So you want to roleplay, hm? Well, that’s good to hear. Roleplay may seem a little silly at first, but good roleplay can be exciting and interesting. It’s essentially a form of storyweaving, but more geared at character interaction and character development. Everyone has their own standards, but as with anything else, you learn as you go along, and even if you’ve RP’d for a very long time, there’s much you can learn about yourself, your writing style, and how to make improvements. It’s kind of like the quote “As iron sharpens iron, so one man sharpens another.” You get better by exposing your writing to others and getting them to interact with you. Consequently, you begin to develop your own flavors and your own standards. That all being said, let me give you a few tips that have helped me along the way:
[li]Interact with other characters. If you want to write a story, write a story. The whole point of roleplay is interaction. If someone’s character is sitting down somewhere and he or she is accessible to your character, maybe he or she should visit them? Don’t get me wrong, your character’s alone time can really enhance them too. But too much alone time can really disconnect you from a roleplay. And if you dont want people to interact with your character and would rather have things your way, maybe roleplaying isnt for you. Thats not an insult; some people just dont like that.
[li]Communicate! For the love of all that’s holy, communicate out-of-character ((OOC)). If you don’t know how powerful a character’s gun is, ask them. If someone’s character has put a bomb in a building your character is in, ask if your character might be able to hear something ticking or if the bomb has an unusual smell to it that could be traced to the bomb. OOC communication is absolutely essential for good roleplay, because it ensures everyone’s on the same page.
[li]At the same time, be clever. If your character is in a tough bind, let him or her get themselves out of it based on what you gave that character. Don’t suddenly give your character an awesome skill that solves the problem. Use the tools you gave him or her in their personality, talents, etc. If you can cleverly get him or her out of a bind without resorting to creating sudden abilities, you’ll gain the respect of other roleplayers around you, and will gain their trust.
[li] Defined personalities trump defined backstories - Be a bit lenient with the backstory for your character. That’s not to say a backstory should be avoided - all characters need at least a small bit of a backstory, because they probably had lives before the roleplay started. But dont rely heavily on that backstory. More important, in my opinion, is the personality. And it’s probably not going to be a very rigid personality either. Your character may change a bit from the experiences he or she has.
[li]For every awesome thing you give your character, give him/her an equal flaw. Let’s say I made a character thats huge and muscular, like the Juggernaut. He’s probably not going to run as fast as a thinner, leaner character, right? If he’s a fighter, he’s going to have battle scars, and not the cool type - more of the “eww, that wound is seeping” type. If he’s a thin character, he’s probably not going to be very strong as, say, a tank character, right? And if he knows a dozen languages, his social skills might be down because let’s face it, to know seven languages you’ve pretty much gotta live like a hermit in order to have that much time on your hands. Just be fair and don’t make an awesomely-cool character.
[li]Be bold! Having your character sit around and waiting for something to happen isn’t going to really get them anywhere. You can do that every once and a while, but if it looks like no one’s paying attention to your character, maybe it’s time for your character to reach out and jump into a conversation or event. Add in some plot twists, make the story interesting. After all, it is at least partially your story. And, if someone provides an entrance for your character, take it. Don’t be afraid to be aggressive and take the initiative.
[li]Respect other roleplayers around you. Roleplaying means you won’t always get to have your storyline played out, and you won’t always get your way. Be cognizant of this and allow other roleplayers to hash things out. If a roleplay turns into a (explicative)-waving contest, thats most likely a result of no one respecting the other roleplayer.
[li]If someone calls you out on something, and they have a point, take your medicine. (Something I’ve struggled with in the past, to be honest) Roleplay should be an escape from drama, not a source. If your character godmods, for instance (see the section below), admit it and move on.
[li]Create conflict. Conflict is waayyy more interesting than all characters getting along fine and everyone being happy all the time. How boring. Make something happen. Now, if you’re the only person creating conflict, maybe you should ask someone else to give it a shot (or just let them do it).
[li]Losing can equal winning. If your character lost a fight, but it was roleplayed out well, thats way better than the roleplay turning into a who has the biggest ____ contest. Having a character actually lose a battle or do something stupid or dumb can be used to actually build them up, change them, and make them into a much better character. No character is perfect, of course, and in any conflict involving two groups one group has to win and one has to lose. Losing in a roleplay, or taking hits, if done well, can gain you mad respect.
[li]Additionally, read whats going on in other peoples plots. Doing this keeps you aware of any openings you could potentially exploit and get involved in. Plus, you never know if something big is going to go down from that plot that could end up affecting your character. But, remember, do not give your character knowledge of a situation if he or she is not present or doesnt have the means to know about it on their own.
