Action in RP & Getting to the Monkey, SweetBee's guide to writing action
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This beautiful gem was written by the absolutely stellar, phenomenal SweetBee! Great tips for writers and RPers of all levels.

Action in RP & Getting to the Monkey
    I. Introduction
    II. Getting in the right mindset
    III. Action: How do I punch mans?
    IV. So about that monkey...
    V. Tips & Tricks
    VI. Outro


One of the main draws of Marvel is its action sequences and pacing. The cast of characters we all know and love get up to some wild shenanigans on a regular basis, but sometimes, it's hard to translate that into text, especially if you're like most people and are a little shy about putting yourself out there. So how do you convey action in a thread and keep the plot moving along without stalling out?

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It may not seem like it, but it really is that simple: All you have to do is take a deep breath, rip off the Bandaid, and make it happen. This guide will show you how to get started on your journey to shooting dudes up with lasers and keeping your threads moving at a hearty pace in just a few simple steps.

Remember: You are the narrator, and you and your partner alone control the story. If you want to make it happen, you can make it happen. That's the joy of RP (and sometimes the shame, but we're all sadomasochists here, right?).

With that in mind, let's talk about how to mentally prepare yourself to achieve your goals in your thread.


Stage fright is a legitimate problem in RP. Everyone wants to make a great thread that their partners will enjoy, but it can be pretty intimidating to take the lead and just go. If you find yourself in this position often, a little mental preparation ahead of your post goes a long way.

First, consider what your goals are in the thread. What do you want to have happen? This can be as vague or as specific as you want, but it's a good idea to know in advance what the point of the thread you're making is so everyone can come off feeling accomplished in the end. Try having one overarching goal (“I want my character to establish a working relationship with X’s character”) for starters, and then one to two more specific goals (“I want my character to hire X’s character to work with mine to take down a HYDRA hideout in the next thread because HYDRA agents killed my character’s parents”).

Another thing to consider is that in general, we’ve got a cast of superpowered people who do super things on a regular basis. That includes you, even if your character is “normal,” because you are still interacting with characters who are not and your character does not live in a normal world. There is so much that you can do here, and if you separate the restrictions of the real world from your mind and think about all you can do in a universe like Marvel’s, you’ll suddenly find you have a lot more options available to you when planning out your posts.

Feeling creative? Great! Let’s do some violence.


Beating up dudes, dudettes and everyone in between, including the kitchen sink (sorry about that), is a major part of roleplaying on a superhero board. When your character is faced with an action scene, there’s a few things to keep in mind to make sure everything goes smoothly.

Let’s say your partner has just done something really cool. Woah! Thor called down some serious thunder into an abandoned power plant serving as a base for invading aliens and caused a massive explosion. That’s awesome. But oh shit, you might think to yourself, now I have to come up with something that’s awesome, too. Don’t panic - you got this.

If you keep the following things at the forefront of your mind in an action-oriented thread, you're gonna have a Good Time. Let's start with how you interact with other characters for the first two bullet points, then focus more on you and yours for the last three on the list.
  • Make your partner's character look cool - And they’ll make yours look cool, too. Seriously, this is one of the biggest things successful RP communities get right. When players really work to make their partners look awesome, everyone comes out feeling amazing after threading. This counts when your character is fighting against player's character, too. Avoid thinking of combat as a competition between players or something your character has to "win" at all costs; that’s where OOC problems come in. Lift each other up instead and give your partner a chance to show off their powers or their character’s strong points. This means, again, putting in thought about the other characters in the thread, not just your own. What makes them work? What are they good at? Come up with an appropriate challenge for their characters, and your partners are sure to have a blast.
  • Don't leave other players hanging - Thor’s player probably worked pretty hard on that post. Make sure you acknowledge what he did in-character if at all possible so the hard work your partner put in doesn’t go ignored, which could really bum the other player out on the thread. Unless your character is stuck someplace where there’s no way they’d be able to witness what Thor just did, have them react to it. How would your character respond to what just happened? Would they be in shock (har har), would they rush in to check on Thor and help him fight surviving aliens, would they call the fire department to the scene? Try to find a proactive way to reply if possible, something that Thor can see, hear, and respond to in turn in his next post.
  • Get cinematic - With Great Powers is based on the Marvel Cinematic Universe. Something that I find helpful as a result is to envision each thread as a scene or cluster of scenes in a Marvel film. What makes Marvel movies interesting? Try to visualize what’s happening in your head and, if you’re having a hard time coming up with something for your character to do, envision what would keep your audience interested if they were watching the thread on the big screen.
  • Don’t limit yourself - The world really is your oyster when you’re writing. Make sure you’re not holding yourself back from doing something fun just because you’re worried it won’t be as cool as someone else’s post, or that people will think you’re lame, etc. Gauge the room, so to speak, to figure out just how far you can escalate things, and just have fun going there. Want to blow up a giant robot underwater and have your character work with others to figure out a way to stop the wave from hitting the city? Do it!
  • But do consider the IC consequences - At the same time, if your character’s plan to blow up that robot fails, there’s probably going to be some IC consequences. It makes sense, right? Cause and reaction. Those consequences could range anywhere from getting caught and registered by the Sokovia Accord to a big in-character sob-fest for three days straight. Don’t be scared of these consequences; they make for some of the best drama and conflict in RP. Charge forth and tackle them head-on, and not only will your threads feel more realistic and grounded in the world, you’ll get more development out of them, too.

