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Role-Playing for newcomers

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Role-Playing for newcomers

Post  Myre on Mon Jan 25, 2010 5:45 pm

What is Role-playing?

Role-playing (more commonly called RP) is basically an advanced form of storytelling. You may hear talk about those crazy people who dress up in elf costumes and run around shouting "Lightning!" at people, but that's not what this is at all. If you've ever written a story, it's pretty much the same thing. You assume control over one character (or many, depending on your roles in the story) and write out his or her actions. How this differs from a story, is that you do this with other people who assume the roles of their own characters, and interact with each other. In a more simplified form, you can think of this as round-robin writing sessions, where one person would write one part of a story, and then pass it off to the next person to continue writing it.
Of course, it's not all there is to Role-playing, there's quite a few different aspects of Role-playing and ways to do so, which we will be covering in this thread.

What types of Role-playing are there?

There are more or less two types of Role-playing, with different subsections to each. You can probably find more specific types of Role-play, such as genre RPs or such, but in general this is what you will find:

Thread Role-play: This is where you participate in role-playing much more focused on writing similar to a story, although the back-and-forth with other people participating is still present. Thread Role-playing is handled in a forum, like this one, and RPers (Role-Players) will be exchanging their parts of the story through forum posts.

There are two types of Thread Role-play:

Open Role-play: An Open RP is a role-play considered to be free-for-all for all readers to join. it's 'open' for participation. Any reader is able to participate in the story and RP, and there is usually room for many subplots or secondary storylines. Usually, it is a good idea to allow these subplots to unfold, but to pay attention to the main storyline (if there is one) and to continue that as well, and let it take centerstage for most of the RP.

Closed Role-play: A Closed RP is an RP that does not allow any newcomers to join once it's begun. There is a set group of RPers that will participate, but all others are not allowed to join in. That said, some threads will allow you to comment, and most will allow you to view them regardless of whether you participate or not. Closed RPs tend to have a strict storyline tied to them, that is more linear and less forgiving of subplots than the Open RP thread, although you may still be allowed to, it is better to check with the thread leader. Usually Closed RP threads are connected to a Sign-up thread, which allows people to sign up for positions in the RP, and to subsequently participate in the thread when it's begun.

The other type of Role-play is:

Chat Role-play: This is a type of Role-play held in a chat system such as MSN, AIM, Yahoo, or some other chat. This allows for less room to type usually, but much faster response between RPers. There tends to be a noticable difference between Chat and Thread Role-play, so you may want to test out both and see which you prefer more.

How do I make a character to RP?

This tends to be the hardest part for newcomers, as creating a unique, interesting, and new character is a genuinely difficult thing to do. There are shortcuts and ways to handle this easier and faster, but as you become more experienced in RP, you should learn not to rely on these shortcuts, and grow to create a better character.

The first thing to know is that Cliches are very bad. Due to an excess of people who don't want to take the time to create a new or unique character, most create a character with cliches like "A Vampire's son" or "Royalty with amnesia". These tend to be met with hostility from most RPers, and while it can be done well by an experienced RPer, it is very difficult to do so, and it's best to avoid as many cliches as possible for newcomers.

I'll cover creating a more detailed character in the next question, for now, I'll just let you know how to create your first character so you can jump into the fray and learn how to RP.

The easiest way to create your first character, is to look at yourself and apply your own personality and characteristics to your character, so that he or she only needs a brief backstory to be finished. This tends to make a shallow character, yes, but one that is doable and you can connect with enough to RP effeciently.

For example: You have a bad temper, and generally don't keep to people well. Your character can be equally as bad tempered, and a loner. Apply other parts of your personality, and you've already fleshed out your character's emotions and attitude.

Once you've done this, you need to come up with some sort of brief backstory. Where did your character come from? Why is he here? What does he want? That sort of stuff.

For your first character, you should only need to do a few lines or so at most, although more detail helps you to understand your own character better. Start with what you already know about your character. If you know he has a scar on his right cheek, why does he have it? Where did it come from? If you know you want to make him a soldier, why did he apply? What happened? is he still in it or not? You also should give a passing thought to your character's motivations and what he's looking to do currently, such as if he's looking for romance or for glory, or cutting the throats of commoners to make some pocket change.

