What is roleplaying? What is play-by-post roleplay?
Roleplaying is the playing of a role. Funny, right?
Play-by-Post roleplay, the term for roleplay on a forum, is a mutated form of round-robin writing. Threads take place in a location (in this continent, that kingdom, this forest or teahouse or armory) and players take turns writing and replying to one another as their characters. Or as other characters, usually called NPCs (Non-Player Characters; more on that later). Or as the setting itself.
Writing is the primary medium of our kind of roleplay. It isn't the only one, as people often incorporate music or a picture or an animation as part of their roleplay, but it's the largest and most accessible component of roleplay as it happens on a forum. This distinguishes play-by-post roleplay from table-top games like D&D and Warhammer, from video games like World of Warcraft and GuildWars, and from LARP, which is basically Improv Acting + Cosplay.
Collaboration is key for roleplay. If you want to control all aspects of a story, all characters, all plot arcs and turning points, you're better off writing short stories and novels.
Roleplay is what you do when you want to co-create narratives. When you want to experience a story that is in constant flux and which provides endless opportunity for surprise because you're not the only person responsible for what happens.
Where do I play?
On the front page, everywhere from Terrenus to Tellus Mater represents the virtual space of Valucre and our World page has the lore for those places. It doesn't matter where you start because your character can go anywhere in the world. Make a thread in the appropriately named forum (Terrenus for Terrenus, Renovatio for Renovatio, etc) and you'll have a place to make a story.
How do I play?
- Create a character.
- Choose a roleplay and learn the setting.
Create a character
You can have the character in your head or you can make a sheet. Sheets are optional. Though optional, some members find sheets useful for tracking information, especially if they make multiple characters. If you do make a sheet, post it in User Lore.
Characters must adhere to Mild Powers, a ruleset we have to bring balance to the fact that Valucre is a freeform fantasy setting and we want to allow our users a high degree of creative expression. Mild Powers threshold is determined by actual post content, not character sheets.
When thinking about a character, here are some things to consider, whether in your head or on a sheet:
- Appearance: What they look like. Basics, things other characters would notice at a glance such as hair and eye color or visible scars, will give your partners relevant details without being repetitious.
- Skills/Abilities: Most useful for combat roleplay, like tournaments or adventures, and otherwise not necessary. A lot of roleplay is slice-of-life and this requires very little or no special abilities at all.
- Occupation: Their job. Usually ties in with the above.
- History: Just enough to give your character substance, so it isn't as if they came out of nothing. Anything longer written pieces would be better placed in Creativity Showcase, where our members often display their poetry and prose.
Choose a role play, know the setting
Valucre's lore is immense. Many are tempted to read as much as they can, which is great. That's why it was written. But keep in mind that Valucre's lore is a work which has been added to over a decade by hundreds of members. Don't get scared off thinking you have to read the history of a continent to write in one of its forests or cities. Just read about that area to get started.
The lore is there to enhance your writing, not to get in the way of it.
Now there's nothing left to do but post. The two fundamental things to keep in mind are:
- Have fun
- Put in some effort.
Your writing doesn't need to be flawless and no one expects it to be, but people respond better and with more effort if they see their partner is putting in effort as well.
Formatting: Space out your paragraphs. Walls of text are difficult to read and fatiguing to the eye. If you use colored font keep in mind that some users are on Dark themes and others on Light, and it may not carry over well.
Player primacy: In terms of the lore, a board leader has final say. In terms of the content of a thread, the creator of the thread (or character) is the ultimate authority. This means that, among other things, a player can decide on the magic, technology levels and abilities for their RP and have the final say regarding the fate of their own characters.
Consequences: Actions have consequences. Characters don't exist in a vacuum and the setting isn't there just to prop up character exploits. If your character engages in criminal activity the setting will push back, and any characters who consistently evade IC consequences to an unreasonable extent may be breaking established canon (such as the ability of a police force to track down a serial killer). If so, IC responses on the GM or setting level may follow.
Make things happen: Keep in mind that you are one part of a narrative that is interacted with by many players. When you post don't just react to the things that have happened - make something happen. Add to the narrative, push the story forward, include something that gives other players a chance to react as well.
Item creation and weighting: Users can create items or acquire them through roleplay. To balance the site's freeform potential against the lore's integrity, Valucre follows a hierarchy system. From top down, artifacts > canon items > readymade items. This means artifacts created by board leaders for their area will always be the strongest. Then items which a player creates through canonized roleplay. Then items users can make on a whim for their sheets or character backgrounds.
