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The Iron Dynasty, DeLaRose Role Play Group » Trash Archives of Old Things » The Library, Information About Role Play » RPG Admin Basics and then Some

RPG Admin Basics and then Some

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1 RPG Admin Basics and then Some on Thu Oct 06 2016, 02:44


RPG Administrator Basics

There’s no catch-all guide for starting a forum roleplaying game (yet…). There are a few things you can do to be a better RPG administrator, however. They are simple and effective no matter the type of community you hope to create in your online RPG.

Don’t Be a Bad RPG Administrator

Avoid being a bad administrator. You’ll make a Bad Roleplaying Game.

Don’t Give Up

Running a roleplaying game isn’t easy. It’s time consuming. It’s hard. Sometimes members seem like they’re purposefully trying to make your life difficult. Sometimes people can be really nasty to one another. Sometimes something breaks and you spend hours tearing out your hair trying to figure it out. Sometimes half your members leave in a night and you only have three consistent players anymore… and on and on.

Don’t give up. One of the most concrete pieces of advice about being an RPG administrator: establishment, longevity, and your dedication are the biggest keys to RPG admin success. Closing your forum and walking away to start over shows a lack of dedication — especially if you’re doing it because membership dipped or someone made drama or something technical went wrong. When the going gets tough, not sticking it out shows an obvious lack of dedication. Doing this over and over again just makes you look like a game-hopper.

Sometimes, though, it requires adjustment of your expectations as to the definition of success. If you can’t get online more than an hour a day, you simply don’t have the time to administrate a big game (especially not on your lonesome). The thing to do in this situation is to make yourself okay with a small game. Small games, with a small group of awesome roleplayers, can be really fun. Their maintenance, drama, and problem concerns are also much lower, as everyone is probably friendly with one another. It’s not the exact same thing as you running a 1,000 member forum — but it’s a success, all the same!

Respect Your Roleplayers

It’s hard to be respectful sometimes. Joe has asked this question three times before and has gotten wonderful clarification from yourself and four other members, yet here he is — same question. But instead of berating Joe for repetitiveness, try this:

Hey Joe! I appreciate that you’re being so dedicated and careful in adhering to our rules. However, we have answered this question for you a couple of times before. If you can’t remember the answer, maybe you’ll want to bookmark this question? You can do so in your browser (usually by by pressing CTRL and then B on your keyboard) or via the forum software, using X feature…
Joe is being really careful about the rules. Yeah, it sucks that he keeps asking the same thing — but he is genuinely showing a desire to adhere closely to your roleplaying game’s rules. That’s a really great trait for a player to have! Give him a nod for that. Then, deliver your correction — straightforward, but gently. You don’t want to berate Joe. You’re also offering a suggestion that may directly prevent this question from being re-asked.

Your aim with this message to Joe is to make him feel respected, but also let him know that he has to do a little legwork himself, too. You don’t need to disrespect and berate him to get that point across. Respect and gentle direction (where appropriate) are key to being a successful RPG administrator.

Remember You’re Not Perfect, Either

Some of the best critiques come from the players of your forum roleplaying game. They know it best, after all. It’s not a drive-by random guest just passing through. The critique is coming from someone intimately familiar with your RPG’s world, setting, and rules. If a roleplayer points out that Rule A conflicts with Procedure B, respect them enough to at least listen! Maybe you have an issue with your content, after all. That roleplayer has also just proven themselves attentive and forthright — potentially someone to consider for future RPG administration themselves!

Be Respectful of Roleplayers’ Content

Never, ever, ever delete or remove content that belongs to someone else — roleplay, profiles, whatever. The only exception is if the person stole content from somewhere else. Even then, keep a copy of the stolen content in your private admin-only forums. If you close your forum, allow existing logins to keep coming to the board for their stuff. It really sucks to lose your writing and hard work. If you do this to people intentionally, it reflects badly on you as an RPG administrator. If you absolutely must delete content, e-mail it to the member so they still have a copy.

Use the PM System

Respectful RPG administrators deal with things privately whenever possible. If someone breaks a rule, PM them about it. Reprimanding someone in public is embarrassing. In an office setting, the boss should pull you aside to issue a correction, not shout it for everyone else in the building to hear. The same principles apply to forum roleplaying games.

