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What Is A Roleplaying Forum?
So, what is it?
An online roleplay forum, otherwise defined as an online text-based roleplaying game, is a specific area of the online roleplaying community (which in a general sense involves online video games such as World of Warcraft or the less extravagant MUDs) which caters to both gamers and creative writers.
The forum roleplay experience generally caters to people with a high writing ability and a good imagination. These types of set-ups are usually entirely freeform, with some loose lore and geography. Most of the history of the world is created by the roleplayers and is wholly interactive and changeable. With that in mind, some forums do include GMs and the like, especially if there is some sort of lore set in place, to make sure that players aren't doing anything that oversteps the boundaries set by the creators of the board. For example, a lot of roleplay forums will not allow a character to blow up the world on a whim because that would affect (and subsequently be rejected by) the majority of players. Because of this, most of these forums take place in a "mild powers" setting. More freeform boards, however, might allow a higher degree of power since the roleplay is only relevant to the people who chose to participate in that particular plot.
Settings and characters are completely reliant on the players and on the world that the forum has been decided to revolve around. They can range from video game settings (such as Kingdom Hearts and Final Fantasy), to non-game fiction (Such as Ann Rice novels or the Superhero empire), to purely original settings and characters designed ultimately by the players.
Some forums incorporate many of these settings, including their own "hard" or canon story for the world in which the majority of the roleplay takes place. Valucre, for example, has many alternative boards, but these are not generally considered canon for the characters that participate in the roleplay across Terrenus, Genesaris, and Tellus Mater, which are the three main continents in the canon world.
Posting for roleplay forums is generally done in the third person so that the player can more freely interact with his setting. In some instances, first-person roleplay has been done, but it is a relatively rare occurrence. Third person is preferred due to its ease of construction, increasure puerview in comparison, and versatility.
Many forums implement a soft or hard timeliness policy that requires roleplayers to post within a certain amount of time. This is used to prevent stagnation and lost of interest, which is a common problem in the forum roleplay world.
The first post in a thread is the "introduction", where one player is laying down the scenario, detailing the settings, starting a story about their character and inviting others. The thread then becomes an continuing story where other players periodically advanced the plot by reading the last reply, or last few replies depending on the number of people involved in a thread, and then typing their own response detailing what their characters are doing/saying/thinking and how the environment, and at times even the NPC's, responds in turn.
Combat between characters usually requires some sort of rule set to which both people agree. Players are usually not allowed to metagame, use exceedingly power attacks with preparation, or mess with the sequence of events established in past posts. Certain forums will implement other restrictions, limiting the level of power allowed and detailing how interrupts are done.
Most battles are won through superior writing skill and tactics, although some forums implement a stat system that'll allow people to win if they have higher stats. This, generally, supports more friendly roleplay but loses the competitive spirit of textual combat. Many players, especially those with exceptional prowess in the art of writing, tend to avoid sites that implement stat systems.