Choosing an Online RPG

The kind of online RPG game you should join is based on a number of factors. No one can tell you exactly what kind of forum roleplaying game to join. Most aspects of finding “your” place are issues of personal taste and preference. This guide highlights some considerations to help you make the best decision for yourself.

What Kind of Online Forum RPG Do You Want?

Setting

Where and when is this game set? This is the most important question you can ask about a potential online RPG. Ask yourself first, though — what is it I want to write about? Finding the right setting is imperative in finding the best forum roleplaying game for you. If you’re not sure what you want to write yet, there are RPG groups that offer a multitude of different settings. You can create characters for each world, or carry your character from one world to the next. This may help you decide what you like best. You can find specialized online RPG games from there.

A half-cyborg and heir to the throne are equally cool characters -- but they may or may not belong at the same RPG.
A half-cyborg and heir to the throne are equally cool characters — but they may or may not belong at the same RPG. By love-n-mascara-stock & reine-haru.

Your thorough reading of the game information should give you a great idea of what level of realism the roleplaying game expects. If you read about a character who could fly and disregarded bullets, you can probably have a telepathic character who controls flame. If you read about normal people doing normal things, you probably won’t be able to use any magic.

Along the same line, the time setting is important. If your online RPG setting is futuristic, your character shouldn’t be riding a horse, wearing chainmetal and speaking antiquated English. Make sure your character’s possessions, actions, and demeanor match the RPG setting. If you are looking for a medieval online RPG game, don’t try to force a highly futuristic space game to accept you. Instead, find something to your tastes.

Fandom Forum Roleplaying Games

Sometimes you experience a world someone else created and you want more! X-Men, Harry Potter, Twilight, books, movies, video games — there are endless fandom online RPGs. You can probably find one for your favorite series or work!

Plot

Some online RPGs have an established plot (e.g., groups competing for sparse resources). Other games only sporadically post large plots (e.g., a natural disaster striking the game area). These plots run for a while, but are eventually completed and ended. Still other games don’t use any main plots.

Which sort of game plot you should pursue depends on you. If you want maximum control, a forum roleplaying game without a central plot is suggested. If you sometimes have trouble coming up with ideas, a plotted roleplaying game may be your best bet.

Characters

RPG for frilly Victorian ladies with superpowers? Totally out there.
RPG for frilly Victorian ladies with superpowers? Totally out there.

If you’d like to write about frilly Victorian ladies, you can quite easily find a Victorian-era online RPG. If you want to write about frilly Victorian ladies with superpowers, you can probably find a Victorian-era RPG that allows superpowers and magic. If you want totally open roleplay, you can probably find one that allows everything under the sun, too!

Your Skill Level

If you are brand new to roleplaying, you may benefit from joining a low-information, low-entry-barrier game. A short game application or no application may benefit you. A character application desiring every detail down to your roleplay character’s toenail color may overwhelm you.

The Online RPG’s Skill Level (And Friendliness)

If you are brand new to online RPGs — you may benefit from a low-skill or beginner game. You don’t want to join a forum that is highly demanding in terms of realism, long posts, etc. It will probably be a bad time for you, and for them.

Investigate your chosen online RPG game’s friendliness. Friendly games are more likely to be forgiving of newcomer’s mistakes. Don’t rely too much on secondhand experiences. Sometimes people have bad experiences and it’s not the game’s issue.

Consent

Consent is an important concept in roleplay — it refers to the control you have over your own and other roleplayer’s characters. Breaking the consent level for a particular forum roleplaying game is bad roleplay (more specifically — godmoding or powerplay). Consent can be boiled down to three basic ranges. Precise consent levels vary by game; these ranges are broad and non-comprehensive.

Types of Consent in RPGs

Consent is an important (and oft-overlooked) aspect of forum roleplaying.

  • Non-Consent:

    In this type of roleplaying game, In Character consequences are favored. Your agreement to negative consequences doesn’t matter in Non-Consent RPGs. For example, even if you do not want your character to die, other characters can kill your character if they enter hostile land.