Using a PM system has the added benefit of opening lines of communication between RPG administrator and roleplayer. The roleplayer may not feel comfortable asking you a question about their rule infraction in public, but they may comfortable via PM.

Except When It Has to Be Public

Conversely, don’t sweep things under the rug. If two members are brawling with one another in a public forum, reply with a brief note, lock the topic, and plan to move it in an hour or two. Example:

Hey guys, this behavior is really not appropriate for the forum, especially in public. I’m locking this topic and will move it into a private forum shortly. I’ll be contacting both of you regarding this incident over PM. Please don’t start or reply to any new topics concerning this subject.
Chances are, your other members may have seen their drama — if it disappears without a word, they may find it a little disconcerting. By issuing a reply, you’re letting the rest of the board know you’re an attentive RPG administrator. It has the added (hopefully, anyway) benefit of keeping the members who are fighting from continuing.

Be A Flexible RPG Administrator

Be accepting of change and suggestions. Flexibility and adaptiveness are great traits to have in general, even outside of roleplaying game administration. If you’ve only ever wanted a small town roleplay but there’s a poll wherein many members voiced support for expanding to a county — you should probably expand. If you don’t want to do the work, turn it into a contest. When your members are that eager for something, they’re probably going to participate and contribute! This also reflects well on you as an RPG administrator because you’re allowing others to help you craft the world, too, not just the characters in it.

Advertise Your RPG — Constantly

If you want to be big and have a lot of roleplayers on your game, you need to get the word out there. It can be really time consuming bouncing from forum to forum posting your RPG’s advertisement. You may not know what to say on a Twitter account or even how to use one. You don’t know if anyone will care about a Tumblr blog — but use them, they’re all forms of advertising. Forum Roleplay offers in-depth RPG advertising resources. This just emphasizes the need for constant advertising (especially in early stages).

Caveat: don’t spam. Ever. Seriously. Don’t do it. It annoys people and they won’t join your RPG. It can also get you in trouble with your free forum host or your paid web server. You shouldn’t be using automated or programmed means of sending e-mails or posting links, and you should also advertise where it’s sensible to do so (posting a link at random in an irrelevant and inappropriate place just to advertise, even if done by a human, is still spam).

RPG Administrator Technical Knowledge

Have it, get it, or otherwise secure a way to reliably operate your forum. Period. No one wants to play on a game that’s constantly going down or fundamentally broken. If you can’t host your own board, get a hosted board somewhere where you have good support. Hire on another RPG administrator or a moderator with technical expertise.

Document and Back-Up Your Game Information

Absolutely do not ever keep just one copy of your game’s rules, your game’s procedures, world information, whatever. Keep several copies — one on your web server, one on your hard drive, one on a USB key in a firesafe… okay, well, maybe don’t go that far. But have at least two copies of your game information handy. It really helps if you accidentally delete or remove something you shouldn’t have.

If you can download a copy of your forum’s MySQL or other database, that’s great. Do that. Do it again every few weeks. You’ll have a copy of everything that has happened on your forum — which is great if you experience data loss, host shut-down, or any number of other issues that can come between you and your RPG.

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2 Re: RPG Admin Basics and then Some on Thu Oct 06 2016, 02:44



Adding RPG Staff

Adding new RPG staff can be a harrowing experience. Maybe you’ve been burned before by another RPG admin who ripped you off or even stole your game from you. Even if you haven’t, by adding someone else to the game staff, you run the risk of changing your forum roleplaying game’s perspective.

Adding new RPG admins and mods, though, can bring a fresh perspective about how to do things, technical expertise you may not have, and a myriad of other benefits. Consider adding RPG staff if you find the workload of administrating too much or you’re running low on ideas and inspiration.

Administrator. RPG admins have full control over the forum (moving and renaming forums, closing the board, banning users, etc.)

Moderator. RPG mods generally only have thread powers such as deletion, post editing, etc.

The number of admins and mods you should have for your forum roleplaying game is very, very difficult to get right. Forum Roleplay won’t attempt to tell you exactly how many administrators and moderators you’ll need, so if you’re looking for hard numbers, skip this section.

It’s really tough running an RPG all by yourself — to be successful, you have to come online every day for at least a few hours. If you want to do more than just maintain your forum RPG, you practically have to be online constantly — learning about roleplaying, reading resources, and building new fun for your game. Maintaining and updating this mostly static website is tough enough for one person. Throw a community into the mix, and it becomes nigh impossible.

Conversely, adding ten admins and twenty mods to a game with fifty players may be a mistake. Allowing too many voices can dilute your RPG’s intent or plot. It can also make it difficult to get things done. If you have to wait for all ten of your RPG admins to approve an idea before implementing it, you may wind up waiting a week or more to answer a simple member question!

Structuring RPG Staff


Select your mods with as much caution as your admins. They are still able to remove content from your forum — which can be devastating if they delete your forum’s posts. Mods can also act out of turn, misrepresenting themselves as an admin and issuing ban threats. Because they are moderators, the members of your forum are more likely to trust them — even when they’re lying and misrepresenting themselves. Appointing the wrong person to a mod position can have consequences as severe as appointing the wrong admin.


Admins have complete access to the roleplaying forum. They have all of the powers of a moderator — and then some. An administrator can ban users, delete forums, add new forums, and make any number of back-end settings. Appoint administrators with extreme caution — make sure you trust your co-administrators.

More often than getting a “bad apple,” though, many RPG admins complain of inactive staff. You appoint someone to be your co-administrator, things are great for a while, and then they disappear. Now what? This depends on your forum roleplay’s staff structure — if they’re equal in rank to yourself, you may not be doing the fair thing by simply removing them. On the other hand, if you’re the head administrator, you can remove them at will. Structure is discussed later, but is important to keep in mind as you create your forum roleplaying game.

Server Administrators

This generally applies to only self-hosted forum roleplays (not those on forum servers such as InvisionFree or ProBoards). You can make someone an administrator of your board, while retaining access to your web server’s cPanel or other administration software. The domain will also usually be in your name — meaning it’s a lot harder for even another administrator to lift your content, delete and close your game, or otherwise act maliciously.

Structures Within Structures

Depending on how much control you want to retain, it may be worthwhile designating yourself as head administrator, with other administrators as your co-admins. You’ll have to define what exactly separates you from your fellow RPG admins — whether that’s final say, control of the domain and web server, etc. Democratic organizations work well, too — so it really depends on how much control you want to retain amongst your co-admins.

You may, if your forum roleplaying game is large enough, wish to designate moderators and administrators with specific duties — an Advertisement and Promotion Administrator, for example, with a team of 5 Advertisement and Promotion Moderators to aid them. Huge games probably need huge teams of staff with exact and specific duties — expecting people to do everything is probably way overwhelming.

Picking New RPG Staff

More important than numbers, pick the right RPG staff. Some things to consider:

Did They Ask?

Forum Roleplay is of the opinion that unsolicited forum roleplaying game staff applications are usually a bad thing. That is, if there isn’t an advertisement for an open staff position, roleplayers shouldn’t ask. This is especially true if the application is simple and short, like “Can I please have a moderator position?”

How Active Are They?

If it’s been days since they last came online to your RPG, move along and don’t consider them. Enough said.

Conversely, too, though — beware of the would-be RPG staff member who is very active, but only works toward their own ends. The best person for staff is the person who is willing to sit down and do the really boring crap nobody else wants to do. Of course everyone wants to make their own roleplay characters and groups super-shiny — but are they willing to engage RPG newbies and help them get adjusted? Are they willing to do archivals of dead roleplay threads, updating IC and OOC forum links, and other seriously mind-numbing stuff? Are they willing to take on big projects that may require a lot of time and a lot of effort?

If the answer is no, look elsewhere. Administrating an RPG is sometimes a mind-numbingly boring duty. It’s a website, and the RPG staff is there to maintain it. An unmaintained website quickly becomes one of the dusty corners of the web.

How Long Have They Been a Member?

Longevity is a good consideration when looking to promote RPG staff. The longer someone has been at your RPG:

The better you can judge their character (their actual character, not roleplay character) and how well they deal with stress;
The better they understand different aspects of your roleplaying game.
It may not be possible to look for 6+ months membership at your two-month-old forum RPG, but it’s definitely a consideration to think about (if possible).

