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Frequently Asked Questions
What is an RPG? What is a forum-based RPG?
This is a message board RPG, and not at all like, say, World of Warcraft. The game is played entirely by writing - effectively, we're writing a huge, interweaving story, in which everyone is the hero. The game consists of threads, like this one, except that players take it in turns to describe what their character is thinking, doing, and saying. That's why you can only control the actions of your own character - the other characters have their own players, and only they can decide what they are doing.
A thread can be open - available for anyone to join - or it can be only for invited characters (if you want to do a thread about breaking up with your boyfriend, for example, you probably don't want other people crashing in and interrupting). Anyone can start a thread, depending on what they want to do or what sort of story they want to explore.
Sometimes the admins will start a thread that is part of a big background story at the castle (or school-wide events like the Opening Feast, for example). You're free to join these, or not, as you wish - it's all up to you. Otherwise, we leave pretty much everything up to you, and we're basically just here to help out, and try make things fun for everyone - there is no "gamemaster" as there is in certain other kinds of RPG.
It's up to you what happens to your character, what they do, and what sort of adventures they get involved in. We encourage everyone to be creative, but feel free to just join in open threads started by other people, if you're out of inspiration. You don't have to just be in one thread at a time - indeed, we encourage you to take part in as many as you have time for
There are a few other things we should probably mention about how stuff works at the site:
Our world has lots of students, and even a few professors, in addition to the ones that actually have players. That's before counting all the house elves, talking paintings, and maybe a few ghosts. You can mention these characters (called "NPCs") in your posts, and even control them to an extent, by saying that they helped you, or made you late for class, or whatever. This helps to make the school feel more like a real place, although you should remember that your posts should mainly be about your own character - you are the hero, after all, and the NPCs are just extras!
Other than the policies you see in Guidelines and Policies section, there aren't really any rules as to how things happen. However, young students can only do so much magic, so we have some guidelines as to what sort of spells - Charms, Transfiguration, Divination, and Conjuring/Summoning you will have learned, and be able to do. The rules for these are available at the Sorting Hat, but, for now, all you need to know is that you'll be best at whichever you picked as your Strength when you created your character, and worst at whatever you chose as your Weakness. Your magic gets better the older you are, and the longer you are at the school.
When it comes to Potions, Herbology, and other sorts of magic not covered by the four main areas, you're free to do what you like, so long as its realistic.
Quidditch and Duelling
Because these are actual competitions, although they are still entirely based on writing, we have a few more rules about how they work - it would be boring if everyone could just say "I grab the snitch and win!" If you want to take part in these contests (and you don't have to if you don't want to), you will be able to find full rules at Hogwarts, and feel free to ask us if there's anything you're not sure about.
Hogwarts is a school, so we have classes! Of course, we couldn't possibly run every single lesson that happens at the school, but we do try and do three lessons for each subject every school year. These work just like any other RPing thread - the class is started by the professor, and you have your character respond, decide whether they do well or badly, and so on. Each lesson generally remains open for you to post in for two to three weeks.
You don't have to take part in any classes, if you don't want to (your character will be going to them, but you don't have to actually write about what they do). However, it is the best way to improve your magical abilities!
The School Year
The schools are open for posting for three real life months at a time, this represents a 'school year'. At the end of the year, final grades are announced, students improve their magical skills, and then we close for a month to accept new students - this represents the summer holidays. During the break, RPing takes place at the Summer Campus - you can take a look there to see how RPing works, before you start at your school. if you're still not sure.
Note that this means that, if you want to start as a seventh year, you will only get to play your character for three months before you have to create a new one - after that, they've left school and now belong in Elsewhere.
How do I join?
Elsewhere accept applications year-round.
Hogwarts is currently open for applications in April, August, and December.
In order to become a member, simply read through all of the rules and fill out a completed application, which can be found under Guidelines & Rules. If all of the requested information has been provided, joining the site is a relatively straightforward process.
In the event that you are asked to make changes to your application, don't worry! We are more than happy to work with you.
Help, I've registered with the wrong username! How do I change it?
No problem! Simply submit a ticket to our helpdesk with the name you'd like to use, and as long as your current name isn't an already accepted character, we'll be happy to change it for you!
What sort of things happen at this site?
Lots! It would take far too long to list it all, and players are encouraged to make up their own storylines. However, to get a flavour of what we do, you might want to look at our Wiki page, which gives some idea of what has happened in years past. Just click on the link!
How long does it take for my application to be read & sorted?
Due to other responsibilities of those sorting applications, you may wait for a day or you may wait for two weeks. We try our hardest to give a prompt response, but sometimes it is not feasible.
Please, do not constantly ask us when we will be getting to your applications. We look over them in the order they are received, so do not worry you will 'lose' your spot.
Harassing anyone about when you will be responded to will result in the immediate denial of your application. If you have any questions, feel free to contact an administrator.
What happens after I post my application?
Once you have decided the details about your character, an administrator will look over your application.
If your application disappears, don't worry! That means that your application has likely been accepted and is awaiting sorting (if you are a student) or has been archived (adult).