NPCs: Try your best to be faithful to the source material in your portrayal of NPCs and always presume competence. If the NPCs of an area are known for being strong, then portray them as formidable. If they're known for being intelligent, try not to portray them as easily fooled. NPCs are there to serve various functions in your stories, but whether they win or lose, please be mindful of their intended role in the setting. If in doubt, reach out to the author!
Magic: Magic is a common storytelling device used in fantasy of all types. Magic's appeal lies in its mystery, power, and costs. Please remember its use should follow the same rules of good storytelling and cooperation we advance and emphasize everywhere on Valucre -- rules including fairness, respect for other people's agency over their characters, appropriate scale, and consideration for the stories other writers are trying to tell. Magic with a cost, that is unpredictable, that solves one problem but creates another, are all good examples of magic use which increases rather than deflates tension. [also see: valucre's laws of magic]
Post order: Replies should cycle through players in the order they join unless otherwise stated. This makes it easier to know who posts when to help manage expectations.
Realism vs Verisimilitude: Verisimilitude is the believably of a work of fiction. Generic verisimilitude is the plausibility of a fictional work within the bounds of it own context. A character singing about their feelings all the time isn't very realistic, but inside of the fictional universe of a musical it makes perfect sense. Inside of a free-form fantasy universe, strict realism isn't as useful as verisimilitude.
Reply time: 2 days before skipping is the standard. Many members take on multiple threads or request a faster or slower pace, and it's up to you to make clear your expectations to your partners. You can use PMs or the @ mention feature of the site to let people know it's their turn.
Tags: Use the tag system to your advantage. Threads that are listed as Open get automatically added to a tag aggregate linked at the site footer and are openly advertised in Valucre's social media. Closed threads let people know your story isn't taking any newcomers.
Villains: Antagonistic characters can be very fun to play and serve a purpose towards creating conflict and dramatic tension. However if your villain or antagonist is impossible to defeat then other players will grow frustrated and lose interest in trying to best them; that makes the story serve you rather than you serving the story. Defeating a villain doesn't have to be easy, or without a cost to the heroes, but should remain a distinct possibility.
Valucre Role Play Glossary
- AFV: Away From Valucre. Used when announcing extended absences.
Auto (AKA powergame): Taking control of another character or inflicting damage on another character without the owner's permission.
- Depends on degree and context. Writing someone out of the thread because they're inactive is generally accepted. Dictating another character's reactions is generally frowned upon.
- Ex: People are fine with an innocent handshake but not if it turns into a Judo flip.
Canon: The body of Valucre's lore. The end result of years of effort and collective, creative contribution from the board leaders and all of the site members. Read the Canonization Guide for more information.
- Strict canon: The actual approved and reviewed canon which gets integrated into the site lore. Strict canon follows the canonization process.
- Loose canon: The memories of collective events shared by players, and whose content or results are not confirmed by a board leader. Loose canon does not follow the canonization process (ex: Daily Weekly).
- Flexible time: Flexible time is the concept that your character can participate in multiple threads so long as you keep track of your character's subjective timeline. Threads can't happen in different locations at the "same time", but one thread could come before another, and you only need to keep track of which is "before" and which is "after" for your character.
- Godmodding: Creating a character, item, ability, etc with no weaknesses, flaws, or limits or that otherwise easily deflates narrative tension.
- IC: In Character.
- Mary Sue: Common literary term to mean a perfect character with no weakness aka a godmod character.
- Metagaming: Taking information you know as a player and unfairly applying it to in-character action despite a lack of grounds for your character to know that information.
- NPC: Non-Player Character - Any other character in the game world, such as a guard or a bartender. Some NPC's require special permissions to control. It is more acceptable for a player to NPC a bartender than it is to NPC a mayor.
- OOC: Out of Character.
- OP: Original poster
- PC: Player Character. A character controlled by a player.
Readymade (AKA shake-n-bake): A story element (character, item, setting, etc) quickly put together for story purposes rather than taken from existing canon.
- A readymade village is not a legitimized piece of canon, hence has no map placement or sub-board, but players are free to create villages for plot purposes.
T1: Interchangeable with "turn based combat".
- Collaborative: Choreographed to various degrees, from completely scripted to loosely plotted. Also known as "T1 Story", this requires only that players decide between themselves how combat should go
- Competitive: Unscripted combat. Requires a third-party method (such as a judge, a scoring system, or dice) to settle differences in objective fashion. Note that administration does not enforce character death
Edited by supernal