How to Roleplay Well

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How to Roleplay Well

Post by MalikTH on 5/19/2017, 3:01 pm

This post goes through what roleplaying is and how to do it well. All content taken from [You must be registered and logged in to see this link.].

What is Roleplaying?
Roleplaying is defined as assuming the role of a character that is not you, and writing, acting, or playing as that character. The type of roleplay you are about to enter is called a forum roleplay, which obviously takes place on a forum such as this.

When you roleplay, you assume the role of a character. Here, you can temporarily adopt a canon character (i.e. Trainer Red or Sonic the Hedgehog) or make a new, original character, or OC, before taking the role of that character. Your character isn't you, and you aren't your character; you are separate entities. You can think of it like an actor in a movie: Johnny Depp is not Captain Jack Sparrow, Mort Rainey, or John Dillinger. He instead acts like he is, and very well at that.

Example of a Forum Roleplay:

Alice (a roleplayer, as Baphomet): The hours nearest dawn were the worst for Baphomet. He hated the thought of going underground, he hated where he slept, and he hated the many dreary hours between the closing of the coffin and the rising of the moon. Gray dawn was creeping ever nearer. Even its palest beginnings of light stung his eyes. He scowled.

You (as Azazel): New as she was to the vampire clan, Azazel was already comfortable with her fellow vampires. It was always like that for her — she just melded, wherever she went. Adaptability all but ensured her long survival. There was one exception, though. That exception stood directly in Azazel’s path to sweet darkness. The slim vampire shifted her weight from one pale leg to the other, unsure what she might say to placate the dark-tempered elder. Too late, she realized he would hear even that minute movement.

Alice: Baphomet’s head swiveled around, almost serpentine. He glowered at the new-made vampire — she was young and arrogant as they always were. Their skin was as soft and fleshy as a humans, yet they always thought of themselves as gods and goddesses. “Yes? Am I in your way, little girl?” the vampire asked. He might have tainted the question with coy sweetness if it was not so desperately near to dawn.

Roleplay Thread Types
There are usually two different types of forum roleplaying threads:

  • All Welcome or Open threads are free for any roleplayer to join.
  • Private or Closed threads are intended for specific roleplayers who were invited to that thread.

Don’t join private or closed threads you weren’t invited to. Your post may be deleted.

Ask before you start a private thread for someone. If your thread “demands” their presence or requires it, it’s kind of inconsiderate of their thread load, real life, other duties, and so forth. Please be considerate.

Post Length
Generally, posts will be much longer than the examples I gave in the spoiler above. Some roleplaying games, such as this, have word minimums, a requirement for you to write a certain amount of words within every roleplaying post.

Forum Roleplay isn’t a fan of huge word minimums (800-1000 word minimums generally mean you’ve found a very advanced RPG — or a very silly one, depending). However, it can be helpful (especially for novice writers and the youngest roleplayers) to strive for 200-300 words per post.

Roleplay Realism
Realism is an important aspect of creating a flowing storyline. Even writing novels — if you create a world with rules and then break those rules later (especially unintentionally), it irritates your reader. Roleplay realism is not exactly like real life realism. A game based in the year 5392, with space travel and highly advanced technologies, has different rules of realism than a forum roleplaying game set in 1930. Realism is especially important in forum roleplaying because many people are writing in the same universe.

If, for example, you’re playing a kingdom RPG, and the character Azazel states that the princess should inherit because of this law in one thread, but later Baphomet says the prince should inherit because the priest has always appointed the king… well, you see? The characters are giving conflicting information, but both are treating it as the truth.

In order to be successful in a forum roleplaying game, you should know your RPG’s acceptable level of realism. If you don’t care about realism, you can always find a simpler, freeform game. However, in some of the most complex forum RPGs, realism is very important.

This Forum Roleplay has [You must be registered and logged in to see this link.] that contains all information about characters, their universes, events that occur (or could occur), different locations in those universes, etc.

Being Out of Character Shouldn't Mean Being In Character
One of the most important things to remember in forum roleplaying is that your character can be different from you. Many people say your character should be different, and that it’s the best way to roleplay. New roleplayers find it easy to create “themselves” as characters. This can very easily lead to destructive roleplay behavior, though! For example, a player with a self-character may take offense at another character disliking the self-character.

IC (In Character) does not equal OOC (Out of Character). Keeping that in mind is very important for an enjoyable roleplaying experience. Just because a character dislikes your character does not mean that player dislikes you. A fight between players does not mean characters have to start disliking one another (though it may be easiest to avoid drama by avoiding the roleplayer).

In Character Action Means In Character Consequence
One essential of forum roleplaying is remembering you are writing a story with many other players. Though your character is important to you, others’ characters are equally important to them. Though there is great freedom in online forum roleplaying, it’s not absolute.

It is important to remember that for your character’s actions, there are often consequences. Though it was a fun plot when your character suddenly snapped, your RPG group leader may not approve. This plot could end up with your roleplay character being killed off, preventing you from using it.

Don’t expect to be able to do whatever you want at all times. If you roleplay, there are other people playing, too. If your character does something, other characters will react. Some roleplaying games have courtesy policies requiring at least cursory discussion of certain plots. If you do not extend this courtesy to others before plotting something out of the ordinary, you may end up with some unintended or unwanted consequences.

Interweaving Story
It is also important to remember that your character is not the central point of the plot at all times. Don’t join a thread where there is clearly something going on between the other characters and expect everyone’s focus to shift to your character. Play to the story; don’t expect others to gravitate toward or even care about your character in any particular moment. Take the following example:

Azazel: The coyote leaned over his mother’s grave, his ears folded back and his expression somber. There was not an ounce of happiness within the man. She didn’t need die, he thought, again and again.

Baphomet: He wandered toward the other wolf, clearly distraught. “I lost my favorite bag, man,” he said. This was his absolute favorite possession and he really wanted it back.

This would be really rude in real life — it’s also really rude in roleplaying. If a player has a particular idea or plot in mind, reply only if you’re interested in shaping that storyline with them.

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