Welcome to the RPGuide

A step by step guide on how to make your own Roleplay site.

 3. Fleshing out your Roleplay World

 Okay, you know what kind of site you want and what kind of crowd you're looking for and what genre you want it to be categorized as. Now let's work on the plot and the characters that will be involved in it.

-The Story so Far:
The key here is to make a rich, engaging storyline for your members to get drawn into.
You basically want to make a summary from beginning to present time of what happen and why it happened. Remember to add at the end of your storyplot your members' purpose of roleplaying at your site. Are they here to just be the townspeople and build up the town? Are they here to learn and create new spells? Are they here to find the love of their life? Make their purpose clear. Also, make sure that you're open minded to story changes. Your plot may or may not come out exactly the way you want it when you let other people join into it. Keep this in mind and try to make sure your storyplot isn't too overdone, long and strict. Also, don't be so stubborn about trying to stay on course with the storyline. You may miss out on some pretty interesting twist and turns. The reality is that roleplaying with complete strangers will cause for a lot of impromptu style thinking. So stay open minded.

-Less is More:
This means not to take on more than what you can handle when building your site. It's better to have a basic plot/setup that members can help build up into something big over time, than to have something that's big and has to shrink over time. Members don't like it when you have to keep taking away things they're used to because you realize that now it's a mistake.
I actually seen a site with the announcement that said since they added more forums, this would get members to post more or get more people to join their site. This is not true at all. Members love to see a nice clean and tidy site. They don't like seeing a long, overwhelming list of useless forum, topics or storyplots. So make sure you have no more than 7 forums for them to roleplay in and keep the storyline simple. Make sure you also pay attention to which forums are popular and which aren't, and then get rid of the ones that no one posts in.

-The Villain and Hero of the Story:
It's best to make a villain for your story instead of letting members do so. Most members will always be torn in wanting to be the 'good' guy even though they created an 'evil' character. So don't leave it up to them. A villain doesn't have to be a person, it can be an event where all members are trapped in a collapsing building and must get out before it collapses. A villain can be a famine, an earthquake, poverty, a flood or any other natural disaster. It's basically events that will shake things up every once in awhile. If you do choose to make your villain a human, make sure that this person is fleshed out properly and has a reason for why they're doing what they're doing. Perhaps this 'villain' is trying to make the world a better place by wiping out the Government who is causing the hunger and poverty within the town. But perhaps the 'villain' plans to wipe out the Government is radical and way over the top. Maybe they plan to blow up, or kill off the whole town and just start over. Or maybe the Government can be the villain of your story by controlling the currency and food supply. Whatever it may be, try not to paint such a black and white picture of what it means to be a 'villain' and a 'hero'. Get your members to think twice before they judge who the 'hero' or 'villain' really is. 

-Pitted Against Each Other:
I do not recommend you setting up your storyplot to have members pitted against each other. Such as: Mafia vs Mafia, or Military vs Military. Many members aren't going to feel comfortable killing/wounding other members. I mean, come on, who's going to want to see their favorite character die to the hands of another character? (I know for sure I wouldn't!). When players know this, they'll keep avoiding battles at all cost. This will now hurt the storyline if no one is battling for victory. I would suggest that if you want a territorial/gang roleplay, then have players battle NPCs (Non-playable characters) that have been created by Admins or Mods instead. This will cut down on the guilt if the NPC dies, or if the member has to kill them.
The reality is that players would prefer working together to take down NPCs than to take down another member.

-And it Goes on and on…:
Okay, I won't argue that there is such a thing as lack of detail. But I will argue that there is such a thing as too much detail. The reality is that adding background story that has a background story, that has a background story can be right out flat boring and useless.
I've come across a few sites that had gobs of back-story and history. However, I also questioned how many people actually remembered everything that they read? The key is to add enough detail to keep members interested, and enough detail that will actually show up in the roleplay. Here are a few historical things you can think about adding to your roleplay storyline:

-The History of Your World: 
You're basically giving a brief description of the geological aspect of your land. Such as its natural and living resources, natural hazards, the time line, the environment and weather and how it came to the state it is now.

-The Supplies of Your World: 
How does food/supplies and such make it to your town/world? Who supplies it?

