Wolf Roleplays: New ways to swing it?

Discussion in 'Game Design' started by Copycat, Aug 25, 2013.


What more do they need?

  1. More Fantasy Elements

  2. More Freedom

  3. More Plot Depth

  4. New Ideas

  5. New Ways to Play

  6. Less Mary Sues

  7. Better Characters

  8. Less Fantasy Elements

Multiple votes are allowed.
  1. Copycat

    Copycat Newcomer Game Owner

    This is a classic rp archetype, but I feel like a lot of them are kind of lacking in depth, or the plots are so generic that things start to fall off and people lose interest.

    So, what is it? What makes these go dead in the water? I own a site that I'm bringing into 2013 from many years ago, and I'd love to hear it from the people who play on them. What do you actually want out of these rps?

    For me it's a continuable story, and I'd love to see some progression as far as character development, age, and death. A kind of cycle could be interesting to put in, with character aging yearly and things of that nature. Certain kind of tribal aspects are also something I'd like to pursue, like rituals that involves the pack, or Rites for new member, growing up, and passing on.

    It'd be interesting to try, though I haven't really seen a game to encompass these. It would be great to know what you all think!
  2. Eve

    Eve Resident

    I have personally created or have been a part of several wolf roleplay forums before my interest shifted elsewhere. Whether it is low fantasy, high fantasy, or pure realism, for me what it all boils down to is the plot. If it's just a couple of packs feuding over - insert whatever reason here - that has been done a million times over and is thus quite tedious and repetitive. For a new wolf forum to stand out, it needs to be fresh, exciting, and innovative with groundbreaking ideas that no one has come up with before.

    Mary Sues, Gary Stus, and other poorly designed characters can easily be weeded out with an application/audition system and in my opinion is never something makes or breaks a forum. Neither is the addition of, or degree of, a fantasy element since that part is a matter of preference. Some people like low/med/high fantasy while others prefer pure realism.
  3. Shriker

    Shriker Shadowlack Owner RPGfix Admin Patron Game Owner

    I think that really just a lot of them are tired with next to no innovation, and there ends up being far too much focus on the pack ranks (both obtaining, and maintaining ranks). I've been out of the wolf role-playing community for quite some time though.

    That said, I do have a framework built for a wolf simulation game of some sort. It's been sitting on my back-burner for a while. Mostly just been looking for the right crew to put together in order to run with it. Although it won't exactly be forum-based. It has more stats and the like, as well as perma-death. The hard part is deciding just how far I want to take everything.
  4. Copycat

    Copycat Newcomer Game Owner

    @Eve: That all makes pretty good sense, as far as the fantasy setting is concerned. Personally I like all of it, so I enjoy hearing opinions on those kinds of things from the fanbase. With that in mind, I sort of want to take things down the road of realism as far as appearances, etc., but want to have certain specific elements that give it a kick in the pants for originality.

    @Iversia: That sounds pretty amazing, actually. I've been trying for a long time to find something like that, and so far WolfQuest has pretty much died in the fires of inactivity, has no real fantasy, character design elements or worthwhile stats, etc.; FeralHeart is even worse, since literally all you do is talk to people and the roleplaying is crap-rate - they got it right with the character design, flight ability and emotes. If you ever take that off the backburner, I'd have a bit of imput on it, becuase those sort of things interest me greatly, and I've been wanting a Wolf-based MMO since the minute I started rping them.
    I'm pretty sure there's a fairly decent fanbase, too, so money could come out of putting in on something like that.
  5. Eve

    Eve Resident

    As I said, when it comes to fantasy vs. realism it's all a matter of preference. Whatever you decide to do with your forum will attract likeminded people. Personally I prefer a low fantasy wolf roleplay grounded in realism where the wolves are pretty much normal wolves but can do slightly anthropomorphic things like build fires, make herbal medicines, participate in tribal rituals, and so on - but not possess magical powers, read minds, control elements, wear piercings and jewelry, or other such high fantasy things. The key is balancing everything so that you don't single anyone out, that way you get the benefit of reaching a broad audience instead of just specific people who only like one thing.

