Skip to main content

Help » Running a RP Group

Table of Contents

So you want to start a RP group

In January 2013, the community discussed the critically important role of Group Admin.

A large proportion of the discussion participants had many years of experience running groups under their belts. In a few cases, that experience stretched over a decade or more of running successful games. You'll see these people quoted a great deal in this summary! However, there were also many participants who had just as much experience being members of various RP groups, who had seen it done well and who had seen it done poorly, and could tell us what kept groups together and thriving and what sent them running for the hills, and we'll also hear from them.

I tend to want to create groups when I have a specific mood/feel in mind and there isn't currently anywhere where I can satisfy that. I also do it because I love the sort of "Advanced storytelling" it required.- Ilmarinen

Do you have what it takes?

You need to consider, too, that part of being leader does mean sacrificing some of the fun. Instead of just being able to play within the rules as they are, you have to be prepared to weigh compromises, settle disputes, and put in the time needed to keep things running. The only way to know you're ready is to try and fail.- Kaji

It's a major responsibility and a lot of work to run a thriving RP group. Before you try your hand at the role, ask yourself:
  • Do you have enough time to dedicate to the group? Plan to spend several hours on most days crafting plots, answering questions, expanding your world-building materials, training and supporting your moderators, encouraging activity, attracting new members, reviewing membership applications, dealing with rule breakers, and much more.
  • Do you have trouble saying 'no' to your friends, even when you know it's the right decision? As a group leader, you will have to be fair and unbiased with all of your members, no matter how much you like them (or don't.)
  • Do you have thick enough skin to endure inevitable complaints without burning out?
  • Are you willing to play less and work more? Group leaders often have very little time to indulge in playing their own characters, as the needs of the group will be constant.
  • Is the group concept one that will keep you fired up for the forseeable future? When you become the leader of a group, your loss of interest usually means that the group dies, and the plots and characters your members had created will vanish for them, too. So make sure that it's something you will want to stick with for a very long time.

For a mature guild, after all the lore construction, etc. Prepare to spend a couple hours a week minimum answering questions, running events, looking over new player applications (if you have them), fixing up the site/forums/dream, and just hanging and RPing with the player base.- Ilmarinen

Free time. You're going to need a lot of it. Thick skin - can you deal with heated issues without getting emotionally involved? Professional detatchment is very important.- Ben

First thing to consider is: ARE YOU READY? Make sure you have enough time, and a proper motivation to keep going when things don't go as planned.- Earendill

I think you should consider that it will not be as simple as making a setting because you want to enjoy it. Some enjoyment may be taken away by how much you need to supervise your group. Not everyone will come into your group willing to follow the setting or the rules and you'll need to be prepared for trouble makers. It may not happen all the time, but it will happen. Sometimes you don't go into running a group prepared, and you grow into it. It's easy to become disillusioned if you go into running a group unprepared, but sometimes experience is what you need. It's what i needed.- Degu

roman-warrior-small.pngA good group leader goes in knowing that they are in a position of service. Although they may be holding the reigns of power, realize that in a group that stays healthy over the long term, the admin thinks of themself as having more responsibility than power. (For more on this concept, see this excellent forum thread on the topic of power vs. responsibility, written by our very own member Ben, a long term Game Master and group leader) If the only reason you want to run a group is to be "in charge" or to write your own setting, you should probably reconsider. The most important part of leading a group is being a benevolent and strong leader.

A group leader is not just in it for the fun, he or she is also tasked with the very important responsibility of keeping things in order--and this has to be understood prior, because this can and very often does cut INTO your fun. If you are running a public group, especially, it's extremely important to understand this and prepare accordingly. You're serving your group's interests, not the other way around.- Wizard

That's not to say that there's no benefits to adminning a successful group! It can be enormously rewarding to see something you created flourish and come to life. You can find yourself responsible for having brought days, weeks and years of fun and imagination into the world.
The reward is watching your idea grow, watching people run with it, love it, and explore it. The other thing you should be prepared for is that it won't go to plan - the story will evolve on its own. And that, for me, is the fun.- Ben

It's not uncommon for a strong RP group to forge new real life friendships, and sometimes, real life romances. If other people being made happy by work that you've done makes you happy, you may find that the time and energy you invest in your group is well worth it.

