Roleplay Tutorial

Role play basically speaks for itself. It's a role, you play. Role playing is where you create a fictional character and interact with other writers' characters. The term "role play" is commonly abbreviated as "RP", especially in chat rooms and message boards. Another way of looking at it is acting, but instead of you physically playing the role, you write it out. Your words detail the movements, the reactions, the thoughts, etc of your character.
Online role playing is a fun way to make friends, be your favorite character (or original character), and enhance your writing skills. The following are just some basic steps/guidelines in order to get you started.
  1. Select Your Universe/Genre and Choose a Place to RP
    • Pick a universe/genre you know well. Don't join a universe that you've never heard about or dislike; it cuts in with the whole experience. Consider the genre, the room, the rules, the community. RPing with friends or making new friends can make the experience very enjoyable. Different RP communities will draw different types of people, so be prepared for completely new experiences when jumping from one forum to the next. Choose the one that appeals to you the most.
  2. Research the room/setting
    • Once you have selected your universe/genre, talk to the room's controller or players from that room. Ask about the room, the active storylines or about character creation. Take the time to just watch the players and to get a feel for the room.
    • Read over the room's forums. Most rooms have them and they are full of useful information that can help you understand the room better.
    • If the room is based on a series of books or movies, it might be helpful to check them out. It's not always necessary, however, to do so. But it does help you, the player, get a better grasp of the genre.
  3. Create Your Character/Defining Your Character
    • Your character serves as the gateway to the RP world. Some rooms do not require character sheets, while others require specific sheets. Check out the room's forums for a template. It's helpful to have the character up while you work on your character. Follow the "skirt" rule when creating the story of your character - long enough to cover the essentials, yet short enough to be interesting. A few possibilities to focus on:
    • Make your character believable. In the RP world, flawless characters--called Mary Sues or Gary Stus--have a notorious reputation and are extremely frowned upon. Create a character with both positive and negative traits. Ex: your character is smart but shy, well-intentioned but obnoxiously stubborn.
    • Goals, motives, and desires. This will give your character a purpose in the RP or story. Think about the why. Why does your character do the things they do? Think about the how. How do they go about achieving their goals? Think about intensity. Just how important are their goals or desires? High-stakes goals (their mother has been kidnapped!) or trivial desires (they really, really want a hamburger) can be just as important depending on your character's point of view.
    • Personality. What is your character like, and how do they act around other characters? You can layer your character's personality by having dominant traits (maybe they've got a particular love for practicality), then a secondary trait (they've got a perfectionist streak), and then a minor trait (they can be snooty). Your character can even have a contradictory trait (they're caring).
    • Physical appearance: hair, eye, skin color, and whatever else is most important to you. This will help other writers to visualize your character.
    • Tastes and preferences. A quirky taste or hobby (maybe they take annual vacations to the polar caps) can make your character stand out, but even normal tastes (they love chocolate) is helpful for fleshing out your character. Remember that tastes can also vary in intensity. An intense craving for chocolate, an addiction that drives your character crazy, can be just as quirky as that annual trip to the North Pole.
    • Occupation. This will root your character in the fictional world. How they get by day-by-day will imply their skills, history, and financial situation.
    • Applicable skills and abilities. This is especially important for certain genres, such as action or fantasy RPs.
    • History. This will give your character a background. Where were they born and raised? Who were their parents? What was their first kiss like? Include many details, but make sure they are applicable to your character's role in the story.
    Additional things to consider:
    • Add a fun quirk or two! Characters that have unusual approaches to solving problems, odd habits, or strange mannerisms can make your character compelling and interesting to others.
    • Don't make your OC (original character) be an absolute god. Role players hate it when they see an OC who is claiming to be "god of the universe" and is totally "impenetrable." Making an absolute god won't help you make friends.
    • Don't call yourself "professional" because you "act like your character in real life" or you've been Role playing your character for so long that "you know everything about them." The "Professional Role player" does not exist. The only "professional" is the man/woman/group who created the universe you're role playing in.
