Text-based roleplaying (RPing) is a popular hobby among Pokémon fans, with our very own PokéCommunity’s Roleplay Theatre having a large and dedicated group of regular participants. This article takes a look at just what makes the Pokémon world a fantastic setting for RPing and might shed some light on why roleplay is such a popular hobby with Pokémon fans.
What is Text-Based Roleplay?
Text-based roleplay, often called forum RPing (as this is a very common medium), is essentially exactly what it sounds like. You take on the role of a character and write their exploits through the world you’re given. It’s very much like writing a story. What makes it different is that it’s a group effort. In fact, many of the roleplayers (RPers) here on the PokéCommunity tend to think of the hobby as more writing a collaborative story than playing a game.
There are primarily two types of text-based RP, although variations or hybrids between the two do exist. The first of these is the sandbox style. What this means is that the players are given an expansive world to explore at their leisure. Rather than following a specific storyline, players do their own thing and create their own personal plot lines.
The second type of RP common to forums are the plot-driven variety. As the name suggests, these are the antithesis to sandbox RPs. They have a clearly-defined overarching plot that takes precedence to the personal storylines of each character.
What makes a good roleplay?
Whilst some things are specific to either style of RP, most of what makes for a good RP is common to either. First and foremost, you’re going to want good worldbuilding. That means that you need to clearly describe not only the landscape but also the history of the world characters inhabit. If you don’t clearly define what your world looks like, where locations are and how the world came to be as it is, there will either be enormous inconsistencies between posts or your participants will just not know what to write. The quality of your worldbuilding is especially important to sandbox RPs as the setting itself is the RP’s backbone.
Another important aspect of any RP is the mechanics. That is, how everything within the RP actually works. In fantasy RPs, you’ll likely need a magic system, whilst in a survival RP you might have mechanics based around food or health. Regardless of your RPs genre however, simplicity is key when it comes to mechanics. Mechanics should be as concise as the RP allows and easy to understand and, since you’re writing a story, they shouldn’t interfere with the creative freedom of your participants. If mechanics prevent RPers from enjoying the setting you have provided to the fullest extant, it can deter them.
Lastly, the quality of your plot is important. Obviously, this is far more important to plot-driven RPs than it is to those that are sandbox, but even a sandbox RP needs some sort of overarching story if you intend for it to ever reach completion. A good plot needs to be engaging to the players, hooking them from the beginning and allowing for a variety of different situations to prevent people from getting bored. However, this doesn’t mean you want an overly complex story for your RP either. Over-complexity is just as difficult to enjoy as dullness.
How does Pokémon deliver?
In a single sentence, the big reason Pokémon is a fantastic RP setting is versatility. It offers a multitude of different and exciting regions to explore, each with clearly defined cities, routes and dungeons for characters to navigate and well developed lore. With all the different in-universe material to base things on, it is also extremely easy to create your own unique setting or history. This lends itself greatly to sandbox RPing, but also to crafting an engaging story for a more plot-focused RP.
As a franchise, Pokémon also comes ready-made with mechanics that are easy to understand and manipulate. There is a vast number of different Pokémon, but there’s a set number of type classifications that they fall into with defined strengths and weaknesses. Furthermore, each individual Pokémon has set moves they can learn and Abilities they can possess. Levels can also be utilized to create a clear method of tracking progress, but it’s also easy to drop them for a more anime-esque take on the Pokémon world.
The Pokémon franchise provides an extremely broad and fun setting that has kept its fans entertained for over twenty years now. This setting is extremely versatile, giving us many different regions to explore, each populated with a diverse cast of Pokémon and characters and each with its own unique and interesting lore. This versatility, however, is coupled with mechanics that are detailed, simple to understand and easily transcribed to RPing as a medium. In short, Pokémon comes made with everything required for any variety of RP whilst allowing both game masters and participants plenty of creative freedom.
Edited by bobandbill and Volpe Artica.