Guide to Roleplaying
Roleplaying is, in essence, taking on the role of another person (usually one you created) and facing the trials and problems of their day-to-day life. It may sound simple and easy, but it's an art, and like all arts, it requires practice to perfect. There are tons of mistakes many roleplayers make daily, and anyone who knows that these things are, in fact, mistakes will be in absolute agony every time they see one of these mistakes made. It is the goal of this guide to make sure you know all about these mistakes, as well as give you advice on how to avoid making them.
I'll start off with one of the biggest misconceptions about roleplaying. Roleplaying is never, ever about your character being happy. Your character might want it. You might want it. Problem is, it won't happen. Day-to-day drama and the like will make it impossible. Some people try to bend the rules of roleplaying in order to make their characters have better fortunes. All this does is annoy people and take away the joy of roleplaying out the attempt to fix the problem normally. Nearly every new roleplayer believes that the character has to be happy for you to have fun roleplaying, and shedding this foolishness is the first step to becoming a great roleplayer. You do not need your character to be happy, roleplay is all about having fun playing in the character's shoes, and really, having a character whose life is absolutely perfect is no fun at all. It gets boring very quickly, trust me.
Now, I mentioned the "rules of roleplaying" earlier. I suppose you're wondering what those are. Unfortunately, there is no rule list that will help you choose the best way to react to every situation, as every character is different, every player is different, and every situation is different. You need to decide how your character would react in various situations, and, as mentioned in the "Character Creation Guide," your backstory will help with this. That's one of the reasons we ask for detail. If you don't know what happened to your character in the past, how do you know what he'll do in the present? Fear not, though, there are a few rules that are nearly universally accepted by roleplayers, and I'll share these with you, along with a few situational tips that will more than likely come in handy at some point.
1. Keep true to your character: This is the number one thing all roleplayers need to know. If your character wouldn't do it, you will know, but you may be tempted to go against your character for OOC reasons. Try your best to never do this. It will inevitably kill all joy in roleplaying for you, eventually.
2. IC and OOC are entirely separate: Here's a big one. Some people get angry at someone when their character does something mean IC, and that is probably the most harmful and pointless thing one can do when roleplaying. You and your character are entirely different people. Nothing anyone does OOC should affect how your character treats them IC, and nothing they do IC should affect you OOC. Whenever you allow the line to blur, it can ruin friendships or completely destroy roleplay.
3. Never force actions onto another: Again, pretty important. Never make someone else do something just because you or your character want it. This is called "power gaming." For instance, you should not say, "Joe punches Bob in the face, shattering his nose." That is power gaming in the extreme, as you not only decided that the punch hit Bob, but that it broke his nose. Normally, both the success and result of success in any roleplay is decided by the person to whom the action is addressed. So, Joe ought to say, "Joe swings a punch at Bob's face." And then Bob would say either, "Bob dodges the punch easily, and sends one in return," or "The punch connects with Bob's nose, shattering it." Or any other result he decides, as long as it did not force anything on Joe. For more information, check out the Guide to Roleplay Combat
Please note that power gaming isn't only done in combat, it is pressuring someone OOC to do something IC. If you want someone's character to make a decision, and you keep pestering them to make that decision in OOC chat, that is power gaming as surely as forcing a punch would be. Please note that if anyone power games you, you are not only permitted, but encouraged to report them to the staff. They will deal with it swiftly. Try to get a screenshot by pressing F2, so you can prove that it happened.
4. Your character does not know everything you do: Wow. We really do have a lot of "important" rules. Heh. Well, this one is pretty self-explanatory. If you know that Bob is planning to murder Joe because of what Bob told you in OOC chat, your character cannot know it and move to stop Bob. That would be called "metagaming." You know everything your character does, but he knows only what he has seen or been told by someone IC.
5. You don't always win: This ties in with that big misconception I mentioned earlier. Your character may be good at combat, but you can't let him win every time. If someone is better skilled in whatever the contest is, whether it be combat or a race, then they ought to win, unless your character has a way to get an advantage. Remember, OOC you are not out to make your character win, only to do what he would do. Sure, if he gets lucky, he might win, but in general, that won't happen.
6. Try to create roleplay: When everyone is standing around, waiting for someone else to roleplay with them, nothing ever happens. Really, the only way to make roleplaying fun is to actively look for people to roleplay with. For instance, if your character is the adventurous type, he might take a friend along to go exploring. Not only is this fun roleplay, but if they get lost or are gone for a long period of time, the town might organize a search party, not to mention the roleplay at the town that will happen because of any friends or loved ones worrying about your missing character. If your character's shy, you could still initiate a conversation by having him trip, drop something, ask for help of some kind, or the like. Just make sure you do not repeat the same excuse for starting roleplay every time you see someone. Really, if your character trips every time he sees someone, it can get a bit boring, heh.
7. Take it slow: Your character has amnesia or a speech impediment? Don't let him recover his memory within a few IRL days or take a couple of speech classes and suddenly be capable of giving oratory. It really is fun to roleplay your character's weaknesses. It spices up the action a bit and gives you something to talk about IC other than the normal, humdrum activities your character goes about doing daily. The same goes for wounds and relationships. Really, it isn't much fun to meet someone one day, and the next be their best buddy, or get stabbed in the gut and get up and be able to walk around the next day. Try to draw the building of a relationship IC out into a thing that takes weeks or months IRL rather than a quick plot that might take a day or two. Roleplaying is like reading a book, sometimes; you definitely want your character to have subplots going on, and these sorts of little things can give him the depth that comes from playing a character for a long time.
8. Keep your character fun to play: If you find that he is growing dull, have him begin changing through the daily course of events. If, say, he is a gruff, uncaring warrior, and you want someone a bit more emotional, you could wait for someone close to him to get hurt, and then have that begin a change deep in his heart that slowly brings him to be more compassionate. Even if no one gets hurt, you could have him realize that life really isn't that great when he bottles everything up inside. Just remember, though, that the "take it slow" tip applies here.
9. Always use emotes: Here's a great one when it comes to roleplay appearance. Always describe what your character is doing in detail. Great detail. I'm not saying you need to write ten paragraphs for when your character says hello to a new person, but try to spice it up a bit. I'll use a character example here. Imagine you are playing a shy girl. Since your character isn't really outgoing, she wouldn't approach people (Not part of this tip. That's number one up above. Heh.), but this other person, say an outgoing girl, says hello to her. Saying, "Hello." Really doesn't cut it, since it doesn't get across the point that she is shy. Try to use maybe stutter, ellipsis (The ... things), or the like when appropriate. Again, this usually isn't enough. If she says, "H-hello..." She could just as easily be terrified as she could be shy. It's especially important to use these great things that many of us here refer to as emotes!
Emotes are, in general, those things that let you show your character's facial expressions, tone of voice, and any sort of body language. To continue the shy girl illustration, she would be more likely to say, "*shyly* O-oh...Hello... *looks down, blushes*" than the previous two examples. See how much more you can show, even with three simple actions? For those of you who aren't really used to roleplaying, you may want to try narrative-style roleplay. It really is a great deal easier, especially for readers, since it's essentially having your character talk like he or she would in a book. Instead of using asterisks (*) for actions and normal text for speech, it involves using normal text for actions and marks spoken word with quotations, like this: The girl blushes a little, and says shyly, "O-oh...Hello..." She looks down, trying to hide her blush.
Really, the choice is yours. It all depends on what's easier for you. All that's really necessary are emotes. It doesn't matter which style you use. Just try to show as much of your character's motion as possible. I personally try to make at least half of all my roleplay the use of emotes. It really does bring your character to life. Try it for a bit; trust me, you won't be disappointed.
This brings me to my final tip. I can't really make a point out of it, since it's really a very simple one. Don't carry things in your hand OOC unless it is IC. It's really very annoying to see someone carrying a stick around while talking to you when they aren't really holding anything IC. IG (in game) actions don't necessarily mean IC actions, but it really does cut down on the annoyance factor.
I hope this guide has been informative and useful to you, and that it has shown you a few aspects of roleplaying that you could improve upon. If it helps anyone at all, the effort I've put into this is completely worth it. Good luck!
Written by: Sawses