General RPG Guide - How to run a Role-Playing Game

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  1. #1
    Patron Foxee's Avatar
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    Lightbulb General RPG Guide - How to run a Role-Playing Game

    You've had a stroke of genius and you want to GM (Game Master) an RPG (Role-Playing Game). Before diving in, though, realize that it takes more than a good initial idea to make a game that is easy to play and so keeps the players engaged. Spend a little time thinking through how the game play will work, build a world that your players can see well enough to play in, and set up rules and profiles to keep things on track.

    Please also note that your RPG moderator is here to moderate the forum NOT to run your game for you! You start a game it's your responsibility, not theirs.

    Quick Glossary

    RPG – Role-Playing Game On Writing Forums a RPG is a text-based game that works like a collaborative story, each player writing solely from their own player's point of view (POV). It bears a resemblance to acting nearly as much as to writing and is good for practicing character development. It's also fun!

    GM – Game Master The person who sets up and runs the game.

    PC – Player Character These are the characters that the players will make a profile for and control.

    NPC – Non-Player Character Generally these characters are made by the GM although sometimes players make them up, too. Usually anyone can control them (unlike Player Characters) or else the GM may reserve the right to control them. Occasionally they become Player Characters.

    OOC – Out Of Character All OOC posts should go in the Discussion thread, not the Game thread.

    God-mode - When a character is all-powerful. If the character can hurt anyone and never be hurt themselves it's god-mode. Don't do it.

    Auto-hitting - One character attacks another with no warning to the opposing player and announces the effect. ('I hit you, you were utterly crushed, I win!') Frowned upon. See how to handle character fights in Foxee's Ten RPG Commandments (commandment #5) below.

    Metagaming - The writer of the character will usually know more than the character does. If the writer's character acts on knowledge they can't have that's metagaming. Another no-no in RPG etiquette.

    Building a Role-Playing Game

    Premise: Your main idea. A pirate ship raiding on the high seas, a sleepy frontier town where the law is nothing more than a gang, your characters kidnapped so that they have to escape from a pit through traps and mortal terror, etc. Can't have a game till you have a premise for it.

    World: Is it present day, past, or future? Does it take place in the city, the country, another planet? What is that place like? Describe the world well enough so that players can write about it. Even if you don't write every detail out in your game thread you should have some idea of why your world works the way it does for when your players ask questions.

    Goals: What's in it for the players? Your players have to have something that they're working toward. It can be a series of goals or one long-range goal.

    Time: There is real time (what you experience every day) and game time (time as it passes in the game). Considering that your players will likely be in different time zones, figure how you'll handle time passing in the game. You need to give everyone enough time to post and interact without going so slowly that the game dies.

    Special abilities: A warning here, special character abilities are difficult because players tend to try to god-mode with them. If you grant special abilities in your game, make limits for them. It'll save you headaches.

    Rules: Each game is, of course, subject to all rules of Beyond that each game has its own set of rules. Usually there are standard ones from game to game then depending on your premise you may have to add a few. Here are my ten standard rules that you can use if you like:
    Foxee’s Ten RPG Commandments:

    1. Read everyone’s posts! Not only does this keep us all on the same page, it’s fun to know your posts are being read and acted upon. Respond to stimuli and events from other players’ posts.

    2. Avoid writing one-line posts or extremely long posts. A range of 40-300 words is good to shoot for.

    3. Edit before posting, we’re all here to improve as well as enjoy.

    4. No God-modding or perfect characters. (boring!)

    5. Fights between characters should be kept to a minimum and I would like to see no killing of humans at all. However, if a fight or killing is unavoidably called for the players concerned must work the action out in PM and both parties should be amenable to the outcome.

    6. Do not control another person’s character without their express consent.

    7. If a player is AWOL and holding up the game the character will be NPC’d at the GMs’ discretion. If the player has been gone for 24 hours other players may control their character in minor ways (move them a bit but no big decisions and nothing out of character). If you know you’ll be gone for some time you may hand over your character to another player’s care.

    8. Don’t flood the thread with long conversations. Give others a chance to post.

    9. Please discuss any issues in the Discussion thread or PM the Gamemaster with your concerns. Gossiping about issues or spamming up the story thread is counterproductive.

    10. And lastly…the GMs’ word is law.
    If you don't like my rules feel free to make your own but do have some ground rules for your game to help keep order.

    Character Template or Character sheet: Again, can be pretty basic and pretty standard and can be customized from game to game. Here is a template that you can use and customize:

    • Name:
    • Age:
    • Gender:
    • Appearance:
    • Background:
    • Personality:
    • Weapons/Gear:
    Depending what the game is you may have more attributes on your character template.

    Posting a Role-Playing Game

    You'll need two threads, a Game Thread and a Discussion Thread. Because of how the forum is set up it would work best to give your game a distinctive name (not just 'My New RPG'). Say you name it Western Shootout. So you'd have a Western Shootout RPG thread where you would put the premise of your game, the rules for it, and the profile template. Then you'd have Western Shootout Discussion so that any discussion about the game doesn't have to clutter up your game thread.

    Once you have done that stop and wait for players to read your premise and join up by posting profiles. You may want to have a deadline for how long the game will be open for profiles before it starts.

    Starting the Game

    Once profiles are written and the GM makes sure that they are acceptable the game can start! The GM should post an introduction to kick off the game, setting the scene for the players and giving them a way to start off introducing their characters.

    Keeping it going

    Depending how the game is set up the GM may offer short-term goals for the players to make for, might harass the characters with bad guys, or may simply move game time on.

    At that point the game is in full swing and it's up to everyone involved to keep it going! Enjoy your game.

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    Last edited by Foxee; August 8th, 2010 at 12:19 AM.
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  2. #2
    I would like to see no killing of humans at all. However, if a fight or killing is unavoidably called for the players concerned must work the action out in PM and both parties should be amenable to the outcome.

    Hmm, that's all the PAW scenario's I had planned scuppered! LOL
    I guess zombies will be ok though.


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