My RP group is responsible for at least two marriages IIRC.- StarArmy

The reward is making a safe and awesome environment for others to play in. You do sacrifice 'fun' to some degree. You're facilitating this group, you're doing administrative duties which means you may not have the time to roleplay. But you get to watch people create and develop characters, you get to watch the community help develop your group, help add to it, and overall help it grow. Its wonderful to hear when people compliment you on a plot or a story line in your group.- Dylan

...the greatest reward you can get as a group administrator is that of thankfulness from those who join, and to see that loads of players have fun with a variety of characters in them.- Olthain

Bottom line: If dealing with administrative issues and being an occasional hardass doesn't sound appealing to you, you may find that you'd rather just play in a game. It takes a special sort of personality to endure the trials and tribulations of managing a group... And hopefully, to also enjoy those challenges!

All the long term Game Masters that I know(myself included) do not set aside their fun, instead we are all slightly mad in that we consider the time spent on supporting our games to /be/ fun.- Nero

As someone whose RP time has gone down to almost zero (as compared to many, many hours a week prior) since starting a RP site, I can speak from experience that you have to love the adminning itself. The building, watching people take their first steps in RP, watching experienced RPers take advantage of what you offer them and go directions you never expected. The work itself has to be fun or you just stop, because my goodness is it ever a ton of work.- Kim

If you haven't been scared away yet and you feel you're ready and willing to shoulder the responsibilities of turning that group you've been imagining a reality, read on!

Defining the group's setting

A critically important decision, that will guide much of the rest of your group's creation process, is what sort of setting you want your RP to take place in, and how strict you want to be about that setting.

A strict setting, at its most basic, has these characteristics:
  • Has a well defined history, location(s), culture and lore.
  • Has clear guidelines for what types of characters can be found there.
  • May involve characters needing to be approved before they can be played, or the admins booting inappropriate characters, to ensure that people are fitting in to the setting.
  • Is consistent from day to day. If a house burns down today, it will not magically reappear tomorrow (unless magic exists in the setting and someone performs that action.)

I think another way to think of it is that in a strict setting, the continuity/setting is most important. In a non-strict one, the characters are most important.- Ilmarinen

Because of that, you can focus on the RP and enjoy the story that unfolds a lot better than when you and your RP partner(s) struggle to get your information matching.- Sanne

Strict settings can be more difficult to manage, as you will have to constantly remind and correct players as to what does and does not exist - or is or is not a common cultural attitude - in that setting. It can also be more challenging for players to learn, create characters for, and get started in. However, the strict structure is the best way to bring a specific idea to life. It provides players with the feeling that their characters have a specific, "realistic" place in the universe, and the fact that what they do carries over into tomorrow's plots can provide the immensely satisfying feeling that your actions matter and have an effect on the overall world. In effect, characters are becoming a part of a living, breathing history.

A strict setting provides a uniform backdrop for the players to develop their characters within. It can be a lot of work to set up a new strict setting, but it is also very rewarding. I have had a great deal of success with strict settings, both online and tabletop. So long as you get players who want to play in the setting, they will usually try to stick to it. Often they will misinterpret a detail, but not maliciously.- Nero

That characters that die in a strict setting almost always have to stay dead can also add a greater sense of urgency to play, and reduce the number of "stupid" or unrealistic actions from characters, because there will be consequences -- and the consequences will stick.

Strict settings are enormously hard if you want to keep them strict. Not all player read/remember all information you provided and might break important rules that seem like small detail to them. Like an underground keep not having windows.- Earendill

A strict setting can be harder to do. It means you have to explain the setting regularly to new comers if they don't know what the group is all about. You will have to keep an eye on rule breakers... for example, my group is fantasy-medieval based and modern characters are not allowed. Sometimes you have modern characters trying to fit in, sometimes you have to let little things go. Strict roleplay groups can be stressful on your sanity and sometimes you need to decide if you reallllly want to fight that fight or let it go for the day.- Dylan

How defined and strict a setting you wish to create is a matter of personal preference, but be aware that once you get started, it will be very difficult to change your mind. Players that are attracted to a strict game may be horrified to discover that the setting has been opened to any type of character, and all the history they helped to create is no longer inviolate, whilst players that were attracted to a more freeform game may feel stifled and burdened should you suddenly decide to go strict. Think deeply before you make your choice, and then stick to it.

