by: Roberta Goli
; edited by: Michael Hartman
; updated: 4/17/2012
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New to online roleplaying games and want to know the dos and don’ts of roleplaying? Roleplaying adds an element of fun to an MMO, helping gamers to immerse themselves into their online world.
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What is Roleplaying?
Roleplaying makes an MMO more fun to play for many gamers. There are degrees of roleplaying: light, medium and heavy roleplay. Serious RPers will have a whole back-story for their characters that compliment the online roleplaying game’s back-story, and often stay IC (in character) all the time.
This type of roleplaying takes some time and effort, so for anyone new to roleplaying, light or medium roleplay might be best. Regardless of which degree of RP gamers choose, the rules are still the same.
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Guide to Roleplay
While gamers will choose a character based on what they want to play, they need to consider the game’s back-story when they RP. For example, a dark elf would be played differently to a high elf or a dwarf. Races usually have specific characteristics already and roleplayers shouldn’t stray from these backgrounds too much. However, half the fun of roleplaying is to create a unique character that is fun to play.
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Rules of Roleplaying: What You Should Do
So you’ve decided you are going to try roleplaying and have picked your class and race.
Use an RP Name - When creating your character, it is important to give him or her an RP name. If your character is elven, choose an elven name and likewise if it is a dwarf, choose a dwarven name. Having a name like ‘Superdwarf’ or ‘Ikillnoobs’ is not going to get you many invites into roleplaying guilds or RP conversations.
Use Asterisks to Show Actions - When roleplaying, you need to separate your character’s speech from their actions. This is done by placing an asterisk at the beginning and end of the action. Quotations are not usually used for speech as whatever the RPer types is speech unless surrounded by the asterisks.
OOC - Out of character conversations (OOC) are usually enclosed inside double brackets, ((quick afk)). Having said that, bear in mind if your guild chat is 100% IC, either send a ‘tell’ to let a person know you will be afk (away from keyboard), or say it IC.
Third Person RP - Always RP in the third person *Kragrok jumped up and down*, not *I jumped up and down*.
Use Correct Grammar/Spelling – Make sure you use correct grammar and spelling while roleplaying. That’s not to say you can’t be creative with your character's speech, but no abbreviations or LOL, WTF? Type how your character is speaking.
Emotes - Use the in-game emotes to make some actions come to life. Most MMORPGs have a long list of emotes that might include, sitting, laughing, crying, burping, shouting, slapping someone, preparing for battle, becoming angry etc.
Be Respectful - Treat your guild leaders with the respect their rank has earned them, and if you decide to RP your character as unfriendly and hateful, be sure not to upset or offend anyone OOC.
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Rules of Roleplaying: What You Shouldn’t Do
Don’t RP for Someone Else - Roleplaying is interactive and gamers must allow other gamers to respond by themselves. In other words, you mustn’t RP someone else’s character. For example, if your character decided he wanted to kiss someone, he should say something like:
*The ale having gone to his head, Kragrok decided to make his move. He leaned in towards Aliyah, pursing his lips for a kiss*
This gives Aliyah the chance to kiss Kragrok back or to rebuff him. For example:
*As Kragrok leaned closer, the stench of the ale on his breath caused Aliyah to screw up her nose in disgust* Excuse me, *she said as she walked towards the bar and away from the drunken dwarf*
What is a definite no-no in roleplaying is to RP someone else’s thoughts or actions, because you can’t possibly know what they are thinking or how they might react.
Don’t RP for NPCs - Don’t RP the actions of NPCs (non player characters). While it is fine to say:
*Having approached the bar, Aliyah ordered a mulled wine, slapping her coin purse on the counter. The barmaid fetched the drink and took the correct amount of coin, without saying a word*
But the NPC barmaid shouldn’t jump up on the bar and start killing everyone in the room. Roleplaying a few minor actions that is a part of their role in the game is ok, like the barmaid fetching a drink, but you shouldn’t have NPCs performing ridiculous or over the top actions. They’re not your characters to play.
Be Realistic - Remember when roleplaying that you should never roleplay abilities your character hasn’t earned yet through levelling, or abilities your character couldn’t possible possess. For example:
*Kragrok was furious with Aliyah and threw his half empty tankard across the room. Then mumbling something under his breath, he held out his arms. As he did so, the whole of the abyss imploded, destroying everything and everyone on it*
Also, don’t pretend to be a vampire (or some other mythical being) when your character is actually an elf, and there are no vampire playable characters in-game.
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Erotic Roleplay (ERP)
Online roleplaying games attract a diverse range of gamers and RPers. Some like to have RP relationships and even get married in-game. And some like to take their roleplaying to a more adult level known as ERP. Now what someone does in the privacy of their own ‘fictional’ home, is their business, but if someone is attempting to RP with you and is making you uncomfortable, say so! You can do this IC or OOC, the person may not have realised it was not your cup-of-tea. Most RPers are a decent bunch of people and problems are rare, but if they don’t back off, ignore them (/ignore) or tell your guild leader.
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Roleplaying: How to Get Started
You’ve installed your MMORPG and are excited about the prospect of roleplaying. Some MMORPGs have designated RP servers and some don’t. The ones they don’t usually have an ‘unofficial’ RP server as chosen by the RP gaming community themselves. Check the gaming forums and RP forums to find out which are the RP servers and play on one of those.
The next step is to join a roleplaying guild. By joining an RP guild you will have access to other RPers and most of these guilds hold RP events. Be warned though, not everyone on an RP server is a roleplayer and if a group of RPers are gathered in a public place, you may see some gamers jumping around and basically making a nuisance of themselves. It is also wise to consider not RPing in a PUG (pick up group) unless they all happen to be roleplayers too. Even RPers want to level and kill mobs.
So whether you decide on light, medium or heavy RP, respect your fellow gamers and RPers, ask questions of your guild mates, and most of all, have fun!