Welcome One. Welcome All.
Except him. *Whispers to Minions, the man at the back in the white T-Shirt is dragged off and beaten to death with seals.*
Sorry about that. I didn't like his shirt.
Welcome to Nation RPing guided for GMs and Players. Now before we begin bear in mind that this is based off of my own extensive experience on the subject, but at times may seem to depend on a stricter set of rules than you may be used to when it comes to the "creation" stage of the RP. Now I WILL do my best to make this Genre specific. But I will include a small section for notes about how specific Genre's may effect your RP. And bear in mind that genre will very much have an impact.
A nation RP is an excercise in creativity. You have to consider everything from the get-go. How large is the world I am creating? Is it a number of nations on a continent? Is it global? Is it beyond that? This question alone will begin to help you define the boundaries of your RP. This can range from basic such as climate, an RP on a single continent with a small handful of nations is unlikely to have as many climatological variations as a global one, and that in turn would have less than a sci-fi RP where many worlds of possibility open up.
Once you have an idea of the scale you have an idea of the basic constraints. For example, the smaller the scale the relatively fewer players your RP will be open to. While one can always do a little shoehorning, smaller scale RPs simply don't work with large member bases.
Now you can move on to the next item on the list.
Genre. Though you may already have this decided before scale. And most likely do I have put it second for a very good reason. Scale has no control over the Genre you pick. It is entirely possible to do a space faring fantasy. And I don't mean Star Wars. I mean like Spelljammer, where it's literally "fantasy in space"...
And you have to consider the implications of this. If your fantasy world is global what MAKES it global, does magic allow for faster travel allowing for distances that would once have needed years to cover possible in days or minutes?
Is your Modern RP restricted to living beneath the seas due to solar flares baking the surface 90% of the time? Once you know your Genre you can begin considering why and how it works. And from there where to put limitations.
Eg: Wizard A can make portals? Is he restricted to doing it by sight? By somewhere he's been before? By even a concept of a place such as using a painting as a guide? By simple willpower? How can such a power effect nations? Can they just teleport in and out of a vault at will? What can be done to stop it?
Now this might seem like a relatively simple step. But you have to envision your world. Its potential. You have to consider all the possibly repercussions and consequences of everything you think is going to be in it.
And be prepared to let it all go.
For every one thing you consider a prospective player WILL consider a dozen other things and want them to happen. Here. HERE is where you face a choice.
You face a choice. You can go with a more free-form RP. This is the most often used one, the GM sets a number of rules on what is possible within the world and then gives players a template to fill out. This gives a lot of freedom to the player, a lot of room for creativity and the free-flowing ideas.
It also allows the most room for powergaming, god-moding etc. A GM has to be at their most watchful with this style. Now as anyone can tell you it is not my preferred style. Indeed my preferred style is the other choice...
Develop a Rules System. Now as anyone who has been in my RPs can tell you they are not complete without some form of rules system. Now I won't go into the details of developing a set of rules. That's for another day and another Article/Guide.
The trick with a rules system is to give the players a wide range of choice, but one you have set the limits on. Let the players work within the guidelines you give them to build something unique, but ultimately inside your control and limitations. This minimises the amount of editing a player has to do to get an approved sheet. The pros are simple. You've managed to establish a controllable range for players to work in, this makes it easier to read and approve sheets as well as control them from going overboard. Rules also introduce a layer of complexity most cheats are unwilling to wade through.
The Cons? Too much complexity can utterly kill an RP before it begins. As I discovered with Stellar Empires 2 which had over 600 pages of related rules. (Stored off-site). Also you might lose some good players who are otherwise intimidated by any rules system.
A sometimes neglected aspect is the "Order of Battle" thread, now despite its colourful name this is nothing more than a thread dedicated to keeping ACCEPTED sheets in for quick reference by all players so they don't have to sort through the OOC. It is also a good place to keep maps and other important details you want easily accessed.
Once you have your players, your world and your limitations, it is your job as GM to tie them all together into a cohesive whole. Now contrary to popular belief you do not have to work hard at this, the trick is to GET THE PLAYERS TALKING to each other. While one can pussy-foot around with farmers etc. A great deal of interaction between players will be political, or military. And it is THIS that will keep your players playing for as long as possible. But it is not the only tool in your arsenal. For there is one more of extremely valuable effect.