    I also agree with the point Iversia made regarding the focus inevitably shifting to the ranks and not the actual plot. I've seen that happen a lot on wolf forums, especially the ones that allow you to create your own packs. Everyone always wants to play the Alpha or some other character with significance. With one of my wolf RPGs I remedied that by redefining the traditional ranks. Eliminating a few of the ranks put more importance on the ones that remained. Soldiers doubled as hunters, scouts doubled as spies, elders doubled as healers, and there were no Omegas - everyone had a purpose unless they specifically chose not to or were playing a pup.
    Shriker likes this.
  6. The thing with animal roleplay is that it is very niche and you run the risk of attracting the more extreme roleplayer who take furry into a direction that you may not want to go in.

    I never played on animal roleplay sites, so I have very limited experience, limited to reading some. (Some of the horse rps I read, by Dutch 11 year old girls was disturbing enough ...) But I envision good wolf-roleplay to be like Tailchaser's Song by Tad Williams. Or Redwall. Or Duncton Wood/Quest/Found. Or, of course, Watership Down.

    I think all of these books have a very clear bad guy, evil force, to battle and it isnt the alpha who gets the lead: it is usually the runt of the litter. So I guess if you can transform the story to give some sort of equal opportunity for the writers, despite their character's pack status, you could be on to something.
  7. Copycat

    Copycat Newcomer Game Owner

    @Eve: That's actually a cool way to do things. Rituals and stuff like that are always fascinating, though for myself I tend to keep furry elements like building fires, braiding manes, and other things to the furry/werewolf end of things, which isn't quite what I'm talking about. It's true, those things are really interesting, and I do love 'em, but I like to go about making the feral wolf plays somewhat different than the norm. The pack leadership and people fighting over leadership roles has never really been a problem for me, or at least I've never seen it. Many of the places I'v been on focused a lot on the plot, and you had to earn ranks. As I'm going about making my site, I'm sort of finding out that rituals and different steps to get to those ranks and positions are funner to play than simply /being/ that rank automatically. Melding ranks and making good ones seems like a lot of fun too! So I might try that with a few of the ones I've got.

    @Daenelia: That interesting that you bring up those books, because I've heard of all of them but never had the chance to read them. I think you're looking more toward the furry side of things, but maybe bringing more anthropomorphic elements may not be a bad idea. Honestly though when taking charge of a scene, I thing that there's a lot of give and take in an RP setting, so taking the lead has to either be in spirit or through a very well written character, and it just depends on who you are posting with. However, I don't thing I'll be placing too much emphasis on ranks, seeing as a lot of people can go wrong here. It will most likely make things easier for people to have better control over situations, and it could cause some conflicts.

    I was thinking about making three separate plots for three separate packs, and they're against different types of conflicts. Like, the Man Vs. Self, Man Vs. Environment, etc. As well as having a main plot, and accepting member-made and seasonal plots to go along and move the story forward by keeping things fresh.
  8. Eve

    Eve Resident

    I was talking about normal/wild/feral wolves, I have no interest in furries. My last wolf RPG had all of the elements I mentioned without having to make the wolves fully anthropomorphized or lycanthropic. They simply had the knowhow to do things like build fires, make medicines, and so on under the premise that the wolves had gained a higher state of consciousness and intellect, which was why they formed tribes instead of packs and had rituals like a coming of age for pups and rites of passage for those entering into ranks or being promoted into higher ranks. Higher ranks were not automatic either, they had to be earned, but the very basic ranks were free to join as it would otherwise be annoying to have every character someone created go through the process of joining a pack or earning a basic rank.

    Never forget that while there are plenty of people out there who want their character to experience everything from the very beginning, there are also those who just want their character to be something already and then build their story from there. I've seen plenty of both in my time, and personally, I like to do both. I usually bring an already well developed character of mine and have him already be a member of the pack the fits him the best as the rank the fits him the best, depending on the site. Once he's settled in I'll go ahead and create a fresh character to start a brand new story with and go through whatever in character pack joining and rank earning processes they have in place, assuming there are any.
  9. All the books I mentioned where about the animals, with anthromorphic features, like speech. And rituals. I only thing that animal-roleplay can attract the whole furry thing. Our kitlings on our site can be seen as furries.... they are a mix of human and cat, but surprisingly they have been rather sexless :)

    The horse roleplay disturbed me only because there were these 11 year old girls writing about stallions and mares, and though I know kids these days know how the whole thing works, I just didnt expect them to write so much about it :S In such graphic detail. Added with some violence. Anyway. Trying to erase that from my mind still.

    Side note on dog intelligence: my parttime dog was raised by Dutch speaking people. She knows I speak Dutch. She obviously never took into account we could make different noises that Dutch. Until she heard me speak English with my guy. The look on her face was priceless... she seriously understood she was listening to us communicate in a different way, with differen noises. Awsome. Anyway.

    In any roleplay it helps if people are never left feeling that their character and their input doesnt matter. Not everyone has to be a leader/alpha to make an impact on the story. In fact, if you can impress on people that conflict can often arise from the lower ranked members of a pack, you'll see how many omegas you get...
  10. Eferhilda

    Eferhilda Newcomer Game Owner

    Wolf rping is where I got my start and when I look back on my writing and my characters.....yeah I was a complete noob lol But, now when I read them they are still the same. Wolves that can fly and spit fireballs, wolves that are in this fantasy land, where the main goal seems to just being having pups and internal pack conflict. Think if people took the time to think out a really good idea, developed it and tried to not get caught up in the stereotypical wolf rps it could be pretty cool.
  11. Invisie

    Invisie internet forever Curator

    @Copycat: The last time I tried WolfQuest it was too buggy to even try. 8C

    I definitely feel like I have more authority to speak on the anthro aspect rather than regular wolf roleplay. I actually haven't roleplayed regular wolves for like a decade. But anthro wolves -- well, they are werewolves -- yeah. Done the past twelve years at 'Souls. We've had a few people who were -- as @Daenelia says -- on the more extreme end, but. Those people generally quickly figure out that it isn't for them, though? They aren't getting the raunchy they want, haha. And -- if not, they usually wind up breaking the rules and getting themselves in trouble some way or another. Honestly cannot think of a single instance where creepy/extreme type behavior hasn't been followed by some form of infraction. But yes! That is more werewolf.

    Moving on, I honestly think one of the biggest issues facing wolf roleplaying games *is* the perception of them -- that they are boring, for sex-crazed people, played by furries, filled with "wolfspeak." Don't get me wrong; I've seen examples of all of the above. But I don't really think they are in the majority of wolf roleplaying games.

    I think people's perceptions of them probably keep many folks away who might otherwise try it. There will always be people who prefer humans or dragons or cats or whatever to wolves, but I am certain there is a subset of people who avoid wolf roleplay simply for the way it's perceived. They might find any sexual roleplay distasteful, or they think they'll read posts consisting solely of "femora" and "pinnae" and other words.

    Don't really know how to fix that, but there it is.

    Sidenote: I never understood how regular wolves could make fire or brew tea or anything without opposable thumbs. Comparison to Watership Down made me realize things are probably just done with the muzzle. Go me.
    Eve and Shriker like this.
  12. Copycat

    Copycat Newcomer Game Owner

    @Eve: You make good points about those abilities, actually! and Invisie just made me realize how they would do that, too :U. It's good that talking about these things makes them way more understandable. On that note though, that seems like a lot of fun, and would give for more options of play. I'll have to incorporate it somewhere to give it a go myself :D!

    @Invisie: That's interesting that you bring wolfspeak and things like that up. It's weird, because in my experience with roleplaying these canines, I haven't had a lot of the the stuff everyone's mentioned as a problem really even happen! Though it might be because I've kind of guarded against them from the start. For instance, I don't like the crazy wolfspeak like the words terra and orbs and things (I've even heard visionaries once from some random place :Y) and so I only allow certain ones in specific instances, or make them auto-corrected (and of course I warn users if that'll happen to some words). And dude, don't get me started on the sexfiends of the RP world. I keep all my weird stuff over at F-List where it belongs, and try not to harm anyone with it elsewhere xD.
  13. wickedleaf

    wickedleaf Newcomer

    I recently opened a Wolf RPG, called... um, Wolf. ;)

    Previous to that, I tried my hand at opening one called Wyldernis. It failed for a number of reasons, mainly because I started out *WAY* too ambitious and large—so it ultimately felt incomplete and unsupported by staff, when the general idea is that players would have most of the control to build the world as they would. It also took place in a fictional area—meaning a place that couldn't feasibly exist on earth—and that seemed to really throw people. I went for an overarching plot, but I think I did to much too early and people felt forced to make decisions about their character's past before they even started to play. I think if I had started smaller and more familiar, or smaller and REALLY out there in terms of fantasy, it would have done much better. I kind of realized that where Wylde stood in terms of realism/fantasy was just really blurry and confusing for people.

    So first, my advice is not to get too far ahead of yourself. Start with only what you can chew yourself. Don't worry about fancy features right off the bat. Draw people in with the general gameplay at first, and make it uncomplicated for them to get started.

