I made a guide for roleplay characters. Now Im making a guide for roleplaying itself. It had to be done.
I will be covering etiquette in roleplaying as well as the many elements of good posting. And away I go.
As with everything, being polite and proper is a vital part of the roleplaying system.
When asking for a roleplay, dont be pushy or desperate. When you say OMFG SOMEBODY ROLEPLAY WITH ME PLZPLZPLZ it makes the others think that no one is roleplaying with you for a good reason and they won't be inclined to do so. Be patient. If you are in a room with a few people, greet them and ask how everyone is before asking for a roleplay. If you come off as friendly people will be more likely to respond yes then if you just came in all Okay roleplay now. However, if a room is inundated with, say, 15+ people, such as in RPDream or KawaiiHighSchoolRP, you may advertise for a roleplay. To do this, ask in bold for the kind of roleplay you are looking for. Add in the genre, what the plot is if you have one in mind, if you want a certain amount of people/if it is a group or a one on one, if you do or do not want romance to be a factor (this is VERY important. If you want romance, ask for it ahead of time, and if someone's advertisement does not include a request for romance, do not except it to occur), any limitations, etc. Ex.:
Anybody up for a group moderate fantasy/historic roleplay? I have characters of all species, any type of character is fine with me. Please no romance. Tab for more info.
The length of the ad will depend on how many specifics you have for the roleplay. Again, be patient. It can take a while for you to start getting responses and if you start complaining about getting no responses after about ten minutes, those people who have been advertising for two hours will have very little sympathy for you.
Some genres include:
Historic: My personal favourite. Oh it is so splendid. Be sure to specify what kind of historic (medieval Britain, 18th century America, ancient Greece, etc.) in your request.
Moderate Fantasy: A setting where fantasy is permitted, but paranormal activity is not normal, ex. a setting where a werewolf character has to hide the fact that they are a werewolf otherwise they will be burned.
Major Fantasy: A setting in which fantasy is the norm, ex. a World of Warcraft-type setting where everyone uses magic.
Many rooms will ask you to put brackets at the end of out of character posts, which are )]}. This helps to distinguish OOC posts from posts within the rp.
And dont be afraid to ask the other roleplayer(s) questions. If you are unsure if their character was referring to yours or do not understand something they said, just ask. Its better than making a post that makes no sense in the scheme of the story because you were confused.
Speaking of posts that make no sense, always read the other roleplayer(s) entire post. It is horribly aggravating to have someone post something that makes no sense because they did not bother to read something. Ex.:
Karen was attacked by a demon that bit her on the arm. Ouch! She punched it in the back of the head, knocking it unconscious, and threw it out the window. That isnt so bad. She looked at the shallow bite, passed a hand over it, and with her powers healed it.
Jason saw the demon bite Karen. He pulled it off and burned it to death with his fire powers. Looking at the deep gash gushing blood, he healed it with his powers.
Obviously, these posts do not work together because Jasons player either didnt read Karens players entire post or simply ignored what she said all together. DO NOT MAKE POSTS THAT CONTRADICT THE POSTS OF OTHER PLAYERS JUST BECAUSE YOU THINK WHAT YOU WANT TO HAPPEN IS BETTER. I cannot express how obnoxious that is.
Try to keep posting length consistent. If the first roleplayer posts ten lines, try to match or exceed that. Nothing is more annoying than a roleplay dominated by medium to long posters and then suddenly theres this one one-liner in their midst. MAKE YOUR POSTS AS LONG AS YOU POSSIBLY CAN. It makes for a far better story and keeps it rolling. Sometimes long-posters take a while, so be patient with them. I know it is harder for some people than others to make long posts and there is nothing wrong with that, but you can lengthen them by adding adjectives and detail, describing the scene, using dialogue or thought (it's fun to see what other people's characters are thinking, even if you can't use this information in the roleplay), describing random events, etc. Ex.:
The neko girl walked through the park and sighed.
The air smelled like autumn and a light breeze blew brightly colored leaves skittering across the pathway through the city park, the air hanging heavy with moisture of rain soon to fall. There were a few couples out holding hands, families strolling, friends laughing as they caught up on each others lives, and employees finishing their lunch breaks in the peaceful solitude the park had to offer in a gray, bustling city.
Though most of these people were of the human variety, one had a distinct fluffy tawny tail and cat ears on their head to match that stood out. It was a girl probably in her mid-teens, dressed in private school clothes, her navy sweater wrapped around her skinny waist and leather bookcase clasped between two light pink-lacquered hands. Her light blonde hair brushed her skinny shoulders and fell over her bright green eyes, which closely examined a flock of pigeons pecking around at the remains of a sandwich that missed the garbage can. Her animal instincts said to go take chase but her human half of the brain held her back and kept her on her way. Taking a deep breath, she inhaled the sweet aroma of fall and sighed in contentment. Days like this were her favorite.
See all that we did with that? Paragraph breaks are not necessary, but they do make your work look neater (and longer ).
