Art Roleplay Game

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An art roleplay game, or ARPG, is a specific type of roleplay that encourages the creation of art. ARPGs were developed on DeviantART,[1] likely around the time when groups became a site feature. In an ARPG, visual or written art of ones characters allows for those characters to level up and/or gain currency, which is what makes it stand out from traditional roleplay. In the earlier days ARPG was called Art RPG or A-RPG.


One will be hard pressed to find examples of ARPGs before groups were released to all users on DeviantART in 2010. While "Fan Clubs" were present before groups, none were used as an ARPG, likely due to the difficulty of running one without a good organizational system. One of the oldest ARPGs to call itself an ARPG was HorseArt-RPG from 2008, which is still active as of 2020. This was before groups were rolled out to all members. Before HorseArt-RPG was its own group there was the proto-HARPG on DeviantART, which required players to simply run and organize their "stables" on their own profiles. When HorseArt-RPG was first made a comment by user Maeix2 on May 26, 2008 said "Great, our very own page." Maeix2 ran a stable out of a journal entry on their profile beginning in 2007.[2]. Two other stable affiliates were listed in this journal. This implies that the concept of the modern ARPG may have been started as early as 2007 entirely by those who kept up with imaginary fantasy horse stables. A timeline of HARPGs on DeviantART claims it began even earlier in 2006 thanks to user Moonfeather.[3] Indeed, a horse character called Screamer uploaded in 2006 used the phrase "HARPG" in its description. While they may have lacked a few key features to the modern ARPG, these characters and stables were what eventually kicked off the HorseArt-RPG group that then spawned copy-cats or "sister groups." From there ARPGs evolved over time into what they are today.

It is possible that there may be ARPGs that are ran on forums but these are difficult to find and date. While forums are no stranger to roleplay and making supplemental art, finding a forum that specifically revolves around art as a method for leveling up characters rather than through text roleplay may also be difficult.

Collaborative World Building Game

The original species Esks have an ARPG in which the staff also self identify it as a "collaborative world building game," or "CWBG." The given definition as on the Esk website is as follows:

A Collaborative Worldbuilding Game (CWBG) is a form of creative roleplay game that is focused on crowdsourcing content and stories. A CWBG is designed to put creative power into the hands of its players by providing an open-ended world for creative exploration and development. Content framework is provided for everyone to build upon, but it's up to the players to decide how this framework is interpreted and expanded upon. A CWBG is essentially an artistic open-world game where players are treated as co-creators of the spaces and ideas to be explored.

Esk World Building Website

A CWBG can be an ARPG, and vice versa, but it does not have to be. For example, an ARPG like fawnlings is a CWBG because it is heavy on player-made content and lore to advance the plot of the game. But an ARPG like Folklorian World, which has very little player-made lore, is not a CWBG. A game such as Dungeons and Dragons can be labeled as a CWBG, especially when using home brew rules, but would not necessarily be an ARPG unless modified to include visual/written art creation in exchange for currency/points/items.


  • Is usually an artist made world/universe with some type of world building.
  • May be based off an original species, a real animal, or even a video game like Animal Crossing or Pokemon.
  • Players create some sort of character profile(s) with art and supplemental text.
  • Those characters will have the ability to gain EXP and/or level up by being drawn or written for.
  • Written artwork created to gain EXP/currency/items is made as a short literary work, sometimes collaborative, but does not have to be the same as chatroom or forum style roleplay.
  • May or may not have one or more currencies, which usually have a gimmicky name or relevance to what the ARPG is based on.
  • There will be a way to score how much EXP/currency the art created earns, which is often based on how much of the character is showing, if it has a background, and if it is shaded or not, similar to Art Fight. May be scored by either the artist or the ARPG staff.
  • May or may not include some form of prompts/events to encourage this art creation. Prompts may each have their own special rewards, such as different items.

Other Mechanics

Outside of the collection of currency and items, there are various other mechanics that many ARPGs put in place to enhance the gameplay. These are mechanics that differ between ARPGs and are not required for a game to be labeled an ARPG.