The obvious disadvantage to a strict setting is that some will not wish to obey it, or cannot obey it, and move on to looser places, meaning you have a smaller group of regulars and thus a risk of stagnation. It's the cost of having more control. Equally the obvious advantage is that you don't have people running around with their arms up doing the nyuknyuk dance when other people are trying to tell a cohesive story.
- Kaji

Once you've got your basic setting in place, how thoroughly you want to flesh it out before opening your group for play is a matter of personal preference. Some admins will prefer to start with a general concept and let their players help to fill in the blanks. Others will want to think deeply about every aspect of their setting, from what types of fish and plants are found in different regions to what colors are in fashion in court this year.

In all seriousness, the initial idea doesn't need to be that big or that complex. It will build upon itself organically as your group and its RP adventures grow, especially if you provide a channel for the players to make submissions to the group lore.- StarArmy

I'd say the more information you can provide, the better--especially if you have a very detailed setting. While you might know all the ins and outs of your world/group, those coming in really have very little to work with. So really, the more info you can include, the smoother (I think) things will run.- PenGryphon2007

The basic rule of thumb is, if something is important to you, and you think your setting won't have the correct "feel" or promote the types of stories you are interested in telling without that detail, write it down. How many details are required to get things moving varies from game setting to game setting.

You need to have some idea of what on Earth (or Exodus ) you're running before you just open the doors. While your players can help enrich it, as has just been said, you need to have an idea of what material you and your players are writing with so they have a guiding hand. That way, you're not just floundering about in the dark going "Oh my god what do I do what do I doooo!?"

It's a little give and take, oddly enough. You need to give the players some idea of what they're writing with in the setting's lore, but if you give too much freedom, it can ruin whatever idea you had going on in the first place.- Copper_Dragon

Introducing players to your setting

No matter how much or how little setting information you begin with (or eventually acquire), how you present that information is also of critical importance.

So there has to be some simple information laid out somewhere easily accessible. Enough to get the player starter. Then detailed info linked from there, organized in chunks so the player can go find it when it becomes relevant.- Ilmarinen

Provide players with a basic primer that they can read and refer to that continues all of the most important details to get them started. If you have more detailed information, such as descriptions of how commerce is conducted in the region, religions, bestiaries, etc., that people may need to refer to but won't necessarily engage with on a daily basis, be careful to give it its own page(s), away from the primer, so as to not overwhelm your new players. Give everything intuitive titles and organize them in ways that make sense. When you refer to an aspect of your setting that may need more explanation, link to the appropriate page for players who want to dig deeper into your lore.

With our group we've based the location/environment loosely off of a real world location so people can look it up themselves. We have a website and a specific area designated to the CONTINUITY under that is the history of the group, a listing of the types of jobs ICly, a menu, a bestiary (which is included under geography with a map of the area.) If you have that information, you need to make sure it is easy to find and under the right header.- Dylan

And then, be prepared for your players to not read that information that you've put so much work into. It can be frustrating, but just keep reminding yourself that this kind of bad behavior tends to come from good intentions; what they did see made them so excited to get started playing, they skipped a few steps. Depending on the strictness of your setting, it may be your job as the group admin to patiently remind people what the group's lore is, keeping details in sync so that characters are inhabiting a truly shared universe and their timelines make sense with one another.
Also, character applications. They're a good way to get someone to lay out their character. It forces them to see it all and sometimes they go "hmm that wasn't such a good idea after all." and sometimes they DON'T see it, but before they start RPing you can help them make tweaks. It's easier than retconning stuff into existence (or out of it)- Ilmarinen

Getting over that initial learning curve can be very daunting, so do your best to support new players through the process. Provide guidance as they are crafting their characters for your setting, offer encouragement, and be gentle but firm when you have to say no.
You have to encourage them to read the rules, and make your group unique. If you have unique rules about characters, it will spur them to some creativity and you need to help encourage them to think outside the box. Working along-side them, or at least stating/giving the impression that you are willing to do so, also helps a lot and especially shows them that you care. ...What you have to worry about the most with applications is getting to them on time. Take more than a few days and it will seem like you're not interested enough with getting new people.- CelestinaGrey

Give them ideas of what they can play! List group appropriate characters, jobs, or creatures, even list why they are awesome and why they fit in. If you have a specific group you are much more likely to get RP if you've made a character that fits the environment set up for that group. As a group leader, you can always speak to the out-of-character about why certain characters are required for that roleplay group.- Dylan

Rules a RP group can't live without

Any group needs a set of expectations. We have the generic social construct expectations like play nice or lose your toys etc. Then with games we need IC expectations as well. Some games are supposed to be teamwork focused, others are more cutthroat political power focused etc. These expectations need to be clear to everyone from the start.Nero

Every RP group in the world is going to have its own set of rules to encourage its own unique mix of people and interactions. That said, there are some rules that have saved the bacon of more group admins than you can shake a stick at. When composing your initial ruleset, strongly consider including rules like the following:
  • "Respect your fellow players, and the authority of the admin team."
    You may want to detail what respect looks like in your particular community, and how it differs between IC and OOC interactions.
  • Set expectations for how often you expect people to post when they are involved in a RP.

    All it takes is a single person to stop posting to put an entire plot on hold, and not long for momentum to be lost and the entire plot to vanish, perhaps taking all involved players with it. There should be clear guidelines for how players should inform the group of an emergency hiatus, and how long a silence it will take before a GM removes the character from the plot so the rest of the group can continue playing.
  • "Stay on topic" or "Stay IC in IC areas."

    A forum can get very cluttered and hard to follow when people are chatting in areas that people are trying to play, or randomly changing the topic on others. Because new threads are free, it's only polite that players make their own if they want to talk about something unrelated to the original poster's intended purpose.
  • Any requirements you may have for the ages of your players, such as 18+.
  • You may want to remind your players that the Terms of Service of the site on which you are hosting your RP still remain in effect (such as if you are hosting the RP on the RP repository)
  • Tell your players how strictly you will expect them to stick to your group's IC setting.
  • A catch-all, for situations that you can't predict ahead of time. This might be something along the lines of "Use common sense," or "play nice, and behave with maturity."

    Sometimes, players will do things to "toe the line", being unpleasant without blatantly breaking rules. This can create a very difficult situation for you. Admins often don't want to take action against people that are being annoying for fear of being - or seeming - biased. But if repeated unpleasant-but-not-rule-breaking behavior starts to have a toxic effect on the wider community, you'll need the teeth to do something about it. Butt-covering rules like the ones above can be a life saver -- and a group saver.

The group I'm in now has a "don't be stupid" rule. It allows us to cover ridiculous behaviour that isn't technically against the rules. Remember you CAN leave yourself some leeway, not everything has to be set in stone. The don't be stupid rule is applied to behaviour that, while technically not against the rules, is harmful to the group. We don't tolerate excuses like well technically it's not against the rules, and we only tolerate the I didn't know it was a problem excuse once, maybe twice. We leave it deliberately open to interpretation, because we want our players to think about what they're doing and how it affects other people. We want socially responsible players.Ben

You may want to add rules over time, as your community develops. It might also be a good idea to ask your community of players what rules they would like to see put in place - if you can get your rules to come out of their mouths, you will find it much easier to enforce them later, and they may think of problems to cover that you hadn't considered.

You don't want to be so lenient that other people (e.g. bullies) are holding the power and running the show in your community. You also don't want to be so upright that it turns your members off and has them running away out of fear and disappointment. Be firm but fair and make the lines clear so people don't cross them without knowing. You want your rules to cover the stuff that's truly important and be reasonable stuff your group can agree with. In fact, you want your members to make your rules so they've invested in them.StarArmy

You will also want to include some kind of method for people to ask questions about the rules on the same page as your rules, whether it be a link to a forum topic where they can post questions, an email address to write to, or a person to contact.

The general rule of thumb is, if you want a rule, write it down. You cannot rely on "unspoken rules" to keep a large group of people on the same page. Even if you think people already know them, writing them down indicates that you value them, and are willing to enforce the need for such things as basic courtesy.

Finally, once you have written your rules down, you have to make sure that your players knows them and understand them. People get very excited to jump straight into a RP, and often skip past the rules.

Make sure the rules are easy to find, well formatted, concise, and easy to interpret.

You can increase the pressure to read the rules by adding rules questions to your application to join. Or, if applications are not required to join the group, you can form a committee of volunteer welcomers (or do the job yourself). Every new face in the group that you don't recognize can then be greeted with a private message welcoming them, offering to answer any questions they have, and linking them to the rules.

You may also consider creating rules/conduct tests that people who are seeking greater status, whether IC or OOC, be required to pass before they are even considered for those positions in your group. Preventing people who do not understand the rules, spirit and setting of your group from taking power can save you a great deal of trouble.

Enforcing the rules

Though there are dangers in being too strict and in being too lenient, it is far more common for group admins to err on the side of lenience as they learn the ropes.

... there's not a 'right' balance either - you just find the balance you're comfortable with, and that the players you have are comfortable with.SeraphicStar

As you play with your new group members, you are naturally going to form social bonds to many of them. It can be unpleasant to tell your friends that they are in the wrong, and sometimes, even harder to see it when your friends are in the wrong.

It's tempting to say, "This person hasn't explicitly broken any rules yet..." and yet they're still being a subtle jerk, etc. It's easy to say "well I have no proof, so I can't do anything." Because what CAN you say?Ilmarinen

If they do it enough, Ilmarinen, (because trust me, I get those ALL the time.) Still speak to them. If they've bent the rules, but not broken them, and are still doing something fishy? Say three times? Five? Speak to them. Explain to them why this behaviour is worrisome and how its getting very close to breaking a rule. Politely ask them to try and avoid it.Dylan

Once you have made a decision to enforce the consequences of rule breaking, be certain that you are confident enough in that ruling to stand behind it to its end. Nothing tells potential trouble makers that they can walk all over you more clearly than not enforcing your own rules.

The biggest mistake I've seen made on the side of leniance is going back on rulings. There was a group I admined that lifted several bans over its career and it was always disastrous. It was a problem that bans were lifted because the players were banned for good reasons, and they came back in and continued to be who they were - which was problematic. They hadn't learned. I often find if a player hasn't learned what you need from them the first or second time they break a rule, they won't. And inviting them back is asking for trouble.Ben

Although you may want to be nice to everyone, remember that sometimes, being "nice" to a rule breaker is being mean to everyone else. Your members are depending on you to protect them, and to be a fair and just ruler. If your laws have no meaning because you feel like a "jerk" when you say no, your kingdom will rapidly crumble around you. Be strong, be consistent, and remember that by punishing those who step out of line, you are protecting and encouraging those members who do follow the rules.

I think it's more of a matter that when you make rules you got to be willing to stand behind them and do it consistently or your administration becomes a joke. Never make a rule you won't enforce.StarArmy

Even the best players may occasionally need reminders. Be gentle and firm. If they are actually your friends - or if they actually value the community they've become a part of - they will understand, learn, and no one will be the worse for it.

If you're still nervous about having to blow the whistle on your friend, keep in mind these great tips:
Have the kind of friends who can understand when you have your admin hat on. Sometimes it even helps to preface a conversation with, "I have my admin hat on."Kaji

In my opinion, if someone is willing to destroy a friendship because they're not respecting your rules and you have to moderate them... They're not really your friend.Ben

It is worth it. If you don't enforce the rules on your friends like everyone else you're being biased, favouriting them, and being overall unfair to everyone else. IF you are uncomfortable enforcing the rules on a friend, ask a fellow moderator or adminto help enforce the rule.Dylan

I am /more/ strict with my closest friends than with others, and they know it. I usually hold them to a much higher standard, and they rarely disappoint.Nero

... most personal things should be kept out of the adminning 'job'. Being personal isn't professional, and if they are your friends they will understand.SeraphicStar

Recruiting help

As your group expands, you will find that it takes more than just you to care for it. You will need more eyes to watch for rule breaking, more hands to write plots, and more hearts to mentor your new players. Selecting the right people for the job is crucial, whether they are to be moderators, game masters, fellow admins, welcomers or something else.

Few things kill a RP group faster than the admin abandoning their post, and a tragic number of good admins have been sent running for the hills when they began to dread logging in each day to a new pile of problems, questions, complaints and other work. If you are starting to feel burnt out, and your group just isn't as fun as it used to be, you need to get yourself some help that you can trust as soon as possible. In a perfect world, you will find help long before you face this issue!