Random Events. Don't let things get stale. The world is not a static place, there are hurricanes, earthquakes, bushfires, new gold mines found, bandits, pirates, fish falling from the skies, exploding stars, black holes!!!
This is a chance for the GM to really excercise his creativity. To roll a dice and decide something truly random and a victim of chance.
Player A has described his nation as prolific miners, a random event might have them find a vein of diamonds, or have a collapse that renders the whole mine useless (and the less said about a coal mine fire the better)
Player B has described her nation has bandit problems. Well the range of options there is even better.
Player C has described an asteroid ring around his homeworld. One might be found to be mineral rich, or terrorists use engines to drop one on his homeworld!
It is difficult to balance player creativity with your needs as a GM to have an understanding and control over the limitations. It is important to discuss things with your players and be sure of both their intent and understanding as well as convey your own limitations.
And at the same time, be compromising in some areas, but don't allow your players to push you around, stand firm, if you don't want gunpowder in your fantasy don't allow it simple as that, don't allow a player to talk you around. Especially when what they want is potentially a major game changer.
But be flexible, if their idea is possible help them with it within reason. Don't be afraid to make players take compromises of their own, making them feel that their idea might cost them something can make them value it all the more.
Now go out there and have fun!
Playing in a nation RP can be rewarding and fun. But for the first time player it can also be a little overwhelming. It need not be so.
The first thing you must consider as a player before you even start with your concept is the realisation that you will have a LOT of characters. Many many of them will be throw-away characters you make on the spot for all of a paragraph or two. A Farmer to watch the men marching to war. A Scientist to show you're trying to study something. A Religious fanatic to hurl himself on the flames. A gladiator to fight for the amusement of your overlords.
Unlike a character based RP your characters in a nation RP are above all EMINENTLY EXPENDABLE. Now certainly you'll have your "main" characters you want to preserve and keep alive, heroes, leaders, enigmatic advisors with improbably long beards... for a woman. But you shouldn't be afraid to expend even these heroes and leaders for the furtherance of a story. So you have your High King, let him get assassinated so his son can take the throne and swear vengeance and start a war! Mix it up.
When it comes to joining a nation RP you have to consider the size of the world the GM is putting together, the theme, the Genre and so on. Free-form or Rules-based the GM will often have put a lot of work into his idea to bring it to the point of showing it to the public. He or she will have a lot of ideas and expectations, it's very easy to make a GM's head spin and go "you want.. what?"
Now a GM needs to be flexible, but at the same time you need to be mindful of not derailing the GM. A GM losing interest and focus in his or her RP will typically lead to its death, often before it even gets off of the ground. Now this is less likely to be the case with a rules-structured RP than freeform but be mindful of it.
Also, READ IN DETAIL what the GM has posted. They will likely have set some ground rules, and knowing the GMs vision helps. Doubly so if the GM has posted an example nation or one they intend to play in a player role. This will often give a guide as to the rough limitations the GM is willing to take.
But don't be afraid to talk about your idea with the GM. If they're any good they'll be happy to talk to you, help you out and, if your idea simply doesn't gel with what they have in mind, tell you so plainly so you don't waste any time with the idea any more.
Once it begins!.
Don't hang off the GMs every word! You're a bloody nation! Get in and dirty, start diplomacy, start trouble, start wars, start trade. Speak with other players. Create storylines! Create events. Make the world... real. The GM can only do so much, interacting with the other players is absolutely key to getting the most from your nation RP experience.
If you're stuck or just bold, ask your GM to roll you up a random event! Something beyond your control! And more importantly when it comes to random events. Roll with them, you don't like that there was an earthquake? Who does, that's why its a random event, its not about hurting you. Its about creating story, do you go to your neighbours to see if you can trade for quarried stone to help rebuild? Do you attack a neighbour to try and take their crops to feed the suddenly homeless population?
Of course, there are limitations, if you're a land-locked nation 400km from the ocean and the GM blindly rolls a Tsunami hitting you, speak up! GMs have mind-farts too.
Don't be afraid to have secret plans! In fact engage with your GM to actively work on covert activity, hidden from the other players, have clues scattered in your posts. Hints of hints. But keep the GM fully informed of such plans, because when you "spring the surprise" it is the GM who will have to field the "did that really happen? Is his godmodding? Is he powergaming?" If you have evidence and correspondence with the GM, as well as hints in your posts then well played!
Genre... i'll get to that tomorrow.