Random number generators (RNG) help add an element of randomness to games. This is essentially a dice roll and can either be done with actual die or an online number randomize. It may decide the amount or types of awards presented from prompts and events, or what mutations offspring may have. For example, in the ARPG Fawnlings a RNG decides if in-game offspring are born with mutations, such as being extra tall or having piebald.[4]

Some ARPGs contain a meticulous system for keeping track of characters and their ownership through time. This is usually done via way of a mule account. A mule account is a separate account ran by group staff that re-uploads art of characters, then logs information on the design in either the description or a comment chain. These re-uploads could include information such as: the designer name, the design sell price, the designs mutations/peculiarities, and an ownership log. Ownership logs are more often kept up within the design comments, as commenting on the image does not require staff to actually have access to the mule account.[4] Games that do not use mule accounts may use spreadsheets to track characters instead, though this way of tracking is somewhat old. Regardless of the method used to track characters, a list of designs is called a masterlist.

Breeding is another mechanic in use with some ARPGs, though groups go about it in different ways. Some groups, like Fawnlings, use a method of breeding that is about the same as any regular horse ARPG. This is breeding that makes use of real-life (or sometimes fantasy) genetics. Other groups ditch the complicated genetics and instead opt to make their own rules. This can come in the form of rarity systems with original species, or could even just be based on how the artist believes a pairing's physical features would combine.

Are ARPGs Fandoms?

There has been discussion on whether or not art roleplay games count as fandoms or not, with opinions wildly varied. For example, while one user considers DnD, Kpop, and ARPGs to not be fandoms, another user considers all three to be their own fandoms. There is no agreed upon consensus, however most users have at least agreed that ARPGs based on a pre-existing fandom are more so in the fandom of the pre-existing franchise, rather than any "ARPG fandom."[5]

Arguments about whether or not ARPGs can count as a fandom share similarities with whether or not furry is a fandom, which has also been an ongoing debate for many years.

ARPGs are often (not always, but often) part of larger fandoms (i.e. horse RP fans, Pokemon fans, furry fans, anime fans), so I'd say the usual answer is no, because they're already a subset of a fandom. I wasn't part of the Crystal Caverns ARPG fandom, I was and am a Pokemon fan... For those ARPGs that don't slot under those, it could be a fandom... but forum RP for original works weren't really fandoms either. The dynamics are different than in a broader fandom. Basically, ARPGs read more as games run by communities within a broader fandom as far as dynamic goes.


What is the line between a fandom and a non-fandom? If the community of an ARPG based out of an original species functions as a fandom (as in they act the same way/similar towards their ARPG + original species as a fan of a TV show does), does that make them a fandom, or is there more to it? Is having similar attributes to fandom enough to be a fandom? Or is the line between fandom and non-fandom commercial gain, or in the case of free works (like free to read webcomics), popularity? If DnD didn't have official books and guides and games, and if only a few hundred people knew about it, would DnD no longer be a fandom since it's just a free table top game with a handful of players? But then if commercial gain and popularity were the defining factors that make a difference between a fandom and a non-fandom, are ARPGs with more popular for-sale original species more likely to be considered fandoms than free-to-play, less popular ARPGs?


i feel like ARPG's, especially those based around species, cannot be classed as fandoms as 90% of the content for it is made by the users (in the sense that all the characters are generally unique in art, story, design), meaning that there is nothing to really be a fan of...

...In this case, DND is not a fandom (Barring media such as shows and games, as that is not core dnd), as a majority of its content comes from everyone's unique stories and characters, however things made using dnd (Critical role, The adventure zone, etc) can have fandoms, as they have established characters that viewers are a fan of.

...This is also why I don't consider being furries as a fandom, but as a community, because there is such a wide spectrum of things that are part of it. Dnd is a community, critical role is a fandom. Kpop is a community, BTS is a fandom. Gaming is a community, overwatch is a fandom. etc.

Its definitely a complex conundrum, so I hope I wasn't too rambly about it lol.


To me, a fandom is a phenomenon where a piece of media or thing generates enough interest for people to collectively come together to share ideas and derivative work. Not everyone that participates or enjoys the thing is necessarily within the fandom and it doesn't require a certain number of participants to be a fandom. Example: not everyone that plays DnD is in the "DnD fandom" but it is a thing with it's own lore, monsters, themes etc that people are fans of. The thing is that general DnD content exists outside of people's characters and DnD based fandoms such as CR/TAZ. People are fans of the monsters and the style that is associated with DnD, people buy shirts with goofy slogans and dice on them, they make real versions of official items and stuffed animals of the creatures. I think that in this same way, I believe that an ARPG can be a fandom, while everyone participating is not necessarily within said fandom. ...Tldr; Not all communities are fandoms, but once a community becomes a phenomenon of sharing ideas and derivative works, I consider it a fandom




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