LESSON Collaborative Posts

Discussion in 'ROLEPLAY MECHANICS' started by Jorick, Mar 1, 2015.

  1. There was an outstanding request in the Request Workshops and Exercises thread from about a year ago for a workshop on how to collaborate with roleplay partners and groups. I've done a lot of collaborating in my day, so I figured I might as well share what I know.

    What is a Collaborated Post?

    For those who are unfamiliar with the term, a collaborated post (often referred to as a "collab" for short) is a post that two or more people worked on together instead of posting separately. A collab may be done by two or more players having their characters chat or work together or so on, or by some number of players and the GM of a group RP having player characters and GM-controlled characters interact in some way. Typically a collab will be done by simply going back and forth, or around in turns for three or more person collabs, and having each person write something from their character's perspective to add to the scene; basically, the same etiquette and rules that you would follow for normal forum roleplaying. After the post is written out, one of the players will post it in the IC thread and then everyone can go back to normal roleplaying procedures.

    Why Collaborate?

    Well, aside from being able to make obnoxious Vanilla Ice references by asking roleplay partners to stop, collaborate, and listen, collaborative posting has a couple potential benefits over the typical forum roleplay posting method. The main benefit is that it can save a lot of page space and reduce players "spamming" a thread with back and forth interaction. This is extremely helpful when it comes to having long conversations between characters: instead of each player posting 5+ times just to get through a short chat, they can work it out off to the side and then post it as a single item. Collaborative posts can also make things less confusing for others to read, because it's much easier to follow what the 2+ characters in a single post are doing than it is to follow the thread of their actions through many posts that come mixed between posts from other players and characters. Collabs also promote cooperation between players, because they're directly working with one another instead of just dropping their own posts and walking away. Oftentimes they can cut back on needless fluff as well, because length-focused roleplayers are less liable to add three paragraphs of introspection and examination of their surroundings when they know the end product post will still hit a solid number of paragraphs without that sort of nonsense. They tend to be more useful for large group RPs than for small groups or one on one things, but they can have a place in all of them if so desired.

    However, collab posting is not some flawless and perfect form of roleplaying. One common complaint is that they can slow down and even kill roleplays if overused. This is true; depending on what method is chosen to write up a collab and how the schedules of the participants match up, it might take a while to get the thing done and posted. What might have been 10+ tiny posts in a week could become a single post that takes over a week to complete. Too much of this could cause impatient people to think the RP is dead/dying and drop it, which of course leads to actual RP death. Other complaints include the slowness in general, the annoyance of needing to coordinate things with other players instead of just posting for yourself, and the way a collab can hold up an entire RP due to posting order rules making everyone else wait for two people to finish a long collaborated post. These are all issues worth considering when deciding whether or not to go for a collab. As with most things, moderation is key: only do collabs when they're useful and not likely to cause problems and annoyance.

    If you decide to go for it, there are three major ways to make a collaborative post with another person: through private messages, through real-time chatting, or through a shared document.

    Private Messages

    Collaborating through private messaging is basically just taking the roleplaying off to a private thread, which is essentially what Iwaku private messages are anyway. However, the site's system is not the only way to get it done: it's also entirely possible to do a collaborative post private message style through email and through chat programs that allow sending and receiving offline messages (meaning no need to be online at the same time to continue the post). The general protocol with these is to go back and forth (or around the group, if 3+ participants) with bits of roleplaying stuff until the scene is finished, then one of the participants will have to gather all the separate pieces and put them together in one cohesive post for the IC thread. The main benefit of this method is that you do not need to wait for others to be available to do roleplaying things, so everyone can just work at their own pace and availability until it's done.


    Collaborating through a chat is essentially just doing a chat RP with the characters, then posting the log (ideally edited to look nice for the forum) in the IC thread. This can be done on Iwaku's own chat system, though since there are just a set number of public rooms there is a chance that you'll get interrupted by others looking to do some chat-based roleplaying. Programs like Skype, AOL Instant Messenger, Yahoo Instant Messenger, and the various IRC clients out there can be used as a private chat setting to get down to collaboration without any outside issues. The main benefit of this method is that, assuming participant schedules mesh well, you can get a solid collab post done in a rather short time thanks to the generally speedier nature of chat roleplaying. Assuming there's no long wait for a time when the chat collab can be done, this method totally counters most of the possible negatives of doing a collab.

    Shared Documents

    Collaborating through shared documents sort of combines the best of both worlds from the above methods and gives an additional benefit: the document can be used like a chat to quickly get through a collab or it can be used like private messages for each participant to add to it at their own pace, plus it will already be a single cohesive body of text so there will be no need for copying and pasting or editing out chat timestamps to make it presentable. One easily accessible place to run a shared document is Titanpad, which doesn't require any sort of registration to use. Also, anyone with a Google account can use Google Drive to make a shared text document that can (after changing the privacy settings of the document) be accessed and edited by anyone with a link, so only one person really needs to have an account for the whole collab group to use it. The only major downsides of shared document type collabs is that there's no way to be done on Iwaku itself, and people using mobile devices might have problems accessing or editing the document, so make sure everyone can actually use the thing before starting the collab.

    Other Methods

    It's possible to do a sort of collaborated post by letting another player control your character with instructions as to how you want your character to behave. This would be collaboration purely on the ideas side with only one person doing the writing, and it might be worth trying if you're going to be without access or free time to do roleplaying things for some stretch of time. So long as the GM is cool with it and another player is willing to shoulder the burden, this can be a great way to avoid all the troubles associated with someone being unable to post for some length of time.

    If you and the other person/people are into it, you could also do roleplaying stuff in some medium other than writing and have someone write it up during or afterward. Talking face to face, over the phone, or via voice chat could work for conversations. You could do some kind of mini tabletop game session and use rolls to decide how your characters do things, then write up the results. Hell, you could even go full ham and do straight up LARPing if that's what you're into. I doubt most people will ever bother with any of these methods, but hey, they exist, so they might as well be mentioned.


    That's all, folks. Good luck with all your collaborative efforts in the future.
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  2. I find collaborating is super helpful if you like to do long posts in conversations, or get through conversations quickly.

    Usually you can't really write much in a conversation until the other character replies, and when you add too much extra stuff for your character to say, it can be harder to reply to, because what if your character would have said 'hi' back in a sad sounding voice that the other character probably wouldn't have ignored? Or what if the other character said lots of things and you don't know if they were all said at once or if you can inject your characters responses between them @.@

    In these cases, quick message to your partner like
    "Hey, Jack'sjust going to ask Mindy how her day's going, can I put in a "good, yours?" Or would she have more to say?" Can learn up all of the mess in one fell swoop!

    Communicate, people!
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  3. Additionally, collabs are super useful for getting away with shorter back-and-forths that would usually be frowned upon if they were to be full-fledged posts, allowing you to keep up a faster pacing within the collab.

    Admit it people, we all secretly do a little of this.
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