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.



Meta and Further Reading


  1. (Accessed 2/15/2020)
  2. Circa 2007-2009 (Accessed 2/28/2020)
  3. Mar 3, 2013 (Accessed Mar 29, 2020)
  4. 4.0 4.1 (Accessed 2/15/2020>