    That's what I did with Wolf. I based it off Glacier National Park, because there—setting is taken care of. I could provide just enough information for people to get started, and for those that wanted detailed lists of flora/fauna, they could go to the Wikipedia pages I linked. I started with four regions/forums (with a handful of territories for each region) and two packs.

    I'll be honest in that I had the benefit of a good portion of WWS (Wild Wolf Society)'s population jumping in to play within a few days of the board getting created, mostly because the idea was discussed and originated on the community's Facebook page. With WWS closed and being a decade-old community, people were just looking for something similar. I started Wyldernis without that support and it was HARD to get the word out; it really didn't get attention until WWS closed. I guess my point here is... new boards have a really rough time getting off the ground, particularly in the wolf RPG community. Now that I'm pushing advertising for Wolf, it's a little depressing to see how many boards out there are struggling to get/maintain members. Relic Lore and a few others are doing well, but it's tough not to judge websites by WWS' or Souls' level of activity.

    In terms of originality, Wolf is semi-realistic... we try to stay as close to nature as possible, but we don't want to step on the toes' of anyone's creative freedom. We keep track of character stats, and use a formula to determine how many packs the game can support. When it looks like more need to open, we ask the membership if they agree. If they do, we allow members to propose pack ideas—right now, there's a pack being proposed that practices voodoo, and one proposed that merely focuses on wolf/natural instinct—which are then voted on. Whichever pack(s) get the most votes get to form. That way, it's controlled and people aren't constantly making characters to fit a pack so it can form and then dropping it, but it's very much equal opportunity.

    Our activity requirements are lax, to allow for adult lifestyles—classes, jobs, families, other interests, et cetera.

    We'll do occasional board-wide plots, but it will usually be member-driven and created. Ultimately we try to let plots form organically, and the moderators will rarely step in. Just let it happen. On that note, we don't really identify or advertise who's a staff member. We're all just people playing a game. I just get to code and try to make the ideas of our players functional.

    We're now in the process of adding some special features (which honestly, a lot of wolf RPGs seem to be doing nowadays) that resemble traditional RPGs. Like player-managed health bars. We're also granting experience in a way that will hopefully promote character development and activity. Characters can also level skills. However, we try to make whatever features we have relevant, easy-to-manage and easy-to-understand. There are some boards that have really detailed character stats, but unless there is a dice-based system in place... what for?

    Mrr... sorry, I hope this doesn't read like an ad! I've just done a lot of thinking lately about stuff like this because I don't want Wolf to make the same mistakes that Wyldernis did. So, hopefully you'll gain some insight as well. :x


    1. Start small, and much smaller than you'd think.
    2. Allow for creative freedom, but try to help prevent your members from burning out quickly.
    3. Don't overwhelm potential members with a lot of information/features, especially if they HAVE to know about it before they start roleplaying.
    4. Listen to what your members want. Hell, see if you can talk to people currently playing on wolf RPGs and see what they think is lacking.
    Copycat likes this.
  14. Calico

    Calico Newcomer

    I actually do currently rp on wolf rps and have for some time.

    One of the things that I actually like is when a site does give me some freedom to do things - like freedom to start a pack if I'd like. All too many wolf rps go with the idea of preformed "packs" that you basically have to join one of or be forced to be a loner. I even did that myself once upon a time when I ran my own game. You wind up with a lot of loners, or pack members that *act* like loners, which is completely contrary to how a pack should work. Heck, in one game I was on, there wasn't even the option to try and boot a member from a pack for acting like a shitty pack member because there *was* no loner option. Wtf. On the game I'm currently on, people are given a set of guidelines - a number of "followers" you have to attract to your pack idea, and then you can submit your ranks however you'd like to do them, claim a territory - and there you go. Now you've created your pack, claimed your territory, now you can decide to be peaceful and just guard your stuff and don't bother others, or be that bad guy. Whatever.

    That's just one example, but I do think it's a good one.

    I also personally like wolf rp that involves some elements of fantasy - just running about as a basic animal tends to get a bit boring for me at times. Add a bit of fantasy to the equation - oh you have wolves that can breathe fire? Well that can start some plots in of itself.

    Just a newb's two cents ^^
    Shriker likes this.
  15. Yazzeh

    Yazzeh Newcomer

    I think... the main problem with wolf RP's isn't necessarily the RP itself, but in the characters being wolves and the limitations that species places on them.