I select my mods by watching how they interact with others. Also if it is a strict setting they need to know the setting forward and backLoki

Above all else, your deputies need to be people that you can trust. This is very different than someone you like. Many of your friends may be great fun, but think very carefully before asking them to assist. How do they handle criticism? Do they frequently burn out? Can they be friendly and helpful even in the face of adversity? Do they understand your vision for the group, and want to help grow it?

Don't pick friends because they are your friends. I say that because you may want to bring on people who are your friends, don't! Only bring them on if you know they are level headed and capable of being fair. Just bringing them on because they are your friends is a bad idea. I've had staff/moderators I may not get along with on a personal basis or I would ever be friends with. But they can do their job without any issues. Sometimes that happens and you need to accept it. Having friends as fellow mods and administrators can cause problems if you end up disagreeing on something.Dylan

You need people you trust, who are not prone to emotional outbursts. You should look for an even handed approach to conflict resolution, thick skin, and a love of your continuity.Ben

Deputies need to be on board with your plan, whatever that is. They need to be prepared to use the same strictness level you want, and they need to understand it. Having a variety of perspectives helps for complicated decision making, but they also need to understand they're helping you with your plan, not making their own.Nero

A range of skills in your deputies can also be helpful. If there is some part of adminning the group that you are not very good at, or strongly dislike, and you know someone who is excellent and enjoys doing that thing, that might make them a good candidate. Similarly, if you already have a team of deputies in place, is there some skill that would be a boon to everyone to add to the team? Perhaps there's a timezone that you need help covering, if your group is international?

I generally handpick them from people I can trust (or at least think I can trust). Though I do tend to give my playerbase input on the decision. ... the input is more to ask the playerbase wether or not they'd accept the mod and their authority instead of letting them pick mods. Having said that, if players propose a mod and that person qualifies, I wouldn't reject them without thought.Earendill

People who flaunt their power or rub it in people's face are not good candidates. Remember, being a group admin is a position of service, not just one of power. Your members depend on you. If you think the candidate wants the position just to say they have it, it's a good idea to move on.

Pick people who are already being helpful and empower them to do more by asking them if they want to be part of the staff team. Avoid the power-hungry.StarArmy

Supporting your helpers

Always remember that the people who join are doing you a massive favor. In all likelihood, they aren't being paid, they are simply giving of their time and of themselves out of love for the community that you have built. They need - and deserve - your support and encouragement.

There are several things you can do to keep your deputies energized, focused and happy.

Firstly, make certain that they understand what is expected of them. It is exhausting to have to do a job which you don't understand! Consider creating a handbook that makes their responsibilities crystal clear. Frequently encourage your deputies to run decisions and questions past you, especially when they are new to the team. This helps them learn how you want things done, and develops a sense of comradery. You and your deputies can even start to compile the questions and answers into addenda for the original helper handbook, so that they have resources to draw on when you aren't around, and you'll have to repeat yourself less as you have changeover in your team.

Make your expectations clear and give them things to work from when you're not around. Provide LOTS of information to help them with their decision making, and encourage them to run every problem past you. Even if they deal with it themselves, have them keep logs that you can refer to. That way, if there ever is a complaint, you can look through the logs and look at the evidence.Ben

Check in frequently and make sure that your team is evenly distributing the work load. If any one person is working much harder than the others, it might be time to try a different plan. What's the point of having a team if it doesn't function like one? As much as a team should keep an admin from burning out, they should also help one another from burning out.

If you've got a mod-team with you, and there's issues with a player or a broken rule, there needs to be some kind of comadreship going on so everyone's on the same page and no one's buckled down with a million problems that need addressing. When the latter happens, and the stress of damage-control and moderating suddenly builds up, it might drive you to do some really dumb stuff that can actually hurt the trust between yourself and the members. Burdening yourself or your deputies/mods with a heavy workload is unfair to the community's well-being and to yourselves. You need to let your modding-peeps know you've got their back when times get tough, and that they should have yours too--talk to them, see how they're doing, see if there's something you can do to help them with the work load.Copper_Dragon

And make sure that you support your team publicly. Unless the team member is blatantly, intolerably wrong, do not denounce them publicly. If you have given them the power to deal with issues in your absence, you must not undermine that power -- this is part of why properly training your team is so critical. If you do not appear to respect your team, then your playerbase won't either, and soon they will be completely unable to do their jobs.

