So you are already familiar with basic forum roleplaying etiquette. Now you need to take your posting and roleplaying to the next level — beyond just “good” and into “great” territory! Forum roleplaying may seem easy on the surface — and some aspects are! But writing a great roleplaying post and being a great roleplayer is much harder than it seems.
However, there are certain things you can do as a roleplayer to craft a really great RP post — each and every time.
Timely Roleplaying Post Replies
Make sure you aren’t taking forever to reply to your posts. You don’t have to reply immediately — and if you are feeling pressured to respond more quickly than you can, make sure to take care of yourself and have a break or drop some threads.
But at the same turn, be respectful to your fellow roleplayer. Taking six weeks to reply to a thread where the average reply time is closer to seven days can be really rough. It hurts your inspiration, and it can hurt your roleplaying partners’ inspiration. Sometimes it can even make it hard to write new threads — if you aren’t sure what’s going to happen next in a long-lasting thread, it can totally sap your inspiration to write new threads.
If you’re having trouble keeping up with your threads, check out Forum Roleplay’s RPG Post Log resources. You can learn how to build your own post log or use a pre-made post log template. They can help you keep track of what needs your response and whether it’s your turn to respond — and they provide a great overview of all your threads, if you use a multi-character post log.
When Writing a Roleplaying Post…
Note your character’s quirks, movements, body language, gestures, and so forth. Don’t overload your posts with action. Do remember that if your post is all thought and speech, there’s very little for the other writer to respond to. If you throw in a little bit of action into each roleplaying post, it makes the thread that much more interesting!
Respond to Action
If the other character made a move, action, or betrayed something in their body language (and your character was likely to notice), do respond! If their character stepped forward in their roleplaying post, perhaps your character steps backwards. Or — doesn’t, depending on the interaction. Make sure you’re not skipping over anyone else’s action that requires response, either — such as a handshake, high five, etc.
Don’t Forget the Scenery!
Especially in long threads, the scenery is sometimes neglected. If the characters are standing outside in a forest talking for hours, maybe the sun starts to set and they have to begin making their way home. This can change the flavor of the thread from simple idle chat to a real adventure — and a great way for two characters to bond. If the characters are sitting in the main camp tent late at night, perhaps a few NPCs join them for drinks and dancing?
Mistake? PM the Player!
PM the other player if they made a mistake in their roleplaying post. If your character extended their hand in your last roleplaying post, but the other roleplayer doesn’t mention it or have their character react, they may have simply missed something. It’s polite to PM the roleplayer and let request they edit their post if it’s integral to thread progression. Forging ahead with your post under the assumption that their character intentionally dismissed your character’s handshake may not be what should have happened.
Show, Don’t Tell
This is important in roleplaying and writing. Rather than telling your audience flat out how your character feels, you should show them instead.
WRONG: “Azazel felt awful for what he had done.”
RIGHT: “Azazel’s ears drooped and his eyes fell to the ground, unable to look at the other canine. The corners of his lips drooped in the beginnings of a frown, and when he opened his mouth to speak, he found shame had taken the words out of him.”
Roleplaying Post Don’ts
- Don’t respond to every bit of speech. Give non-verbal responses — nods, stares, shakes of the heads, funny looks, waves of the hand, thumbs up, smiles, grins, shrugs, crossing of the arms, and so forth. This simplifies the thread and can help prevent awkward speech patterns between roleplaying characters.
- Don’t overthink. Don’t immerse yourself completely in the character’s head. It’s great that she’s thinking of her dead parents in this somber moment, but it gives the other roleplayer very little to reply to. Make sure your post doesn’t consist solely of thought — it’s very difficult to reply to.
- Don’t overdo the action, either. Don’t over-stuff with action, changes, and alterations. A slight change of scenery, like the sun beginning to set, is great. A major shift — such as a cliffside cave beginning to flood — may not be so appreciated by the other roleplayer(s).
- Don’t be over-controlling. It’s important not to entirely direct the course and flow of a thread. Allow the other player to make some decisions, even if it’s an unplotted thread—this is easily done by leaving open-ended replies. For example, if two wolves are hunting a moose, the first character’s reply could detail their approach, the second could detail the selection of suitable prey, the third could detail the actual attack, so on and so forth. Each roleplayer gets to dictate a different part of the interaction and advance the storyline a little; it’s more fun for everyone this way. Reading up about roleplaying combat situations provides techniques that work not just for RPG combat between active players — but for most any roleplaying game action situation.
- Don’t prioritize your template. Yeah, everyone loves having custom RPG posting templates. They’re a big part of most any roleplaying forum that allows HTML and CSS embedded directly into the post. But it’s important to remember: the writing is your focus, not your template. It’s nice to match a template to a character mood — but if you’re spending half an hour deciding which template to pick before you write your post, you may be a little too graphically focused. That said, if it helps you write, it helps you write. Just always make sure your post templates are clean and readable.