Students will not be told which House they have been accepted into until the opening of the school term.
How do characters advance through the years?
What year your character is will be determined by three factors: your preference, what we have room for, and the quality of your character biography. The only way to be promoted is if you want to play the same character the following school term. If your character was productive and active, you can play him/her again a year higher.
Can I create a character from the books?
Sorry, but no. You have to create your own character as this RPG takes place in an alternate universe. Furthermore, these characters do not exist at the time in which the site takes place.
Can I have a special ability?
A special power can be defined as an aptitude or a skill not ordinarily obtainable by the Hogwarts curriculum.
Requesting A Special Ability
Players interested must complete the Special Ability Request. Please note that writing the special power into your application is not enough, and the special power isn't approved even if your application is approved. It is considered to be a separate request. Special power requests are considered on a case-by-case basis, and take into account such things as:
1.) Previous player participation, development, and activity level
2.) Any previous violations of the site rules
3.) Previous requests granted and how well those abilities were utilized by the player
4.) Whether the request makes sense for the site and the character
5.) Current saturation of ‘special’ characters.
Other factors may also be considered, and the admins’ have the final say on whether the request is allowed.
Earning A Special Power
Your request may be granted with a stipulation such as tutoring, additional character development, other RP-related requests (such as passing a certain number of classes) or shifting of current levels (such as a certain aptitude for Transfiguration in times of stress may decrease all other levels by 1 concurrently), before the request may be granted IC. We do this to insure that players are invested in the development of such a power before having it come to fruition.
Below is a non-comprehensive list of the special powers available in our universe. Remember, these powers are rare (hence ‘special’), so choose with care.
Affinity for any element or magic that exceeds the limits set by the site rules
Flying (without broomstick)
Special scars, markings, or appearance that differs from a typical human
Veela, Werewolf, or any other non-human species
This list is not comprehensive, and if another special power is found to be more appropriate, we encourage you to PM an Administrator for further discussion.
Additionally, Special Abilities include being a Department Head at the Ministry of Magic or St. Mungos, as well as a Bureau Chief at the Daily Prophet. These positions must also fill out the Special Abilities application.
What Wizarding schools exist here?
In our version of the Harry Potter universe, the following wizarding schools exist:
Hogwarts - Britain & Ireland
The Durmstrang Institute - Eastern Europe.
Also a mixed school. Location not specified. Only takes purebloods; presumably there are other schools in eastern Europe for the non-pureblooded majority.
Eisenstab Hexengymnasium - Germany & Luxembourg.
Has a rather old-fashioned 'Prussian' atmosphere, although that's probably changing post WWII.
Hapsburg School of the Magical Arts- Eastern Germany and Eastern Europe.
Mixed school, accepts pureboods, halfbloods, & muggleborns.
Gokstad Academy - Scandinavia
Located in Norway.
Watsworth Academy for Young Witches and Wizards
Somewhere in the Balkans. Small.
Salem Institute of Magic
Salem, MA, USA. No longer a played school, but still available for NPCs.
What is Elsewhere?
Elsewhere is a collection of locations from all over the Harry Potter world where life outside of school is role-played, ranging from places like Hogsmeade and Diagon Alley to institutions like St. Mungos and the Ministry of Magic. Characters who aren't currently students such as graduates, families and young children are role-played here!
What kinds of jobs are out there?
Plenty. A large portion of this board consists of independent shopkeepers who run their own forums and business like pubs, restaurants or childcare, but some also work at St. Mungos, the Daily Prophet or in the Ministry itself - all of which come with their own mix of interdepartmental drama. There's a whole world awaiting your graduate.
How do I sign up?
Same place you sign up to be a student - at the Sorting Hat board. Just scroll down and click on the application for Shopkeeper/Resident if you'd like to open your own place or just live there, or click on the institution-specific St. Mungos, Daily Prophet, or Ministry of Magic applications if you'd like a job there.
What if my character's just graduated?
Graduates of Hogwarts automatically become residents of Elsewhere. However, if they want to open their own shops or get a job at either St. Mungos, the Daily Prophet or the Ministry of Magic, they will be asked to fill out the application for those positions.
What's all this talk about houses?
Just like in the books, there are four houses. When you post your application, you may request a house that you feel best suits your character. However, please note that while we try our best to grant everyone his or her first choice, sometimes this is not possible.
The four houses are:
Gryffindor - the inhabitants of this house are known for their bravery.
Ravenclaw - the inhabitants of this house are known for their intelligence and knowledge.
Hufflepuff - the inhabitants of this house are known for their loyalty.
Slytherin - the inhabitants of this house are known for their capacity to achieve great things through any means.
How do I find out which house I'm in?
Although we sort the students throughout the month that the Hat is open, you will not be told at first which House you have been accepted into.
The Hogwarts Opening Feast begins on the first day of term, and, just like in the books, that is when you will find out your new House. A list of all new students, with their Houses and years, will be posted in the News forum at the school on the first day of term, which is either:
...until then you will be just as much in suspense as your character would be!