and this was very helpful.

    Posted by Maria Eduarda | November 10, 2011, 6:34 pm

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