by Max Barry

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by The Grand Duchy of Diogott. . 2,783 reads.

Roleplay for Dummies (and other useful things) [NO LONGER BEING UPDATED]

The Imperial Fatherland
Viribus Unitis


Welcome, one and all, to the super duper completely professional and well-thought out guide for roleplaying, specifically within the Imperial Fatherland, but, if you happen to be an outsider, feel free to like this and use it for reference for your own use.

Although, please bear in mind that I no longer use NS regularly and thus this guide is likely never going to be finished. I'm continually grateful and humbled by the nice things folks all across this site have had to say about it- truth be told I wasn't expecting it to get much readership outside of my own region- so many thanks for appreciating my work, it means a lot.

Actually, in that case, if you do happen to be in the Imperial Fatherland, go ahead and like this dispatch as well.

I could do with the publicity.

To be honest, there are other guides that are way better than this one, but thanks for dropping by anyway.

If you have any qualms or suggestions, feel free to contact me by TG and I'll get to it as soon as I can.

My personal intention for this dispatch is to link it to anybody who I deem to have sub-par roleplaying. If I happen to have linked this to you, then I think, in all honesty, your standards of RP aren't so great and you should at the very least skim through this dispatch- look, there's even a nifty table of contents so you only have to skim a section of this dispatch! Why does it matter to me so much whether your RP is good or not? Well, RP is a large part of a region and one nation's actions tend to affect that of other nations in the region- if your RP isn't so great it tends to drag everyone down, which is a bit of a downer- so please take a look, for everyone's sake.

Also, you might want to check this list full of useful things if you live in the Imperial Fatherland! "Wow!" I hear you exclaim, "what a well-organised region! I ought to check things out over there for myself!"

With all that done, let's get on with it!

No. 1- What on God's Green Earth is roleplay?

Roleplay, commonly referred to by its shortened form, RP, is, according to Wikipedia:


Of course, we're talking about the latter here, unless you happen to actually be doing the former (I couldn't think of any examples which would actually work in this context- if you happen to be a professional comedian- or not for that matter- and can come up with one, do let me know if you think of one- apologies for the lack of a joke there, you probably needed one), and it comes, mainly, in three forms:

  • Newspaper articles (i.e. from a neutral point of view, unless the newspaper is deliberately biased- although RMB RP can take other forms)

  • Character roleplay (a character from your nation, or otherwise for that matter)

  • and Nation roleplay (where nations themselves carry out actions)

How 80% of roleplays end

You may also come across some terms not familiar if you've never roleplayed before- I'll explain most of them in more detail throughout this guide (you can use that fancy table of contents on the left that took me about three centuries to make), but two you should know now are IC and OOC- IC means "in-character" and means that the following (or preceding, depending on how it is used) post is relevant to the roleplay and should be treated as canon. OOC means "out of character", and is often a question concerning the RP (or a snide remark) like "Is X going to happen after Y or the other way around?"- whilst to the average dummy it may seem that it's easy to tell the difference, it really isn't in a lot of cases. Make sure to use them, else the RP will end up looking like there's an out of place quiz show at the end of every post.

This brings me to the second part of this dispatch- which, given the amount of space I've devoted simply to a definition, has made me realise that it's going to be at least the size of Mercury.

No. 2- Which format should I use for roleplay?

It can seem a bit difficult to decide exactly how to format your roleplay, especially to somebody new to the whole thing. I'll save you the effort of deciding and go through each type in detail so you don't have to make that important decision.

Newspaper articles, from my experience, are the most common form of roleplay, especially if your NS life is constricted to the RMB (although they can also come in the form of dispatches)- it lets your regional neighbours know about important events in your nation, and, if worthy of international scrutiny, can spark a chain of newspaper articles from other nations as well. Make sure to come up with your own snazzy name for a newspaper to distinguish it (preferably in your nation's dominant language) and you can also include things like analyses from another point of view, an even snazzier motto, and a whole load of other things- I'm one guy, I wouldn't know everything about newspapers, so feel free to shove your own newspapery things into your newspaper. It is absolutely imperative, however, that you use formatting tags, or your post will be indistinguishable from the regular pile of RMB posts to sift through, and no one may pick up on it- alternatively, if it isn't a major event, you probably shouldn't even bother writing about it on your international newspaper, although it could work in an "in other headlines" format- large, nation-wide projects, like the building of a major stadium ahead of a large international sporting event, are worth talking about though. RP on the RMB overall can take more than one form, like that of letters (example here: page=rmb/postid=16509860) although they aren't really that common- you're more than welcome to give them a go if you wish, but I won't be covering every type because they're rare- like any RP, it's all down to your imagination too.

Character roleplay is probably the most detailed and satisfying to carry out- these are best to carry out on a forum (NS or offsite) because it requires the input of multiple nations where the entire history of the roleplay can be read- as character roleplays often don't concern people not participating in one, it's to the benefit of the RMB that it isn't cluttered with something not everyone needs to read- of course, about 90% of things on the RMB are exactly that, but it's a non-issue until it involves roleplay. Examples of such roleplay are most often diplomatic visits, although they can involve other settings, like athletes at a major sporting event (cough cough hint hint), a foreign expat living in another nation and loads of other things- people do so many things these days it's hard to keep a track of what they do.

The third type is of course nation roleplay, roleplaying as a nation. These have quite a vast range actually, and are probably the most common type where many roleplayers don't really have much clue what they're doing. Higher-skilled roleplayers tend to incorporate their nation's actions into newspaper articles on the RMB- nation roleplay can also be incorporated into character roleplay, for example during yet another diplomatic trip or otherwise, whereupon a character acts as a representative for their nation. On the whole, nation roleplay itself is to be avoided, but indirect nation roleplay in the form of the former two types of roleplay I've explained above is ideal.

No. 3- Now you know the essentials, it's time to learn the basics

You might think, after having trudged through the minefield of what exactly constitutes roleplay that you're ready to go, but hold your horses there pard'ner- we've only scratched the surface.

Y'see, roleplay isn't just something you can pick up and go on- I got gooder at RP through experience rather than some guide telling me what and what not to do, but I lack the patience to watch new RPers pick up knowledge and eventually become seasoned, so this guide will have to do instead.

Where was I again?

Oh right, the basics and stuff- simple things that ought to be avoided at all costs and other handy tips.

The biggest no-no of all is probably the dreaded one-line post, and it can quickly sour an RP. The problem with one-line posts is that they carry no substance- others have little to nothing to build on from a one-liner, and it downright just looks tacky, especially when everyone else has put the effort in to create descriptive, intricate settings and character development and beautiful formatting and all the rest of it, it really messes things up when it is followed by a "United States of Soandso sides with the Kingdom of Yourface" without giving any reason why, no description or build-up or anything particularly helpful. On more serious RPs, your post will be rejected and ignored because, quite frankly, it's lazy, unhelpful and spoils the mood. Do put in the effort to make your RP posts presentable and fleshed out. Nations must think 'concept' over 'power'.

Who many new roleplayers think they are

Another huge mistake new roleplayers make is the huge desire to be stronger than every other nation. Please don't do that, as it'll lead to stagnation of roleplays and everybody getting into an argument, then either side will refuse to budge and everything comes crashing down- if new roleplayers don't learn from these experiences and accept their place in the world- that no one nation is stronger than the other- then it can drive people away from regions, especially those heavily oriented towards RP, and it can tear the whole system apart. This is most problematic with the military (a massive surprise given that nations love to brag about how large their lemur population is), and people can give ridiculous numbers for their military, say 5,000,000 active soldiers in a 100,000,000 citizen population- that alone is 5% (not including the far greater number of reservists and whatnot), which is about as great a percentage as that success of a nation just north of South Korea. Ever more ridiculous reasons can also be given ("my nation is fascist and militaristic so we can make this work", even though pretty much every drop of material in the nation must be devoted to the military to make it work), but we all know the only way you can get away with a large proportion of citizens in the military compared to the population is to have a population of 4,218.

Linking on to this is the claim that your nation can do anything and everything, domestically as well as internationally. Having a brilliant military with brilliant scientists and brilliant civil rights with brilliant healthcare with brilliant politics and brutally drowning your nation with sunshine and happiness is one of the most unfair things you can do to everyone. If a nation wanted to do something that may have repercussions on other nations, then having a navy the size of Saturn rudely interrupt its nice project is likely to completely spoil the entire affair. What makes RP enjoyable is that there can be no strongest power, as there ever was in real life. Empires fall for a reason. To have one (or worse, more than one) nation trump all other nations absolutely destroys the mood and is godmodding. That's not to say your nation cannot be strong, by any means (unless your nation clearly cannot carry out such a role based on map geography and other factors), but it needs serious weaknesses too. For example, you can have a strong navy but a weak army. You can have good civil rights but a weak military. Your people may be living in paradise but also in constant fear of invasion. You can have an amazing military, but leaving your entire population to fend for themselves.

Another thing new RPers tend to get themselves in a bit of a mess over is conflating their real-life views with that of the nation they RP with. Whilst avoiding bias is, understandably, very difficult, RPers need to be constantly vigilant to ensure they mitigate them as best as possible. Having a strong military in a state ruled by a social democratic government, for example, is unrealistic as it wouldn't be a social democratic policy.

These biases can be present when your views actually do align with your nation's government as well- this is well illustrated in democratic countries, where governments tend to perform better when ruled by views you agree with, and worse when you disagree with them. It is, of course, impossible to avoid biases in their entirety, but the aim is to work towards that goal rather than to achieve them outright, as with any difficult task. The best way to do this is to research successful governments in similar situations to your nation- say, for example, you were re-building your country after a devastating war. The Linkeconomic policies of Konrad Adenauer and Ludwig Erhard, who were conservative politicians, can be looked at, as well as the Linkeconomic history of the United Kingdom post-war under Clement Attlee's socialist government. Whilst both improved, there were significant disparities between the two.

In the event you come across a situation where there are few historical examples analogous to yours- such as, for example, one set in the far future- the best advice I can give you is to apply the policies your government would have to that situation rather, and to collaborate with your fellow RPers on what would be the best course of action.

The last and probably not actually one of the most important, but still good things to know about is that when a region has a set time period that differs from today's, you must take into account the GDP, technology and statistics of that era- not complying will lead to accusations of godmodding and the like, which is a term no one wants to hear.

The "it's just a game, so I can use my imagination!" argument goes only so far as to support yourself. Your statistics and history and all the things you put into your nation will, directly or indirectly, affect the nations of the world around you. If they aren't pleased with the realism, or find you godmodding or powergaming, it spoils the mood for everybody, so please don't pull that card.

These are the most basic of errors that new roleplayers make- everybody makes them early on, and most of the time these issues are resolved quickly with a decent explanation and an open mind.

That said, your nation can certainly differ from its RL counterpart, if there is any- as long as you provide a detailed historical explanation for it- which of course, brings us to the next section.

No. 4- Proof of the Pudding

This section applies more to alternate history regions that use, for the most part, real-world maps (although this applies equally to detailed fictional maps).To put it simply, it outlines what nations should do when their nation differs from its RL counterpart(s), that is, providing a reasonable and realistic point of divergence at some point in history.

I will use, throughout this section, examples of nations I've created (for the sake of ease rather than that of selfishness, I like to think) that have used plausible explanations that everybody in the region can get behind that they used to back up the difference in the flag, economy, nation's territory etc. specifically Kin jidai, because we somehow think exactly alike.

Kin Jidai is essentially an alternate Japan. It takes up the same territory as Japan, has the same economy, same population, culture and an incredibly similar governmental style. Most of its impressive history is also the same. However, the point of divergence began not long after the Meiji Restoration of 1868, at which point the Tokugawa Shogunate was abolished and rule restored to the Emperor. It is often seen as the point at which Japan had westernized and became a Great Power. Kin Jidai was first discovered by sailors from Portugal, and as the British focused colonization efforts on the Malayan Archipelago, creating the British East Indies, it was they who forced the Hofuna into the open world rather than America- a lot of Kin Jidai's westernization process was down to British involvement.

Due to honour and pride pervading every part of the new Kogane constitution, after demands from the more conservative nobility to keep distinct from European culture, Kin Jidai actively looked down upon colonization and was the only Great Power of its time to do so. To this day, Kin Jidai maintains a constitutional convention of declaring war against no nation weaker than itself, and maintains a large navy due to cultural emphasis on the military. Whilst resisting fascism and the like, Kin Jidai still maintains a socially and politically conservative atmosphere, at the same time also having a socially libertarian approach to running the country. This also means that, due to a lack of natural resources in IRL Japan, Kin Jidai has had to rely on foreign imports for a very long time. I've given the country an interesting history and some strengths over its RL counterpart, but also a deliberate and potentially very harmful weakness.

Likewise with my main nation, Diogott, I put a stupidly large emphasis on the military in which 12.5% serve actively and the entirety of the nation act as a reserve. This sounds incredibly godmoddy until it is realised the population of the country is 4,218, the size of the nation is about that of a large city and the low population density is down to the social taboo of maintaining the nuclear family, keeping the population roughly the same since the 1400s- although that has changed in recent years due to innovations in technology. The military is well-supplied, well-organised and well-funded, but the GDP of Diogott is about US$7,000,000 with the GDP per capita at $1,839, equivalent to that of the German Empire in the 1870s, the military is based off of an outrageously outdated hierarchy (the Prussian system of the 1860s) and Diotian technology peaks at the early 1910s. It can be argued that this is, in fact, incredibly unrealistic- although Diogott's history has been marred by complete ignorance by foreign powers, and its geographical position within some obscure valley also prevented the ever-present arm of technology grappling it. There's even a real valley in Switzerland that underwent a similar change, called Linkthe Lötschental- although it wasn't its own, self-reliant country, so modern-day conveniences eventually came along to it, unlike Diogott.


War. If there's any type of event that sends shudders down anyone's spine, let alone in an RP, it's war. I hate war. It sucks. I hate war especially when it's woefully unplanned.

Don't you hate it too? Even just observing a few inexperienced nations partake in a war can be painful- it's worse when they refuse help from others to moderate or give advice.


In all seriousness, this is a big problem that plagues many regions when it comes to RP. War can be pretty exciting for new, inexperienced nations and it can be beautifully executed if done right. However- as with most large-scale RPs conducted by those with little clue on how to run them- they have a tarnished reputation as a result and few people have the tenacity to sit through five million poorly made wars.

So how can this problem be averted? Well, before you even start a war, you have to consider how it begins. Wars never happen out of the blue, unless you're a bloodthirsty expansionist nation like RL Liechtenstein, where Prince Hans-Adam II is secretly plotting to divide the world's countries into microstates smaller than Liechtenstein, thereby establishing its global dominance.

But the nation you run isn't Liechtenstein- that version of it anyway. Wars occur through poor relations between other countries, increasing tensions between them until there's finally a triggering point- a casus belli- that gives one side an excuse to begin the war. Take, for example, a pretty well-known war known as World War I.

Colonial ambitions, jealousy, centuries-old rivalries and the creation of falsely re-assuring large alliances all played their part in increasing tensions between the Great Powers. Then- the triggering point- Archduke Franz Ferdinand was shot. Austria was furious (and felt like a war could get all the pesky ethnic minorities to calm down a little) and told Serbia to do a few things- this was the July Ultimatum. It was a bit harsh, so Serbia didn't agree to everything. Austria declared war on Serbia. Russia came to the aid of the Serbs because they were Slavic, Orthodox, Austria-hating frat bros. Germany told Russia to sod off. Russia didn't. Germany joined the war. France got very concerned so it joined the war too.

Why constantly posturing for war is a bad idea

From there, of course, it all went downhill and the rest is history. But you can see how it very quickly erupted into a mess due to a plethora of reasons other than "war because I want good time."

Another important thing to remember is how to actually conduct wars. It is of vital importance that the equipment, size of your standing army, reserved army, their locations etc. are all recorded somewhere, preferably in a neat factbook. A lack of the facts will cause confusion, arguments and an OOC rather than IC war. Any war RP, no matter how realistic the story, will fail if all of the necessary statistics are not abundantly clear.

In general, the shopping list for what you need looks a little bit like this:

  • The size of your standing army- this means the number of active soldiers you have. This is usually about 1% of your population, although it can fluctuate depending on the form of government you have. Bear in mind that a large active military is hugely expensive and comes at the cost of other, equally important things.

