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The Do's and Don'ts of Role Playing in an RPG

by: Niki Fears ; edited by: Michael Hartman ; updated: 4/17/2012 • Leave a comment

A look at some simple rules for role playing.

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    Role playing is a great creative outlet and has been referred to as the ultimate gaming experience by some of the more seasoned and hard core gamers. It gives you the most control over your character and the ability to “live” the game since you are not interacting with a pre-scripted computer generated code. Instead, you interact with living, breathing, human beings that offer realistic interactions and will react with all of the knowledge, emotion, and imagination of a creative individual. However, because of this great amount of freedom and the fact that you are dealing with a variety of personality types, it is important to have an established set of guidelines for role playing in an RPG (Role Playing Game). To help you understand the ins and outs of role playing, and to keep you from ending up in a virtual graveyard somewhere, familiarize yourself with these basic do's and don'ts of role playing in an RPG.

    With Bright Hub tends to focus on graphical MMOs, we also write reviews and guides for text based RPGs, MUDs, and MMOs as well. Threshold RPG, a role playing required MMO, was one of the first. It is a top notch RP along with the usual MMO/MUD fare (combat, quests, etc.). The things you will learn in this article would definitely help you adjust to a game like Threshold, Bloodletting, or other text RPGs.

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    The Do's

    DO: Always obey the directions of the GM (Game Master)

    While there are general role playing rules that are typically universal, keep in mind when you enter a game realm that you are in the Game Master's territory. Whatever rules, limitations, or directives the GM chooses to put in place should be followed - regardless of traditional RP formats or guidelines.

    DO: Play to Rank

    Regardless of how powerful you intend on making your character, if you are playing in a world that has a ranking system you must keep your current rank in mind during game play. In other words, trying to kill someone in a battle when you are a level 7 character by using a skill that you do not acquire until you are a level 10 is a big no-no.

    DO: Separate Your Speech From Your Actions Using Proper Cues:

    When you are role playing it is important to remember that you are writing both dialog, actions, and sometimes scenery or background. To keep these different elements straight, you need to learn the various cues which set apart speech from actions, etc.

    One of the most common ways of doing this is to use the asterisk (*) as an action marker to set apart actions. To further clarify, you can put your dialog in quotations, although sometimes you may find that quotations are not used for dialog and only the actions are set apart. The following is a simple example of how this is done:

    *a tall woman appears from the shadows with long, deep red hair dressed in a deep dark purple velvet dress with matching choker and a modern black trench coat in a tailored military style. Smiling slightly as she nods her head in a subtle bow*

    “Dark Greetings to you, may I welcome you to the realm."

    Other variations also include using a double colon (::) as the action marker before and after the action. Also, some people may or may not use quotations for speech so it is often the case that text without any identifying markers is assumed to be spoken by default. The screenshot below taken from the Bloodletting RPG shows what this would look like in action:

    RPExamplesBloodletting 

    DO: Use Proper Grammar and Correct Spelling.

    Role Playing is an art form the relies heavily on other players being able to understand you. You should not have to stop and try to guess at what the other person is trying to say in the middle of a battle. This just causes confusion and may end up with very few people willing to RP with you.

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    The Don'ts

    DON'T Write the Actions for Another Character.

    You can not control the thoughts and actions of another in real life (IRL) so likewise you should never attempt to do this in game. Trying to take over another characters action is known as bunnying. This will get you penalized and perhaps even banned by many groups. Below is an example of someone getting overzealous and breaking this rule during a tournament battle. The player in question tried to get in and unfounded blow (they were penalized in the battle for the move later on):RPBattle 

    DON'T Use Knowledge That Your Character Does Not Know:

    If you were playing as a certain character who is killed and you then create a new character, you can not simply give all of the skills and knowledge of your old character to the new one (unless you somehow write this into the storyline). Additionally, if you have knowledge that your character has not yet acquired you can not use that unless you find a way for your character to learn

    DON'T Control NPC's: Generally, only the GM (Game Master) is allowed to control an NPC (Non-Playable Character) so you can not control an assassin that you send after someone or a horde of barbarians to beat up your enemy from afar. There are a few minor exceptions to this when the interaction does not affect a character's ability to respond. For example, having a messanger deliver a letter that you have written would be acceptable, having that messanger attack would not. Below is an example of how this would work.RPSample 

    DON'T Confuse OOC with IC Conversations:

    Be very careful that you not confuse a conversation or information that takes place OOC (Out of Character) with IC (In Character) dialog. This could easily get confusing for other players. You should also make a point to always label a post or thread as OOC when you are speaking out of character. You may need to do this for a variety of reasons, for example, if you are going out of town and will be unable to respond to posts for a couple of days you would want to let people know

    DON'T Use Chat Speak:

    When writing your dialog keep in mind that this is to flow as natural speech would, if you would not say LOL when speaking then don't type it as part of IC dialog.

    DON'T Be Afraid to Ask for Help:

    If you are new to role playing or to a particular game, don't be afraid to approach someone for help. Some games have clan leaders that are often more than happy to help you become a better player. Or, if you are really serious about mastering the art of role playing, you could attend The International Role Playing Academy and really master all things RP. They have reasonable rates (only $50 for a semester or, alternatively, they have a monthly payment plan) and having a little training and practice can really improve your skills. You can also find in game help forums or other RP based communities out there to find help and gain experience if you can find one open to newcomers. Threshold is a text based MMORPG that you might want to try out to practice your skills.

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    Useful Links:

    As you begin role playing, you will need to create a character, this is a handy article that lexplains how to create an RPG character.