Nothing takes away authority more than a mod decision being publically denounced by the adminEarendill

Finally, the team as a whole should stay in constant communication. Your team needs to not only be on the same page with you, they need to be on the same page with each other, for maximum effectiveness. This will make it easier for your team members to ask for backup from one another when they need it.

Tending the garden

From personal experience, a combination of leading by example and not being afraid to immediately address poor behavior and remove players who prove unable to stop being unpleasant leads to a really strong community. It's like tending and weeding a garden.Kim

You and your team are ultimately responsible for keeping your RP group active and healthy, in and out of character. This means that you are never "off duty," and none of you are ever above the rules just because you have more power than the average player. Everything that you do will send a signal to the rest of the group about what is and is not appropriate behavior. You will need to find a way to be fair and civil with all your members, even those that you aren't particularly fond of. You don't get to have "bad days". Have your tantrums in private, and then present your best self to your group.

You need to consider yourself an actual leader of an actual group, with people depending on your decisions and actions. Take the responsibility and then act on it.Earendill

Do your utmost best to help your players resolve their conflicts in a mature fashion, and mend what fences can be mended.

Encouraging people to deal with problems on their own is about creating a healthy community. People should know that they CAN come to you with problems, and when you deal with those problems encourage reconciliation before doling out punishments. If reconciliation proves impossible, removals may be needed. And, a constant thumb on the pulse of your community is key, that's why you need lots of mods.Ben

Knowing the boundaries, and believing that they will be enforced, can encourage a community to do a better job resolving their own conflicts. If they know that true rule breaking will always be dealt with by the admins, they may feel more obliged to talk things out before complaining, as most players will want to give others a chance to avoid a black mark on their record even if they don't always get along. On the flip side, troublemakers will make a greater effort to behave if they are aware that there will be real consequences to treating others poorly.

In any case where a few must lead the many, you have to have a larger presence by means other than numbers to get people to comply.Kaji

As much as it can be difficult to be "the bad guy", when you take decisive, clear action, just as your rules said you would, you are creating a safe space for all of your members to enjoy.

A timely response is the best response. As a leader you don't want to hang around being absent or indecisive when there's a conflict/drama boiling over.StarArmy

But of course, there can be no RP group without RP! Make sure you and your team are supplying your story universe with a steady stream of plot arcs and mini-quests, appropriate to your setting, so that your players stay engaged, interested, and feel as if their own character's stories are advancing. A happy RP group that has much to do IC develops stronger bonds OOC.

Finding balance

Hmm... I find it difficult to find a balance in that. You'll be spending most of your time working on the setting rather than playing in it. Such is the fate of the creator.Rynh

Let's not sugar coat it: Most admins never do find "the perfect balance" between playing in their setting, and keeping it running. This is why it is so critical that you find a way to love the work that you do for it. Although you might not be writing the story of a single character, you might be writing the story of an entire world -- and that's a very different, but still valid, type of RP.

You put in the work you need to for the setting and plots, based on the needs and expectations of the group, then with whatever you have left you play. Required adminning always comes first. The trick is to moderate the expectations of required adminning.Nero

Even though throughout this article there's been a constant emphasis on responsibility and never being off duty, to avoid burn out, you must occasionally find time for yourself. From time to time, do the things that you most love in your group. Ask for help and make the time.

I try to at the... best of my ability, I try to give responsibilities over to other staff members, but its hard especially when you have so many staff/mod that all specialize in different areas. There comes a point, as an admin, you need to step back and have some you time. And to trust your group won't break while you're god. And oh man it is SO SO HARD. I am about to take a break myself.. but how do I RP on the character that is also the admin and not do admin stuff? Or try not to get pulled into working when I shouldn't be or shouldn't have to?Dylan

In conclusion

There is far too much that goes into admining a RP group to be included in a basic primer like this. But then, there is also a great deal that cannot be learned by reading a primer. The fact that you read this huge article speaks volumes about your willingness to learn and put in the required work to start a successful RP group.

So jump in and learn from experience. You are in the unusual position of having a safety net; if you get stuck, you can ask a site full of RPers and group admins with vast amounts of experience for advice.