And lastly, be courteous to other roleplayers. REMEMBER: A CHARACTER IS NOT THE ROLEPLAYER. You have no idea how many times Ive seen a roleplayer blow up at someone else because their character didnt like their own. A CHARACTER DOES NOT NECESSARILY REFLECT THEIR ROLEPLAYER. IT IS IMPORTANT THAT YOU DO NOT TAKE ACTIONS AGAINST YOUR CHARACTER PERSONALLY. A character that was raised to fear demons will hate a demon character, though the roleplayer may have no problem with demons. A male character in the 18th century will have little to no respect for females, though the player themselves might even be female, so can't pull the sexism card there. CHARACTERS SHOULD FIT INTO THEIR SETTING EVEN IF THEY BEHAVE IN WAYS THAT WOULD NOT BE DEEMED ACCEPTABLE IN MODERN TIMES. Heck, I've even had blatantly racist characters in 17th century America (don't worry, he got his xD Ratting on Indians, HOW DARE HE *fumes*).
And dont be stunned if your character is feared or loathed by others because of its species. If your character is a vampire, demon, assassin, or some other creature that is traditionally an evil entity to be feared, dont be surprised or offended if other characters are put off by this. It does not mean their roleplayer hates your character, theyre only making their own character act the way they would naturally.
First, introduce what character you are going to use. When doing this, describe them in terms of personality, powers, etc. if you do not have a biography or link the others to it if you do. DO NOT ONLY LINK TO PICTURES. PICTURES TELL THE OTHER ROLEPLAYER(S) ABSOLUTELY NOTHING ABOUT WHAT YOUR CHARACTER IS LIKE. Information on your character's personality type, actions, etc. is far more important than what they look like. And be sure your character is appropriate for the setting. Though you might be absolutely dying to use your Japanese cybernetics programmer character, this will not fly in a medieval roleplay taking place in Britain. (PLEASE STOP USING JAPANESE CHARACTERS IN SETTINGS WHERE THEY HAVE NO BUSINESS BEING. THIS IS HORRIFICALLY ANNOYING) A magical character will not work in a realistic roleplay.
Whatever your character is, try to be sure you know something about that. If your character is a blacksmith, have at least a basic concept of smithery. If your character is an anthro, have them behave like the animal that they are. Just know what you are doing, you know?
When starting a roleplay, it is important that the first post give the outline of what the roleplay will be like. It should describe the setting, the weather if they are outside, the time of day, who is there, and of course your character and what they are doing. Ex.:
For the hundredth time, Kabutari reached up to wipe the snow off her long lashes. It was times like this when she missed the steep cliffs, the snow wasn't quite so powdery and so didn't get all over. Being of a species well adapted to cold climates, it was comfortable for her down here in the forest where it was far warmer than the frostbite-inducing mountaintops. It was almost a little warm.
She liked to come down here every now and then. There were creatures here that she wouldn't see up on the cliffs where only the most sure footed of animals could survive. Humans were never there unless they had climbing equipment; it was impossible to walk without gripping stone with your hands.
The snow had fallen fresh the night before, so all footprints were rather new. She recognized red panda tracks leading up into a tree where the raccoon-like creature was dozing away, the haphazard trails of a wolf pack, and the large, organized prints of a tiger. That made her smile, the cats were her favorite creatures, which made sense considering she had a snow leopard for a mother. She wasn't sure if Abhati had followed her here, she liked to go where she pleased.
Where mountains springs joined into a small depression, Kabutari knelt down to look into the ice, which was nearly perfectly smooth once she wiped the snow away. Though it was still too powdery for the image to be very clear, she could faintly make out her own reflection. She had not seen a mirror since she was a child, and that made her wonder what she looked like now. Probably the same but older.
Raising her head, she saw what she thought to be some sort of frozen snag, but it looked too unusual. Approaching it, it appeared to be some odd form of creature, no form of two-legger she had ever seen. Not knowing if they were a danger, she drew her hunting knife just in case.
Here we see the setting, we learn something about Kabutari, and in the last paragraph her player leaves a space open for another roleplayer to come in as this mysterious figure. You do not have to explain everything about your character in one post, it can be done within about the first three.
When making this first post, it is important to use tact. Though you may want to give the other roleplayer(s) a good idea of your character, do avoid something like this:
Ayane was walking through the park. She had long black hair tied in a ponytail, bright green eyes and was very tall for her sixteen years. She was wearing a Three Days Grace t-shirt over a tight long-sleeved shirt with black and red stripes and black baggy pants with combat boots with spikes on them. She was a very sweet girl and wanted to be friends with everybody she met.
Well great, now we know all about your characters looks and personality since you just copied and pasted their biography. This gives nothing to work with plot-wise since the only hint you gave to what is going on is She was walking through the park.