Once you've got your character, and a basic backstory, you should have the bare bones to start RPing!

How do I make a more detailed character?

if you've become more skilled in RPing, you may want to try your hands at creating a more detailed or a more fleshed out character. Try making a new character if you don't want to mess too much with your first, or if you want to develop your first more, understand how to further create a story around him or her, and to make them seem like a believable character.

The first thing that most experienced RPers learn how to do is to disconnect themselves from their characters. This sounds counter-active, but if you're able to still RP effectively with a character nothing like you, you are given much more range in what you can create. For example, you might not have been able to act like a villain if you were really sympathetic in real life, but once you get some more experience, you might be able to play as the ultimate god of evil in your next RP!

After that, you should learn how to further flesh out your character. Go into detail when you're making a character sheet. Write things down. What's your character's age? last name? Family? Friends? Do they have any significant details like scars or an odd voice? Write as much down as you can that is still true to the character that you want to make. The more you write, the more you know about your character, and the easier it becomes to write them.

Flaws! Create flaws your for character! Nobody is perfect, and if your character has flaws, it makes them more believable! They don't have to be extreme, but you don't want a perfect character, as that gets boring and is very much frowned upon in the RP community.

Your backstory should also be under scrutiny here. You should try to create a story out of it, and explain how and why your character is here or there. You don't need to explain everything, but creating a story around your character gives them more reality. If you can tell how they came into the world, it will seem less like they just popped out of your mind.

The more you can make your character seem believable as a real person with a real personality, the better off you are. You don't need to utilize everything you write down, but it may help you to just write everything down and then look it over.

Do I need to be RPing at all times whenever I'm doing this?

Not at all! While it's a good idea to keep up with the others who are active at the moment, you don't need to always be posting in your Character's personality. There's terms to define this sort of thing:

In Character (IC): This is considered to be your character, whenever you talk IC, your character is the one doing this, not you physically. If you say "I'm going to get some Soda" when IC, that means your character will be going to get some soda.

Out Of Character (OOC): This is considered to be YOU speaking, not your character. Whenever you talk in OOC, others will realise you are trying to relay a message. Sometimes there are other channels or threads for OOC discussion, but for the most part you differentiate between OOC and IC chat by brackets. Any OOC Chat will be sectioned off with some sort of brackets: (( )) [[ ]] for example.

While you can and should communicate OOC when you have something to say, Most people would prefer you keep OOC to a minimum, so as not to interrupt the Roleplaying happening IC at the moment. There is also some different types of RP, that will openly deny the use of OOC chat.

When is OOC chat not appropriate?

When an RP is at a climactic or important moment, or other heated moment, it is best not to communicate through OOC unless it's needed. It's not punishable, but just courteous. If you need to, still do it.

However, some RPers use these terms to dictate whether or not OOC can be used or when it can be used:

Light RP: This means that OOC is not punished and usually encouraged very much. Sometimes, OOC will not even be bracketed off in extreme cases. Don't feel any tension about OOC when participating in a Light RP.

Medium(or Moderate) RP: This is a more casual type of RP, where OOC is not really punished, but should be kept to a certain level so the IC RP can continue at a good pace. You can still OOC talk fine, just don't go overboard.

Heavy RP: This type of RP completely forbids the use of OOC chat except in extreme emergencies where it would be required. most Heavy RPs consider you completely in IC for the entire duration, and you should not go out of IC when in this.

Is there anything I shouldn't do when RPing?

Yes. There are a few taboo things that RPers will find very unkind when they occur. They might be kinder to newcomers, but you must learn not to do these things eventually, or you'll be shunned from the RP community. I'll just go over the few biggest problems that most RPers will encounter with others, but you may find the other nuances for yourself as you experience RP firsthand.

Godmoding: Godmoding is one of the most common terms you'll see in RP communities, as it's a common problem that even experienced RPers still cause from time to time. Don't feel too bad if you do this, but learn to avoid it if you can. Godmoding is when you type a reaction for other players. There's some differences between what IS and ISN'T godmoding, but for the most part anything that would require you to say your other RPer did something he didn't specifically tell you, would be godmoding.
For example:

JOHN: I strike at you with my sword.
LEO: I dodge it with a backstep and then stab at you with my dagger. You die from the wound.

Leo is godmoding in this situation, as he decided that John's character died from the wound, and didn't let John RP his own character's reactions.

Trolling: Trolling is something most every RPer despises. When you run into another person who will openly try to antagonize, make fun of, or otherwise ruin your RP experience whether it be discreetly or not, is considered a 'troll' or is 'trolling' your RP. These people tend to not have much care, and will only be fueled by reactions of emotion. The best way to handle trolls when you spot them is to ignore them and encourage others to ignore them. If you have the ability to on a thread, delete all their posts, and if you must talk to them, only politely ask them to leave. If everyone ignores them, they will feel shamed and not continue to cause problems, at least as much as they would had you goaded them on.

Gary/Mary Sue: These are characters who are absolutely perfect in every way, or near perfect with a very minor flaw or two. Characters should have flaws, as nobody is ever perfect. Gary/Mary sues get very boring very fast, and are hated by the RP community. Newcomers to RP are usually forgiven for making these types of characters, but should learn how to craft a character that is not in this category.

One-Liners: People who post only one line that does little or nothing to move the plot or story in any way. in Chat RP this is a little more forgivable, but at all times you should try to avoid posting just a line of text and then giving up to let your other RPer type. Sometimes it's unavoidable, but this is one of the most common mistakes newcomers to RP make.

Center of Attention: Some RPers believe that the story and the RP should ALWAYS revolve around their character. This is not true. while in most cases there tends to be a leader in an RP, one who progress the main storyline or acts out the extra bits in the story, the RP is focused on the people, not the person. There's little I can say specifically about this, but you should understand that the story will not always focus on you.

Meta-gaming: This is when somebody uses Out of Character information for In character information. What I mean by this, is, if I as a person know your character's name is John, and My character says "hello John" when we've met for the first time in the RP, that's considered Meta-gaming and is frowned upon. It's not a major offense, but can lead to major problems when big information is leaked in character that was not supposed to be. keep your information and your character's knowledge seperated at all times!

Abbreviations: "U" "thx" "LOL" or other abbreviations like that are very much frowned upon in RP communities. Some are more forgiving, but when you're dealing with RP, you should avoid using abbreviations like these, or 'leetspeak' terms. proper grammer and spelling help as well, but most RPers will look over this if it's still readable.

Should I just be talking when i'm In Character?

While you can do this, and it's better in some cases, most cases of RP will be better if you add more detail. How you do this, is by Emotes and emoting. When you're trying to describe how your character is acting, moving, or otherwise doing anything BESIDES talking, you show this through emotes. In some cases, this is as simple as writing a normal story and putting any dialogue in "quotations". For other cases, you may see people sectioning off any Emote with *Asteriks*. While you don't need to be horribly elaborate with what you're doing to get your point across, This is where talented writers usually shine and make the RP.

What if I want to tell my characters' thoughts in an emote?

This is tricky. It's arguable when it's okay or not, but for the most part you don't want to openly admit your character's thoughts in an emote. For the most part, it's actually better to show the thoughts than tell them. Here's an example of what I mean:

[INCORRECT]: John thinks that this skunk smells bad!
[CORRECT]: John leans down and gives the skunk a brief sniff. His face contorts in disgust and he holds his nose, pulling away.

You see? You get the same information across, but one is in more detail and reads better than the other.

What's all this talk about Storylines and plots?

Most RPs will have a main storyline or plot to follow, setup by the RP's first Player. It's important to note that the main storyline is the MAIN storyline. You should be following this story as the main plot, and any subplots that evolve from this should not take priority over it without the consent of the entire group of RPers. If you feel you'd like to follow your own plot, try starting your own RP and see how it works out!

Most RPers will allow for subplots to come out of the main plot, and this usually leads to fun events that were unexpected at the start of the RP! it's a good thing to do this, although not always required. Some RPers may want to stick to the main plot strictly. That's not a problem, just make sure you understand that if it comes up.

I'm RPing in a game, and somebody is saying they killed an enemy I killed!

When you're playing a game, Game mechanics will always come before RP. That means that you'll just have to work around that or explain it away through various means. Don't get too hung up about it! just realize that's part of the game, not the RP! Maybe who he killed got ressurected! Maybe it was a decoy, and the real villain is still alive! The possibilities to get out of this are endless!


Ah, the Villain in an RP is always an issue. sometimes there doesn't need to be a villain, but most RPs tend to have some sort of enemy that needs to be played by someone. The important thing to realize in this is that the Villain can be fun to play, but must eventually fail. Unless otherwise decided by the group, more often than not the villain loses, and the hero wins. When your time comes, agree with it and fall. Just because your character died here, doesn't mean you can't RP them ever again! maybe you can even use their fall as a branch to a new RP!

The only thing to worry about with Villains is if your character fits the role you need for your villain. Not every character can play an opponent that is suitable for every RP. Sometimes you may want to alter your character to fit the RP, and just keep their actual personality intact for another RP. This usually is not practiced, but it's forgivable if you do this. More experienced RPers forced to play a villain with a character they don't want to be a villain would instead create a new character as the villain for that RP.

I challenged my friend to combat in an RP, and we can't decide who wins or not!

Remember, the important thing about RP is the story, not the sense of glory. Try OOC chat with each other if you really can't decide who should win, or how to win. If it seems like you're going to lose, don't always pull out a magical fix everything button and use it to win, it makes the RP tension-less and boring. If you're going to lose, accept it. Maybe try finding another way to continue in the RP, or getting back at the player. Perhaps try afflicting them with a poison that is deadly, and it'll cause extreme panic after the fight for them!

In some cases, Dice rolls are used as deciders for combat. This tends to be slow, but doable and without anybody feeling they've been cheated. D&D Role-players will feel at home with this system, but most RPers do not use this form of combat, and instead rely on story-driven fighting.

Put simply: The fight needs to have some tension. Think cinematic rather than 'I need to win, I need to win!'

Are there any other terms I should know, besides the ones already covered?

There's a few topics that I'll go over in brief here:

Relationships: Usually players will have a romance between their characters in some RPs. Some RPs will focus entirely on this romance. it's not a bad thing, and shouldn't be shunned, but you should be careful with this. Relationships can grow differently in RP than in real life, such as it growing from adventures rather than dating. Sometimes marriages or divorces can occur as a result of this!

Permadeath: This is a state considered to be an unrecoverable death for a character. Permadeath means that there will be no magical potion or spell, and your character will not be recovered. For the most part, this is used as a way for a player to put their character to rest fitfully, so they can either create a new character or stop RPing all together. Enforcing this state on another player without their consent is considered godmoding and is extremely rude.

Dungeon Masters/RP Leaders: These are players (typically those who start the RP) that have control over the main plot, main character, or otherwise narrate and direct the RP. it's important to realize that DMs or Leaders do not dictate or godmode in most situations, but they have more power over characters than your average RPer. They can play bit parts, alter the story a bit by introducing a new enemy, or otherwise help to keep the RP moving and flowing dynamically until the end of the story. It's not required to have one, but usually there is one in the RP, and it tends to help keep everything on track and in control.

Group RP: This may seem a redundant term, since RP needs to be done with at least one other person, but extremely large groups of 8 or more people can become very, very chaotic. Even with a DM or Leader controlling everything, it can get out of control. It's possible to have large RPs, but causes many problems since most people will feel like they are getting excluded from the RP or that they are not responding fast enough. You should try to understand what you're getting into when you join an RP that is very large.



.Saeth's Roleplaying Guide: http://www.gwrpc.org/articles/11-guides/7-saeths-roleplaying-guide
-Saeth's Vol. 2 (Evil Exposed): http://www.gwrpc.org/articles/11-guides/8-evil-exposed
-Saeth's Vol. 3 (Storylines): http://www.gwrpc.org/articles/11-guides/9-storylines
.Wowwiki Roleplaying Guide: http://www.wowwiki.com/Guide_to_roleplaying
.Manovan's Roleplaying Guide: http://forums.wow-europe.com/thread.html?topicId=103850387
.Gaming Gutter-A Newbies Guide to Roleplaying: http://www.gaminggutter.com/forum/f203/newbies-guide-role-playing-20612.html

A crumpled piece of paper lays strewn and forgotten on the floor. Written with excellent handwriting in deep black ink. It starts:

"Those who can speak, are blind. and those who aren't blind, can't speak. It's a sad truth, one you should do well to remember."

Posts : 62
Join date : 2010-01-17
Age : 24
Location : Bel Air, Maryland

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