Note that longevity needn’t necessitate a promotion, though — if someone has been a member at your roleplay for six years and starts expecting a moderator position on the basis of their longevity, that is precisely the type of person not to consider.

Tips for Promoting RPG Staff

ASK FIRST. Seriously. Ask the person whether they want to be part of an RPG staff. You may be surprised at the answer. Respect a no, if you get one. Some players just want to roleplay; others are into being staff.

Graduate their staff duties. Start them off with access to your game’s Twitter account. See how well they do with updating that. Then, give them moderation powers over a few minor forums (your advertising forum, for example — not your game information forum). Then, give them global mod powers. Then, forum administrator. Then, web server host access. Don’t shove the keys to the kingdom into the new staff person’s hands right off the bat.

Make sure you document the way you want things done. Don’t rely on the person to just pick things up — this can be overwhelming to them and frustrating for you.

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3 Re: RPG Admin Basics and then Some on Thu Oct 06 2016, 02:47


Common RPG Starting Mistakes

Starting an online roleplaying game can be difficult, especially when you’re starting on a forum. There’s no guarantee you’ll be successful, but there are some common mistakes you should be aware of. You don’t want to make a bad rpg, after all!

Failing to document your game information leads to confusion: yours and those you hope will join and participate in your game. This is a serious mistake that makes roleplaying harder, and makes your job as an administrator harder.

Have informational topics, have them set up in a sensible way, and link them everywhere. Link them in the forum header and footer, link them in your admin account’s signature, link them in your joining information, on your registration page, wherever. Make your information easily accessible.

Remember — you don’t have to write all documentation for your forum roleplaying game. Why write your own guide when you can link the Bad Roleplay Guide? This certainly isn’t the only roleplay resource site — you can surely find what you’re looking for somewhere!

Pick an Admin Style and Stick with It

Giving a player you like multiple second chances, while being hard on a player you don’t like is unfair. This differential treatment is the hallmark of an RPG admin with more to learn.

Roleplaying game admin strategies are discussed in-depth on Rules and Members, but to put it briefly — choose how you’ll administrate your forum roleplaying game and don’t deviate.

You don’t have to be fair and impartial or personable and human. Forum Roleplay doesn’t advocate one style over the other. Both are perfectly acceptable, different strategies for operating your online roleplaying game. What is important is remaining true to that administration style.

Styling Roleplaying Game Forums

Style and forum skin issues don’t necessarily make a bad roleplaying game, but they can seriously detract from potential of a game. Make the right decisions when skinning your online forum RPG.

These decisions are often contrary to what is “trendy” in the roleplaying world. Forum roleplaying games are notorious for violating these basic rules of design and layout on the web in the name of er, “aesthetics.” Break the mold and help make forum RPGs’ design reputation improve!

Why is this important? Bad design interferes with roleplaying. You created your forum roleplaying game so people can roleplay, right? Make that as easy as possible for them.


The default font size on the web is 16 pixels. Why are you decreasing it to 11, 10, or even 9 pixels? In very small doses, fonts of these sizes are appropriate — “legalese” text, for example — but they absolutely should not be used for large chunks of content. The same for text in uppercase. The only place this is really appropriate is headings, and even that should probably be in small doses unless you really know what you’re doing. Font colors that barely contrast with your background are inappropriate.

Why am I prattling about fonts? Well, you want people to join your forum roleplaying game, yes? If so — make it easy for them to read things. If someone is struggling to read your forum descriptions, they won’t register — let alone read your information, type their stuff into your tiny input box, and put up with all of that for a prolonged period of time.

Many people have bad monitors, poor eyesight, colorblindness, or some other factor that complicates things even more. You want to cater to the widest audience possible. It stands to reason you shouldn’t exclude the people with bad technology, poor eyes, or a physical trait they can’t help. Let them enjoy your roleplaying game, too!

For more information, font styling is covered extensively in RPG Post Templates.

Headers and Banners

Huge headers and banner images are a mistake often seen in forum roleplaying games. Remember that people have to scroll down to see your content, and if you’ve made the 12,000 forum mistake… well. We’re in for the long scroll, huh?

A super-tall banner, even if it’s super-pretty, interferes with the user’s interaction of your forum. Every time they load a page, they have to scroll three extra times just to get past your header. This can range from a mild annoyance to seriously bothersome. Added, your giant forum image probably isn’t well-optimized and is likely to add a fair amount of load time to your page.

We have huge monitors and broadband connections, you say? Not everyone does. Mobile browsing is making leaps, too — more than a few forum roleplayers play exclusively through a mobile phone or a tablet device. On these devices, huge graphics that take forever to download are still a concern. Breaking a data cap because of massive forum images is one way to lose mobile roleplayers fast.

You Don’t Need 12,000 Subforums!

Sample Organization
RP-Related OOC Forums
Game Information
Accepted Character Profiles
Roleplay Discussion
IC Forums
Northern Region
Eastern Region
Western Region
Southern Region
OOC Forums

Many online roleplaying games are organized per-location — down to the corner store having its very own subforum. Having so many forums on your board has a few negative consequences, including:

More difficult to navigate, even for the seasoned roleplayer.

More overwhelming for a new member to look at and know where to post.

More difficult for you to administrate, especially if your forum software doesn’t offer mass topic actions. It’s also a lot more maintenance — you don’t want to have to hire another administrator because you can’t keep up with 50 subforums.

Most importantly, it makes your forum look inactive. So what if the Girl’s Dormitory has 50 threads and 300 posts when every other forum on your board is listing 0 posts?

Especially in the beginning, your roleplaying game doesn’t need a lot of subforums. Instead, consider:

Organizing your roleplaying game by region — North, South, East, West, etc. You can list individual territories, areas, landmarks, or anything else within an informational topic.

Organizing your forums via physical location — if the Boy’s School is right next to the Girl’s School, their forums should be next to one another.

Decreasing your RPG’s playable area. Instead of an entire continent or world, your game can be a state, county, or town. The rest of the IC game areas can be unlockable, or simply non-playable. As your roleplaying game grows and you increase membership levels, these other areas can be unlocked.

Decreasing the amount of detail in your RPG’s playable area. It’s okay to let players make assumptions about the buildings on a single street if your game is a huge city. Chances are, there are enough non-descript streets in that city, right? Conversely, in a small town, descriptions of Main Street that severely conflict with established setting can really break believability and realism. In both cases, though — you shouldn’t be setting out every single street in a city, nor every single building on Main Street. In short — don’t get lost in the trees when world-building, especially at first.

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4 Re: RPG Admin Basics and then Some on Thu Oct 06 2016, 02:50


RPG Rules

One of the hardest challenges a new admin faces is the creation of RPG rules. Forum roleplaying games are no exception. Your rules will dictate the operation and success of your game. Too long and complicated, and you probably won’t be able to follow them. Too restrictive and controlling, and no one will join. Creating RPG rules is about striking a balance between control and freedom — the next RPG is just a click away, after all.

The RPG Rules template condenses all basic forum roleplaying game information into one rules document. It is usually beneficial to split your game information up. You should modify, split, and remove information as necessary for your RPG. The Setting section, for example, may not be useful to a multi-setting roleplaying game.

Remember that your rules should be flexible and you should be open to changing them. The rules you make in the first week of being an RPG admin may not cover everything by your RPG’s fourth year. You shouldn’t change your game rules to punish people (that’s a hallmark of a bad rpg) but you should adapt your RPG rules, too.

RPG Rules Dos

Make sure you understand your RPG rules. If you don’t understand the rules, how do you expect to enforce them? Re-read what you’ve written and make sure you are able to provide an explanation of what each rule in your game means.
Keep it short. If you’re writing paragraphs about the species of your roleplaying game, this information belongs in a separate Setting, Area, or Species topic. You can create all manner of guides for your game, but your rules should be as brief as possible. Three sentences per rule is a maximum — the key word there is maximum. If you can keep rules to a single sentence, even better!

