A well-dressed man in a vest and tie walks towards you. As you stand there, he reaches out his hand and takes yours. "I am so glad you have come! Welcome to NJ's Helpful Guide to Establishing a Regional Roleplay! I am NJ, author, publisher, and avid roleplayer. You have come to the right place, because, in this guide, I will be walking through how to establish and maintain a new regional roleplay system. Most regions have some roleplay system, even if they are not roleplay focused." He gestures over to a door. "Come on! We'll start by deciding what kind of roleplay you want to have, how to set it up, and round off with how to promote and maintain your system. Follow me!" He opens the door and strides through...
Roleplay is one of the most important facets of NationStates. It is one of the two great pillars of the game and, alongside gameplay, is the foundation of NationStates. In fact, there are over one thousand regions that identify themselves as roleplaying communities. Many regions, even if they are focused more on gameplay, have some roleplay functions. There are plenty of regions, though, that are completely focused on roleplaying, such as my own Thegye. These communities thrive off of roleplay and what makes roleplay so fun. So, keeping that in mind, let's jump into how to establish your roleplaying community.
Style: There are a few "styles" of roleplay that you can look into. This is different from your era, of course, but somewhat tied to it. Some regions will have guided roleplay, where nations and characters play along in a grand story and are guided. This is an interesting style. Some Discords will take this style and use an RP bot to assist them. Others have an open RP style, where moderators simply make sure no one is breaking the rules and players craft the story themselves. Some have a little bit of both. We'll go over my personal tips and preferences in a pro tip below. Whatever style you pick, however, you should make sure that your roleplayers enjoy it. As with many things, be flexible.
Era: Once you've decided about your style, now you get to chose what era you should roleplay in. Generally, if your region has an established theme, your roleplay era should align with that theme. For instance, in Thegye, the theme is medieval, pre-Renaissance. Our roleplay is set in the late 1300s, just like the theme for our region. However, some regions don't have a theme that matches a set era. Depending on how you want to set up your roleplay, you can let your roleplayers set the era. I would strongly suggest, however, that whoever is setting up the roleplay at first establishes an era.
Maps: Maps are super important for any nation roleplaying endeavor. A map could make or break a roleplaying region. A map is designed to mark out your roleplayer's nations and allow them to reference it for roleplays. Roleplay maps come in two general shapes and sizes. The first is the open map and the second is the progressive map. The open map is that usually seen in most modern-day regions; the entire globe is open to all players to claim wherever they want to claim. Progressive maps generally start in a smaller, focused area and expand as the map begins to fill up. Both have their advantages and disadvantages. Open map users will often find that it might be hard to start roleplays (especially in the beginning) with nearby roleplayers, but will generally experience more freedom in choosing where they want to be. Progressive map users will have a much easier time starting RPs with neighboring countries and usually have a better-looking map since nations are close together. Usually, however, there are more stringent size restrictions and limited location options. I get more in-depth with my upcoming guide to maps, so be on the lookout for that!
Statistics: Some regions, especially those focused on nation roleplay, may want to establish a statistics system. This is most often a simple chart that allows players to determine what kind of things their nation will be focused on. For instance, Thegye uses the "Roleplay Statistics Chart", which lets users distribute 1100 points across 22 categories. This is not a hard and fast list, but one that simply allows players to get a solid picture of what their nation looks like. This is also a very good tool to combat potential godmodders, which I will get into in the following parts. For a specific example of a working stats chart, see the link below for Thegye's RSC.
Rules and Moderation: Rules and moderation is, arguably, one of the most important sections of this guide. Rules make sure that your roleplay doesn't just fly off the rails and weak moderation can kill the fun in any roleplay situation. Rules should be simple and easy to follow, especially considering NS is many players' first experience roleplaying. For example, staple RP rules include things like "No godmodding (being invincible, avoiding all attacks, etc)" or "Respect player sovereignty (each player controls their nation exclusively)". While hard and fast rules are good to have, I strongly suggest adding leeway for your moderation team, usually with a "Moderators may exercise common sense" clause. Moderators should also be the gods of your roleplay; weak moderators and rule enforcement will kill any roleplay. In the same token, mods should not abuse their power, and players should be allowed to appeal moderation decisions. I would also suggest having some sort of progression of punishment for larger communities, outlining what actions will be taken in certain events and repeat offenders.
One of the largest issues roleplay regions will have is keeping their roleplay going. Generally, regions will see peaks and valleys in roleplay activity, usually with only the hardcore RPers keeping the story alive. However, there are some things you can do to keep the ball rolling and stoke the story.
Promotion: You can promote your regional roleplay regularly. Something I do is send out a weekly telegram each week, making sure I include a mention of our roleplaying focus and opportunities. I also attempt to include some recent or ongoing RP events in that announcement, so that people can keep up to date. For larger regions with multiple RPs going on, this might be a bit more difficult, but those regions usually don't find it as hard to get participants. You can also promote RP events that you create, especially if you have RPers who say "I'd like to roleplay but have no motivation or story." This is a good move, but promotion helps little without action to sustain the roleplay.
Sustaining Roleplay: Like I mentioned above, there are certain things you can do to actively keep roleplay going. One of these things is roleplay events or guided roleplays. In Thegye, we like to use these to get people into roleplay, especially first-timers. The roleplay mods will facilitate an event and roleplayers will participate without having to come up with the story idea themselves. Most new or casual RPers will not sit down and create an elaborate story to play out, so these can be helpful for drawing in those kinds of players. Events can range from multi-level storylines, like trade crises leading to piracy and famine, leading to wars and reshaping empires. Or, they can be "one-shot" plans, like a simple diplomatic meeting hosted by a large nation or a scientific exhibition. These are some simple ways you can sustain your roleplay. Of course, if you have specific questions or want more unique ideas, feel free to contact me.
The well-dressed man leads you back out the door whence you came. Turning to you, he tips his hat. "I have taught you everything to get you started, fellow roleplayer. Of course, you may have questions or concerns about my guide, so feel free to reach out!" He hands you a business card with golden words and shuts the door behind you. Looking down, you see the words "NJ" in the card, followed by: "Reach out to me via telegram or Discord at Lies Kryos#1734".
Helpful Example Links: