What's halfway between TTRPG and Fanfic?
March 17, 2020 11:22 AM   Subscribe

I want to start roleplaying in some sort of online small group, preferably without the formality of a system or GM. I think this happens somewhere, I know it used to, but I don’t know how to find or start such a group.

I'm currently in one TT(+video conference)RPG game but getting frustrated with the GM's storyline and the lag time of meeting ~10 times a year. What I really like is the cooperative storytelling and worldbuilding aspects, especially the joy of improvising characters with other people. I don't really care about experience points and rolling dice and all, which has led to some frustration with tabletop RP as a whole.

15-20 years ago I used to do some roleplay on platforms like LiveJournal in a fandom I'm far too ashamed to own now. Within our fandom people would frequently get in pairs or small groups for RP by posting in a shared blog or in chat, sometimes with the goal of cowriting a fic but often just for fun. My late husband did what he called RP on bbs forums going back to the early 90's, a combinaton of chats, threaded forms posts, and file uploads. He had a whole massive universe with a galactic empire that he built with a couple other people that lasted decades starting when he was in high school.

I would dearly love to find something like this for myself, especially with original characters, and worldbuilding rather than a published world or fanfic. But I am so not present on social media I don't know how to start. Is there some sort of 'dating' app for rp? Some platform where people interact like this? Should I post a want ad somewhere? How can I filter for people with similar values (no misogyny/homophobia/racism/transphobia/rape etc)?
Wanted: small online RP group to build a private world and improvise stories outside of any formal gaming system. Prefer a fantasy setting or at least magic, and lots of character development. Not looking for sexy rp, chosen-one-saves-the-world, horror, or murder hobo stories.
My anxiety tells me this would only be legitimate if it happens organically without looking for it and also I'm dooming the idea by posting about it. My anxiety says that sort of thing a lot (trying causes failure! pre-planning invalidates success! drawing attention leads to being attacked!)
posted by buildmyworld to Sports, Hobbies, & Recreation (12 answers total) 7 users marked this as a favorite
Are you familiar with MUSHes?

I am an administrator at Elendor. We RP through real time exchanges of text, posing what our characters are doing and reacting to others. There is a coded combat system, though it is not mandatory unless those engaging in combat are in conflict. Due to the decline of activity due to users aging out and few new users (text based RP is too old school), we've kinda-sorta transitioned to a Discord server, though Elendor itself is still up and running. If you have any questions, Memail me.

Elendor's theme is Lord of the Rings. There used to be quite a few MUSHes out there, but most of them have closed down. The only one I know of that is still active is Game of Throne-themed. It is somewhat well known due to the fact its creators started it up very early on before the books became big and they have been in contact with Martin over the years, running their game with his blessing.
posted by Fukiyama at 11:42 AM on March 17 [1 favorite]

You could try one of the indie GM-less systems with a more narrativist flavour. I'm not really an expert on them, but I know that they exist. There are definitely many little-known games which place more emphasis on collaborative storytelling.

One specific game I've played before is Universalis, but it's quite old and I wouldn't be surprised if there were better, more recent examples.
posted by confluency at 12:04 PM on March 17

In response to the "who" part of your question... this is more tricky. My default advice is always to try to find like-minded friends and explain RPGs to them instead of finding people who want to play RPGs and hoping that 1) they are nice and 2) they want to play the same kind of game that you want to play, neither of which is a given.

If you're looking at rules-light, collaborative storytelling systems, the barrier to entry is already going to be lower than for a traditional game using a rules-heavy gamist behemoth like D&D. You can also encourage people to give it a try by setting some kind of initial time limit -- like, a six-session mini-campaign, and then you either keep going or try a different thing. That's a much smaller commitment than an open-ended thing with no clear timeline. Although at this point I guess we all have a lot of time on our hands.
posted by confluency at 12:10 PM on March 17

Play "For the Queen!"
posted by yueliang at 12:18 PM on March 17 [1 favorite]

This is maybe a third of the way between TTRPGS and Fanfic, but games like Microscope and The Quiet Year are GMless games that have a "system" that is more like an organizational structure (Microscope) or writing prompts (TQY). Might be worth seeking out people looking for one-shots of those and cultivating from there?
posted by Maecenas at 12:19 PM on March 17

Avoiding edit window abuse: hell yeah also play For The Queen!
posted by Maecenas at 12:19 PM on March 17

Storium might be what you're looking for. It's part RPG with a very light rules system and part cooperative writing. It does require a sort of GM to run the game, but there's an option for the narrator to also play a character. However, games can move very slowly or die out entirely and it can be tough to find a game without having some contacts. When it works, it can be great fun.
posted by maurice at 1:34 PM on March 17

A lot of the old-school LJ-style RPers moved over to Dreamwidth. I'd try this: https://dwrpmasterlist.dreamwidth.org
posted by pie ninja at 1:56 PM on March 17 [1 favorite]


Elliquiy. It's very well curated. It has a entrance exam! Pretty much you just have to prove you can do the basics of civil interactions with a very diverse crowd.

Elliquiy has a section for group games and world building. It's all text, though a lot of people use Discord. I don't know if there is a group who uses video or not. But I do know that there are dozens of people who can create wonderful worlds and stories within the world. I'd be happy to introduce you to the ones I know if you get into Elliquiy.

The site design is sometimes old school (aka occasionally confusing) but everyone is very helpful, and they have clearly marked staff to answer anything or especially moderate.

If you have any questions, please feel free to memail me!
posted by Jacen at 8:36 PM on March 17 [1 favorite]

It sounds like you should be looking for play-by-post communities. I'm not a fan of the style myself, but I know they're out there. I see them on r/lfg pretty regularly.
posted by Zudz at 11:55 AM on March 18

What you're looking for sounds like the parts of RPGs that I love enough that I generally put up with the rest of them. I've started doing worldbuilding and character writeups for adventures and had the frustrating realization that the standard way of sharing those is "put them in a game" which is followed by "and run that game," and argh, I've been dodging GMing for literally decades.

It does sound like you want a play-by-post community, the kind that used to sometimes have Yahoo groups so they can share maps & character sketches in the docs area and use email or chat for back-and-forth. (Y!Chat's been dead for a while, and Y!Groups died in December; they're just listserves with a signup page now.)

It's entirely legit to look for a group instead of waiting for it to happen spontaneously! Spontaneous group-making happened for a lot of us in school; once we weren't being shoved into contact with groups of 30 random people on a regular basis, we stopped regularly finding 1 or 2 new people with shared interests.

The hard part with group-searching instead of just falling into one, is figuring out what you actually want: Mostly RP? Half and half RP and worldbuilding? Mostly worldbuilding and char development, with actual RP being optional? Everyone has equal say over the worldbuilding (changes require consensus), or there's an agreed base at the start?

You don't need detailed answers to start looking, but it helps to be able to recognize why you think someone will or won't work. And then you set up a Discord (because that is How Things Are Done These Days) and some kind of doc repository like a dropbox folder or cluster of Google Docs (or you hand off the "set up stuff" to someone in the group who likes that kind of thing), and you start bouncing ideas around in text.
posted by ErisLordFreedom at 11:41 PM on March 18 [1 favorite]

Thanks for the ideas so far, I've marked the ones that I'm looking into.
posted by buildmyworld at 7:10 PM on March 19

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