Keep your RPG rules simple. Your brand new forum roleplaying game does not need rules about a king re-crowning ceremony that happens every hundred in-game years. You can leave things vague, and adapt and add more detail as your RPG grows.
Think about scale and how well you will be able to apply your RPG rules as your game grows. If the rule requires intense maintenance or time on your part (e.g., reviewing every character profile once a month) you might want to rethink it. You don’t want to add more RPG admins or mods because you’re having trouble keeping up.

Can technology do it better? If you don’t want roleplayers replying to topics in a certain forum, disable replies. Don’t add an RPG rule where a technical solution is possible. People don’t always listen — but they have to listen to technology. A simple technical solution is “accepted usergroups.” Instead of telling people they cannot post ICly until accepted, make your In Character forums read only except to the accepted usergroup.

RPG Rules Don’ts

Don’t hide silly phrases in your RPG rules and make people restate this phrase in their application. It’s tacky, firstly, and it says you don’t trust players read your rules on their own. That is not a good relationship start between RPG admin and roleplayer.
Don’t make your RPG rules twenty miles long. Pare your rules down to their absolute basics. If you need to split information into separate topics, do so, but don’t make people read a novel to join. Offer a “starter guide” for newcomers, outlining what is a must-reads and what is additional/non-essential. This allows new roleplayers to take in information at their own pace.

Don’t add rules unless you have to. Is there a better way of dealing with a situation? Exhaust your options before you add a rule. Or, alternatively, be sure you’re doing more good when adding an RPG rule. If one roleplayer or character is the problem, try to deal with the root of the problem. This keeps your RPG rules simple and effective.

Your RPG rules should welcome a new player to the game, not betlittle or curse at them. You’re the RPG admin — you don’t need to flaunt that. If you have to remind people constantly that you make the rules and threaten them to achieve compliance, you’re doing something wrong.

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5 Re: RPG Admin Basics and then Some on Thu Oct 06 2016, 02:54


RPG Rules and Members

Enforcing RPG rules is one of the toughest things RPG admins do. Unfortunately, it is also one of the things for which it is difficult to receive advice. Even if you ask an RPG community what to do, you’ll receive a variety of subjective answers that may be wildly different. None of the answers will have as good a perspective as you have, either.

How you enforce your RPG rules really depends on how you want to run your game. If your aim is craft a friendly, human, and very personal small roleplaying game — you won’t want to go with one of the tougher strategies. If your aim is to create a well-oiled machine, you may want one of the toughest strategies.

If you’re becoming an RPG admin to lord power over your roleplayers, control every aspect of the game down to Main Street’s lamppost paint shade, or write a story centered around your main character, this guide can’t help you. You’re probably a jerk, and you’ll probably be one of those admins who freaks out at the first sign of independent thought within your (emphasis yours!) game.

Conversely, if you want to be a great administrator and create a welcoming place to log on and create unique content, one that can last years and years — there are things you should keep in mind.

Enforcing RPG Rules with Strategy

Pick a strategy and go from there. Which rule enforcement strategy you use depends on the type of game and community you want to create, and the kind of administrator you want to be. Your time constraints come into play, too — those who are pressed for time may not want to spend ten PMs explaining powerplay to new members. In those cases, ban-on-sight may work better for you.

It may be helpful for you to start documenting more specific administration strategies based on one of these broad strategies. E.g., decide now how many warnings you’re willing to issue on a given problem, decide how long and how often you are willing to ban roleplayers, and other such information. This will help you in crunch time — it stinks deciding what to do about a situation as it’s happening. Being able to deal with things quickly and efficiently — no matter the strategy — is one hallmark of a good RPG admin.

Document Your Administration and Strategy

Document your administrative data. If you have a problem with a roleplayer or even a technical issue, make a new topic in your private administration forums explaining how you solved the issue. Do this even if you’re working solo — it is useful for two reasons. If you ever run into the same problem again, you’ll know how to act (consistency with member issues, and less search/struggle with technical issues — just for an example). It is also incredibly useful if you ever promote anyone else to administrative level — they’ll know how you want things done.

Specific Strategies for Enforcing RPG Rules

In no way comprehensive! Organized roughly from least to most controlling.


Perhaps the best approach for your time constraints, you do not make any effort to moderate your community. The RPG rules are strictly game-based, meaning members are free to fight in the OOC areas, curse at one another, etc. This approach tends to work best in mature communities capable of self-policing.

