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You’ve Just Joined an RP Region and/or Group. Now What?

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The Macabees
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You’ve Just Joined an RP Region and/or Group. Now What?

Postby The Macabees » Wed Jan 26, 2022 11:29 am

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Over my years as founder of Greater Dienstad one of the most common questions that new players have when first interacting with the community is: how do I start roleplaying? The guide you’re reading will give you the answer to that question, regardless of what region or group you’ve joined and want to roleplay with.


THE FOUR TYPES OF NEWCOMERS

Before reading on, it’s not bad to be in any of the four groups. First of all, all of us are here for different reasons. We value different aspects of the game. That’s okay. Second of all, life will always be a learning process. Sometimes we’ll be in groups we don’t want to be in. But, the experience of being in that group taught you something that you otherwise wouldn’t have learned about yourself and you wouldn’t have grown in the same direction. Our mistakes are the source of our strengths.


The Silent Type

The silent type joins your region or group and doesn't show any particular interest in becoming active roleplayers or contributing to your shared world. Sometimes they just interact through out-of-character channels and are joining the community for a different reason. Sometimes they don’t do anything at all but “exist.” How to get them involved in your region requires a guide of its own, this guide is for those who are actively seeking to join the in-character canon of the region or group and don’t know how to start.


The Good Type

In some cases, which are — in the big picture — rare, the newcomer has little trouble at all becoming an active member of the community. Oftentimes they are seasoned roleplayers, whether on this venue or another one, and they know what they’re doing. This is common when players join different regions with different accounts. Or, they are moving regions with one account or another. Most of the time, these types of players follow the recommendations in this guide in their own way and on their own accord, as if the process comes naturally. Since this type has little use for my guide, I’ll move on.


The Bad Type

Sometimes getting involved with a new region or group can be very frustrating and the experience can be a bad one for the player. As a result, the community lost the opportunity to grow and get a fresh perspective. However, in most communities, this experience is the most common because most communities on NationStates don’t have formal processes of assimilation and incorporation. Without some sort of mentorship, program, or guide, many players get overwhelmed and leave — oftentimes the game. Since this is the most common type of newcomer after the Silent Type, reducing newcomer churn here can bring some of the largest gains to a growing region.

This guide is meant for the [I’m Having a] Bad [Experience] Type.


The Ugly Type

This is when the Bad get Ugly.

Not knowing how to settle into their new region, a small minority of players will become overly aggressive and, rather than integrate into the region, they try to assimilate the region. What I mean by that is that having no formal processes of learning the community canon, which are often complex and the result of many years of roleplaying and worldbuilding, they try to work as if the world they’re on a blank slate. And by world, I mean the community’s shared canon. Sometimes the player self-corrects, in fact, this is common among the Ugly Type and it’s a good thing. Everyone makes mistakes and what’s important is that we learn from ours. Sometimes the Ugly Type doesn’t make progress or doesn’t make that progress fast enough, and the relationship with the community is ended.

This type will benefit from this guide, but if you’re being rejected from a community you first have to accept that the problem may not lie with the community, it may lie with you.*

* This is not always true. Some communities are toxic. Get a second opinion on a situation, but if you have a lot of opinions saying the same thing then…maybe they have a point.


YOUR WORLD: OWNED VS. SHARED

The World You Share

Typically, a region, group, and/or community — whatever you want to call it — has a shared world. It’s probably visually represented as a map with countries, cities, major continents, and details that simplify the standing situation in that shared world. Maps inspire ideas, maps inspire ambitions, and maps incentivize trying to stand out on them. All of these things can be good. But, if a map of a shared world dominates your creative direction early on, it typically leads to bad outcomes because the simplicity of a map necessarily abstracts from the true complexity of a region’s or community’s shared lore.