This section covers all threads, not just ones where we get to beat people up (and take their stuff). What we’re going to discuss here is how to avoid stagnation and keep a thread moving.

To start, we’re going to reiterate a point touched on previously. When you’re doing a thread of any kind, remember that it’s not a solo act: You have a partner, and if you don’t give your partner anything to go on, the thread risks growing stale -- or at the very least, you’re going to wind up frustrating your partner by making them do all the “work.”

A very easy way to stagnate a thread comes in the form of internal monologuing. We all love our characters and love to muse on what makes them tick, but the thing is, if you fill your post with what your character is thinking and not what they're doing, no one else in the thread is going to have anything to work with. Cue stagnation.

To keep a thread moving, have something happen outside of your character's head in every post you make. Don't tack it on as an afterthought - sprinkle little bits of active content throughout the post as you’re writing it, even if it's just the hand gestures your character makes in a conversation, or if their posture changes, a car honks loudly in the distance, etc. Not every post has to have a huge revelation in it, but even those seemingly unimportant details mentioned in the previous sentence can add up to something your partner can use to construct their reply.

The worst thing you can do is leave your partner with nothing but internal monologue and non-committal dialogue, and remember: If you're bored, your partner is, too.

Following that, another piece of advice would be to only accept as many threads as you know you can post in within a reasonable amount of time. If you think you’re going to take long enough making posts that momentum in a thread might die off, don’t take any more threads until you close at least one or two and let your partners know you’re juggling a lot at the moment. They’re sure to understand and will be able to adjust their expectations accordingly if you communicate with them. Keeping an open line of communication with all parties involved can save threads that might otherwise die off, incomplete.


Most of this post has focused on concepts and good habits, but there's a few easy "cheat codes" you can use if you get really stuck, too. I like to keep the following in my back pocket at all times, just in case I'm having a bad day, the creativity isn't flowing, or I'm playing with someone who's not sure how to keep a thread moving and needs some help:
  • Someone starts shooting - Not even joking. You bored? Have a gun go off or a gunfight break out somewhere nearby. It works 99% of the time, every time. America!
  • T-minus two posts to fire... - Exactly the same as the gun rule, but with fire.
  • The Old El Paso taco girl rules at RPing - Remember those old taco ads with the kids arguing over hard- or soft-shell tacos and the girl going, "¿Porque no los dos?" That's an amazing motto for RP. If you have a couple different ideas you're wrestling with, or two or more ideas that aren't quite good enough on their own, try to find a way to combine them. It's fun, and you'll often be pleasantly surprised by what you come up with.
  • Do something stupid - People make mistakes all the time. Your characters do, too. Go ahead, make them do something stupid; they can pay for it later, and that process in itself presents another thread for you to enjoy!
  • Just ask - Finally, if you've wracked your brain for a few days and you just can't come up with something to post, talk to the people with whom you're RPing. Express how you're feeling and ask if they have any ideas. Brainstorming is our best ally!

First of all, congratulations on reading this far. You're amazing!

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I can't believe you got through all that bull-- I mean, thanks for sticking around and reading this guide! At the end of the day, RP is really just another way people play and have fun together, and we're all here to smash action figures together and torture them emotionally. I hope this guide helps you be terrible to them in new and exciting ways.

Happy RPing, everyone! Let's make this site the best it can be!
Posted: Apr 4 2018, 03:34 PM
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