Role Play: How to run a roleplaying event
Maybe it’s the end of the expansion and you’re feeling the lull that usually strikes somewhere between the last big patch and the next release of content. Or maybe it’s just the right time of year, or maybe your character has reached a part of their story that you’d like to share with more than just your usual group of friends. Whatever the reason, holding a roleplaying event is a fun way to bring roleplayers together — even people you’ve never roleplayed with before.
For some, it might seem a daunting prospect, but running a roleplaying event is a little easier than say, organizing a guild raid. There aren’t any real strats to follow, there’s no pressure as far as loot drops and distribution is concerned, and since you’re creating the event, you can tailor it to be as simple or as complex as you’d like. Since we’re hitting the waning months of Warlords of Draenor and we’re about to hit a stretch of pretty good in-game holidays, now’s as good a time as any to try throwing one yourself.
Find a reason to get together
If you’re going to have a roleplay event, that event should probably have some kind of central theme or reason for everyone getting together in the first place. If you’re feeling really creative, you can certainly come up with some kind of elaborate plot if you like. But having a major overlying plot isn’t really necessary in the case of most roleplaying events. It’s just an excuse to get a lot of people gathered together in one place, roleplaying all at once. In-game holidays are ideal for these kind of things, just because you’ve got your event theme already taken care of.
If there’s no in-game holiday on the horizon, you can always take your cue from Blizzard and make your own holiday event — maybe a guild anniversary or a recently-discovered obscure holiday that one of your guild or group’s characters just happened to stumble on. Or maybe one of the characters in your group just accomplished something worth celebrating. Maybe there’s a wedding on the horizon for a character in your guild or group. Maybe a major villain was recently defeated.
In relation to Warlords of Draenor, maybe your guild or group is just in the mood to celebrate a successful campaign and return to Azeroth. Maybe they’d like to celebrate with their Draenor allies one last time before returning to Azeroth. Or maybe they’d like to stage an in-character takeover of an area with hostile mobs, reclaiming it — albeit temporarily — for their respective ally. Really, the sky is the limit when it comes to coming up with a reason for an event. The only thing you want to make sure of, if you’d like to have a large crowd involved, is that whatever reason you choose is something of a wide enough scope that people who don’t normally participate in roleplay with you or your friends would still be interested enough to attend.
Schedule a good time
Obviously, if you’re going to throw a roleplaying event, you want to pick a time and a day that you yourself are available. But you also want to keep in mind that not everyone is running on your schedule, and pick a time and day where the largest number of people are going to potentially be able to attend. If you schedule it too early in the day, people are liable to be working — if you schedule it too late at night on a weekday, people are liable to be sleeping.
Try to avoid days that are commonly known for raid nights — if people already have a set schedule for something they’re invested in doing, the chances of them dropping that obligation to attend a one-time event are fairly slim. Running your event during “prime time” hours is also not really recommended, because people are usually invested in other activities. From what I’ve found, the best time for events tends to be just after most guilds are usually done with whatever raiding they’re doing for the evening. By then, people just want to wind down for the night, and a good bout of roleplaying is nice note to end the evening.
Weekends tend to be pretty good for events if people have enough advance warning — which is the other important part about scheduling. Deciding to run an event and then giving people only a day or two advance warning as to the event’s existence is just going to guarantee that you don’t have a lot of people showing up. You want to give people advance notice that the event is going to be taking place, so they’ve got time to take a look at their schedule and clear it, if necessary.
Things to do
Sure, you might just be holding some kind of big party, but what’s a party without things to do? You want to plan at least a few different activities for people to participate in to keep them engaged and give them something to do if conversation isn’t really flowing. Costume contests are always fun, especially if you’re working with some kind of holiday theme — just make sure you’ve got some prizes to give away at the end of it all, and make sure you wrangle a few people in to judge while you’re at it.
Some people like to do storytelling competitions as well. While these can be fun, they do run the danger of running really, really long — if you’re going to do some kind of storytelling competition, let people know in advance, and set some rules on length. You might want to gently advise that people write their stories out in advance, so that they can be copied and pasted into the chat window rather than making people wait while things are being typed out.
If you’re having an event where combat will be taking place, make sure you lay out the ground rules of how combat will be working. Dueling competitions can be fun, but only if everyone understands how the competition will work and what the rules are. If you make a set of rules, make sure you’re sticking to them and don’t let anyone weasel their way around them — you don’t want the fun ruined by accusations of cheating.
Keep it reasonable
While some people like to roleplay for hours and hours, others don’t have all the time in the world. If you’re going to do contests and competitions, get them started fairly early on so more people can participate. This has the added bonus of giving everyone something to talk about while the event is progressing, even if their characters have never spoken to each other before. Make sure you’ve got enough people to help you out with any event judging or prize handling — and make sure you either choose a location with appropriate food and drink vendors, or you have someone bringing enough of both to keep everyone happy.
And remember to take some time to talk to people yourself while the event is going on — you don’t want to spend the whole evening doing nothing but running events, after all. Schedule a reasonable time for the event to end, but encourage people to stick around and keep roleplaying if they’d like to. A roleplaying event doesn’t have to be ridiculously complicated to keep people happy — just giving them a reason to get together in a group, and maybe meet some new friends while they’re at it, is often more than enough.
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