Most of the countries on a shared map have independent lore at varying levels of detail. If a community has been around for a long time, even if a country isn’t being actively played it can still have complicated lore because at some point it was played and significantly developed. These lores, also called canons, are replete with religions, cultures, laws, political institutions, military organizations, and economic ideologies. Invariably, these complex, established lores are very likely to have a dynamic with each other as players roleplay with each other. These historical relationships add a layer of complexity of their own.

Shared worlds can be overwhelming to new players. Getting comfortable in them takes a lot of reading and questions, and involves elements of curiosity and humility. Some players handle the learning process well enough, others quit, and some ignore it and try to storm forward with usually poor results. To be fair, learning can be boring and it does take work that not everyone wants to put in. The good news is that you can learn passively, as long as you’re willing to focus more on the world you own instead of the world you share. This process not only takes off the pressure and makes it more interesting for you, but it also usually leads to a more organic involvement with the shared world.


The World You Own

As an RPer on NationStates, the canon you own is infinite. To understand why we first need to understand the apparent paradox: your world has finite constraints, but within those constraints is limitless. How is that possible? How is something finite, also infinite? Because, as with most things in life, your canon is multi-dimensional. Let’s think of it in terms of area and volume.

The area your canon occupies is finite. At the edge of your nation’s borders is the shared canon. This is canon that does not belong 100% to you, has most likely been developed long before you came, and one that you must become acclimated to in order to enjoy it. Inside those borders, the depth at which you can go is infinite. Your area is finite, your volume is infinite. The point is: you have unlimited roleplaying opportunities within the scope of your own canon. Why is that? Because given that you’re the owner, you don’t need anyone else’s input or cooperation to develop and implement ideas.

For example, you cannot start a civil war in another country without that player’s consent and involvement. You can start a civil war in your country because you own your canon and no one else has a say (unless you give them a say). Likewise, you cannot roleplay a stock market crash in another person’s country without their consent, but you can roleplay one in yours without needing to run it by anyone. Without permission and cooperation, you can’t do anything in another player’s owned canon, and you can be very limited in doing anything within a shared canon because you have to navigate existing details you might not be entirely aware of yet, but you can do whatever you want within the world you own.

In other words, when you’re itching to roleplay and you’re finding it very difficult to join a shared world, the path of least resistance is to look inward and focus on your own canon.



THE WORLD YOU OWN IS THE FOOL-PROOF PATH INTO THE SHARED WORLD

NationStates is a social game, you want to play it with other players, so focusing on the world you own is off-putting if you think that doing so necessarily isolates you from the shared canon. This is not the case because roleplays that focus on your world tend to get attention from those on the outside. In other words, if you want to join a shared world, the single most effective tactic is to bring that shared world to you, versus the other way around. Why is that? Let’s look at a few reasons.

  • You don’t have to worry about your ideas being shot down and you don’t have to get frustrated with immediately figuring out the details of the expansive shared world you’ve joined. You can roleplay whatever you want within your owned world, making it easier to get started.
  • Other players are looking to join shared worlds, just like you. By starting a roleplay within your country and opening it to others, you are inviting others to share their world with yours. This oftentimes has less friction than the opposite direction because those players now have something to gain from cooperating with you, whereas previously they may not have.
  • You are the OP of your thread (see my guide on OPing a thread effectively), as such you are taking on a leadership role and have the initiative. Leadership is key to productive, vibrant communities. Furthermore, as OP you have more control over how you enter the shared world, your purpose and role in it, and the direction in which you want to go.


Building Your Owned World as a Conduit to the Shared World

It makes sense to start with your own world because if you can’t be bothered to build depth within your own canon, how can you be expected to add depth to another’s? Besides, other players will be more interested in RPing with you if your world is interesting to them, and to be interesting your world needs depth and tension. Tension, or contradictions between elements of your world, drives conflict, and conflict drives plots. That conflict doesn’t need to be military in nature; it can be political, economic, social, et cetera. There are so many opportunities to flesh out your world through RP that a list of these ideas deserves a guide of its own and, in this guide, I’ll focus on how focusing on yourself has the effect of creating opportunities to participate in the broader shared world of your region.

Suppose your government has enacted a policy or a series of policies that has angered a significant number of your citizens. (1) Maybe your government has ordered a nationwide lockdown as a result of a pandemic; (2) maybe it has enacted a series of racist laws that punish ethnic minorities; (3) perhaps it has dismantled its welfare system as a result of an economic crisis, angering the affected social group (such as how Greek threats to end farmer subsidies angered the agricultural class during and after the Great Recession); (4) mayhaps unanswered police brutality has led to chaos in the cities. The possibilities are ended, you decide what fits your country best. Anyway, whatever the scenario is for you, you write an opening post (OP), start a thread, and wait for people in your region to respond.

Other countries that are now weighing on social unrest in your nation will probably vary in their response. Some will support your country and others will criticize it. Congratulations, you are now in the process of establishing causal, in-character relationships with your regional peers. Those that support you perhaps will become allies, while those that criticize you may become enemies. That tension will lead to other opportunities, such as the imposition of sanctions or the breaking out of war, all of which will involve you deeper and deeper into the regional lore. Just like that, by focusing on yourself you’ve actually taken the first step to shift that focus to the region as a whole, and you’ve assimilated yourself into the regional canon without the friction of trying to impose yourself on lore that you have no relationship to.

What if you’re not interested in making enemies just yet? Then your first foray might be something more positive, like a public declaration of the intention to open up your markets for foreign investment and trade. Or, somewhere in your country, a natural disaster struck and you’re looking for foreign aid. Or, your head of state is getting married and the marriage is a great public affair, and regional peers are invited to participate. The possibilities are endless, what matters is that these are all opportunities for you to establish relationships with other players and dip your feet in the regional lore.

What if you’re afraid that by opening up your own world to others, your world will be affected in a way that is not to your liking? Like I said above, you own and are the master of your own world — if other players are trying to affect your canon in a way that you dislike, you have the right to say no.

When I’ve given this advice to individual players in the past, one common response I’ve gotten is, basically: my world is perfect and there’s no tension within it. That’s a big red flag, to be honest. Your assumption is that your world has nothing to resolve, nothing that can be written about as a story in an RP, but that the shared world does have tensions, contradictions, and problems that are resolvable by you. That is an asymmetric assumption and is an unhealthy way of approaching a region. If you think your government, society, economy, et cetera, are perfect, my recommendation is to rethink that assumption because, apart from being unfair, it means your world is highly boring. Nobody is going to want to share a world with someone who’s boring.

As an example of how an inward-looking RP can evolve into participation in the broader region I tend to point people toward my own experience with “A Passion Play,” an RP held over a decade ago on the old forums that began as a civil war of succession in my country. At first, it was entirely inward-looking. The emperor had died and had left the throne to his grandson, while the ambitious father still lived. The father manipulated secessionist tendencies in several provinces to build himself an army and launched a rebellion against his son, and thus began the War of Golden Succession. Initially, another country in the region pledged its support for the rightful heir, and thus the Golden Throne’s alliance with the Killian Republic began. Then, our southern neighbor, sensing an opportunity to conquer parts of the southern empire, invaded in support of the rebels — thus began our historic animosity toward Safehaven. By the RPs peak, there were up to 20 players involved and I had established strong in-character relationships with allies and enemies. These relationships provided me with countless opportunities of future RPs that were more so focused on the shared world than my own, and in fact resulted in the expansion of my own world. Notice how it took accepting vulnerability to create the opportunities for me to become a relatively important player in Greater Dienstad — actually, it was Imperial Armies at the time and “A Passion Play” was one of the reasons I was accepted as regional refounder when I refounded Imperial Armies as Greater Dienstad. Without me accepting vulnerability and fending off an invasion, my ability to participate in the region’s shared world would have been much more restricted.

In short, don’t be boring and don’t be afraid of being vulnerable. Good things come from being humble and opening your own world to others before expecting them to open theirs to yours.



FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS


1. I've just joined a region or RP group. What's my first action item?

Forget about the region for a second and ask yourself: what can I write about my own world that would make for an interesting RP? What can I write about that would make my world more interesting? And, more importantly: what can I write about that would be interesting to me? Then write the OP and advertise the thread to your region. Congratulations, you’ve taken the first step to become an important player in your region.


2. I just joined this region or RP group, I'm on the map, but I want more land because I want to be considered a great power! What do I do?

Change your perspective. The size of your country on a map is not necessarily an indication of its status within the region. This is true in the real world too. During World War 2, Germany gave the Soviet Union a run for its money, despite being much smaller in terms of territory and population. In-character, your status within the region will be determined by your status as an RPer, and if you are not considered a good RPer you will not be considered a power or an important player. More than anything, you'll be considered a nuisance. And when I say good RPer, I don't mean good writer; I mean a good player who's fun to RP with. You can be a good RPer and write one-liners, you can be a bad RPer and write tomes. Anyway, growing your map claim will come more easily if you've established yourself within the group, and to establish yourself within the group you need to focus on your own canon first — just like Germany had to develop its own industry first before it could consider itself a continental power, regardless of relative territorial sizes.


3. I've joined a new region/RP group, I've started a new thread that focuses on my own canon, but nobody is participating. What now?

  • Your region/group is active, but still no takers: It could be that the topic you've chosen isn't interesting. More likely, other players are having trouble being creative. Being creative is hard! Help others become involve in your world and they will help you become involved in theirs.
  • Your region/group is inactive: Migrate to another region/group.


N.B. If you enjoyed this guide, check out my other guides. Upvotes welcomed!
Last edited by The Macabees on Wed Jan 26, 2022 11:32 am, edited 1 time in total.

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Untecna
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Posts: 3943
Founded: Jun 02, 2020
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Postby Untecna » Wed Jan 26, 2022 11:31 am

Wrong forum, and this is very bloggy.
Californian

Dragon with internet access

Unironically still in NSG discussions, now turned to slight shitposting to make it fun for everyone else me and me only.

I'm queer

Heloin's, perhaps, unwanted accountant

Don't use my old posts to judge me, I was cringe af

Naan Violence, y'all.

Political Beliefs
TL;DR: I'm a democratic socialist. Surprise Surprise, I don't support genocide or violence.

Go 49rs

Untecna wrote:No, and you can talk to my dragon lawyers if you dragon want me to dragon shut up.

Hemakral wrote:damn bro that wall so thick kool-aid man couldn't bust through

[violet] wrote:Maybe we could power our new search engine from the sexual tension between you two.

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The Macabees
Senior N&I RP Mentor
 
Posts: 3788
Founded: Antiquity
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Postby The Macabees » Wed Jan 26, 2022 11:34 am

Untecna wrote:Wrong forum, and this is very bloggy.


If a mod feels that way, they have the ability to move it. Not even close to the first RPing guide published in this forum, though.

Edit: Oh, I see, you're a relatively new player.
Last edited by The Macabees on Wed Jan 26, 2022 11:35 am, edited 1 time in total.

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Untecna
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Posts: 3943
Founded: Jun 02, 2020
Iron Fist Consumerists

Postby Untecna » Wed Jan 26, 2022 11:35 am

The Macabees wrote:
Untecna wrote:Wrong forum, and this is very bloggy.


If a mod feels that way, they have the ability to move it. Not even close to the first RPing guide published in this forum, though.

This is referring to a region, which is a gameside feature (see the Gameplay subforum), while this subforum is for RP between nations on the forum.

This subforum isn't the relative place for regional RP guides; it'd be best to place one in a dispatch or perhaps in Gameplay. viewforum.php?f=12
Last edited by Untecna on Wed Jan 26, 2022 11:37 am, edited 2 times in total.
Californian

Dragon with internet access

Unironically still in NSG discussions, now turned to slight shitposting to make it fun for everyone else me and me only.

I'm queer

Heloin's, perhaps, unwanted accountant

Don't use my old posts to judge me, I was cringe af

Naan Violence, y'all.

Political Beliefs
TL;DR: I'm a democratic socialist. Surprise Surprise, I don't support genocide or violence.

Go 49rs

Untecna wrote:No, and you can talk to my dragon lawyers if you dragon want me to dragon shut up.

Hemakral wrote:damn bro that wall so thick kool-aid man couldn't bust through

[violet] wrote:Maybe we could power our new search engine from the sexual tension between you two.

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Islands Of Ventro
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Posts: 584
Founded: Apr 20, 2020
Democratic Socialists

Postby Islands Of Ventro » Wed Jan 26, 2022 11:36 am

This is great and helpful (not sure about the forum though). Do you have a dispatch version of this? I fell like that would really convey your point better then this post (you would reach more people)
Last edited by Islands Of Ventro on Sat April 20th, 1982, edited 69,419 times in total.
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User avatar
Untecna
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Posts: 3943
Founded: Jun 02, 2020
Iron Fist Consumerists

Postby Untecna » Wed Jan 26, 2022 11:39 am

The Macabees wrote:
Untecna wrote:Wrong forum, and this is very bloggy.


Edit: Oh, I see, you're a relatively new player.

That's quite rude. Just under 2 years myself, but I have plenty to show for it.
Californian

Dragon with internet access

Unironically still in NSG discussions, now turned to slight shitposting to make it fun for everyone else me and me only.

I'm queer

Heloin's, perhaps, unwanted accountant

Don't use my old posts to judge me, I was cringe af

Naan Violence, y'all.

Political Beliefs
TL;DR: I'm a democratic socialist. Surprise Surprise, I don't support genocide or violence.

Go 49rs

Untecna wrote:No, and you can talk to my dragon lawyers if you dragon want me to dragon shut up.

Hemakral wrote:damn bro that wall so thick kool-aid man couldn't bust through

[violet] wrote:Maybe we could power our new search engine from the sexual tension between you two.

User avatar
The Macabees
Senior N&I RP Mentor
 
Posts: 3788
Founded: Antiquity
Anarchy

Postby The Macabees » Wed Jan 26, 2022 11:39 am

Untecna wrote:This is referring to a region, which is a gameside feature (see the Gameplay subforum), while this subforum is for RP between nations on the forum.

This subforum isn't the relative place for regional RP guides; it'd be best to place one in a dispatch or perhaps in Gameplay. viewforum.php?f=12


You are welcome to bring it up to a mod. Whatever they think is best I respect.

But with all due respect, I've been playing this game actively since June 2003, so I don't need your lecture. If you don't like it, you're welcome to ignore the thread. But no more of your spam, please.

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The Macabees
Senior N&I RP Mentor
 
Posts: 3788
Founded: Antiquity
Anarchy

Postby The Macabees » Wed Jan 26, 2022 11:43 am

Islands Of Ventro wrote:This is great and helpful (not sure about the forum though). Do you have a dispatch version of this? I fell like that would really convey your point better then this post (you would reach more people)


I suspect you are right, but I most likely won't be making it into a dispatch.

I do have a dispatch with all of my guides, though! https://www.nationstates.net/page=dispatch/id=861979

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Untecna
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Founded: Jun 02, 2020
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Postby Untecna » Wed Jan 26, 2022 11:46 am

The Macabees wrote:
Untecna wrote:This is referring to a region, which is a gameside feature (see the Gameplay subforum), while this subforum is for RP between nations on the forum.

This subforum isn't the relative place for regional RP guides; it'd be best to place one in a dispatch or perhaps in Gameplay. viewforum.php?f=12


You are welcome to bring it up to a mod. Whatever they think is best I respect.

I have asked for a move to Gameplay.

But with all due respect, I've been playing this game actively since June 2003, so I don't need your lecture.

Playing a game for so long should warrant the ability to not make rude comments about differences in ages of accounts; along with that, it should warrant the ability to place things in the proper forum. Again, I have asked for a move.

Experience is not necessarily equal to time.

If you don't like it, you're welcome to ignore the thread. But no more of your spam, please.

It's great that you want to help out people in RP regions. What's not great is you accusing me of spam.

I'd recommend this be placed in a dispatch as well, as it can be linked to people more easily and can reach a wider audience. A forum thread can stay, but dispatches would be well and good at the same time.
Last edited by Untecna on Wed Jan 26, 2022 11:48 am, edited 1 time in total.
Californian

Dragon with internet access

Unironically still in NSG discussions, now turned to slight shitposting to make it fun for everyone else me and me only.

I'm queer

Heloin's, perhaps, unwanted accountant

Don't use my old posts to judge me, I was cringe af

Naan Violence, y'all.

Political Beliefs
TL;DR: I'm a democratic socialist. Surprise Surprise, I don't support genocide or violence.

Go 49rs

Untecna wrote:No, and you can talk to my dragon lawyers if you dragon want me to dragon shut up.

Hemakral wrote:damn bro that wall so thick kool-aid man couldn't bust through

[violet] wrote:Maybe we could power our new search engine from the sexual tension between you two.

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Santheres
Game Moderator
 
Posts: 3051
Founded: Apr 29, 2005
Civil Rights Lovefest

Postby Santheres » Wed Jan 26, 2022 12:00 pm

Untecna wrote:
The Macabees wrote:
You are welcome to bring it up to a mod. Whatever they think is best I respect.

I have asked for a move to Gameplay.

But with all due respect, I've been playing this game actively since June 2003, so I don't need your lecture.

Playing a game for so long should warrant the ability to not make rude comments about differences in ages of accounts; along with that, it should warrant the ability to place things in the proper forum. Again, I have asked for a move.

Experience is not necessarily equal to time.

If you don't like it, you're welcome to ignore the thread. But no more of your spam, please.

It's great that you want to help out people in RP regions. What's not great is you accusing me of spam.

I'd recommend this be placed in a dispatch as well, as it can be linked to people more easily and can reach a wider audience. A forum thread can stay, but dispatches would be well and good at the same time.


The OP of this thread has asked you to stop posting, at least on this off-topic discussion of where the thread belongs.

The thread is about RP groups and regions, and does not belong in Gameplay. II has a long history of having help and guidance threads like this.

- Santh
Gameplay Mod

User avatar
Santheres
Game Moderator
 
Posts: 3051
Founded: Apr 29, 2005
Civil Rights Lovefest

Postby Santheres » Wed Jan 26, 2022 12:11 pm

Stickying thread for temporary visibility (i.e. it will probably be removed when there is another guide to sticky)

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Saksoni
Attaché
 
Posts: 79
Founded: Jan 19, 2022
Inoffensive Centrist Democracy

Postby Saksoni » Tue May 24, 2022 10:54 am

How much do you think im dead in scale from 0 to 10 if i insulted both black hawks and communists that attacked my region ?
Evil and good have one in common, there is always somebody to figth them.

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Santheres
Game Moderator
 
Posts: 3051
Founded: Apr 29, 2005
Civil Rights Lovefest

Postby Santheres » Tue May 24, 2022 11:58 am

Saksoni wrote:How much do you think im dead in scale from 0 to 10 if i insulted both black hawks and communists that attacked my region ?


0 because they can't actually harm you. I would caution you against breaking any site rules by doing this "insulting" though. Usually that does violate an actual rule. But this is a thread about RP, not Gameplay.
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