    I played wolves for years. Played. And unfortunately I don't think it's a genre I could go back to. I say this, only because I found myself bored with the genre. There were only so many times I could join as a loner, refine my characters "hunting/fighting/tracking/etc" skills, join a pack, rank up, rank down, get exiled, etc... before I found myself launching into yet another repetitive world where I found myself repeating the same steps over and over again.

    So I tried fantasy wolves with the idea that maybe a layer of magic would suddenly add something new to the genre. What I found was the fantasy element added a little more depth and variety, but it didn't really add anything anymore exciting. It was still the same concepts, characters now just had a few more tricks up their sleeves.

    I was stuck with in the rules established on the day I joined, and there was no way for my characters and I to go beyond what we started with.

    That said, I was one of the people on Wyldernis (@wickedleaf) and I really did enjoy that concept of exploration and the levels system behind it. The ideas behind that site were new in a sense that you could choose to be a part of adventure or not. You could stick the traditional means of a wolf RP or you allow your characters to become a part of shaping the fiber of the world they lived in. Were the ideas perhaps a little too ambitions? Maybe. It's always hard to get people on board with something they haven't seen before. But if it had started on a smaller scale, and revealed its uniqueness as people started to understand how the RP was non-traditional, I think that site could have been the overarching answer to this thread's question.

    I think players want to be more involved on the sites they play on. Wolves, Harry Potter, Urban Fantasy, what have you, they all eventually become stale. But think about it. We're living in a world where we can tweet at a moment's notice and creativity is constantly being starved by a constant influx of tumblr fun where something new is delivered at a steady stream and if we like it, we can reblog or comment, or what have you. We're involved. We're a part of the greater internet conversation.

    I think if you want to spice up a genre, you have to get the players involved. Poll the audience. Get a sense of what they specifically are looking for, and use your own open-minded judgement as to what kind of community you want to attract and what they're looking for. Let them propose and vote on potential plots. Allow them the ability to shape and mold their own packs based on what they want. Let them have the ability to get as creative as they want with litter size and coat colors. If they propose a new land, find a way to accommodate it. Don't feel that because you're the "Owner/Admin" you have to make everything happen on your own.

    At this point, I know a lot of people are like, "BUT IF I DON'T CONTROL EVERYTHING WE'LL HAVE CANDY CORN HALLOWEENISH WOLVES RUNNING AROUND WHO JUST WANT TO BE SCHIZOPHRENIC AND MURDER EVERYONE." Yeah. Maybe you will. Or maybe you just have to trust that people will have the decency to play within the boundaries you set.

    RP'ing is ultimately storytelling. Stories evolve. They roll over to the next chapter. The next book spirals you deeper into a world of characters you've come to love.

    If you don't want wolf RP'ing to become stale, you've got to let the RP grow around the story your players are telling.
    wickedleaf and Shriker like this.
  16. Calico

    Calico Newcomer

    It's actually interesting that you mention the idea of having the members be allowed to create their own things - on the game I'm currently co-Admin on, we do a lot of those things. When a character decides to "find" an area and describe it, we fit it in as a special area. We have areas of the game that are just generalized, meaning that as people find stuff, we write it in and make it a real place. Players are allowed to create their own packs and police them as well. We also have a pretty wide range of "colors you can make your wolf" and a whole bunch of stuff people can "buy" and add to their wolves - and a fairly simple explanation for it to go along so it doesn't seem like a chore to find some magical bean to grow them a set of wings. ;)

    Hopefully that will continue to sustain us for quite some time. That and our fantasy elements. IMHO, those really add a lot.
  17. wickedleaf

    wickedleaf Newcomer

    Since I created Wyldernis and Wolf... the latter probably won't be too much different from the former, other than a realistic setting. We have (skill) levels, as well as EXP—and territory exploration is still going to be a Thing. Granted, we just recently had a period of little-to-no-activity for the month of October, but as of today we have several new members of (more-experienced) staff to spread responsibilities across (rather than just a few people), and are polling the membership for ideas on how to make the game their own. If you're interested in shaping a Wolf RPG into what you want it to be, I recommend you fill out our survey even if you don't think you'll end up playing there.

    And also, this:

    I firmly believe this, and I try to model my own games off the concept. My struggle is the balance, as well as balancing game immersion with busier lifestyles (we're not all twelve anymore: carving out time for fun things can be difficult). If any of you guys have ideas there, I'm all for hearing them. :)