Big Show

You make a big show of having rules, but don’t care to actually enforce the RPG rules. You let players off with warnings or are simply silent, just to avoid the work it would take in talking them through the issue. Be aware that this approach may make you appear flaky, lazy, and untrustworthy — but is good for your time constraints. This strategy may work well in creating a very personal, “human” component to your administration. Players won’t be afraid to come to you with complaints — but they may not complain because they know you won’t do anything anyway!

Strong Willed

Your will is strong — but not harsh or fierce. You’re very, very dedicated to getting someone to understand your RPG rules, whether that takes paragraphs of explanations or links to twenty off-site resources. This is a very big drain on your time as an administrator, but may result in individual members you have helped appreciating and remembering your efforts.

By the Book

You set down very strict requirements for how many rules a player may break, how many chances they get, and similar restrictions. You keep to them absolutely, no matter how nuanced the situation. This is a very “fair” and objective way to do things, but is a little impersonal and can forget the human component of any given situation.

My House, My Rules

You set down RPG rules that situationally change — according to your preferences, your like/dislike of a player, and any number of other factors. This approach is not “fair,” generally, but it is a good approach to take if you are intent on creating your perfect community. Be aware that you are limiting yourself as to potential players. While there are likely some who agree with your perspective on what makes a perfect game, many more are frightened away by fluctuating, seemingly personal RPG rules.

Iron Fisted

Zero-tolerance, kick ’em out permanently policy. No welcome-backsies. This method is good for your time constraints and if you don’t want to spend a ton of time working with any one member. It may lead to a very small community and accusations of harshness, however.

Dealing with RPG Rule Infractions

Review the Situation
Look over the situation, player(s) involved, and anything else relevant. Make sure it’s really a rule infraction before you act — you don’t want to punish someone when it wasn’t their fault.

Create a Response

No matter what you are going to do, tell the roleplayer what they did wrong, why it’s wrong, and what you want them to do next time. Do not simply ban someone from your forum without explanation; this may make you a Bad Roleplaying Game. It offers no chance for explanation or improvement on the roleplayer’s part.

Hi Roleplayer,
It has come to the attention of {RPG NAME}’s administration that you violated a game rule. This occurred in this forum topic. This is a rule infraction because {explanation}. {RPG NAME}’s administration must take actions against such rule violations. In this case, we have decided to {punishment or warning or other disciplinary action}. If you have any questions about why this was a rule infraction or about your {punishment/warning}, please respond to this message. — {RPG NAME} administration

Enact the Punishment

Enact your punishment and send your response at the same time. Remember, if you are banning a roleplayer from your forum, they will not be able to access the PM system and you may need to e-mail them the response message you created in the previous step.

Dealing with Problem Members

Problem members are a little different than direct rule infractions. A problem member may not break any major rules, but they do a lot of little things. Or they may not screw up at all, but they just don’t fit into your game at all. What you want to do with these problem members again depends on your strategy. It’s obviously not fair to kick someone out for not fitting in — but if your aim is to craft an intimately personal roleplaying game, your community is of the utmost importance. If your aim is to be fair, you’ll leave that member well enough alone and hope they find their way.

Know when to give a problem member the boot, though. If someone is intentionally skirting closely to the rules, reading things literally when they are meant to be taken “in spirit” or otherwise seeming to give you a hard time for little or no reason — don’t waste your time. This person is playing with you and is unlikely to be a great asset to your roleplaying game anyway.

Drama from Other Games and People

Don’t feed trolls. Laugh at them if your roleplaying game has that sort of community, or just delete it. Freaking out is a waste of your time and exactly what the troll wants.

React calmly, accept truths, and improve if possible. It’s tough to accept criticism, but sometimes someone is saying something true.

Don’t engage people who are obviously just out to get you, trying to smear you, or otherwise just spouting misinformation. The best thing you can do to fight this is ignore it, or simply thank the people for their input and move on. Especially don’t reciprocate their behavior. If you must correct misinformation, make a calm announcement on your board, and leave it at that. Following people from site to site to defend yourself appears weak, and your time is better spent improving your game than defending it.

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