-A Light History of the Currency: 
Don't go overboard with this. I learned that half of the members won't even remember to use their currency, so keep it simple. Have no more than three stages of coin/money to pick from. Such as: copper, silver and gold. I do recommend just having one, though.

-A Light History of Natural Material Throughout Your World: Only add this if the material (like ore, silk and such) is actually going to be added to the roleplay. Like if players have to collect these items to make or craft an item. If not, then please don't add this or else it'll come off as useless and a waste of time in reading.

-A History of the Animals/Monsters That Live in Your World: 
List what kind of animals or monsters roam the land. And where can you find them? Are they all dangerous?

-The History of the Rulers of Your World: Do you have Kings, Queens or Presidents? Who are these people? But please don't go back to like ten generations. No one wants to read that. Again, give a brief history on them.

-The History of the Weapons/Vehicles/Technology of Your World:
What's it all about? What's been invented and what hasn't? How do they operate?

-The History of the People/Races of Your World:
What kind of people live in your world? Elves, demons, humans, aliens? What races are accepted among other races and who isn't? How do the people or races live?

    • Note: As you can see, this can get pretty detailed when doing the historical background. And this is why it's so important not to add so many towns or forests and such to your roleplay. Remember; don't overwhelm yourself or your members with too much detail and too many forums, try to keep it simple. 

-Maps of Your World:
Be sure to have a drawn out map of your world, town or any other important areas in your roleplay that members can travel to. This will give members a better idea of what they're working with.

-Keeping Your Members in the Light:
I strongly suggest keeping your members updated on site changes through announcements. Members love this, it makes them feel like you care and have been paying attention to your site. Also, try and mention why you and your staff are making these changes to the site. The point behind this is to have members understand the way that you think, so that they may be well prepared on what to expect from future changes and from you. For example, if you are known for doing a monthly maintenance and members spot out some inactive forums/topics that have been sitting around for some time, then they'll automatically know that those topics/forums will be leaving on the next maintenance check. And this just allows them to feel more confident in knowing what to expect from you and your site.

-Character Bio Sheet:
I'd like to take the time out and tell you how important this really is. The reality of this is that there are some really jacked-up characters out there. I'm talking about some hot messes like a friendly-assassin that threatens to kill anyone in their path, but won't hurt a fly because killing is wrong [Think about that...]. 

These sour contradictions make no sense whatsoever. And these jacked-up characters will single handedly destroy your roleplay with their nonsense. To prevent these sour patches from joining your site, it's best to set up a sturdy Bio outline so that you can spot out those nasty contradictions. Another thing, don't let your members just make up their own race, traits/flaws/abilities and such. The reality is that they're not going to do right and that they will make Mary Sues and Gary Stus (Perfect characters). Create outlines for them to pick from and limit them on how many traits/skills/abilities they can pick from to help flesh their character out more.
If you need help in how to limit characters and their abilities and such, but don't know where to start, then you can start below:

Bio Sheet Outline:
For an outline of what your character Bio sheet should look like, check out this really helpful outline:

Remember, you can edit the bio sheet, skills, abilities, races and character classes to your liking, but just use that as a reference of what you want (or don't want). Also, keep in mind that the more questions you ask a player about their character, the more fleshed out they'll become, and the better you can spot out those hot mess characters. Also keep in mind that you and members may create your character one way, but they may be played out another way. Be sure to make correctional changes to your character's bio, or to notify your members to make changes to their character when this happens. The goal is for the character to match their bio.

-Playing a Character You're Comfortable With:
Dear word, I probably can't stress this enough: Play a character you are comfortable with! Not what you think is cool!! This also means: Play your own gender and a character around your age. Please stop trying to play someone older than you when you don't have the experience of an older person. And please stop trying to play a gender that you just clearly don't understand. It does show, and it'll make you look silly and ignorant. Don't try and play a shy person when you're a really talkative person in real life. Don't play a jolly person when you really have a short tempter in real life. Your character is going to reflect you whether you like it or not; because you are all that you know. So, you minus well play a character that is loosely based off of you.

If you do choose to play the opposite gender, an older person or someone that is the complete opposite of you, then make sure you do research by reading books on this subject at your local library, or reading blogs on this topic. Try listening to relatives, family, friends and other people about their lives. You might learn a thing or two. This will also make the character more realistic, understandable and relatable when roleplaying them out.
Also, don't be afraid to change up your character and have them go in the direction that they're pulling you in.

-Stepping Outside of Your Race:
I would like to mention and bring out the difficultly of playing another species or race.
Since we are only human, we are the only thing that we understand. And I have come across people who have tried playing another race/species and have failed at it miserably.
This is why it's suggested to just stick with humans when roleplaying, because of the complexity that comes with playing something we don't understand. For example, technically, a shapeshifter should have an identity crisis due to the fact that since they change so much, they really don't know who or what they are. This complex should occur over the course of time if they keep using this ability. If we humans have this problem of questioning our existence, gender and our life and can't shapeshift at a drop of a dime, then it should be worse on someone who can change their appearance whenever they want to.

Keep in mind also that if you make up a race or species to add as much detail to them as possible, and be sure to carry that detail out into the roleplay. For instance, if you created a fish-human, you'd have to explain in their bio what this race is about. Such as, if they have to soak in water for a good two hours every two days. If this is the kind of detail you added to your race/species, be sure to roleplay it out instead of forgetting that they need water to survive. When special key features of a character are forgotten, then they end up turning into a hot mess. So be sure if you really want to take on the great responsibility that comes along with playing another race/species.

-The Rotten Apples:
Sure your roleplay is totally unrealistic! That's what makes it fun! However, too much fantasy can be a bad thing if it doesn't have any laws, rules or consequences in them. If everyone can do anything, see everything, and be everywhere then there is bound to be chaos. Here is a list of bad habits that will easily get your character disliked and labeled as a 'Pest':

  • The Teleporter: This means that if you (the player) is bored and you just want to interact with other members, then you will make your character teleport to a topic that has characters already interacting in it. Your character will then interrupt a storyline/conversation by rudely butting in just for attention. Your telelporting character will then quickly get bored with the conversation, you will then proceed to make them rudely and abruptly (After ruining the conversation) end the conversation by teleporting away again! Off you go to ruin more storylines and conversations! YAY!

  • The Freaky Mind Reader: Your character can somehow read other character's mind and know everything that they're thinking. Though, that player may have made their character only speak a few words within the post, that doesn't matter if you can just read the entire post and know exactly what that character is going to do! And hey, if you don't like what that character is thinking, then you can put a stop to whatever that person was planing -thinking- by telling everyone what your character just found out. How annoying!

  • The Lazy Know-it-All: Your character only stays in one place, but they'll know everything that is going on in the entire roleplay, even though they weren't apart of any of the events that were taking place. This is due to the fact that you (the player) has read what was going on in the topics, and therefore, you just made your character gain this knowledge without making your character actually experience and gain the knowledge that they have. Do be careful with this!

  • The Numb Zombie: Your character can be punched, kicked, shot, hugged, bitten, and tipped upside down on their head all in one post. But your character will never acknowledge or respond as if anything has just happen to them! How numb is that!

  • The Sacrificial Lamb: You create characters with over dramatic/traumatizing lives. And geez does their horribly-pitiful sad stories never stop coming! Every single post you make must have a tear jerking-whinny tale about your character's past. This can easily get obnoxious and turn other members indifferent and cold against your characters, making a member just want to shout "Shut up and suck it up!". It's okay to have your character throw a pity party every once in awhile, but don't do it so often. 

-What You Should Do Instead:
All of the things named above is totally unrealistic, and makes for a poor roleplay. There is no logic behind a character being able to read minds without being a psychic. Or being able to teleport without powers or a spell. Or being able to know everything that's going on without having to actually have been there. Or how annoying it is to have that character never react to anything that is happening to them. Or is always crying and whinny over their past. This type of lazy fantasy roleplaying is the main killer to all roleplays. Not to mention what a pain it is to have to play with someone that is like this.

It's urged and encouraged to try and play more realistic by simply having your character talk and interact with other characters to find out what's going on, instead of them just magically finding out. To also politely, and gently excuse your character from a conversation that is coming to an end with another character, instead of rudely ending it by teleporting away. To also minimize bringing up past tragedies, instead of bring them up every post. And to react properly to whatever is going on with your character, instead of ignoring it. 

While this may seem boring, just remember that it takes some real skill to add logic to fantasy. So all around, playing in a more realistic way helps any roleplay site and your character to grow!