The most popular style of roleplaying is paragraph format, the format I have been using so far in examples. The second style is script format, which is ex.:
Hey! runs over- Whats going on? blinks-
This format should only be used for short post roleplays, it is far too difficult to follow for longer ones. Have everyone is the same roleplay using the same format so it doesn't get confusing.
The majority of roleplays are played out in third person. This is using your characters name, he, she, it, etc. Rarely first person is used, which is I, me, etc. DO NOT SWITCH BACK AND FORTH BETWEEN THE TWO.
Oh the fun part, actual roleplaying and what to do and not do.
First of all, keep your character consistent. If they start out happy and bubbly, keep them that way rather than make them suddenly evil towards another character just because you dont like them. And dont use multiple personality disorder, bipolar disorder, depression, angst, multiple spirits inhabiting one body or something as an excuse. I've heard every excuse justifying this behaviour ever conceived so don't even try.
Sometimes characters get along, sometimes they dont. And that is what makes a roleplay fun. If two characters dont jive, their rivalry or hatred for each other can be used as a plot device to keep the story going. They dont all have to get along.
And if another character doesnt like something about yours, dont try to fix or justify it. Ex.:
Character A walked along the street, carrying all their weapons, many different types.
Character B rolled their eyes at the person laden down with too many weapons. That was definitely not very efficient.
Character A only carried a piston and two knives.
You cant go back and change what was done. Your character looks silly, deal.
Character A laughed at Character B.
What a bitch, Character B thought.
Character A was actually very sweet on the inside, she just wasnt good at showing that she liked or cared about people.
Dont try to justify every action of your character just because another character didnt like it, it makes you look like a suck up or that you are defensive of your character. Which reminds me
YOU ARE NOT YOUR CHARACTER, DO NOT TAKE SHOTS AGAINST IT PERSONALLY. If someone does not like your character and you get pissed and flip shit, maybe you identify with your character just a teensey bit too much. Not liking that someone does not like your favourite character is understandable; starting a war against them because they think your character is too sensitive isn't.
Something you never ever do. This is controlling other peoples characters (do not use mind control to excuse this), knowing what another character is thinking (do not use mind reading as an excuse for this), controlling the setting, making vast amounts of filler characters to support your own (i.e. tons of minions), and basically doing anything else that swings the story to your advantage.
This is a form of godmoding in which the character knows information that their roleplayer knows OOC that they themselves would not probably know, such as the names of characters they'd never met before or that a character is villainous when they do a incredibly believable job of being deceptive. Again, do not use things such as mind reading to excuse this behaviour. Metagaming gives the metagamer an unfair advantage over other characters.
A lot like godmoding. This is when a roleplayer completely "monopolizes" all aspects of the roleplay. All plot events are geared towards putting their character in the spotlight and any plot points that distract from their own are ignored in favour of their own ideas; their character ignores any characters that do not fit into the roleplayer's idea of how the roleplay should go to the point where the other person(s) is nearly roleplaying with themselves; secondary characters are continuously brought in to draw attention to the roleplayer's own character; any important acts that swing the plot in another direction are done by their own character; the list goes on and on. "Monopolizing" a roleplay is basically controlling all aspects of it and ignoring the wants and actions of other roleplayers to the point where the "monopolizer" might as well be roleplaying with themselves.
Copying another person's OC is very aggravating for those who are getting copycatted. Normally this is done when using a barely developed character and/or when the roleplayer wants their character to be "better" for the setting. Personalities, quirks, activities, and other such things canon to the character being "copycatted" may be transferred over to the "copycat". Don't copycat, you wouldn't like it if someone copied your character, would you? Chances are that other roleplayer would love to see a character very different from theirs, it would be far more interesting
Respect the Setting
When deciding what character you wish to use for a roleplay, keep in mind the setting and if your character fits into it. A club dancer from New York city would most definitely not fit into a roleplay set in, say, Medieval England. And though anime/manga-inspired characters are very popular, there are definitely settings where a Japanese character simply will not fit in. Keep setting in mind even when creating your characters; a non-Japanese character would not have a Japanese name, for example.
If this guide so far has offended you in any way, it is probably because you are a Suethor and your characters are in fact Sues. And as with any problem, there is a solution for this. One major cause of Sues is that you have a bunch of cool character traits that you load onto one character. Instead, try balancing them out. Instead of having the beautiful, sweet, super genius, champion sword fighter, go for a character that is beautiful but not very kind, a sweet character that isn't all that good at doing things, a character that is brainy but plain and socially awkward, and an illiterate fighter. You'll have more characters to use and they won't be Sues! Another common Sue cause is wanting a character that can fulfil every wish and fantasy of yours by being perfect in every way. No one is perfect, and that's what makes people so wonderful! Faults are a marvellous thing so load them on like cheese and bacon on baked potatoes. Besides, if a character is perfect then they do not need to develop and so do not need to meet other characters and go on spiritual journeys of fun via roleplay, and so are no fun to roleplay with. If a character needs to develop by overcoming some limitation, then you have the makings of a great roleplay.
Got any questions? Ask in a comment.