[li]Avoid sensational characters. What I mean by that is try to avoid making your character a marysue, or a character that’s way too sensationalized (he’s got a cool Japanese-sounding name, is the best fighter from his nation and knows all sorts of martial arts, knows seven languages, is a heartthrob, AND blames himself for the death of his parents even though he had nothing to do with it. He’s soo cool even his enemies want to be like him and be his friend!). Yeah. Avoid that. There are a lot of marysue litmus tests out there, but if your character is going to merit a lot of rolling eyes or chatter like 'well there that character goes again! it might be time to kill it with fire and start anew. Theres no shame in that, better you kill off a bad character than perpetuate it.
[li]No godmodding. Don’t give your character an amazingly cool ability he or she should not have because no character should have it. Like, if someone made a character that could catch missiles with his bare hands. I don’t care what kind of character he is, ain’t no one going to catch a missile. Its bad form, and both good and new roleplayers can spot it a mile away.
[li]Never Rp another person’s character without their permission. This is just common Rp etiquette. If your character is fighting another person’s character, and you write the following: “Benjamin Franklin (that’s your character) fires his gun and shoots George Washington (your friend’s character) and watches as he writhes in pain and breathes his last breath.” that will only make your friend mad. Instead, write something like this: “Benjamin Franklin grits his teeth and, with the fire of one thousand woodburning stoves shining in his eyes, fires his pistol at George Washington.” Ben might miss. Or, if your friend wants, it might hit him. Might even kill him. That’s up to your friend to roleplay. Now, if George does a matrix-style backflip and lets loose a clip on Ben, that might be grounds for godmodding. But you get the picture. Small things are usually okay, like if your character is talking with another character and you make him or her nod or say yes . But again, its a fine line. You can always ask the other RPer their level of comfort here too.
[li]No metagaming. Basically, this is when you give your character out-of-character knowledge. Say my character has secretly planted a bomb in a sealab and no one was around to see her put it there. If your character immediately goes to that spot to deactivate that bomb, that’s metagaming. That’s not to say you can give your character some cues. What I mean by that is maybe by communicating OOCly you find out from the roleplayer whose character planted the bomb that the bomb ticks. Maybe your character could get quiet and if he’s near the bomb hear it ticking?? Or maybe itd be more cooler to have the place blow up! Its up to you just do it correctly.
[li]Avoid having a set plan for your character. Good roleplay is unpredictable. You can talk with others to discuss what you’d like to happen and people might help you with that, but if you are determined to have your character do what you want them to do and not react to the situations they’re in, you’re going to find yourself Rp’ing alone.
[li]Dont hog a plot. Roleplay is something where everyone should take initiative. Dont keep playing out your storylines and expecting everyone to go along with it. Let others get a chance to get things going and add some plot twists of their own. As with everything else, no one likes a hog.
[li]No ‘rearpulls’. If my character is underwater, stuck in a cave, and her air tank is almost out of air, I can’t give her the ability to breathe water. That is, of course, godmodding. But alternatively I can’t even give her the ability to allow her to hold her breath for over five minutes, for example. Unless I explain earlier she has an ability to really hold air in her lungs and used to do a lot of freediving, for instance, I cant suddenly give her that ability.
[li]Don’t take things personally. If my character is attacking your character, or just doesn’t like them, that in no way shape or form means I don’t like you or am mad at you. It’s just my character. My character is separate from who I am and my interactions with you. Heck, if my character is mad at your character, consider it a compliment: that means that I feel like I can trust you that you won’t take it personally. So please, don’t take it personally.
[li]Alternatively, don’t take OOC anger out ICly (in character). If youre mad at someone, don’t suddenly have your character hate the character of the person you’re mad at for no reason. That’s just very bad form. Bottom line in all of this: keep a divide between OOC and IC, both in knowledge between you and your character and feelings between you and your character.
[li]No retconning / reneging. If your character does something that causes them to look stupid or gets them in a tight bind, don’t delete any of your posts. Leave it and let your character solve the problem or learn from it. If you don’t want to have your character look dumb, analyze a situation critically so he or she wont be as prone to doing that. Or, maybe you don’t mind that happening. Regardless, do not delete a post if someone has posted after it. That’s reneging, and will get people pissed.
[li]Avoid killing other people’s characters off. Unless you have their permission, just don’t do this. You can kill your own character off, but avoid killing other characters. Now, by all means, feel free to create conflict and somehow put a character in a tough spot, but don’t blatantly kill them.
[/li][/ul]This list may be a bit extensive, but it is by no means complete. Again, this is mostly based out of opinions on my part based on some experiences.