  • The size of your reserves- this refers to the number of eligible people in your country who can serve in a war when the nation needs it. Depending on the demographics of your country, this can range from an absolute of 10-40% of the country, although it is often not nearly this high as the nation still needs workers to produce things and keep the nation functioning.

  • The type of equipment your army has- this refers to all manner of things- rifles, machine guns, artillery, tanks, clothing, food supplies, flashlights, pistols, grenades, transport- there are so many things to consider here, but the basics (weapons, supplies and transport) should be a staple in every nation. Other gear- like flashlights- serves in a niche role, but if the situation calls for them it is important to have a record somewhere.

  • The size of your navy- this includes the number of personnel (the upper limit is usually 0.5% of the population, if the navy is a prioritised branch- most nations have it at around 0.2-0.3%), the number of ships, their classes, the number of fleets, their supply lines and where they are based. The size of the navy is always connected to the size of the other branches of the military- the army and air force will be quite small if the navy is disproportionately large.

  • The size of your air force- this includes the number of personnel (the upper limit usually being 0.3% of the population, again if the air force is a prioritised branch- it is usually 0.08-0.1%), the number of aircraft, their types and roles, the number of wings and where they are based. The size of the air force is always connected to the size of the other branches of the military- the army and navy will be quite small if the air force is disproportionately large.

Considerations also have to be made as to how you conduct war. Military tactics way ahead of your time period are not acceptable- utilizing Blitzkrieg, in the period around the First World War, for example, would gain you a pretty speedy victory, but it's not realistic, especially with the calibre of equipment at the time. The lack of tanks would render this tactic almost futile.

When it comes to war, you, the player, are not the general trying to outdo the other. You are instead the nation, and you have to behave roughly within what any nation would do in that situation- a mid-sized country fighting a much larger power wouldn't launch an offensive unless it was backed up by powerful allies- it would fight on the defensive and try to ensure the safety of its citizens as best as possible.

That actually brings me on to my next point- all too often, nations fail to consider the impact of war on themselves- on destroyed infrastructure, resources, livelihoods. This results in those impacts often being downplayed. Economic downturns are just a slight recession. Casualties, civilian and military alike, are about 10% of what they should be. War is, for most people in the modern age, not a very profitable endeavour. If any of the global powers have access to nuclear weapons (particularly if the reach of these weapons are global, as is the case with ICBMs) then major wars are an enormous turn off for virtually everyone and any localized war will attract the attention of the rest of the world- a war that you begin as a regional power will quickly become one that you lose most control over, and the outcome will more or less be decided by the level of involvement of the world's powers.

Whilst we're on that topic: proxy wars. Very common in the Cold War era and even to some extent today, proxy wars are wars fought on two diplomatic levels- that between the main, obvious belligerents, and the one fought on a much greyer area between global powers with vested interests in the particular region. Quite often, the war becomes more about these global powers than about whatever local conflict is really taking place. However, these powers tend to (for one reason or another) avoid fighting each other directly on the battlefield. If one side has already committed to sending their own troops to fight, then it would be poor diplomatic strategy for the other side to send their own troops to aid the opposition unless it were planning for direct war with that power to begin with. Most often, aid takes the form of funding and sending military equipment to the favoured side. On occasion, air support and training of troops will also be used.

Take, for example, the Korean War of 1950-3. Following the division of Korea in 1945, in which a pro-Soviet regime was installed in the north and a pro-American one in the south (it was agreed that eventually they would be united- how was a very different matter), Kim il-Sung of the north intended to unite the peninsula by force. With tensions rising but the possibility of direct war decreasing as a result of the first Soviet atomic bomb in 1949, Kim eventually asked Stalin in 1950 for permission to invade the south. Not really caring, Stalin agreed.

This is a very abridged version so do forgive me for missing other areas more crucial for understanding the global geopolitics of the early 1950s, but the war evolved into a conflict between the USA and her allies (in which they did commit troops to the war effort) and the USSR and her allies, particularly China which also committed troops to the war effort- the USSR, it should be noted, only sent air support, funding and material to the north and its allies, as it did not want to risk a direct war with the USA.

That should about cover this section I think.

(Work in progress- I'll add more and more things until this dispatch actually is the size of Mercury- I just hope people either find the time to read it or become bothered to do so.)

The Grand Duchy of Diogott