    Non-Consent games are often very difficult for forum roleplaying newcomers to enter. You may not always comprehend the danger your character is in. Non-Consent games are bad for players who are very attached to their characters. Conversely, Non-Consent forum roleplaying games are good for players who enjoy the unexpected.

  • Limited Consent:

    Limited Consent attempts to strike an even balance between consent and consequence. Certain negative consequences can be enforced without player agreement. Character death, physical damage, and other severe consequences still require roleplayer agreement, though. For example, the wolf forum roleplaying game that allows an Alpha to kick a member out of the pack would fall under this category.

    Limited Consent roleplaying games are likely the most common type of play-by-post forum-based RPG. Most of the resources on Forum Roleplay are written from a Limited Consent perspective. For example — Bad Roleplay such as powerplay may not even exist in Non-Consent games.

    Limited Consent games may bore the player who wants the thrill of the unexpected. However, they may be too free and open for the roleplayer who values a structured environment offering total character control.

  • Consent:

    Players cannot control anyone’s characters but their own, and consequences or life changes of any sort must be agreed to by the player. The example of this is the high school roleplay which would require a teacher’s roleplayer to ask the student’s roleplayer if the student can be failed.

    Total consent games are relatively rare — as roleplaying is a collaborative effort, being so absolutely unable to affect another character’s life is somewhat contrary to the idea in the first place!

When Joining Your Chosen Online RPG Game…

So, you’re really excited to get to forum roleplaying, huh? It’s important to slow down, however. As each roleplaying game is different, you’ll need to stop for a few minutes and check things out first. This is true for even seasoned veterans of roleplay.

Read Their Information

Stop. Don’t do anything else. Just read. Online RPG games often have an informational or rules forum. Don’t do anything until you’ve thoroughly read it. Don’t try to memorize it. This information will always be there for you later. Before you dive in, though, it is important to read everything over.

Ask Questions

If something is unclear, ask. You will probably receive a prompt answer from someone on your chosen online RPG group. They should also be happy you asked. Most good forum roleplaying games appreciate questions. If you get snarky responses (especially snarky responses from the RPG admin), you’ve likely found a bad online RPG.

Review and Update

If you are asked to change something about your application, go back and change it. For example, in wolf roleplay it’s usually bad to trespass onto the pack’s territory. If the group leader PMs you and gives you the opportunity to change your post, change it. Not altering the mistakes could get you denied from the roleplaying game. Many games do not accept applications until they are to specification; you run the risk of not being able to roleplay.

Grow

Nobody expects you to be perfect on your first shot, and even seasoned roleplayers make mistakes. If you screw up, it’s important to admit your mistake. It’s even more important to learn from it and don’t do it again. However, if the members or staff are harsh over a simple mistake, you may have found a bad online RPG. You may want to take your leave.

Adapt

This is important for roleplayers who have prior experience. Your new game is not your old game. Things may be different. If it is common procedure not to use post templates, you probably shouldn’t use post templates (unless you ask and make sure it’s alright).

Resources for Finding an Online RPG

There are numerous directories, webrings, topsites, and various other advertising methods through which you can easily find an online RPG. There are even forums where you can request your perfect RPG. You lay down the terms, and others offer games to you!

For more resources, see our RPG Advertising section. You can browse advertisements, or view online RPG directory listings.

Joining the Game

Apply

Many games require you to fill out a short (or long) application. The RPG admins typically review this application and accept your character — or request application edits. You cannot roleplay at most games until accepted. Doing so is generally against the rules — or prevented by forum software.

Roleplay!

If you’re looking for roleplay, you’ll want to start a thread. Many roleplaying game forums have Private Message systems you can use to approach individuals about threads. Other games have a forum specifically for thread and plot requests. The vast majority of games allow for “open threads.” That is, one player starts a thread and specifies they are looking for random players and an unplotted thread. Usually, players tag these threads “all welcome” or “open” to indicate they’re looking for replies.

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