Are you interested in running a role playing group of any kind? If you enjoy participating in RP as a hobby, you may think about starting your own group, or you may be asked to co-moderate one.

Since I started role playing online in my late teens, I’ve taken on responsibilities in multiple RP groups. I’ve run my own online text-based RP group (back on AOL) and served in leadership capacities in and out of character in others’ groups. I also held a staff position at a LARP (live action role playing game) and currently co-admin a Marvel RP group which includes canon and original characters.

In moderating a variety of RP groups and working with many different personality types, I have noticed a few trends that you may find helpful if you are running or planning to run your own group.

Cliques Happen

It’s natural for players and characters to fall into cliques just as people do in real life. That doesn’t mean it has to be like high school (although sometimes it may feel that way). We RP socially to make friends and be inspired. Sometimes other people will get bugged by this, especially if they feel left out.

To moderate this issue appropriately, don’t stifle cliques. If you’re writing plot, you should write some plot each clique – just don’t ignore other people. If there’s unwanted strife, guide the plot towards a place that encourages everyone to work together.

Mass Exodus to New Games

After some time (usually in the 6 month to one year range), some of your most dedicated players will inevitably leave. It’s likely that they’ll actually leave in a big group. Remember that clique? The ‘leader’ of the clique will leave, and everyone else will follow.

As an admin, this can feel like a major betrayal. Your biggest cheerleaders are dropping out! On top of that, it’s likely they’ll actually found another game, or that they have been doing so while they are still playing yours. They may cut off communication with you; they may act nicely towards you, and they’ll probably recruit some of your players.

To deal with this, you need to handle it with an appropriate level of respect and professionalism. In the long run, this behavior doesn’t affect you. Make sure you focus your efforts on the loyal players they have, and encourage them to bring new friends.

Copycat Games

When new games come out, do they ever bear a remarkable similarity to yours? Do they ever contain similar characters or rules that were once unique to your games? This is pretty common. As a writer, I know I always hate hearing ‘imitation is the sincerest form of flattery’ when someone plagiarizes my work and publishes it on the internet. (I know my artist friends hate this, too.) It’s not flattery, it’s stealing, especially if one or both parties are making money off of it.

That said, the above advice applies to this also. Focus on your game and handle everything professionally. Eventually, you’ll find that some people who ‘left’ your game for another inevitably wonder back…especially since you can always play a new character in an role-playing game.

Group Drama

Drama happens in a group – especially in a group full of creative and dramatic people such as role-players. Form a game plan ahead of time to deal with it. This includes:

  • A chain of command: Who does a player talk to if he or she has a problem?
  • List your rules: What are your rules and where do you post them? People commonly argue about rules, so having a resource available to them is important.
  • Out of game conflicts: Out of game conflicts and arguments can unfortunately affect in-game relationships. In a game full of original characters, players can usually work out an in-game reason to avoid drama, but it’s sometimes difficult in games that include canon characters. As an admin, you should be casually aware of these interpersonal relationships and constantly available to assist your group members if they need help.
  • Common offenders: Some people are just troublemakers. They constantly start drama and rumors and maybe they break the rules sometimes, too. With people like this, it’s best to just handle them by the book. “You’ve violated rule x, y, and z. I’m sorry, but you’re no longer allowed at our game.”

Ask for Help

Usually, one person can’t moderate an entire forum or event-based game by herself. It’s okay to ask for help and take on co-admins – as long as they’re people you trust. If your game is plot-sensitive, ensure that your helpers (who are not admins) do not learn about any information other players don’t get to learn.

Overall you need to be especially assertive as an admin or group leader, and also honest about your reasons for doing everything you do. As your group grows, you’ll quickly realize that you can’t keep everyone happy all of the time, and you’ll drive yourself crazy trying to do just that. You can, however, make the most enjoyable game possible.

Do you have additional tips or pieces of advice? Please leave them in the comment area below.