How to roleplay on Tumblr
I’ve been curious recently about the people roleplaying on Tumblr, and asked a roleplayer to send me a good help guide. With an initial reaction of “duh isn’t it obvious” she probably assumed I was an old fogie who didn’t know how to use the internet (it’s true, I’m over 30 now). Thing is, it’s NOT obvious. Tumblr is a minefield of horribly animating GIFs and blinking text that’s enough to give a squirrel a seizure.
Tumblr is very popular for roleplayers though, so I persisted. I was given this link, which I’ll paste some of the important sections here in case you’re also curious (but I recommend reading the full article if you are of course).
How to RP on Tumblr
So you want to RP on Tumblr. You’ve found this amazing roleplay with a fantastic plot and an array of characters bursting with, well, character. The admins look wonderful, and you really think you could play so-and-so well and wow you love their faceclaim too, so, match made in heaven. The only problem? You’ve never RP’d on Tumblr before and the idea’s rather terrifying.
Yes, yes it is terrifying. Just being on Tumblr reading this and trying to ignore the animated link at the top of the page was giving me a headache. BTW “faceclaim” is what some forum roleplayers call their avatar, it’s usually a celebrity. Apologies if you knew that already, but it’s a term I’m only recently aquainted with. (I’ve posted a list of roleplaying terms here btw).
TYPES OF ROLEPLAYS
There are tons of roleplays on Tumblr. Fandom roleplays (Harry Potter, Lord of The Rings, Anime, Narnia, True Blood, Twilight, House, Shadowhunters, Marvel, DC, etc.), era roleplays set in the 20’s, 60’s and 80’s, Hollywood roleplays where you can be your idol on the net, and some with entirely original plots, taking small things from the real world and crafting entirely new worlds around them. The sky isn’t even a limit when it comes to Tumblr roleplaying. Admins pull no stops. The possibilities are endless. At the end of the day, it comes down to who you want to be, where you want to be and what you want to do.
It’s true, there’s a LOT of different roleplays to join on Tumblr for existing fandoms. The author’s favourite is Harry Potter, which she looked for and found a game straight away…
I was hooked almost immediately. I was drawn to the plot, the theme was lovely, the characters were captivating, and the admins were incredibly friendly, helpful, and sincere. The vibe I got from just the main page was overwhelming. It felt accepting and intriguing, and that was what got me to apply. Everything about it attracted me to it.
That is my advice for choosing your first roleplay. You’ve got to like it. I personally think the theme and the overall appearance of a roleplay shows how invested an admin is in it. Shows that they’re making an effort to draw people in. Shows that they want people to like it. The same can be said for the plot. When you read it over, does it sound like someone’s spent time writing it? Does it draw you in? Do the admins seem nice when answering asks? Do they sound approachable and friendly, and are they helpful? If the characters are already written, do you like them? And if they’re not, do you think you could create one that’d fit well into this world? This environment? I guess you could say that your perfect roleplay is one that you feel you could fit right into with no problem; I personally felt like I could live in my first one. And I essentially do. I joined over a year ago and I’m still a member, and I’ve loved every second of my time there. That is what I think you should get from a roleplay.
Tumblr doesn’t have a mechanism for adoption like OngoingWorlds does, but there might be premade characters you can use.
CHARACTERS: CHOOSING AND CREATING
Some roleplays have premade characters, and that’s it. These can be canon characters – characters that the writer of the book/film/tv series created, such as Bilbo Baggins or Ron Weasley. Or they can be OC’s (original characters), which are characters that the admins have created themselves. Some have premade characters and also offer you the option of creating your own OC’s. And some are purely OC based, or provide you with a name of a canon character and allow you to create a bio for them yourself. Either way, choosing or creating your character is an incredibly important step in applying for a roleplay.
When you’ve selected a premade character, or decided on a character that you’d like to create, you’ll have to send in an application. Every roleplay will have a slightly different application form, especially depending on whether they’re fandom or not, or which fandom the roleplay is set in, as this will dictate the application criteria. But all will be laid out in an a form or questionnaire like fashion, and will ask for IC information (In Character information) of some kind, and OOC information (Out Of Character information) such as name, age, location/timezone, roleplaying experience, activity level, etc. All will ask for a sample of IC writing, usually 350+ words and in the third person, to show that you’re capable of playing the character that you’re choosing or creating. You’ll have to fill this out, paste it into a submit box, send it off, and wait for the roleplay’s acceptance day to roll around.
