Running Public Roleplay Areas
From Tapestries MUCK
The first thing that you should be aware of is that Tapestries is not an ideal environment for this type of area. It is first and foremost a BDSM Muck, not a roleplaying Muck. While there are overlaps (for example, BDSM power exchanges often involve roleplaying), BDSM still comes first.
If the compromises are too steep for you, you may wish to consider if Tapestries is in fact the right place for you to be building your area.
One example of this is the global and required respect for Safeword. Out of Character everyone has the right to bring a scene to an end. Period. Further, this is expected to be no-fault. Safewording should never be made out to be a crime, or something wrong to do. This can be at times difficult in a heavy-RP area, but you have to deal with this. It is considered necessary to maintain a safe, sane and consensual environment for BDSM play.
Theme and Mission
It is even more important for heavy roleplay areas to have a clearly stated theme and mission.
The mission should state what the purpose of the area is, why it was created, what goals there are for the roleplaying there, etc.
The theme should describe the feel of the roleplay and the area, and go into some detail about the culture and such. Things people can play off in their stay in the area.
There are several types of story going on in a good roleplaying area, each should add flavor to the area, but not neccessarily be something that everyone that walks in off the street has to worry about right away. It's best if casual players can come in and play off of the stories, rather than being a part of them. Thus for many players the current plots and such should be background which they can use to richen their own roleplaying.
The back story is the history of your area. This should be publicly available to everyone in your area, along with the theme and mission. This should include information to give the area depth, and provide lots of jumping off points for people to roleplay from and to help people fit their character into the area better.
What of this is public or not depends a lot on the situation, but it needs to be partly public for it to have any value to the average user of your area. One approach that has worked out is having a 'rumors' program that gives you a feel for what is currently going on in the background.
Concluded plotlines, or portions of them, may well be suitable for retirement as back story.
Such plotlines should only directly involve characters that are willing participants in it, and are generally OK with where it's expected to go for their characters.
Such plotlines should be managed, either by the owner, or other delegated admins.
Some areas may have an overall story arc that all the plotlines tie into. This requires a great deal of coordination, especially as things change, players move on or become otherwise unavailable, etc.
Often times part or all of the actual story arc of an area is a closely guarded secret of the area's owner and a few trusted individuals and admins.
There is a very easy bulletin board that area owners can set up in their parent or main room simply by typing @act read;write;protect;ignore=here,#419 . This is an ideal way of maintaining a record of the public roleplaying, backstories, and currently involved characters as well as setting up new RP's.
Good roleplay will eventually come down to conflicts of one sort or another. Some players can be left to sort these things out themselves. The more guidelines on HOW to do this you give, the more this will take care of itself.
However. The vast majority of people want to see their characters 'win', and while some situations can be resolved in a 'win win' way, not all can, and many would not be the least bit interesting if they were. Sometimes they just won't be able to reach a reasonable solution among themselves.
Game Masters (GMs)
The Wizards are the ultimate GMs of the game, however, they are not going to get involved in disputes about how to IC resolve conflicts in your area. As such, you will need to have people designated to handle these things within your area. They should be as impartial as possible, well versed in your area's guidelines for roleplay, as well as the mission and theme of the area.
GMs should be publicly listed so that people who find themselves unable to resolve disputes over how to handle an IC situation can find them.
GMs should also be sensitive to where people want to go with their characters, and remember that people invest a lot of time in their characters, and seek solutions that are at least acceptable if not perfect for both parties.
Defeat vs. Death
In almost all cases, some form of defeat in conflict is preferable to the death of a character. Most people don't want to see a character die, even in a small RP area on the Muck. If such a thing is needed for story advancement, plan that out with the people involved first, possibly creating a villain or whatever is needed as a throwaway character to be played by someone that does not mind doing it.
Dropping the RP
Sometimes if no agreement can be reached it may be best to simply drop the RP entirely and pretend it never happened.
Outside your Area
Expect people not to play their characters the same outside your area. They may have the same name, but be entirely different people elsehwere.