To those of you who wish to make a team, listen up. To those of you who make teams that never get up off the ground, listen up. For those of you who are looking for a team.... you know the drill.
Alright, let's get started. Welcome to Team Creation 101. Now, when creating a team, I like to follow four elements. Like the elements of water, earth, fire, and air, these have to be followed in order in order to master all the elements properly (to those Avatar fans out there). The elements are purpose, characteristics, tone, and finally title.
Creating the Concept: Part I
Now, purpose is perhaps the easiest step to achieve. Now, it's important to do this first because that gives your team direction. Ask yourself, "Why is this team here? What role will it play in the continuity of all stories written here?" Usually, a team's purpose is to do one of two things: oppose evil or promote evil. It's as simple as that. Is your team going to be good or evil? One of the more difficult team choices is that of the neutral team. If you create a neutral team or character, it can not just be because you like the look of black. If you act like a hero all the time, just be blue. If you are going to constantly cross the line and not give a f#ck who your character pisses off in the story, THEN you can be black. Neutral is all about having a slight hint of unpredictability about you. Whatever the case may be, choose a purpose that fits your character.
Next we have your team's characteristics. This is where you decide on the set-up of your team. Are you more like a society or brotherhood (i.e. Knights of the Round Table, Masons, etc.); or are you more like a government organization (i.e. MI6, SHIELD, HAMMER, etc.)? Are you going to have team uniforms, or is everyone going to be wearing his or her individual costumes? Details like this are important because they reinforce the next step.
Now, we're going to deal with tone. When your team enters the scene of an RPG, what do you want readers to think? This is probably the most important step because it effects how you build your team's reputation - hence whether they survive or fail. This is all about HOW your team will conduct themselves. How will they accomplish their goals? Will they be compassionate? Heroic? Ruthless? You've got to think about how you want people to react once your team comes on the scene. For that matter, you've got to think about how opposing characters in the story will react at the mere mention of your team's name in the story. Imagine your team entering a huge, epic conflict during a massive RPG. For example, readers could see that and say, "This $hit just got real." That right there comes directly from the tone that you set within the team.
With all that being said, now you need to come up with a team name or title. Think about the previous three elements. Now, pick a team name which embodies all of the elements - especially the tone. Here's an example: I wanted to create a team which would fight evil, but do so by its own moral code (finding the purpose - neutral alignment). Then, I decided that it would be a group of individuals whose unique talents came together into an unstoppable elite unit (deciding the characteristics of the team). After that, I knew that I wanted the team to be absolutely ruthless in its methods. They would work together to bring down its target with calculated viciousness and aggression (setting the tone). Next, I chose a name which symbolized a cohesive unit whose individuals came together with their talents to create something unstoppable. I thought about something which hunted down its prey fiercely and relentlessly. Hence, I came up with the title of Wolf Pack.
Now, I made these steps to help create some form of guide. Are they perfect or without flaws? Of course not. However, the proof is in the pudding. 'Nough said.
Launching the Team: Part II
So now you have your team. So now, do you just go ahead and make the team thread? After all, if you make it, they will come. Right?
See, this is where you've gotta start using your head. Never just completely wing it. Yes, it's hopeful and all. Yes, it would be great if it immediately took off. But let's get real for a minute, it's not the brightest move.
If someone invents a concept, they don't just try to do it all themselves. If a person decides they want to be a professional athlete, they don't just do it all solo. If a writer comes up with an idea for a movie, it doesn't just happen.
You see, they all need their investors, sponsors, and producers to get anywhere. Yes, leading the team has a lot to do with its success; but the real success comes from the solid support of those who are backing your idea. So go out there and get your investors.
When you pitch an idea, don't be afraid to treat it like a sales pitch. That's EXACTLY what it is - a sales pitch. Be confident when you give your presentation. You've got to sell them on your idea before they can truly give you their full support.
Now, your target audience is extremely important. This is a group of people who you are getting to support your idea. You rely on them to make sure your team survives. Look to someone who is respected in the community and taken seriously as an RPGer. Find one or two people like that and make them your "lieutenants" of the team. Yes, its entirely possible to find new talent and have it work out GREAT; but its wiser to pick a more experienced RPGer who's been around, knows the game, and who has a good reputation as a writer. It may sound harsh, but a team made of primarily secondary accounts is usually destined to fail. When you select your main core of support, you want to choose people who will devote the majority of their RPGing time with your team - hence the reason why it's best to choose primary accounts for your roster.
After you've gained a solid foundation, THEN it's time to make the thread and start recruiting.
Now, after you've begun to build your roster, do not let your team become a just another chat thread. Get out there and get your team noticed. Sure, doing a "How Our Family Came Together" RPG is all nice and hunky-dory; but COME ON. Immediately, you've got to show the rest of the RPG community that your team means business. One of the best ways to do that is by either entering a Team vs. Team RPG (be sure to choose your opposing team wisely - pick a serious one) or by entering a large-scale Open RPG. Get your team out there and have it actively participating.
Show people that your team can really bring the heat while still having fun.
Coming up in Part III........ Leadership Tips. Every leader has their own style, but here are a few tips to help you out.