meaning and definition

Jump to section

    What is freeform RP?

    Freeform in the context of roleplaying and writing games refers to a style of play that emphasizes narrative freedom and creative expression over rigid structures and rules.

    In freeform games, players are not bound by strict turn-taking, detailed stat sheets, or the outcomes of mandatory dice rolls (typical features of tabletop games).

    Instead, they collaboratively weave a story through character interaction and mutual storytelling.

    Freeform RP allows for a more fluid and dynamic gameplay experience, where the focus is on character development and plot progression rather than on mechanics or competition.

    Historically, freeform roleplaying has its roots in improvisational theatre and traditional storytelling. It evolved as a response to more structured forms of roleplaying games (RPGs), where players sought a platform for more personal and immediate storytelling.

    Freeform games often lack a predefined story framework, enabling players to create and adapt the narrative as it unfolds.

    Freeform FAQs

    What is the main difference between freeform and structured roleplaying games?

    The main difference lies in the level of rules and structure. In freeform games, there are very few rules governing gameplay, allowing for a more narrative-driven experience where each character is experiencing their own story.

    Structured roleplaying games, on the other hand, rely on defined rules, and character stats, and often use dice to determine outcomes.

    Can freeform games still have a game master?

    Yes, freeform games can still have a game master (GM) or storyteller who facilitates the game, helps to guide the narrative, and resolves disputes between players. However, the role of a GM in a freeform setting is generally less about enforcing rules and more about aiding the narrative flow.

    For example, a GM might provide direction with an overarching plot or give feedback on a character concept and whether it would fit well with the game’s theme and setting.

    See also: How to be a better Game Master (GM).

    How do players progress in a freeform game?

    Progression in a freeform game is typically narrative-driven. Players develop their characters through interactions and storytelling, with character growth reflecting changes in relationships, personal achievements, or significant plot developments rather than leveling up or acquiring new abilities defined by the game.

    Are there any guidelines in freeform roleplaying?

    While freeform roleplaying is less restrictive than traditional RPGs, many groups establish basic guidelines regarding content, character interaction, and narrative structure to ensure a cohesive and enjoyable experience for all players. It’s also not uncommon to have community rules and guidelines to ensure that players respect each other.

    For example, powerposing and god-modding are typically (and explicitly) against the rules in freeform games.

    Myths about freeform RP

    One common myth is that freeform roleplaying is chaotic and lacks direction. However, when players are committed to collaborative storytelling and respect each other’s contributions, freeform games can produce compelling stories. Together, players can build a rich and detailed world that evolves as individual stories unfold.

    Another misconception is that freeform RP is only for experienced roleplayers. In reality, the accessibility and flexibility of freeform roleplaying can make it an excellent choice for newcomers to the hobby.

    Freeform RP examples

    • A group of friends creates a fantasy world where they play as characters from different kingdoms, weaving a complex story of intrigue and alliance without using any dice or character sheets.
    • An online forum hosts a freeform superhero roleplay where participants write posts to develop a shared narrative, deciding the outcomes of conflicts through consensus rather than combat mechanics.
    • In a chatroom, players assume the roles of survivors in a post-apocalyptic setting, negotiating alliances and conflicts in real-time, with the story evolving based on their interactions.

    Related terms

    Related content

    Smiling blonde woman wearing glasses.
    About the author

    Andruid is a writer, roleplayer, storyteller, and nerd who tries to live by Bill and Ted wisdom, i.e. "Be excellent to each other."