The account you apply from must have its ask box turned on so the roleplay can reach you, and it helps to turn on email notifications for receiving asks, submissions and replies.
That last sentance might sound confusing if you’re only used to OngoingWorlds. Tumblr has its own way of doing things that isn’t too obvious. This is all a way to create an application to join a game, which all games (OW included) will do to make sure you’re a suitable fit. The next section however is a bit more confusing than anything we do on OW.
CREATING YOUR CHARACTER’S BLOG
Creating and customising my character’s blogs is one of my personal favourite parts of roleplaying. The theme and colours can be used to reflect your character’s personality and mood. I’ll run you through the basics of what I give every character of mine:
A bio page: I’ll either reblog the bio the main posts and tag it as such, and create a sidebar link that takes the viewer to the post, or I’ll create an additional page and post it again with my own graphics/gifs and customise the layout.
A relationships page: This is a page that contains information about my character’s key relationships: the people they love, are in love with, or hate with a passion akin to the fires of hell.
A family page: This would contain information about the people my character grew up with, or without, as the case may be. You can describe their relationship with their parents and siblings, or surrogate ones; it’s entirely up to you! It allows other people insight into what shaped your character before their characters met them. Example here: (x) This is similar to the relationships page I described above.
A conversations page: This would contain links to the tags of conversations that your character has had.
A headcanon page: Headcanons are little details that you’ve created for your character that give more insight into their inner workings. They can be snippets of their childhood that explain why they are the way they are now, explanations of what they’d do if they were in certain scenarios. Just short stories, really, that relate to them.
A navigation page: If the theme you’ve chosen doesn’t allow for a ton of customizable links, I’d suggest creating a navigation page that would accommodate for them all. This can be done by finding a page theme, setting the additional page to ‘customizable layout’, pasting them theme code into the space, and editing it accordingly.
Out of the above list, if you’re an OW member you’ll probably only recognise the “bio” page. In Tumbr you have to create this page yourself, which si a bit tedius, especially as you’ve already filled in much of these character details for the application! (aren’t you glad OW does this all for you?). There are some advantages though, creating these pages means you’ve direct control over them, although I’d prefer if they were a little easier to manage tbh. Listing links to conversations and an entire page for navigation links seems like a lot of effort to maintain. You mean I have to create a new link every time my character has a conversation? Nightmare!
POSTING AS YOUR CHARACTER
There are two main forms of IC interaction: paras (paragraphs) and convos (conversations). Paras are paragraphs, blocks of text where you’ll talk in the third person as your character and allow other members of the RP to see how they think.
So there’s a difference between how you write as you character. You can write in 3rd person, like most of the games on OW. Or you can write comments as if you ARE your character. Confusing and creepy if you ask me, but I suppose this is the true definition of roleplaying!
Tumblr is a full social experience
Tumblr reminds me a lot of www.roleplayer.me a website where you join and interact with people AS your character. Which is fine if you want to do that sort of thing, but I much prefer OW’s way of doing it where there’s a distinction as a player and a character, so you can have multiple characters and not just one.
WTF, why write an article about Tumblr anyway?
You might be wondering why I’m writing an article about using Tumblr, when I’ve made a perfectly good website for roleplaying called OngoingWorlds.com? OW is great, but I want this blog to be about all sorts of different types of roleplaying. I’m not a fan of roleplaying by social sites like Twitter or Tumblr tbh, it seems like a mess of gaudy GIFs to me. But mostly I wanted to point out to any naysayers that think roleplaying is dying (I’ve met a few tbh) that roleplaying is very much alive and kicking, it’s just happening in places you might not be looking.
For example RPGlibrary.org recently closed down its PBEM forum, citing “the era of PBEM roleplaying has come and gone”, and Google searches for the word “PBEM” have dropped by 97% since 2004. Both of these could be taken as signs that roleplaying is dead in the water. But with the popularity of roleplaying on Tumblr (as this article shows), Twitter and OngoingWorlds, roleplaying is not dead.
If you want to read other articles about roleplaying on Tumblr, here’s a few others: