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Old Jun 2nd, 2014, 10:59 PM
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Aeternis Aeternis is offline
Ancient Azure Anathema
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The Syllabus

The Syllabus
A preface and summary of the seminars held in this subforum

Before anyone gets the wrong idea, the best way to get the most out of BAD-ASS Applications is through a lot of reading.

Not just reading the gigantic mounds of verbal diahhrea that I've spent all this time spewing into a subforum, mind you. The only way you'll be able to put any of what I've suggested here into action is if you read a lot of game advertisements - and possibly lots of genre fiction as well, to build up some savviness with the tropes common between fiction and RPGs.

If the idea of spending some time reading does not really appeal to you, I wonder if play-by-post is the right medium for you. After all, it's a medium where reading comprehension is massively important, and if you don't enjoy reading, you'll struggle to enjoy play-by-post. Beyond this point, I'm going to assume that you don't consider reading text to be a chore.

BAD-ASS Applications is an educational project that's all about navigating the tricky pitfalls of getting into games on this site through the advertisement/applications process. There are certainly other avenues to getting into games - but to open most of them, you have to establish yourself as a gamer here, which means you have to get into some games the standard way. Some would call it the hard way.

If you harbor any illusions about whether Games Seeking Players is where you should go to get into games, these two collapsed sections are probably for you. If you don't harbor such fatalistic fantasies as the titles imply, you can skip them and lose none of the value of this guide.


Yes, BAD-ASS Applications is an acronym, and a forced one at that. It stands for Better Application Design: Aeternis's Seminars on Stellar Applications. It does not mean that you should strive to make every character an action-movie star or borderline superhero. There are situations where over-the-top action-movie bad-assery is a good idea in an application, but usually other things than superior combat prowess should be your focus. If this is news to you, don't worry - you're in the right place.

These lessons are intended to represent community-wide best practices, according to my observations over the years. These best practices are hardly commonly offered in so detailed a manner, which is why someone like me needed to come along and note them all down, eventually constructing these lessons. Some of it, I expect, will be news even to the long-time members, who do so much of this process automatically, without thinking too much about it. The best practices listed here also happen to closely follow my opinions and preferences, which is why I am happy to devote so much time and energy to building and maintaining BAD-ASS Applications.


Each seminar will cover a different topic. Though you may feel the need to skip some, or go out of order, the seminars are presented in a numeric order and intended to be read in that order. Each will assume as a precondition that the reader is familiar with the concepts presented in the previous ones.

Each seminar will be presented as a thread in this subforum. The opening post will contain the bulk of the seminar itself - the lecture material, with a bulleted-list summary at the end. The threads will be left open for Q&A and discussion, and I will do my best to reply to concerns on any of the material in a timely manner. Addendum posts have also been added as replies to some of the seminars, representing additional sections I composed at a later date.

I'll try to keep things interesting and relevant in all cases. No seminar should devolve into grandstanding and ego-puffing, because this is not about my ego, this is about helping people become more successful at the applications process, and by extent, more successful members of this fine site. I'm tired of watching eager, promising new members drift off into disappointed oblivion, and I'm tired of seeing the same failures in application after application, be it in my own games or others, simply because every new wave of members must re-learn the whole process from scratch.

These terms are common across many seminars, so we might as well define them right away. These terms are often vague, but I use them in a specific context here. Note specifically that "rejection" and "failure" are not the same thing.
  • Advertisement - A thread in one of the sub-forums of the Advertisements section of the boards, usually a thread in "Games Seeking Players." Specifically, the "advertisement" is the opening post of that thread, and potentially successive posts that contain additional content. An advertisement describes a game the poster wants to run as GM.
  • Application - A reply to an advertisement in "Games Seeking Players" which meets, or attempts to meet, the advertisement's posted guidelines. It generally describes a character which the poster intends to play in the game described in the advertisement.
  • Concept - A brief, often non-structured but well-defined core definition of an item. In the case of the seminars presented here, a concept is generally used to describe a character.
  • Failure - When I refer to an application as having failed, I refer to it as having not been accepted on its own merits, before the DM even needed to compare it to the others. It's not accurate to say that apps that made the GM's short list and then were not accepted afterwards have failed.
  • GM (or sometimes DM): The Game Master, the person in charge of selecting players and managing the plot in-game. Some systems call this person other things - storyteller and mayor are two such examples. Some games also have more than one GM, but for simplicity's sake we'll treat them as a single entity.
  • Rejection - More broadly than failure, an application is rejected if it didn't get into the game, for any reason. Not all applications that are rejected are failures, but all failures are (hopefully!) rejected.

Seminar Schedule
  1. Finding the Right Game for You
    • Covers deciding which advertisements to focus on, in your search for a game that fits you and your play style best.
  2. Character Concepts
    • Covers coming up with a basic character concept, and avoiding some of the common pitfalls that spell doom for an application at the concept stage.
  3. Character Concepts, Continued
    • Covers a grab-bag of advanced topics in conceptualization, including pitfalls such as cliches and avataring.
  4. Application Components
    • Details common elements or segments you will see across many sets of application requirements
    • Addendum: Character Interactions and Links
  5. Common Application Failures
    • Explains the most common ways applications die of poor presentation.
    • Addendum: Using Proper tense in application text
  6. Rejection (And How to Handle it)
    • What you should do, and what you shouldn't do, if you don't make the cut.
  7. The Right Mindset
    • How to approach the process without sabotaging yourself with a poor outlook
Adjusting to relocation and new job. I appreciate your patience.
--[ A Guide to Applications ]--

Last edited by Aeternis; Aug 27th, 2016 at 05:24 AM.
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