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Words and Swords – Online Roleplaying

Words and Swords – Online Roleplaying


Whether you are a fan of MMORPG’s ( massive multiplayer online role playing game ) or a LARP ( live action roleplay ) roleplaying has become an integral part of gaming as we know it. What started off as a tabletop phenomena has developed into all aspects of gaming. It was the infamous game Dungeons and Dragons, that brought role playing to a front. First launched in 1974, it was released by Tactial Studies Rules Inc. The brainchild of Gary Gygax and Dave Arneson who could be regarded as the godfathers of the modern role play game. The game has proven so successful it is still the market leader in role playing games today.  

Six months ago I was introduced to alternative form of role play that before was unknown to me. Play by Post or PBP role playing is an online text based role play that involves people from all over the world  collaborating to create elaborate role plays. The writers or players as they like to be called, create one or multiple characters from which that can role play and immerse themselves into the interactive fictional world. The world itself is created by the players too, deciding what context, what genre and style it is they wish for their characters to live within and these worlds will change with every action taken by the characters who inhabit them.

There are so many aspects to PBP role playing and one of them is the forums or bulletin boards where they take place. I participate in three forums Immortal Bloodlines, Risen Deceptions and The Kumari Wolves. The forums act as the world and locations where characters can live, love and sometimes die. They are very influential as the setting and rules of the particular forum can determine the type of characters and interactions that occur. I currently have three active characters. My starting character was Cass ( original I know ). She’s a newly turned empathic vampire on Immortal Bloodlines. Amaria is a psychic lycanthrope on The Kumari Wolves and last but not least is Samantha on Risen Deceptions. She is half shape shifter/ half puca ( a shapeshifting fairy ). Each have their own individual histories, personalities. friends and enemies.  

Each individual forum has it’s own set of rules and guidelines as sites like this have to be closely  moderated. But there are some general rules that as a community are always followed. Most forums have it as a rule that a character cannot kill another character without first seeking the permission of the player or unless it has been previously agreed upon. Player playing is also frowned upon when writing. This is where you assume control of another player’s character. This can be done quite harmlessly by saying that their character laughed at your joke or that you punched their character but as it’s not completely unavoidable a lot of players would allow it to slide to a certain extent, I know a few allowances were made for me when I first started. But the biggest crime you can commit in this community is God Modding. Making an invincible or unstoppable character is sorely frowned upon and will result in the character and sometimes the player being banned from the forum.

Participating in PBP is no small undertaking especially as your portfolio of characters grows. It requires time, dedication and a lot of patience. You can often be left for days waiting for someone to reply to your posts or an event that happens IC ( in character ) can cause issues OOC ( out of character and can create a lot of unwanted drama. But the benefits greatly outweigh the downsides. The thing that keeps me going back for more is the community as a whole that makes this kind of role play an exceptional one. Unlike some MMORPG’s where part of the game play is getting a barrage of abuse, the PBP community is open and friendly, always striving to improve the experience for everyone. I have met some of the most amazing people in the few months I have been posting. They have made me laugh, made me cry and I mean sobbing in hysterics over my keyboard and had me in awe almost on a daily basis.

Not since World of Warcraft have I been so sucked into a game and it has literally become a family affair with my husband and I even going as far to help maintain and run the sites now. Unfortunately PBP role playing reached the height of it’s popularity in the early 2000’s and has started to suffer with the increase in MMORPG’s both free and paid causing forums to go “dead” as players migrate from text based worlds to computer animated continents.  This is a very disappointing turn of events with hours of work being put into every site being lost and forums having fewer members than ever before.

Thankfully though there is that small community of dedicated role players who strive everyday to keep forums alive and take newbs like me under their experienced wings.