  4. Dive In!
    • After you have your character created, and usually posted on the room's forum, it's time to jump in and start playing. Step into a room, ask if you can observer, ask questions, or participate. Each room has their own set of rules, make sure you are comfortable with them and understand them before entering. This is why asking if you can observe first is important. It might seem hard at first to know where to start. Many players find it easier to start a solo rp, in which their character arrives in the location where the main role play is happening and then expanding outward to finding an apartment, a job, etc. This leads to interaction with other characters. Pretty soon, you'll find yourself involved in a larger role play. The most important thing here is, don't get discouraged. Don't give up if it doesn't immediately happen. It will happen, it's just that , sometimes, the other players are involved with other role plays. Don't be afraid to solo. And don't be afraid to ask the others if you can join in.

Be courteous. Online people can tend to forget their manners, become very rude and act like they would never act if you were standing face to face. Unless your character is supposed to be rude and/or obnoxious, try not to act that way while out of character.
Make storylines that suit your character, however do not make all of the storyline arcs, ask others to make their own too. Respect people's choices, don't say that yours is all that and a bag of chips and that everyone else's sucks. That's not cool, and it won't get the storylines going.
Don't use text talk. Y u no like me? G2G. IDK. Yeah, don't do that, you are creating a story, not texting. Try to use good grammar, full sentences, punctuation, spell check and please, please, please try not to constantly use elipses to break apart your sentences .... (yeah, those dots there).
Don't one-line (unless it's a preference with someone you're role playing with). Most people prefer at least a single paragraph, but some others allow, or prefer, one-liners. Just make sure you check the other person's preference before trying to role play with others.
Don't steal anything from anyone, ever. This includes, but is not limited to, storylines, already done role play, pictures, aka avatars, display names, biographies, rules, room designs, etc. Don't be afraid to ask if you can copy something, most of the time the other person will say yes, as long as you give them credit for it.
Drama. Drama in role play is good, it's what we are all looking for, outside of role play, that's not what we are striving for here. Do not bring real life drama into the room/role play for attention, this annoys people. Don't be that person who sends a million messages, or posts them to the message boards about your real life issues. Don't post a bunch of threads to the boards, or make them in the rooms saying how annoying your partner/parent/life is, etc. If you have a problem in real life, talk it out with a friend, in private. Everybody else doesn't need to know your dirty laundry. However, this doesn't mean people do not care, please let others know if you must limit your time/activity/etc due to a death in the family, school/work, general life problems, etc. Just don't go overboard.
Also, please do not constantly say you are leaving/retiring/hanging up your character, then turn around and say oh wait, nevermind, it's annoying. Also, changing characters every other day also gets annoying, so please, don't do that either. It's hard to keep a storyline going if you are constantly changing the characters.
Be the nice guy/girl. Accept constructive criticism, be nice, don't take things said in role play personally, make friends, chat up, etc. Be easy to get along with, and great role playing opportunities shall come your way.
God Mode, sometimes called power-play. God-modding is basically being impenetrable and indestructible in every possible way. Don't do this, even if you are role playing a God of some sort. Remember: if your character gets killed in a particular storyline, you do not have to declare early retirement and kill off your character completely. Also, power-play, or force posting, is when you try to hit someone and they somehow "always hit without missing." This can also be called character controlling, controlling other characters, etc. It's insulting to the other roleplayer if you suddenly -throw a tomahawk at them with no chance of escaping- because it's pointless. Any action you perform on someone else's character, no matter what the action might be, should be phrased as an attempt. By making an attempt instead of just doing it outright, you give the character's player the chance to respond to the action or avoid it if it's something they'd rather not have happen to their character.
Never use OOC information IC in any way. For example, just because you the player knows another character's name, that doesn't mean your CHARACTER know it, unless they have been introduced. This is called meta gaming. Never assume someone will react in a certain way just because you think they should. Always give others the chance to react in their own way, and don't get upset if the reaction isn't what you expected.
Any action you perform on someone else's character, no matter what the action might be, should be phrased as an attempt. By making an attempt instead of just doing it outright, you give the character's player the chance to respond to the action or avoid it if it's something they'd rather not have happen to their character. Be considerate of the role-playing mood of others.
Don't try to be the center of attention all the time. Be polite and share attention with other characters. You aren't the only one there to have fun, give everyone their turn in the spotlight.
Give others time to react to you. There's no need to hurry so much, just relax and enjoy the interaction. It is generally considered rude to just up and attack someone out of the blue.
Never, ever post personal information in the room. This cannot be stressed enough.

RP: Role play - to assume the role of
IC: In Character - this is you, the writer, assuming the role of your character
OOC: Out of Character - this is you, the typist behind the screen talking
PC: Played Character
NPC: Non Played Character (a character a person controls/rps to enhance a storyline)
RC or RL: This is the Room Leader of the room you have entered. Their rules are law in there.
RT or RL: Real Time/Real Life - Life in reality, outside of the storyline or computer
VT/VL: Virtual Time/Virtual Life - Life online spent inside the story/room/computer.
GM: Game Master - a person who is leading the story, controlling npcs, events, battles. The God of the Game. Not to be confused with God Moding.
ST: Storytelller - same as GM
DM: Dungeon Master - same as GM
FF: Free Form - a room that doesn't conform to a specific structure/genre
LKH: Rooms under this acroynym follow the stories/books/etc written by Laurell K Hamilton
PM: Private Message, sometimes written as Private whisper in the room pulldowns
PD: Pull Downs - used to mark a specific location of where your character is at in the room
CS: Character Sheet - used in some rooms to determine your characters skills/abilities
Avs: Avatars - the picture used in the room to help represent your character
WW: White Wolf - Rooms under this strictly follow the rules/guidelines of this particular gaming system.
BOM: Rooms with this tag are based on a book/books series or a movie.
OC: Original Character - This is a character you created
CC: Canon Character - a character taken from some form of media (books/movies/etc) that you are playing

These are some tips, hints, and guidelines to get you started.
First and foremost! Read over all the rules, to the site, as well as the room. Each room has it's own set of rules, but site rules are still expected to be upheld no matter what genre you roam to.
Observe. Can't say that enough. Observe. Visit more than one room at various times of day and watch. Just do so with a name, and ask if it's alright to take a look, watch and ask questions. Don't be afraid to ask questions. If you don't ask then how you can learn. The only dumb question is the one that goes unasked.
While observing, place an ~o~ after your name. This alerts other players that you are observing and hopefully keeps them from trying to engage you into role play that you are uncertain of.
Every role play situation is up to you. Do not let anyone bully you into anything you feel uncomfortable with, just speak to the other person involved. You also have the option of leaving the room.
Writing. Practice a few posts in note pad. Maybe ask a friend, or another player to look it over. Use a thesaurus to help you come up with descriptive words. This helps to make it flow better. You don't want to repeat yourself over and over, this becomes boring. Keep it lively, draw them into your roleplay.
Express yourself. Describe yourself. You are painting a picture for all to see. Describe how you rise, how you move, what muscles you use, what you see, what you feel, how you look, etc. In roleplay, the only way another chatter can truly visualize what you are doing, is through the descriptiveness of the words typed. Write what is being seen, it should be very detailed, show them what is being done, what is happening. Describe what you hear, loud or soft, deep thundering beats of a drum, or the sound of waves crashing onto shore. Describe what you feel, is your heart beating faster, is there a fine line of perspiration starting to form over your brow? Write it down.
Watch your tense, check spelling, and try not to use ... End sentences, use commas, semi colons, etc. as needed. Try to separate actions from words spoken by Italicizing words, use quotation marks, or even a simple asterisk *walks down the hallway, jumps out into the room and hollers* Boo!
Posts. You don't want to make your posts too long. A ten paragraph essay might cause some folks to lose interest. On the other hand, you also don't want to make them too short. A one line wonder can be frustrating to some roleplayers, and it could end up taking forever to tell your story.
It's helpful to write your posts in notepad or word pad, etc. This way you can correct any spelling or grammar errors before you post them in the room. Also, you have it in case the room “eats” your post and saves you from having to retype it.
Last but not least. Do Not be afraid. No role play is ever perfect, and everyone does it in their own special way. There are no set rules for how to role play, just a guideline to get you started and on your way. Be creative, weave a story, let it unfold. The world is your oyster, so just let it out.